Peony and Parakeet

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Hand-drawn collage art composed digitally.

When like-minded hearts gather together, life feels wonderful.
What starts from a simple circle can grow wings,
and then support others.
Isn’t that what creating is all about?
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Power of Boredom

When I was a child, my most prevalent feeling was boredom. It felt like childhood was a long wait for things to happen, life to start. I was at the mercy of others and dreamed of the time when I could do it all by myself.

Moments of boredom are necessary for creativity. Digital collage made of hand-drawn and hand-painted elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

At that time, in the 1970s, there was no iPad to keep me company. Instead, I often grabbed the only picture book from the shelf where my parents kept their books. It was a softcover book about old paintings. I was staring at Monet and Manet while my mother cooked us dinner. The book wasn’t big, and the images were small. But this way, culture was introduced to me at a young age. Having this one book on the shelf, my parents unknowingly affected my life’s journey.

I was browsing the book in a colorful living room.

It had yellow, orange and red textiles and a grey sofa. Later, the colors were changed to warm green, and brown. It was all fine before my mother bought greyish mint green curtains. She was exhilarated about the color and kept talking about how well mint green fitted with the rest of the decoration. I, in turn, was in shock – cool green doesn’t fit with the warm tones! Every time I was in that room, the curtains made me feel uncomfortable. I waited for the day to pick my own palette!

Enjoying colors. Digital art made of handpainted and handdrawn elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My sisters were living in a red room. It also had white, so it was quite cheery, but I didn’t like the colors. Even the table had a red frame, and it bothered me quite a bit. When my sisters moved away, and the room became mine, my parents traveled to the nearest big town Joensuu to buy new wallpaper. And when they came back, surprisingly, my father, who never had anything to say about the colors, had chosen little yellow roses! “Aww … everything has to be changed to yellow now!” I cried. My mother agreed. They bought curtains that had yellow flowers, a yellow clock, a carpet that had yellow and brown, and sunny yellow bedcovers for the two beds that the room still had. 

Back to childhood. Watercolor painting and a photo of a clock. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.
I still have that clock!

I was thinking about these colors all the time.

Did everything match? What I liked and what I didn’t like? I assumed that all people were similar, contemplating their color choices, walking around their homes, thinking about the tint of the curtains.

Digital art made from handpainted and handdrawn elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My first art book got abandoned when I started using the local library. It had huge books filled with master paintings. For years, I sat in the library and waited for my life to begin. I admired the colors, and Picasso and Matisse became my favorites.

Boredom increases creativity. Digital art that uses hand-painted elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

At a young age, I knew that green is not only green. It could be muddy green or mint green or something between. And when I was accepted in the local icon-painting group, I also learned that there can be a strictly defined range of tones. It was so satisfying when my teacher told me that I had produced not only an acceptable but beautiful blue for the background. We all used the same amount of the same pigments, and still, every one of us had a slightly different blue. Amazing!

Digital art from hand-painted elements by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about how her childhood affected her art!

When walking to my home from a group session held at the cellar of the nearest church, I looked at the dark starry sky and admired its deep shade against the white snow. The number of colors that I was able to see was growing all the time.

Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

All this seemed insignificant back then.

I was just filling the moments of boredom while waiting for my life to begin. And then, finally, I grew up, moved away, went to study, met my future husband, got a dog and a good job, built a career, bought a house. 

Paivi Eerola and her art.

But when I am creating, these events feel less important. Instead, I want to get back to those childhood years trying to remember every single dull moment and detail, including the tone of my yellow bedroom. I am dependable on that boredom. It defines me as an artist. Everything genuine and sincere in my art can be connected with my childhood, with the age of boredom.

Leaf Chapel, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

Does your childhood show in your art? Do you aim for the images that you see other people create, or are you geared to finding your own? This is one of the carrying themes in Lesson 2 of Magical Forest, starting on February 1st.

Hop along! The class ends at the end of April, and you will get Lesson 1 right after the registration. >> Sign up here!

Art Quilts in a Modern Way

Folk Music, digital art from handmade elements, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s something that I have wanted to show you for a long time! I have been working with a custom order which made me think of a new idea: to create fabric prints and make quilted wall hangings from them. This idea is very versatile as you don’t have to be a quilter, you can print your art on fabric and use it for bags, purses, clothes – anything!

The artwork above has been composed digitally of various art pieces that I have made. The person who ordered the wall hanging is a fan of modern folk music and the color red. (If you have not listened to modern folk songs, try Hanneke Cassel for example!)

A leaf motif by Peony and Parakeet

I created one new collage piece for the artwork. All the other details are picked from my archives.

It was pretty exciting to send the artwork to Spoonflower. When I received the fabric, the print quality was really sharp and detailed! I already knew from the previous experiences that big areas of black don’t print well, so I avoided those.

A digital fabric print designed by Peony and Parakeet

If you are a quilter, you know that the fabric will look so much better when quilted! I sandwiched cotton wadding, two layers of fusible interfacing and backing fabric and took out my sewing machine.

Quilting an art print by Peony and parakeet

I am not very experienced with free-motion quilting using the free-motion foot, so I used even-feed foot instead. But with patience, I was able to create quilting that enhanced my brush strokes.

Making art quilt by Peony and Parakeet

The finished quilt is about 45 x 39 inches.

Art Quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

I used various colors of shiny embroidery threads for quilting. Using black thread brings the real black that was not produced by digital printing.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Quilting on watercolor!

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Entering the flow state when playing modern folk was in the center of my inspiration.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

I added the label to the printing file too.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s another project that I actually made earlier to test the idea. This one does not contain much digital processing, I only took a good photo of the original art and enhanced it a little bit.

Original paper artwork and a fabric quilt made from it, by Peony and Parakeet

I think this artwork looks really good on fabric! The actual idea when creating the original was to mimic hand embroidery! Read about creating the original artwork: When Pens Replace Needles

Folk Leaves, digitally printed fabric quilt by Peony and Parakeet

I added some embroidery before quilting but found out that quilting works well as decoration.

A detail of a digitally printed art quilt, by Peony and Parakeet

A printed fabric label can be found from here too.

A detail of a digitally printed art quilt, by Peony and Parakeet

I also have more fabric prints waiting to be transferred into art quilts!

Fabric prints from paper artworks, by Peony and Parakeet

Paper prints news: New card sets have arrived at my Etsy shop.

Art Postcards by Peony and Parakeet

Life can never be too colorful!

Art Postcards by Peony and Parakeet

Stella and Cosmo send their greetings to all artists and quilters: Have a relaxing weekend!

Beagles with quilts by Peony and Parakeet

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I Dream to Create …

I have big creative dreams: to create something that makes a huge impact – I mean HUGE!

1) Interiors

Trick photo: entering the room decorated by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about my creative dreams.

I dream about people entering the room and feeling that they almost faint. Colors, patterns everywhere! The best thing would be to see their reaction: “OMG! You must be kidding!”

2) Exteriors

Trick photo: Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona pavilion decorated by Peony and Parakeet

I dream about painting street art for buildings and great architectural places. I would change all those white boxes to something overwhelmingly colorful. It did not matter if it would be a temporary mask. At least the building could say: “There was a time when I was alive!”

3) Huge Paintings

Trick photo: huge painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about my creative dreams!

I dream about people sitting on the bench nearby staring at them. A big company could have them in their lobby area. What a wealth of colors!

4) Big Quilts

Trick photo: quilted fabric by Peony and Parakeet

I dream about designing every single fabric piece which is sewn in them. All original, all full of patterns!

5) Stage Backgrounds

Trick photo: concert background show designed by Peony and Parakeet

My ultimate creative dream: Creating a stage background for a concert – a picture show which visualizes the music! I dream about the steps to design the backgrounds: how I would listen to the music, again and again, create sketches for evaluation and work with a big team to make it all happen.

Obviously, all the photos here are trick photos created in Photoshop by combining my own photos. These creative dreams might never come true but dreaming is kind of playing. And playing is a key factor in creativity, so let’s keep on dreaming – BIG!

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