Peony and Parakeet

Between Fine Art and Illustration – Combining Both Into One Artwork

Flower Fairy's Year by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See how this project was made and read her thoughts about choosing between fine art and illustration.

This week, I continue showing pieces that will be presented in the upcoming group exhibition “Flower Gardener’s Diary” (Kukkatarhurin päiväkirja, 9.- 22.9.2019, Hietsun Paviljonki, Helsinki). This one is called “Flower Fairy’s Year.” I will be presenting both paintings and drawings, so I wanted to create a piece that would build a bridge between fine art and illustration. I hope you find this project inspirational!

Inspiration Piece: Wheel of Fortune

When building the class Magical Inkdom earlier this year, I made a fun drawing called Wheel of Fortune. It has a center that’s separate from the rest of the piece, and it can be rotated so that the heads of the figures change. The bigger drawing is attached on thick cardboard so that it feels like it’s a game board, not just a flimsy piece of paper.

Wheel of Fortune. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted to use the idea of a separate centerpiece and sturdy base for this project too.

Fine Art Centerpiece: A Miniature Oil Painting

The project started by finishing a miniature oil painting that I suitably had in progress. It’s only 4 by 4 inches.

A miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The painting was made very traditionally. I sketched the face with charcoal, and then made an underpainting with umber and white. I used Bernardino Luini’s portrait of Saint Catherine as a loose reference for the facial features.

Making of a miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The color layers were thin so that the previous layers stayed visible too. It took a bit of courage to give a green wash to the face, but I really like the result. Decorations were easy and fun. They are quick lines and shapes that make the saint look like a floral fairy.

Miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With oil, the most difficult thing is to wait for every layer to dry separately. Other than that, I find oil easier to handle than acrylic paint.

Illustration: Decorative Flower Frame

For the frame, I cut a piece of Bristol paper. It’s about 10 by 10 inches.

Drawing a decorative illustration. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted to include flowers from January to December so that the frame is like a clock that has months instead of hours. The drawing was made with Copic Multiliners (I mostly use 0.05 tip), and I colored it with watercolors.

Coloring a decorative frame with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Plywood Base

My original idea was to cut two layers of cardboard so that the topmost layer would have a 4-by-4-inch hole. But when I told my husband that “Ideally, the base would be wooden”, he went to his workshop and came back with a hand-carved plywood base!

Between fine art and illustration. Composing an artwork of painted and hand-drawn pieces.

Putting All The Pieces Together

I painted the plywood black near the surroundings of the miniature painting. It makes sure that the plywood won’t show if the piece is observed from different angles. I varnished the oil painting with Gamvar and let it dry overnight. I put a plastic plate over the frame to reduce the curviness of the paper after painting it with watercolors.

Between fine art and illustration. Composing an artwork of painted and hand-drawn pieces.

Then I glued the painting to the base with gel medium and attached the frame with double-sided tape. Finally, I marked a line of 0.5 cm from the edge of the base and made sure that the motifs extend there. This piece will be professionally framed, so I didn’t want to leave too much empty space around the edges.

Flower Fairy's Year by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. This piece combines fine art and hand-drawn illustration.

Between Fine Art and Illustration

In the art world, there’s a lot of talk about choosing between fine art and illustration. Many define fine art so that it comes up solely from the artist’s own creative expression when illustration illustrates a story or can easily be used with the text. One way to separate them is the number of copies. Fine art pieces are often unique or manufactured in very limited quantities only when illustrations are more of everyday art, consumed by the masses. Some say that it requires talent to create a piece of fine art, and just art education to create a piece of illustration.

In my artistic path, I have found the definitions both helpful and destructive. It has been essential for me to expand to illustration – to learn how to visualize text and written ideas. It has made me more connected with the surrounding world, and it has also brought me more work. However, I feel that art is free, and without exploring that freedom, it’s also difficult to create insightful illustrations. So I have tried to keep up with both worlds.

However, I hate when people say that you have to choose between fine art and illustration. For me, bringing the two approaches as close as possible has been a working solution. I think this project shows really well how one is not the enemy for the other.

Flower Fairy's Year by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. This piece combines fine art and hand-drawn illustration.

I can’t wait to show you more pieces that I have finished for the exhibition! I will also have many framed and will blog about how I selected the frames in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!

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Embellish with a Hand-Drawn Frame

Flower Gardener's Dream. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Do you remember this piece? I drew it in June but back then it looked much more modest. It was only black and white, and there was no hand-drawn frame.

I rediscovered the drawing when I was going through recent drawings and paintings. I will attend a group exhibition called “Flower Gardener’s Diary” in September. I have quite a lot of work that goes under that title. In fact, if the exhibition would be called “No Flowers This Time”, I would be in trouble.

Doodling a Hand-Drawn Frame

I had given it a title “Flowers for the Soul” for this piece, but I thought I could rename it as “Flower Gardener’s Dream” if I would polish it a bit.

Black and white fairy drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See how this changes when a hand-drawn frame is added to it!

I cut a larger piece of paper and started drawing rough doodles around it. I can doodle quite quickly because I have been practicing a lot lately. I haven’t only drawn a bunch of exercises and additional examples for the class Magical Inkdom but also learned a lot when watching myself in the videos while editing them. It reminds me of athletes who train themselves mentally by watching their performances. Fortunately, doodling is not an Olympic sport because it would be my obsession to be the one who represented Finland!

Making a hand-drawn frame by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It always amazes me that what is first just an ugly doodle, becomes a decent drawing after adding shadows and details. The magic of time and effort!

An illustration and a hand-drawn frame for it. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Coloring the Image + My Favorite Color

If I had to name the favorite color of my watercolor set, I would probably say Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold. It’s an ugly-looking paste that looks more like Poor Wasted Mud, but when you add water to it, you begin to hear music, feel the atmosphere of a big palace, and you straighten the back because the rich woman inside you is wearing an elaborate dress.

Coloring an ink drawing with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Most of that cool yellowish color is Rich Green Gold. Who could not love that luxurious color!

Two Versions – With and Without the Frame

I used double-sided tape to attach the image on the larger paper with the frame. Here are the two versions side by side. Which of them do you like better?

Two versions of the same drawing. The other one has color and a decorative hand-drawn frame. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I am happier with the colored version because it highlights the night scene.

Flower Gardener's Dream, a detail. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

After all, this is about us who love flowers so much that they fill our minds also when we are sleeping.

Flower Gardener's Dream, a detail. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Hand-Drawn Frame Obsession Continues

I have also been finishing some oil paintings that have been in progress for an embarrassingly long time. Having a deadline is a powerful motivator, eh? I don’t show them all in this blog post, but save them for upcoming weeks. Here’s a snapshot of the tiniest one. She is some kind of flower fairy too, and I am thinking about making a hand-drawn frame around her too. Because this is an oil painting on board, it would require some extra assembly. But I think it would look wonderful if there would be hand-drawn flowers around her. What do you think?

Miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

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Get Closer to True Artistic Expression – Draw Your Innocent Little Secrets!

The Secret Life of Pet Plants. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Ink drawing colored with watercolors.

Here’s my latest art project, “The Secret Life of Pet Plants” – an illustration that I have composed of hand-drawn collage pieces. It’s about the love for house plants – the topic that’s close to my heart but that I haven’t touched much lately. I also wanted to include little secrets that I haven’t revealed in my art.

These little secrets are often pretty innocent stuff that we have labeled with words “too childish” or “too weird.” They can become creative blocks and drain our energy if we try to avoid them. Really, life is too short not to get them on paper! We can get more serious after they are out – if we ever want to get back, that is! I think I stay on this track for a while – making art that I have always secretly wanted to see. It feels good to be close to this kind of true artistic expression.

A Couple of My Innocent Little Secrets

One of mine is my secret admiration for traditional (and often a little bit tacky) cross-stitch designs. They often have decorative borders and look more like a collection of motifs than a real scene.

Decorative frame in a crosstitch project.

Another one is that, to me, plants are like pets with personalities. We have a lot of plants, both outdoors and indoors, and I feel a deep connection to many.

Streptocarpus house plant.

Here are the steps for an illustration made from hand-drawn collage pieces.

1) Make Small Drawings

I started the process by drawing and coloring the main elements separately.

Drawing collage elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.

I love using watercolors with smooth Bristol paper. The color is easy to layer and also to wipe off if needed.

Coloring collage elements with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.

2) Draw the Background

I placed the colored collage pieces on a background that I had made for the class Magical Inkdom and tried how they would work as a composition. I also drew a water drop just in case I needed a small element for balance.

Drawing backgrounds and collage elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I drew a new background and marked the areas where the elements would go.

Drawing backgrounds for collage art. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

3) Attach the Collage Pieces to the Background

I usually attach collage pieces with gel medium, but this time, I used double-sided tape. It is easier to control, so I didn’t have to worry about having the medium in the areas where I wanted to add more watercolors.

Coloring an illustration with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

4) Display the Little Secrets!

The Secret Life of Pet Plants. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Ink drawing colored with watercolors.

One wall of my studio is white so that I can photograph my work easily. But when I want to display the recent pieces, I don’t leave them on the wall but place them on the side table under a clear plastic plate. I love how this piece fits with the ones I have made for Magical Inkdom. It truly feels my true artistic expression at the moment.

An art display in the studio. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With the African violet that looks like a cuddly guinea pig to me, I want to wish you a happy and creative weekend!

Guinea pig and African violet. Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

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Draw Flowers and Fairies for The Soul!

Flowers for The Soul, an ink drawing by Paivi Eerola

This weekend, we are celebrating Midsummer in Finland. Our nights are full of light, and peonies are blooming. It’s the best time to be in this part of the planet. So I wanted to draw flowers and the growth that makes me take photos of our garden all the time.

I hope you don’t mind me starting the blog post in black and white, it will get more colorful near the end!

Peonies

I have well over 10 peonies – so many that I have stopped counting. This one is Augustin d’Hour, and I wish I could send you the smell. It’s the best perfume that I know. The pink color is also adorable.

Peonies, Augustin d'Hour

Peonies are having a party in our garden! “Who cleans this mess?”, my husband joked.

Peonies in Japanese Garden

Flowers and Fairies Fill the Studio

And while the peonies are partying, I also have a floral party in my studio. There are several floral pieces that I have made for the new class Magical Inkdom. Here’s a sneak peek to one little fairy.

Flower fairies, a detail of an illustration by Paivi Eerola. Play with the scale. Draw huge flowers and small fairies!

This fairy is the princess of the poppies and no wonder how they got there, I have quite many of them too. They are still blooming with the peonies!

Poppies

Life’s Big Luxuries

I love drawing things that rise above everyday life. Can there be anything more luxurious than blooming flowers?

Hand-drawn flowers

Roses always find their way to my drawings whether they are big or small.

Rose in the garden

When I enjoy the flowers, they become big and I shrink. It’s a good feeling, perhaps the same that makes flower fairies so joyful.

Drawing flowers. A detail of an illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Flowers are never just flowers. They are symbols of everything precious and beautiful. In this drawing, I wanted to create a temple of flowers. You go there and feel refreshed and comforted.

Draw Flowers and Fairies for the Soul!

Hand-drawn floral playing cards by Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet

I hope you join me at Magical Inkdom where we get into the hearts of witches, fairies, and everything adventurous, including flowers too. Sign up here!

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