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Peony and Parakeet

Kaiho – Painting the Longing

This week, I talk about the Finnish word “kaiho” and how art can bring up deeper longings than we first realize.

Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I created this acrylic painting at the end of September. It’s called “Sammumaton kaiho” which is something like “Unquenchable Longing” or “Extinguishable Longing” in English, but I think that this time, the Finnish name is much better.

Kaiho is one of the most heart-breaking words that I know. It’s not like kaipaus (yearning) but something much quieter. And being a short word, it’s like a whisper in the air.

Say it softly with me: “kaiho” (kaaiihoh)…

It feels like a piece of a deep agony flies away with the word. Maybe every language has these kinds of soothing kaihos that don’t belong to the daily vocabulary, but that need to get out now and then.

Quick Start with Happy Colors

I started the painting by filling the canvas with candy colors. With a big brush, it was quick and fun.

Starting a painting with the background. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.

I didn’t overthink the subject, but painted plant-like shapes and tried to enjoy the process as much as possible.

Paivi Eerola and her painting in progress.

In the photo above, the painting is still quite young. But it progressed quickly!

Finlandia Raised the Longing

It was Friday evening when I was adding final touches to the painting. At the same time, I was watching – well listening to – Voice of Finland. It’s a singing contest, pretty similar to American Idol.

Even if all the songs are usually rhythmic pop songs, one singer had chosen differently. He sang Finlandia, a hymn, instead. Every Finn knows Finlandia, and it brings many stereotypical images to mind: forests, lakes, swans, snow, blue, white. I have heard the song thousands of times. But this time, I was painting too, and it always boosts my senses.

Do You Know Finlandia?

The song is composed by Jean Sibelius in 1899, and a poet V.A Koskenniemi has written the lyrics.
>> Here’s a great article about Finlandia, including an English translation for the lyrics.

Watch BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Finnish Sakari Oramo, play the song.

Remembering What’s Lost

With Finlandia, I was reminded of what I no longer have. As a child, I lived in Karelia, Eastern Finland, near the Russian border. Finland lost a part of it in a war in 1940, and it has left its marks on future generations as well. But personally, the bigger loss was leaving Karelia to study engineering, and quickly after that, losing my mother.

Here’s an earlier picture of me, my mother, and a close friend Saimi Norimäki. Saimi was born in Western Finland, and she was much more straight-forward and brave than what we had used to see. But she was a woman with a warm heart, and I have many fond memories of her.

Three women in the Nurmes harbor, Finland.

This photo is a good representation of the sadness that I have. The colors have faded away, there’s a lot of empty space, but I still remember the people.

A More Joyful Longing

However, when painting along with Finlandia, I was able to dig through the sadness and find the longing that was more joyful. I asked myself: “What are you painting, Paivi?” The answer came quickly:

“I paint what I know best – what it is like to walk on Karelian meadows on a hot summer day, how the warm and rough ground feels, and how the soil smells. I know what the heart of Karelia is, its temperament, culture, and nature.”

I also remembered many old Finnish songs, poems, places where I used to go as a child, and the word: kaiho.

A detail of Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

They say that Karelian people often laugh and cry at the same time. We tend to get caught by emotions, and easily see polarities in them. So even if my painting has happy colors, it also has this kaiho, this longing, that’s unquenchable – that never leaves me.

I now believe we all have layers of longings. Under a sad layer, there can be a more joyful one. In a global world, each of us has many identities, many cultural impacts, and it’s easy to forget some of them. So when creating, we are not purely painting the longing what we are consciously aware of, but how we are truly built. With this natural integration, art has the power to make us feel more whole and grounded.

Finished Painting

Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

“Is this the painting that needs a hanging wire,” my husband asked pragmatically the next morning.

Ready to hang. Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola, Peony and Parakeet.
Peon of Peony and Parakeet.

When weather allows, I photograph my paintings outside.

Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola being photographed.

This painting is 54 x 65 cm – about 21x 25,5 inches.

Sammumaton kaiho - Unquenchable Longing. An acrylic painting by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

My Journey of Painting the Longing Continues

As a young woman, my mother got a book of poems which I now have. The book is called Ruiskukkaehtoo (Cornflower Night), and it’s written by Anna-Maija Raittila.

Ruiskukkaehtoo, a poem book by Anna-Maija Raittila

Ruiskukkaehtoo is also one of the poems, and my goal is to paint that! Not so much to illustrate the poem itself, but to express what comes to my mind from it. Even if it’s a poem and not a song, it has a captivating rhythm. I am pretty sure it will take me back to painting the longing.

Create with Me!

  • See the new free mini-course Paint the Emotion! The painting of this post was made with pretty similar techniques.
  • Stay tuned for a new class! I am working on the new class Floral Freedom. It’s about painting freely by using the principles of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. The registration will open in November.
  • Sign up! Does music play a big role in your art-making? Sign up for Creative Junk Journal 2020 to get my mini-course about expressing your favorite music!

Expressive Abstract Style Tutorial – Paint a Beautiful Mess!

Expressive abstract style tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week I have a video about painting in an expressive abstract style. It’s a very contemporary style which many artists have nowadays. It’s based on loose strokes, and I guess it’s the style that many who are not so much into art say that even a child can do it, but it’s not quite like that! Watch the video!

Are you interested in creating abstract art? Do you wish to learn more about abstract art in my blog and in my classes? Leave a comment!

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

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