Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Intuitive Coloring Explained + Extended Black Friday Sale!

This week, I have a new free video for you, inspiration from my drawing classes, and there’s also an extended Black Friday Sale going on! Exciting!

Extended Black Friday Sale – Shop Here!

Online art classes by Peony and Parakeet. Drawing classes and more.

All classes are 25% OFF!

Now is the time to get the classes you have been thinking about!
>> Shop Here!

The sale ends on Nov 29, midnight PST.

Intuitive Coloring Explained – Watch the Video!

This video is an excerpt of the live speech that I gave for my art community Bloom and Fly this month. It introduces a fresh way to think about drawing and coloring. Lots of art-making inspiration is packed into this 6-minute video!

The classes mentioned in the video – Intuitive Coloring, Inspirational Drawing, Animal Inkdom, and Magical Inkdom, as well as all my painting classes – are 25% OFF during the extended Black Friday Sale. >> Shop Here!

More Inspiration from My Drawing Classes

The longer I draw, the more things come together. Not only so that I find more inspiration from the individual previous pieces, but also so that they describe a world that’s lively and ever-expanding. I also feel that my classes are like doorways to building a world of your own.

In Intuitive Coloring, we travel from one meadow to another lesson by lesson and play on the way.

Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. She creates this in the class called Intuitive Coloring.
Intuitive Coloring has lots of different easy and gentle techniques that your colored pencils will enjoy!

In Animal Inkdom, we start with little creatures and the animals get bigger lesson by lesson.

Insects from the class Animal Inkdom. See Peony and Parakeet's drawing classes.

Insects and butterflies are simple to draw, but decoration makes them look fantastic!

A hand-drawn butterfly by Peony and Parakeet. From the class Animal Inkdom.

Animal Inkdom is one of my most popular classes, maybe because it’s so playful! I had to edit out some of the laughs and smiles because I had so much fun drawing these that it would be a bit disturbing! And after Animal Inkdom, I couldn’t stop, but made an independent sequel – Magical Inkdom!

Horses, wings, and frames from Paivi Eerola's Magical Inkdom. It's a lot of fun to mix and match all the hand-drawn parts. More drawing classes at Peony and Parakeet.
Horses, wings, and frames from Magical Inkdom. It’s a lot of fun to mix and match all the hand-drawn parts.

Art is a journey, so combining previous work with the new one, has often made me see new possibilities.

Paivi Eerola's drawing classes. Here's a cat from Magical Inkdom and a journal spread made from older collage pieces, inspired by the class Collageland.
Here’s a cat from Magical Inkdom and a journal spread made from older collage pieces, inspired by the class Collageland.

Inspirational Drawing is based on doodling and creating meshes from lines, but also on picking inspiration from images. I still collect inspirational images and use them indirectly in this way.

Inspirational Drawing - one of Paivi Eerola's drawing classes where inspirational images guide how you doodle.

All Classes Are 25% OFF!

Now is the time to get the classes you have been thinking about!
>> Shop Here!

The sale ends on Nov 29, midnight PST.

Emotional Catharsis Through Intuitive Art

This post about catharsis and spirituality in art is enabled by the grant that I got from Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the fifth blog post of the project, see the first one herethe second one here, the third one here, and the fourth one here!

Recently I have thought about Wassily Kandinsky so much that he has become an imaginary character in my mind. He seems to enjoy this life after death, and I like him hanging around when I paint. This time it led to emotional catharsis – a very powerful experience. Here’s the story!

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Expressing emotional catharsis through art-making.
“Vanitas”, 65 x 81 cm, oil on canvas

Let’s Go to The Dark Side!

One morning, before starting the painting, I read one of my recent blog posts to Wassily:

“Because expressing light is impossible without painting the darkness, I have decided to explore spirituality’s ultimate opposites as well. Like insolence, materialism, and money.”

Colored pencil spread inspired by Lucas Cranach
A colored pencil spread made as a study for the painting.

“Let’s do it!” Wassily immediately exclaimed with his Russian accent. “Let’s paint what money looks like! Do you like money, Paivi?”

The question alone was vulgar and intrusive, and the whole subject made me shiver. “What’s the problem? Haven’t you ever painted the dark side?” Wassily asked and looked confused and a bit more gentle too.

Well, I hadn’t. Not in this scale, anyway. The idea of spending the next few weeks with blacks and bloody reds felt heavy. In my life, there have been times when I had liked money too much, for example, when I sold IT solutions to big organizations. Secretly, it felt almost as good as making art. Back then, I bought lots of art supplies, but the time for using them was much more limited. Too limited.

Mixed media flowers. Mixed media art supplies.
Playing with supplies, from 2013.

“Wassily,” I said, “money almost took me away from creating, so how can I create a painting about it?” But Wassily is a funny guy. He doesn’t answer questions that he wants me to answer through creating. Then he just stares at me silently like a watchdog, preventing the escape from the studio.

Paivi Eerola starts a new oil painting in her home studio. How to paint intuitively so that it's cathartic.

So I can do nothing but start.

From a Pet to a Beast

While filling the blank canvas, I tried to comfort myself by thinking about how money can be a good thing too, enabling grand and beautiful things.

Intuitive art techniques. Painting with finger and wiping off paint.

“I will paint all the luxury,” I said to Wassily and picked Indian Yellow, the color of gold.

Intuitive art techniques: using a variety of brushes.

It all went fine for a long time. The painting was like a lion cub, cute and pretty at a young age, a true pet.

Intuitive oil painting in progress.

But then slowly, the colors got stronger, and shapes began to stretch in all directions.

Intuitive oil painting in progress. Creating art to achieve emotional catharsis.

The pet had become a beast, and I couldn’t control it anymore.

Emotional Catharsis – Letting Go of Control

Just before I was about to give up the fight, Wassily stepped towards and said: “What was it like as a teenager before you chose money” He was pointing me with a brush that had Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red. The colors that I used so often back then.

Painting with colors that speak to you. Experiencing emotional catharsis through colors and shapes.

“Not now, Wassily, I can’t be weak now. I have this beast to handle”, I gulped, pointing towards the painting. But he grabbed my hand and, unlike his usual self, brutally fed it to the growing lion. The pain took over, the colors splashed uncontrollably, and for a short time, moments of my life ran through me when the lion ate me bit by bit. I was a teenager trying to find her painting style and become an artist. A young adult losing her parents and, as a result, counting pennies.

But then, just before the last ray of light burned out, I heard Wassily’s demanding voice: “You are not dead yet. Open your eyes and finish the painting.”

Oil painting supplies.

Days went by, and I visited the painting now and then like it would be a rare animal in a cage. Something had happened, but what? Wassily got frustrated: “Can’t you see it? It’s vanitas!

Vanitas – Emotional Catharsis Explained

Vanitas paintings are still lives that express the inevitability of death in symbols. They were in fashion in the Netherlands in the early 17th century, but they have inspired artists later too.

Edwaert Collier, Vanitas, 1661, detail. Finnish National Gallery.
Edwaert Collier, Vanitas, 1661, detail. Finnish National Gallery.

Suddenly, my lion shrank to only a skull, and there were bubbles, smoke, candles, musical instruments, playing cards, flowers, a bowl … all kinds of historical symbols for the futility of pleasure and certainty of death. Now finishing was easy. I just made the objects a little more distinct.

Here’s the closeup of the lion skull.

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. A detail.

Playing cards are flying in the air.

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. A detail.

Here’s the crown, thrown in the mud.

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. A detail.

If you look carefully, you can also find lots of other symbols too. For example, a red bowl in the middle broken by icy water. And the yellow bottom expresses musical instruments and their sounds.

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Read how she experienced emotional catharsis when making this.

My favorite part is what the imaginary Wassily painted:

Vanitas, intuitive oil painting by Paivi Eerola. A detail.

“This is how money looks like,” said Wassily in his teaching voice. “Don’t feel pity or fear about it anymore. Now you are free to paint whatever you want.”

– “I want to paint a couple of big floral still lives inspired by the 17th-century Dutch masters!” The relief and enthusiasm filled my mind.

– “Whatever,” yawned Wassily. Clearly, it would not have been his choice, but I hope he’ll keep sticking around anyway.

Painting a big floral. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Have you ever experienced emotional catharsis through art-making? So, feeling purified after going through the climax of negative emotions? Do you always create for beauty or do you like to step to the other side too?

Starting a Colored Pencil Journal

This week, I started a project that I have been thinking about for quite a while: a colored pencil art journal! I hope this post inspires you to keep a visual journal too.

From Mundane to Fantastic

Moss horse, lemons and dandelions. Colored pencil journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The idea of this journal is to connect everyday events with the world of fantasy. I want it to be a visual diary that is inspired by the ordinary but still goes beyond it. I

Books and Pencils

I have kept small art journals before too, and they still feel inspiring many years later. The two old art journals below are Moleskine sketchbooks.

Small art journals - Moleskine sketchbooks and Archer & Olive notebook.

The new one is a blank notebook from Archer & Olive. I chose it because I really like Archer & Olive as a company, and I’ve grown to like their bright white paper for bullet journaling. The size of the new notebook is A5 (5,75 x 8,25 inches), so a little bigger than the old sketchbooks but still very manageable.

When ordering the notebook, I got a discount code, so click here to get 10% off if you haven’t purchased from Archer & Olive before.

Archer & Olive notebook and a mixed selection of colored pencils.
The yellow linen cover isn’t the most practical choice, it will probably be grey after the journal is full!

I have been purchasing new pencils too. Yesterday, I went to Helsinki to visit art supply stores and got some colored pencils – a mixed selection to expand my knowledge of different brands. So far, I have mostly used wax-based pencils like Prismacolor Soft Core and Caran d’Ache Luminance, but now I also got oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. I also bought some Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils and more Luminance that has been my favorite so far. I have always mixed all kinds of pencils in my drawings and continue to do so!

Starting a Colored Pencil Journal

I usually fill an art journal by choosing the pages randomly. But because this journal is about my everyday life, I wanted it to be chronological and start from the first spread. It’s exciting to see how it will change and what kind of secondary stories the images will tell.

What to Draw First?

I suggest you let your journal develop intuitively so that you move from one association to another and mix all kinds of ideas together. So often, the fantasy is in the mix, not in the single element.

My first ideas: a horse and moss greens. A horse because I love to draw them and moss because currently, our garden has plenty of it. We like it more than grass, so we are not complaining!

Starting a colored pencil journal. Using water with watercolor pencils.

I don’t use water often, but now with the thick 160gsm paper, I smoothened the strokes of the bottom layer with a water brush. After drawing the moss horse, dandelions and all kinds of weeds came to my mind. Namely, while watching the puppy, I have been weeding almost daily and thinking that weeds are quite pretty too.

Art journaling with colored pencils. Using many brands and many layers in the same spread.

Let the Ideas and Associations Flow!

Then, of course, there’s this puppy, Saima! She makes me look at the leaves, twigs, stones, everything that she can find on the ground. My favorite moments in creating are those when I focus on the details and forget the surrounding world. I think Saima does the same many times in a day. For her, reality feels like a fantasy. We, adults, need to find the fantasy in our minds.

Beagle puppy explores nature.

I tried Derwent’s burnishing pencil for the first time and quite liked it.

Using a Derwent burnishing pencil.

I was also inspired by rain, the wet tiles in the backyard, sunny mornings, and how I love old portrait paintings even if I can’t fully understand why. My favorite fruits are lemons, and it will be exciting to see how many times they reappear in the journal.

Using Archer & Olive's blank notebook as a colored pencil journal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
In a fantasy world, dandelion can be a size of a horse, and the horizon can be non-existent.

A spread with pencils is not a big project like a canvas painting, but can still feel satisfying, especially when the journal progresses.

What do you think?

P.S. For more colored pencil inspiration, remember to sign up for Intuitive Coloring!

Intuitive Coloring – Examples and Thoughts

This week, I show sneak peeks and process pics of simple intuitive colorings and talk about intuitive art.

Intuitive art with colored pencils by Paivi Eerola

Since I made the last free video “Colored Pencils – Intuitive Approach,” I have been thinking about free coloring. First, it felt like I have explored it thoroughly in the e-book Coloring Freely and in the class Inspirational Drawing. But as soon as I began to make some notes about intuitive coloring, I realized that there are things that I haven’t shared in these blog posts or in my classes so far. Many of them are things that seemed complicated and heavy at first, but the more I have experimented with them, they appear to be very simple and light.

Coloring freely

And it feels fun to color freely on a blank paper, and there’s a sense of playfulness too right from the beginning.

Playing with colored pencils

I am a more-is-more kind of a person, but after making a series of large oil paintings, I wrote a mental note that says “less is enough” in capital letters.

Can Intuitive Coloring Be Taught and Learned?

I have also been thinking about the term “intuition” a lot. Why does it feel so intuitively correct to say that my art is intuitive? And not only that. Why do I want to teach intuitive art? Because isn’t intuitive just about letting go and emptying the mind on paper? Doing what you want, doing what feels right?

Colorful colored pencil art

But as a former engineer, it’s always been hard for me to trust intuition when I am trying something new or reaching for a new level. Then the intuition is confused with the comfortable “same-old-same-old” routine. That old dog always stays close, but intuition and imagination are timid puppies. To find the puppies – that’s where I feel I can help.

Intuitive coloring - a detail. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Would you be interested in this upcoming class?

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