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Peony and Parakeet

Painting an Intuitive Fantasy

This week, I have a new fantasy painting, and I also share tips about selecting colors.

"Arotuuli / Steppe Wind", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her post about this intuitive fantasy painting!

This painting is called “Arotuuli,” which is “Steppe Wind” in English. “Aro” must be one of the few words that are shorter in Finnish than in English, as Finnish words are often very long. We write compound words without space, so it makes words look even longer.

Intuitive Fantasy Painting – Two Tips for the Beginning

I like to paint intuitively, and even if this painting has horses and a woman, it started with random strokes and abstract blocks, and I had no other idea than a secret wish to be able to include a horse at some point.

Tip 1 – Dark and Light

When filling the canvas with color, I like to make dark and light color mixes so that the 3-dimensional effect tickles my imagination.

Starting an intuitive painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Tip 2 – Less Can Be More

I also like to pick a narrow selection of colors so that the elements look like they are exposed to the same light. In this painting, I mostly used Phthalo Turquoise, Alizarin Crimson, Yellowish Green, and Titanium White. When mixing colors, less can be more!

A Couple of My Favorite Colors

I am especially fond of Yellowish Green and Alizarin Crimson, and I recommend them warmly. Let’s talk about them a bit more.

Color 1 – Yellowish Green

Yellowish Green is a color mix manufactured by Schminke Primacryl. I bought this tube because I love Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold in watercolors, and I wanted to have a similar tone in acrylics. I like colors that remind me of lemons and lime fruits – one of the most beautiful things in the world – and I always find use for yellows. This color is like two colors in one tube: it works very well with the mixes that require yellow, but it also produces beautiful greens with blues.

Yellowish Green by Schminke PrimAcryl.

Color 2 – Alizarin Crimson

Alizarin Crimson is an ugly red. I don’t think you would buy it if you didn’t know more about it. It looks like dried blood but works very well with color mixes. White reveals its gentler side, and when mixed with blues, you can get beautiful blacks, browns, and dark purples. It produces a pleasant and quite sunny orange with yellows, and in general, it’s a workhorse, always willing to step in.

Alizarin Crimson, a beautiful red for color mixes. Manufactured by Golden Acrylics.

Alizarin Crimson was originally manufactured from madder, but these old organic dyes faded or changed within time, so nowadays we use synthetic substitutes. I found this color in oils first. Schminke’s oil paint is called “Alizarin Madder Lake”. My tube, manufactured by Golden, is “Alizarin Crimson Hue”. Alizarin Crimson is sometimes called “Madder Lake” or “Alizarin Red,” and the tone may vary. Pick the darkest and ugliest one!

If you are a color nerd, Bright Earth by Philip Ball is a comprehensive book about pigments and their origin.

Here’s the painting before I started adding the figures. The image shows well how Yellowish Green and Alizarin Crimson work in color mixes.

An intuitive acrylic painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Intuitive Fantasy Shape by Shape

I painted the woman and the horses so that they are partly abstract and partly realistic. Some shapes exist just because they look beautiful, others because they are building blocks for the figures.

Painting details shape by shape. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here are some details of the finished painting. The more you zoom in, the more abstract the painting looks.

A detail of "Arotuuli / Steppe Wind", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. This painting has three horses.
A detail of "Arotuuli / Steppe Wind", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Arotuuli / Steppe Wind", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Arotuuli / Steppe Wind", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the whole painting again.

I wanted to keep the colors light and bright to create an airy impression.

Intuitive Fantasy Painting – Big or Small?

“Arotuuli” is one of my biggest paintings. It’s 60 x 60 cm (about 23,5 x 23,5 inches) and painted on a stretched, fairly thick canvas. I like painting on smooth surfaces. My style is detailed, and the coarse structure doesn’t go well with it. The painting was started about a month ago, and I took few-hour sessions now and then. It’s not as slow as you would think, because the small strokes aren’t as tiny as with small pieces. Sometimes we produce clumsy just because we select a small size. For me, the bigger size has helped to create dynamic scenes rather than static portraits. “Arotuuli” continues the previous bigger painting “Paratiisi / Paradise.”

Paivi Eerola and her intuitive fantasy painting "Arotuuli / Steppe Wind."

But next week, something much smaller, even if I do have a new big canvas waiting!

Art Journal Video – Adding Text and Layers to Your Pages

This week is all about art journal inspiration. You see more spreads from the art journal I started a couple of weeks ago, and there’s also a video of making the spread below.

Adding text to art journal pages by Peony and Parakeet. Using alcohol ink with printed text blocks.

The world needs the kind of magic⁣
⁣where those who are seen as weak appear strong,⁣
⁣and where the future is gentler than the present.
⁣Let’s create that magic!⁣

Including Text in Art Journal Pages

I have a pile of these kinds of small stories about art and imagination. Or maybe I should say “a feed” instead of “a pile” because I post them regularly on Peony and Parakeet’s Facebook page. I have always liked writing, and I have a natural urge to share thoughts about my passion. So it hit me that I should write more in my art journals too. And why not use those stories that are born so effortlessly every week?

Handwritten text on an art journal page. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have always wanted to find a genre where I would belong in art.
I follow fantasy artists closely because I love their openness and enthusiasm.
But I guess my genre would be defined more by the process rather than by the result.
Between every painting, I need internal processing by drawing, painting, and writing.
While many artists have sketchbooks, mine are more like creative diaries.
They don’t sketch the next painting but move my thoughts towards it.
We art journalers meet ourselves when we open our books.
Like thoughts, some pages are less finished, some more,
and when the journal is full, one chapter in life comes to an end.

Art Journal Pages with Typed Text Blocks

After writing by hand, I decided to make the next page so that the text would be typed. Not that I hate my handwriting, vice versa, hand-written pages always look great. But when I was a child, I used to write a lot with an old Bijou, and I missed the typed look. I still have the old typewriter, but the possibility to play with the size and style of the letters, made me use a computer instead.

A layered mixed media art journal page by Peony and Parakeet.

Every person has an imaginary world where priorities and hierarchies change.
In my imagination, plants always win.
Every morning when I look at my houseplants,
remove dried leaves, change their position,
they not only maneuver my hands but take over my mind.
I have tried to battle against these modest and silent spirits, but they always win.
So, when I’m painting, I am at their service!

Here’s the spread with the two pages side by side.

Adding text to art journal pages by Peony and Parakeet.

In the second spread, I wanted to play with the orientation and the shape of the text blocks.

Adding text to art journal pages by Peony and Parakeet.

Art is not just about being in the present. You can ask questions like:
What would be possible if I were tens of years younger?
If I were somebody else?
If I traveled to any time and place?
Even: if the laws of physics were absent?
These questions may first have a bit bitter tone,
but in art, these ifs taste sweet.
Our real-life can be like living in a pot,
but through our imagination,
we can reach further.
No matter who you would not want to be in real life,
in the world of art, it’s all good.

Mixed Media Art Journal Pages

For the second spread, I printed a gouache painting that I had made for the class Decodashery on a sticky canvas and adhered it on the page.

Life in a Pot. A gouache painting with collage by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I really like the yellow-green circles, made with alcohol inks.

In this spread, I also used hand-drawn and hand-painted collage pieces made from the classes Magical Inkdom and Decodashery.

Magical art journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I added green to the cat so that it fits with the rest of the page.

Art Journal Magic – Watch the Video!

See the process of attaching printed text, using alcohol inks, and painting with acrylics more in detail by watching the video below!

I hope the video inspired you to fill your journals!

Draw animals and more: Animal Inkdom, Magical Inkdom
Paint decorative flowers and more: Decodashery

Intuitive Painting Step by Step

This week, we are creating an intuitive painting step by step. This project is more about following a process and mindset than trying to replicate my example.

"Deer to Dream" - an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Follow the step by step instructions for an intuitive painting like this!

I call this “Deer to Dream” because if you look at it from a distance, it looks like a bunch of flowers the view is more interesting when you find the deer. This is a small acrylic painting, 35 x 27 cm (about 13,5 x 10,5 inches).

Step 1 – Explore Mud – Paint a Background

Pick a few tubes and mix colors freely. Allow mud to be born!

Starting a painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Don’t expect clarity right from the beginning, but trust that the painting process will purify your mind. The muddy start will make you grounded.

Step 2 – Take a Flight – Paint a Flock

Intuitive painting step by step - Step 2. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With a bit brighter tones, add strokes so that they make a stream across the painting. Paint dark shapes so that they group the strokes.

Keep the focus on expressing the movement rather than trying to create something accurate and realistic. The groups can be flowers or birds or anything that comes to your mind.

Intuitive painting in progress - Step 2. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Your spirit has raised from the mud and begun a journey to a new world.

Step 3 – Land Towards the Light – Add Bright Pastels to the Flock

Intuitive painting step by step - Step 3. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Mix white to the colors, and add bright strokes to the elements. They are now exposed to light, and the flight is getting closer to its destination.

Intuitive painting in progress - Step 3. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

You can leave the painting like this, but for me, intuitive painting is an adventure rather than a safe performance, something that includes risk and excitement, and we haven’t gone far enough yet. So, let’s keep painting!

Step 4 – Become Adventurous – Paint over the Elements

Intuitive painting step by step - Step 4. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When we want to deepen the process, disruption is needed. Use a little bit more water and make brush strokes that partly cover what you have painted so far.

Intuitive painting in progress - Step 4. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

New layer is like an emotion that takes over. It makes the painting messier, but also freer and more open to new ideas.

Step 5 – Explore the Wilderness – Paint Details

Intuitive painting step by step - Step 5. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The painting is now like a wilderness, and you need to know its every corner. Slowly go through every small area and forget the big picture. Make paths from one element to another, allow some parts to become more intense than others, and add little spots and strokes where you want the eye to stop and admire the view.

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

Imagine that every shape has a personality and that it’s your mission to make the shapes interact with each other. Connections can be built so that they share a line, a color, or form.

In this step, you begin to experience creative freedom. At first, it’s like a smell that you become slowly aware of. It’s a possibility to take a new direction and follow your instinct. So again, let’s keep painting!

Step 6 – Dare to Dream – Meet a Spirit

Intuitive painting step by step - Step 6. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Dare to dream further than what you would expect in the beginning! Every painting has a spirit and your mission as an intuitive painter is to recognize it. Even if it’s you who created the painting, the spirit is free.

Feeling the presence of the painting’s spirit is often enough, but recently, I have dared to look at it to the eye and paint it too.

You may also want to read my previous post about artistic spirit!

"Deer to Dream" - an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Intuitive Painting Step by Step with Watercolors?

I used acrylic paints for the project but it’s possible to follow the process for watercolors too. Here are my additional tips for watercolors:

  • Start with lots of water and very light tones.
  • Let the painting dry between every step.
  • Slowly darken the color palette of the painting towards the last step.

More to Come – A Big Intuitive Painting in Progress

Artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet and her intuitive paintings.

I hope that you enjoyed this project! I also have a big intuitive painting in progress, and I am excited about how it has taken off. I will talk more about it in upcoming posts.

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.
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