Create Fantastic Art!

Fly to your imagination and paint the emotion.

Peony and Parakeet

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?

Artist’s Life – What’s Boring and What’s Not!

This week, I make a watercolor painting and talk about how artist’s life can seem different than what it is.

Summer catcher - Kesän sieppari, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.
“Summer Catcher” – “Kesän sieppari”, watercolor, 38 x 56 cm >> Buy it here!

Let’s turn back time and see how this painting came to life!

Is the Art Understood – A Story about Hilma af Klint

It’s a hot summer day, and watercolors are calling me. So I wet a paper, and after the water has soaked in, I start painting with a big brush.

Starting a new watercolor painting. Getting over blank paper syndrome by using lots of colors and water.
The beginning: Lot of water and random strokes in warm colors.
The paper is Fabriano Artistico (cold press). I buy watercolor paper in big sheets and split them in half.

With the first strokes, I listen to the last minutes of an audiobook that has kept me company for a few weeks. It’s “Hilma af Klintin arvoitus” (The mystery of Hilma af Klint) by Pirkko Kotirinta. It’s a new book, published this year and currently only available in Finnish.

Even if the book is about Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), an interesting Swedish abstract pioneer, the companionship with the book hasn’t been pleasant. Mostly because I wanted to know about Hilma’s thoughts and philosophies – her inner life. But the book focuses on the external events and on the author’s background investigation for those.

A part of artist's life is to see art. Hilma af Klint's exhibition in Finland in 2014. Paivi Eerola enjoyed the big paintings.
We had Hilma af Klint’s art exhibtion in Finland in 2014. See my old post inspired by this exhibition!

When the book ends, I think about how people who admire artists from the outside perspective often romanticize things that are not romantic at all. There has been a lot of them around Hilma too. These people say: “The artist chose not to sell her art” or “The artist wanted to keep her art private,” but honestly, no professional artist wants that.

Instead, it can happen as it did for Hilma, that despite all the effort, the art was not respected or understood, and that breaks the artist’s heart. Hilma af Klint decided that the time would be more suitable later. So, she stated that her work had to be kept secret for 20 years after death.

Every artist wants to be current, but art has its own timeline. Sometimes it’s too far in the past, and sometimes – like Hilma’s – in the future. Painting freely is like a game where every layer is a new level. The result is unexpected, yet synchronized with the inner clock of the artist.

Spraying on watercolor paper. Getting colors mixed naturally.
I like to use a spraying bottle excessively in the first layer. It’s relaxing and leads to surprises!

Boring and Not – Two Sides of Artist’s Life

People who look at artists from the outside perspective think that they live a carefree and eventful life. Therefore, they try to solve the mystery of Hilma af Klint by tracking the external events instead of internal ones. Artist’s handwritten diaries can be too confused, and it’s less complicated to travel from town to town and follow the actual footsteps. But most of Hilma’s life was spiritual, and her 193 gigantic temple paintings, laborious to create.

From the external perspective, art-making is one of the most boring things if you measure it by the amount of silence and concentration.

Working in a studio as a watercolor artist. Concentration is a part of artist's life.
I change brushes between layers so that the painting has a variety of strokes.
Here I am working with a flat brush.

However, what happens in the inner world, can make the artist’s life most exciting. We get to fly to a new land, find a color, be a color! We get to transmit a spirit through shapes and their interaction.

Enjoying strokes when painting with watercolors. One of the pleasures of artist's life.
Some strokes are just water. I use them to spread the color and make lighter strokes.

At first, accidental spots of color cause traditional associations: “Here could be a leaf, there a flower.” But when we let them go, a more personal layer opens: “Here’s something that reminds me of teenage years.” And slowly, more layers unfold, colors give room to shapes, and something that first sounded like a foreign language reaches the natural rhythm, and everything falls in place.

Making a layered watercolor painting. By artist Paivi Eerola.
Details become textures after getting a color wash. It helps with the composition.
Negative painting – painting around the shapes – brings out light elements.

I work from light to dark and slowly add depth. The process of moving from traditional to natural is the toughest one for me. It requires to face many unpleasant memories – mental monsters that guard the paradise. From the outside perspective, I only make slow strokes for hours. But inside, I am crossing a storming sea feeling afraid of failure and success at the same time. The monsters are roaring on both shores and the only way to get through is not to beat but tame them.

Painting details in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Sharp elements over fuzzy layers make the painting look finished and less flat.
This painting took two days and several sessions.

The monsters are often visible in my paintings too. People often point them when choosing their favorite details: “I like this. How did you do that?”

Summer catcher - Kesän sieppari, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.

The two sides of art – the technical and the spiritual – are always present. Thus, art is always about both learning the strokes and living the strokes.

Paivi’s Watercolor Classes & Exhibitions

A watercolor journal in progress. Recording artist's life.

No matter what media you end up loving, watercolors have a lot to teach! Color washes, the negative painting technique, making simple shapes more elegant – all these techniques are useful for any art. Paivi likes to think about her watercolor set as a little assistant, always eager to work, and someone who sets her back on track.

If you are in Italy or Finland, come to see Paivi’s watercolor paintings! “Shyeling” is displayed in the international group exhibition in Fabriano from June 20 to Oct 31. “Torchbearer” and “Maximalist” are displayed in the Akvart gallery in Helsinki from July 12-25, 2021.

Also check: Original watercolor paintings available in the shop

Mystical Side of Art(ist) in Progress

This week, I show an unfinished painting and talk about the mystical side of nature and art.

I have a big painting in progress. At least it’s the biggest one that I have ever made – 92 x 65 cm, about 36 x 26 inches. It’s an oil painting, and it takes time because it needs to dry between the sessions. The pics you see here are from the third session, and there’s at least one, maybe even two, to go. But this is the last piece of the series, so I don’t want to rush. The painting needs time to mature, and I want to end the series gloriously.

Paivi Eerola in her studio. A mystical painting in progress.

I don’t usually post about a piece that I haven’t finished yet. It’s like presenting an uneducated child that doesn’t quite know how to behave. But the more perfectly my art has aligned with my personality, the more I have started to embrace imperfection. My art will always be imperfect because I am imperfect. Life is imperfect.

Rational or Mystical?

My education in software engineering has shaped my beliefs about life for tens of years. But recently, I have had experiences that feel less scientific and more mystical.

Paivi Eerola sitting in her studio and painting an oil painting. Read more about her mystical art.

My paintings seem to know how they want to grow, and my ego disappears.

One Mystical Morning

One morning, when I was walking the dog, I saw a miraculous view. It was meant to be just an experiment. I asked myself to look at nature like I would look at a painting in progress. And suddenly, I saw everything in a new order – not organized by a hierarchy or by their aesthetic value. Gravel, weed, grass, dandelions, trees – all were equal and formed one mysterious mesh.

Nature's mystical imperfection.

I was part of that mesh too. Not any more valuable than a crooked stem of a dandelion, but still tremendously happy and free.

Every Stroke is a Weed – For How Long Can It Grow?

We art instructors talk often about visual hierarchy – there’s a lot of that in my classes too! The image needs a focal point, and there needs to be a visual flow in a composition. Otherwise, the image looks stiff and the viewer is left puzzled. But the more I have painted, the more I have postponed all that visual organization. That’s why you see me working on the table mostly, focusing on the details.

Paivi Eerola painting with oils. The painting is upside down.

When the painting is in progress, it grows all kinds of weeds, and it’s ok. Then, when I am close to an end, I will put the painting on the easel and improve the visual hierarchy and flow.

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

So, I let the child play freely first before teaching it to greet, bend the knees a bit, and make the viewer feel welcome. Before the last part, I can just enjoy the mesh and let the artist be one with the child.

An oil painting in progress. Mystical colors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

What do you think? Does this make sense to you? Have you had mystical experiences?

Artist’s Wishes and How Art Answers to Them

This week, I share a new painting and talk about artist’s wishes and goal-setting, but also about relaxation and self-listening.

Restless Heart

Restless Heart, oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Restless Heart – Levoton sydän, oil, 60 x 73 cm

During the past few weeks, spring has changed to summer in Finland. More colors have appeared in the garden, and there’s a color burst on canvas too. “For the readers of my blog,” I thought. “They love pinks, reds, and turquoises!”

Painting a Series and Learning to Breathe

Starting an oil painting. Read more about artist's wishes.
The first layers of “Restless Heart”

This spring, I have had an ambitious goal of painting a series of 9 canvases in oil, and I am coming to an end. There will be only one more after this piece.

Painting a series. Some finished, some in progress. By Paivi Eerola.
My studio is filled with paintings! The last one of the series is in progress – the big purple one on the bench. See all the finished oil paintings so far.

When I started the series, I entered a crossroads, and it was hard to see into the future. But after spending a lot of time in the studio and taking long walks, I have learned to breathe in a new way. Instead of exhaling only, I have learned to inhale too.

Setting creative goals for paintings. Read more about artist's wishes, a post written by Paivi Eerola.

My focus has been more on receiving, not so much on producing. This change of direction has given me new motivation for life.

A Beast Called Creativity – Or Is It a Pet?

For years, I was afraid of dying before I learn to paint. I have no children, and I wanted to create an artwork that would continue its life after I am gone. But now, I realize that my dream of leaving a legacy was improperly put. It defined the success that depended on other people. But creativity is a wild beast that doesn’t understand money, prestige, or hierarchy. It’s like my dog Stella. She loves me no matter what my title is. And she always tries her best to do what I want from her.

Stella the beagle.

I don’t think that the incapability to define my goal is unusual. Isn’t it so that often when we want to pursue art, we point to someone else’s work and say: “That’s how I want to paint, that’s who I want to be.”

Paul Cezanne and the Art of Wishing

On these warm and sunny days, I have been pondering why I paint, how I paint, and why it suddenly feels so good. “Take the painting outside, Paivi,” I heard a whisper. “Is this about Cezanne?” I asked.

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

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), a french impressionist, has said: “When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.” I have found this definition distressing and demanding but also practical. I have used it many times to check if the painting is finished or not.

Painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.
Not finished yet – not enough liveliness! (Unfortunately the many flying bugs don’t show in the photo.)

Cezanne or not, I followed my inner voice and took the painting out several times. First, I had stress about insects and other flying objects. But then I heard my inner voice answering the question – why my paintings are full of movement and why I always want to add some uncontrolled restlessness.

An oil painting in progress. Painting details. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The answer is: The liveliness is the level of immortality that my creativity can produce.

A colorful painting in progress. Liveliness as a goal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My images express the eternal life that I have yearned for!

Creating art. Painting in progress, by Paivi Eerola.
Restless Heart, oil painting by Paivi Eerola, photographed in the garden.
Nature adds one more layer!

Artist’s Wishes – A New Door

Now I see a new door. I can ask anything, and my creativity will do it for me. The only reservation is that the answer may be unexpected.

You, too, have this door. And you, too, have a restless heart that tries to understand your wishes.

Restless Heart, oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Restless Heart – Levoton sydän, oil, 60 x 73 cm

Artist’s Wishes – What Do You Think?

Oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Read more about creative goals and how art  tries to match them!

What do you think? How does your art match with your wishes? I am always looking forward to reading your comments!

Scroll to top