Create Fantastic Art!

Fly to your imagination and paint the emotion.

Peony and Parakeet

About Art and Knitting

Yarnie - an illustration about yarn obsession by the artist Paivi Eerola.
“Yarnie” – A digital illustration about yarn obsession when you escape to an island of wool and all you feel and hear is yarn.

Knitting Through Childhood

I learned to knit before school when I was about five years old. Before that, my older sisters had taught me to crochet, but it wasn’t enough. “There will be much more stitches, and they get dropped easily,” they said. But I was determined. I sat in the kitchen with a ball of dark green light-weight yarn and thin needles that had duck heads in the other end. I wrapped the yarn around the needles and was sure that I would figure it out by myself. It must have been an endearing sight because my sisters gave up and taught me to knit.

After that, I was unstoppable. My mother taught me to make socks and mittens, and when I went to school, I learned more from there. Our local library had a couple of shelves of knitting books, and I borrowed them regularly. As a teenager, I bought a knitting machine and made a sweater in a couple of days.

A purple and green sweater inspired by abstract art.
I attended in a teenagers’ knitwear design competition in the 1980s and got a price with this sweater, inspired by abstract art!
The good thing in the 1980s fashion is that the knits were so big that we never grow out of them!

Late-Night Knitting

Like art, knitting has always been with me. But even if I have had times in my life when I haven’t created art, I have never stopped knitting. No matter what crisis I had, how busy at work I have been, there has always been time and energy for knitting. It’s still like breathing – in, out – knit, purl.

As a child, I had a phase when I dreamed about being a textile artist. But the older I have become, the more I have realized that the connection between knitting and art-making must be looser for me. In the late evenings, when the working day is over, I say good-bye to the artist in me. Then it’s time to stop producing and start consuming. I browse online yarn stores, their Instagram accounts, and Ravelry.com – the ultimate database for knitters – and plan my next projects. I watch knitting podcasts on Youtube and knit obsessively as long as I can stretch the night. I don’t think about art, and I don’t feel like an artist. By following or adapting a pattern that someone else has written makes sure that I don’t have to think but just knit.

But strangely, for each big painting, I need a lot of knitting. It’s my way of processing all the ordinary so that the extraordinary can come up.

Intuitive fair isle knitting and intuitive paintings.
One of my recent sweaters that has “intuitive fair isle” as I call the colorwork without charts.

Art and Knitting – Work and Hobby

When I started blogging over ten years ago, my blog was about knitting. At that time, I also sold handmade bags called folk bags and wool that I produced in co-operation with my friend and a few farmers. There might still be some of you who have followed me since then. Thank you for sticking around!

A photo from 2008 when I had an Etsy store that sold handmade drawstring pouches called folk bags.
Later, I wrote a pattern for them. You can purchase it here!

When I grew my artist’s identity, I wanted not to talk about knitting anymore. I needed a hobby, not another job, and I felt that knitting and fine art don’t go so well together in public. People often have a hard time understanding that art can be a real job.

A sketch and the final illustration "Yarnie" by Paivi Eerola.
“Yarnie” is based on a black and white drawing that I made last year.

But last year, I decided that it’s time to approach art with greater confidence than before. It has made me more open, and maybe it has added a bit more self-acceptance too. So yes, I am both an artist and a knitter. Art is my work, and knitting is my hobby, but I would not be able to work without the hobby.

Does this make sense to you? Let me know what you think!

Can Fine Artists Craft? Can Crafters Make Art?

In this week’s post, I share my newest painting and other creative projects, and talk about linking art and crafts together.

Elämän nälkä - Hunger for Life, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my new painting called “Elämän nälkä – Hunger for Life.” It’s made in acrylics. and the size is 54 x 65 cm (about 21 x 25,5 inches). I started it before my dog Cosmo passed way, but it feels very timely, expressing how we want to live and survive, even if life is not in our control.

How I Created This Painting

My paintings often start with a specific color in mind, and this one was all blue in the beginning, and the orientation was vertical.

Then I turned it around and added more colors, then turned around again!

I wanted everything in this piece to be wild and free. It’s enjoyable to paint this way.

My favorite part of the painting is the top corner. It’s so sinister, and yet, so beautiful!

A detail of Hunger for Life, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the whole painting again. I really like this one even if the atmosphere is gloomier than usual.

Elämän nälkä - Hunger for Life, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I always take the final photos before varnishing, because it’s easier to take pictures when the painting isn’t glistening. However, I love how the varnish makes the colors glow.

Varnishing an acrylic painting. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Painting Feels Different from Crafting

For me, creating art is a strange mixture of letting go and paying attention to the tiniest details. It’s like I am the mother and caretaker for my paintings, but can’t fully control the children’s personality and actions.

In my spare time, when quilting or knitting, it’s different. I can feel a sense of control, and I like it a lot. After saying goodbye to Cosmo, I sewed a quilt for Stella. I had the blocks ready, so the project was already half-way. About 20 years ago, I participated a quilt block lottery, where a group of quilters sewed similar kinds of blocks and happened to win them all. I had also sewn some more recently.

A log cabin dog quilt. Crafting as a hobby by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her thoughs about fine artists, craft artists, and crafting.

Art Inspiration from Crafting

My relationship for quilting and knitting has changed over the years. About 20 years ago, I thought that crafting is my way of creating art. But the more I got interested in painting and drawing, the less creative it felt. During the past 6 years, art-making and crafting have been strictly separated: visual art is the profession and crafting is the hobby.

This fall, my mindset has changed. I now realize that knitting is a way to give space for the internal processing that my paintings need. When I knit, my subconscious is sketching.

Knitting a sweater. All together, pattern by Joji Locatelli.

I love stranded knitting with many colors. My current project is Joji Locatelli’s All Together Sweater.

Here’s my current painting in progress. At least in this stage, it has some similarities with the sweater!

Artist Paivi Eerola and her painting in progress.

In general, I am more open to inspiration that I get from crafting, and vice versa. I made this quilt for my friend’s puppy.

A dog quilt by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her thoughts about crating and art-making, craft artists, fine artists, and crafters.

Crafter, Craft Artist, Fine Artist – What’s Your Number One Creative Activity?

Many who create both art and crafts struggle with finding their style. For me, the working solution was to draw a clear line between the two. It made me see what things were missing in my artistic process, and what I needed to practice more. My artistic identity needed this isolation to make a clear hierarchy in what I create.

But now, I feel I can loosen up. Here’s what I wrote on Peony and Parakeet’s Facebook page last week:

“Art makes us more aware of what affects us and how we process it. Sometimes it means that we don’t want to immerse ourselves into something because it would not have a good impact on us. Other times it means that we want more of something because we know we need that. But for me, the most significant thing has been that accidental things happen, and I don’t need to filter everything. Both art and life run through us, and when the stream gets stronger, it will change not only us but our surroundings as well. When we say we want to loosen up, isn’t that what we really mean?”

Browsing a sketchbook by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This month, I have done a lot more than just creating canvas paintings. I am working on a new class about abstract art and Paul Klee’s teachings. I have talked about Paul Klee before, but now I am creating a class that translates his teachings to a more expressive style. Hopefully, the class is launching at the end of November, stay tuned!

Painting on a sketchbook. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have also finished an art journaling mini-course for an artist collaboration project. It will be for sale in October – so very soon!

Paivi Eerola and her many art journals.

What’s Your Number One Creative Activity?

Here’s how I see myself now: I am a visual artist who creates abstract nature paintings mostly. I process my paintings by knitting, writing, art journaling, and doing daily walks. I live in a midcentury home, and my background is in design. I process my designs by growing plants and quilting. My paintings have design elements, and my designs have elements that are painted.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her art studio.

Painting is my number one thing. All the other activities serve it.

How would you define yourself through your creative activities? What’s your number one creative activity?

Art Inspiration from Sanditon

This blog post is for us who love Jane Austen and Sanditon tv series. I watched the series last month, and it has inspired me a lot. I hope you enjoy this Sanditon inspiration overload!

Torchbearer – Esther and Lord Babington on the Beach

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My newest watercolor painting called Torchbearer had a modest beginning and I had no clue how to finish it – until I saw episode 8 of Sanditon!

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My favorite female character of Sanditon is Esther and the scene where she is in the carriage with Lord Babington was so romantic! The sudden change in her appearance, his gentle smile, black horses, empty shore – oh my! It hit me, that even if my painting has flowers, not people, I could express the emotion from the scene.

A detail of Torchbearer. Inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tallest flower and the glow come from Esther’s powerful spirit.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The flower that bends down, expresses her sensitivity.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I tried to paint every flower so that they highlight the bubbling energy. Their stems are like the carriage where the couple sat.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The black background represents both the horses and the lord, supporting Esther’s joy.

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In this painting, Esther is a torchbearer who leads us to better times.

Tin Box – A Souvenir from Sanditon

Inspired by Sanditon tv drama. Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like little boxes that can be used for storing hand-drawn pictures and papers. I wanted to decorate a small tin box so that it would have old-fashioned and luxurious feel. So that I could think of it as a souvenir from Sanditon!

I already had saved a hand-drawn piece that was quite perfect in size.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also found some papers with a watercolor print. They were test runs of the surface pattern designed earlier this year. I mostly designed the pattern manually, so by painting a design on the center of the paper and then cutting the paper into four parts.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This way you get a continuous design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Avoid painting edges, and re-arrange papers until they are all fully painted.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then scan the papers, and clean the edges in an image processing software. Here’s a sample of my design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made several variations in Photoshop. These papers go really well with hand-drawings, so they were perfect for the box.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. Test prints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The center motif was first colored with watercolors.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I hand-stitched it on a background paper and added more hand-stitching around the center. In the photo below, I highlight the surroundings of the stitches with a pen so that they look more 3-dimensional.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also added beads, more colors and decorative marks.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The centerpiece is a button with a shank removed. I love this little box!

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther Denham – Sanditon Paper Doll

I also wanted to create something for my ever-growing collection of collage figures. “Just an unknown habitat of Sanditon”, I decided first. I didn’t use any reference and drew the doll just freely, but when she was colored, she looked just like Esther!

Drawing a paper doll. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I played with her proportions so that she has overly long legs. That way I could make the dress more imaginative. The hem was cut from one of the watercolor papers. I couldn’t help playing with her right away, trying wings on her, filling the teacup with herbs from Sanditon. The wings and the teacup are from my fun class Magical Inkdom.

Drawing a paper doll and playing with hand-drawn pieces. Inspired by Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Her hat is also a collage piece cut from watercolor papers.

Hand-drawn paper doll inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Souvenirs from Sanditon!

Paper art inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The Romance Continues

I am currently painting an oil painting that looks quite romantic already.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My vision is to make it the third in the series after Icebreaker and Torchbearer – and put it in the middle of them.

Two watercolor paintings of Paivi Eerola, an artist from Finland.

One Source of Inspiration – Many Interpretations

If you have been following my blog, you know that some of my projects are fine art, others more illustrational, and there can be a bit crafty things too. This blog post demonstrates well how the inspiration can be the same, but the interpretation is different. For me, the wide range of projects is a way to stay inspired and creative, and I hope that you have tolerance for all of them. I don’t believe in getting too serious or not getting serious at all. The humorous side of art allows us to get playful, and the playfulness feeds our ability to express the deeper side of our inspiration.

Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther can be the person who handed me a crafty gift box, or an innocent paper doll, or a mysterious flower in a painting that took tens of hours to create. The key to your artistic style is less in the looks and more in the inspiration. For me, it’s often old-fashioned romances, like Sanditon.

Welcome to my online classes!
– Paint watercolor fantasies – Sign up for Magical Forest!
– Draw the magic – Buy Magical Inkdom!

Doodler’s Sampler Step by Step

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

I have always loved antique embroidery, and it inspires my art too. This week, I invite you to treat your pen as a needle and doodle the look of the precious hand-stitched fabric. My drawing – I call this Doodler’s Sampler – is 9 by 12 inches but you can make a smaller or bigger piece with these instructions. The best paper for this is Bristol paper. It’s smooth and nice to color with watercolors.

Step 1 – Draw a Grid

Because we aim for ornamental stiffness, a grid helps to place the elements. Use a pencil so that you can erase the lines before coloring. Start by outlining a space for a frame. Then divide the rest of the paper so that they help to place the main elements.

Making a symmetrical drawing with the help of a grid. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted my Doodler’s Sampler to be symmetrical, so I drew a vertical centerline, and then divided the two halves into three parts. Another idea that I had was to have a vase of flowers. So I drew horizontal lines that mark each third, and the lowest third is reserved for the vase.

Step 2 – Sketch the Structure

Old samplers are filled with decorations but at the beginning, it’s enough to sketch the places for the biggest elements and their shapes.

Making a symmetrical drawing with the help of a grid. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted to have something rectangular on the top corners, the vase on the bottom, plant-like organic shapes coming out of the vase, and then an angular jewel-like thing on the top of the ornament.

Step 3 – Doodle and Decorate

Pick a thin-tipped drawing pen, that has permanent ink, and start doodling! Make more shapes and fill them with circles, rectangles, flowers, hearts, anything you can think of!

Drawing ornaments for a doodler's sampler. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My pen is Copic Multiliner, tip size 0.05. I add shadows to my doodles so that they don’t just outline the shapes but there are darker parts too.

Doodling with Copic Multiliner. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I make the decorative border simpler so that it doesn’t take the power away from the centerpiece. Trembling lines look more decorative than straight ones.

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Here’s my Doodler’s Sampler after Step 3, ready for coloring.

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Step 4 – Color the Background

You can use any supplies for coloring, but in my opinion, the softness of watercolors complements the sharp black lines best. Start the coloring by adding some color to the background.

Doodler's Sampler in progress. See the step by step instructions!

I use very little pigment and many tones so that the background looks like old antique linen.

Step 5 – Color the Doodles

Pick one main color for the sampler. My choice is cool carmine red. When coloring, add more decorations like dots and other decorative shapes. You can also color around a shape instead of inside the shape.

Doodler's Sampler in progress. See the step by step instructions!

Pick slightly different tones for the frame. I use warmer red and a little bit of orange.

Coloring a black and white drawing. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When you have colored the sampler with a very narrow color scheme, make it more lively with some new tones.

Watercolors and doodling. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I added blue and yellow, but very sparingly.

Coloring the doodles with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

You can also highlight the main elements by making the darkest areas pitch black.

Coloring the doodles with watercolors. Doodler's sampler by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here are the black and white version and the colored version side by side. Click the image to see it bigger!

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Doodler’s Sampler – For the Love of Flowers and Hand-Stitching

Henri Matisse has said: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things”. I think that to me, it goes like this: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the similarities between things.” So here’s for the love of flowers and hand-stitching!

Start your sampler with jeweled flowers – Subscribe to my weekly emails and get a free mini-course!

Scroll to top