Peony and Parakeet

Artistic Spirit between Abstract and Realistic

This week’s theme is the artistic spirit. I share a new painting, glimpses of my painting fever, and inspire you to explore the zone between abstract and realistic art.

"Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s an acrylic painting that I just finished yesterday. It’s called “Paradise” and it’s quite big: 61 x 50 cm, about 24 x 19,5 inches.

Painting at Late Evenings and Wee Hours

I like to paint in the late evenings when the world quiets down. Now when it’s summer, Finland floods in light, and nights are short. When the blackbirds begin to sign at 3 am, I know it’s time to wash the brushes.

Starting an intuitive painting. Connecting with the artistic spirit.
Painting abstract shapes. Connecting with the artistic spirit.

After a long night, I rush to the studio in the morning: “What have you done! You’ll never be able to finish it!”

Painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

But with this painting, I decided to accept whatever comes up. And with that, I have a little story to tell. I shared it on Peony and Parakeet’s Facebook page recently, but if you missed the post, here it is, with one of the paintings from the teenage years.

My Story about Artistic Spirit

An acrylic painting made by artist Paivi Eerola when she was a teenager.

As a teenager, I browsed big art books at the local library. I started hanging around with Matisse and Picasso and they said: “Hey Paivi, take this obsession from us, and make the most of it.” First, their inspiration was like a fever: mustpaint…mustpaint… mustpaint. Then, after too many matissepicassos, it became a burden and I went to study engineering.

During the past five years as a full-time artist, I have been hanging around with other guys – like Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rubens. Even if I first thought so, they are not much different. After too many rubenscaravaggios, the empty feeling takes over again.

But recently, I went to my studio secretly, picked the brushes, squeezed the paints, and in silence, I met a spirit. It was not me or any of my masters, but the spirit that arrives when we are ready to let go of the ego.

To paint like me, I need to let go of me. I am pretty sure Matisse and Picasso already told this, I was just so impressed by their names that I didn’t listen.

Painting an artistic spirit. An acrylic painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Abstract, Realistic, or Stylish?

Every time I make a class, I don’t only teach but also learn new things. The newest class Decodashery boosted my confidence to paint decorative motifs right from my imagination. Between “abstract” and “realistic,” there’s a zone that’s “stylish.” Then you simplify what’s real, and complicate what’s not. By simplifying, you dig the artistic spirit out of tangible things, and by complicating geometric shapes, you make the spiritual things more tangible.

"Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I really like this painting, and hope that you enjoy these close-up pics too.

A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her post about connecting with the artistic spirit.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wishing you many happy moments with painting and drawing!

Artist Paivi Eerola holding a painting called Paradise, in her garden.

Back to Nature – and Back to Acrylics!

"Back to Nature", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When building the class Decodashery, I started to enjoy acrylic paints again. They have vivid colors, and they dry quickly so layering is easy. This piece is called “Back to Nature.” It has a similar playfulness than this small painting that I shared last week.

"Pinkpolka", acrylic painting on a sketchbook by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I found more old paintings (see this post!) to paint over, but this time I added gesso on the top of the old “masterpiece”, and then painted it with turquoise and green tones.

Painting a green and turquoise background.

Then I painted some rectangles which helped me to invent more shapes.

Painting details with acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.

My word for this summer is Refreshing. In the photo below, I am holding “Back to Nature”. The other paintings are still in progress, but I try to make them as refreshing as I can, and also, feel as refreshed as possible after every painting session.

Artist Paivi Eerola, Finland, holding "Back to Nature" and displaying her paintings in progress.

Green seems to be the color now! Is there a word or a color that you particularly love nowadays?

Art Makeover – Revamp Your Old Paintings!

Ceruleana, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post about how to revamp old paintings and make art makeovers!

Let’s give an art makeover for an old painting! The idea for this blog post came last month when I was running out of paper. Instead of traveling to an art supply store, I stayed home as was advised, and found another solution: reusing old paintings!

My starting point was practical, but the benefits were spiritual – the journey that had ended, started again. I picked pieces that were made about 30 years ago – when I was in my 20s. At that time, I studied software engineering but still felt partly an artist.

Makeover Tip #1 – Change the Subject

Art makeover - read Paivi Eerola's tips on how to revamp an old painting!

The paintings from the 1990s look very different from my current work, but after examining old paint strokes, I did recognize myself. Although the strokes were rougher and the shapes simpler, they were still very much the same. The subject has changed, but my love for playing with shapes never went away.

Makeover Tip #2 – Save Something Old

Art makeover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When revamping the painting, I like to save something from the original one. So here, I kept a part of the yellow curtain but altered its color with a thin layer of paint so that it fits with the new color scheme. Old curtain, new home.

Makeover Tip #3 – Change the Colors

The old painting has screaming colors, but I wanted something more sophisticated for the revamped version, called “Ceruleana.” As the name suggests, the new painting is a tribute to Cerulean Blue.

Golden Artist Colors Cerulean Blue and Paivi Eerola's painting Ceruleana.

Cerulean Blue is an expensive but lovely color, especially when mixed with white. It makes every engineer a romantic and looks heavenly with ochre and yellow tones.

Acrylic painting in progress. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

But this post is not only about blues and its hues, I have another example too! This one has a lot of Magenta (“Medium Magenta” of Golden Acrylics), and the colors are very different from the original muddy version.

Golden Artist Colors Medium Magenta and Paivi Eerola's painting Cosytopia.

Art Makeover Tip #4 – Change the Orientation

The original was an artistic self-portrait like the first one. I did those a lot back then, and in every picture, I tried to look a bit different. But my imagination never got this far! The revamped version is horizontal but here they are side by side so that you can compare.

Another art makeover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like how the original version is still present in the new one!

Makeover Tip #5 – Use the Old Painting as a Foundation

This magenta abstract was so much fun to make. The old painting was like a map that had roads and towns, and when trusting them to lead me to one place to another, I didn’t have to worry about composition or such. I picked the easy abstract painting style from my class Planet Color. The whole process was relaxing, and the painting is called “Cosytopia.” A place to escape the big bad world.

Cosytopia, an abstract acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Extreme Art Makeover – Polish and Varnish!

Like in any makeover, why not do it to the very end! Take care that the brushstrokes are smooth where they need to be, and shapes stylish enough for a party.

Painting details by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

If the painting has a sturdy background, varnish it too! Ceruleana was painted on a cardboard canvas, so I used a polymer varnish on it. Before the varnish, I added a layer of glossy gel medium. (A detailed post about varnishing)

Varnishing an acrylic painting. By paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Glossy varnish makes colors glow beautifully. Even if this is an old revamped acrylic painting on cardboard, it may happen that someone someday says: “Oo-oh, it’s an oil painting, isn’t it?”

A varnished acrylic painting. Ceruleana by Paivi Eerola.

I hope this post inspired you to make the most of your supplies and past artistic endeavors!

Planet Color – Weekend Sale!

Planet color, an online painting class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Great for beginner painters!

My beginner painting class Planet Color is for sale between May 28th to 31st! The normal price is 35 EUR, now only 25 EUR. >> Buy here!

Expressing Hope by Painting Nature

These past weeks have been black. Social distancing, pandemic, the news … However, I want to share some things that have brought consolation, hoping that they do the same for you.

Magical Forest, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

This first image is a watercolor painting created as an exercise for my newest class Magical Forest. It’s painted quickly and systematically, and it’s less romantic than many of my paintings, but I really like it. I put a lot of effort and thought into all of the class exercises, but I am especially fond of the last lesson where realistic nature themes meet abstract art in unconventional ways.

Expressing Hope – Art is Needed!

A detail of an abstract watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

One of the carrying themes in Magical Forest is spirituality, and I feel that the connection between art and spirit is more timely now than ever. The need for art that soothes will grow. It’s important that we artists create images that illustrate the inner world when there are chaos and uncertainty in the outer world. This way, we don’t only take care of our sanity but spread hope for other people as well.

Moss, Stones, Clouds – The Comforting Side of Nature

Paivi Eerola in the garden. Snowing in Finland.

We haven’t got much snow this winter in Southern Finland, so I have had lots of opportunities to observe stones, both in our garden, and in nature. When the world is in a storm, it’s comforting to watch their stillness, and how the moss is like a warm blanket over them.

Stones in the forest. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. About expressing hope in the chaos.

Last weekend, my husband and I took the dogs for a walk in the forest. When the sun shined through the trees, the view was like a sacred chapel.

Sun shines in the forest.

Last year, I got a wish to include clouds in the class, and I was able to fit that in. Clouds are surprisingly fun to paint! When the bad news came, little paintings like this became even more important. I want to look at my clouds now and then. The softness of the sky draws in and refreshes my soul.

Sunny sky and soft clouds, a  watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Expressing hope and hopefulness through art.

My beagle Stella also likes sunny skies. She has her chapel on the porch of the old shed that we have in our back garden.

A dog lying in the sun and enjoying spring.

I painted this floral bouquet last spring, and with it, I want to wish hopeful news and hopeful weekend. Let’s take some time to create comforting art!

After Winter, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Expressing hope by painting nature-themed art.

Nature is definitely expressing hope here in Finland. Let’s keep creating towards brighter days!

Spring crocuses

P.S. Weekend Sale! There’s a new presentation video about Magical Forest, and to brighten the weekend, I have reduced the price too. The sale ends on April 5 (PDT), so be quick! >> Buy here!

>> Buy the class here!

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