Peony and Parakeet

Rainbow Journal – Fill a Small Notebook with Happy Art!

Rainbow Journal, an art project by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week, I get back to the project that I started earlier this spring. It’s a small notebook that I have filled with happy art. I call it Rainbow Journal because it has brought me both joy and hope. Here’s a quote from the video below:

“When working on this journal, I have been able to live inside a happy bubble momentarily. It’s been refreshing, and my inner critic has got gentler. I have gained new inspiration for my paintings and classes.”

Watch the video to get inspiration for yours!

Creative Prompts for Your Rainbow Journal

Use the following prompts to make yours!

Cover – Make It as Decorative as You Can!

Use a limited color palette and let the colors and shapes flow.

The covers of a small traveler's notebook insert. Raibow Journal by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #1 – Get Inspired by Happy Interiors!

Think about textiles, wallpapers, and painted motifs on wooden furnitures and dishes.

Decorative paintings on a small notebook. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #2 – Embrace the Good and the Innocence!

Once you have set the style of the world you are building, who could be wandering there, full of happy thoughts with an innocent mind?

A small art journal spread inspired by Jane Austen's book Emma, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #3 – Paint Something Juicy!

Show how it feels when the glass is full, even overflowing.

Rainbow journal. An art journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Gouache paints and watercolors.

Spread #4 – Grow the Flowers of Imagination!

The dark soil makes flowers grow and shine.

Floral notebook page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #5 – Show the Bright Future!

Get creative with rainbows, how many can you fit in?

A spread of Paivi's Rainbow Journal. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this lifted your spirit and inspired you to keep creating!

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Vintage Style Flowers Step by Step

Lemonietta. A floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My latest watercolor painting has lots of vintage style flowers. I call it “Lemonietta,” and it’s inspired by home decor, afternoon tea, cream cakes, piano music, and of course, my favorite fruit – lemons!

Vintage Style Flowers in Three Colors

I have always liked old art and not just masterpieces, but decorative die cuts, vintage postcards, and all the more kitschy stuff too. So this post is dedicated to vintage style flowers, and I show how to make a cluster of vintage style flowers to your box of joy – any box that you fill with handpainted and hand-drawn collage pieces!

Watercolor flowers in vintage style. A watercolor tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tutorial is for watercolors, but you can use any paint for it. Just make sure to keep the color layers transparent. I use a piece of smooth watercolor paper, but almost any paper will do. And you only need three colors: yellow, pink, and green!

Step 1 – Three Yellow Circles

Start with yellow and paint three circles.

Step 1 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted the circles in three sizes: large, medium, and small. They form a curve rather than a straight line. This way, the composition will become more elegant than if you have similar sized flowers in a straight row.

Step 2 – Pink Petals

Add pink circles or ovals around the flowers.

Step 2 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Some petals can be smaller than others, so that the orientation of the flowers varies a bit. Compare my biggest flower to the medium-sized one!

Step 3 – Darken the Centers

Continue with pink, but use a little less water so that it’s darker. Make the centers and petals clearer by painting around the center and the top parts of the petals.

Step 3 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I use a thinner brush to get sharper points near the petals.

Then mix some more water to pink paint, and add small circles to the centers.

Step 3 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I use a bigger round brush for round shapes.

Step 4 – Green Leaves

Paint green ovals around the flowers.

Step 4 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Again, my ovals have a variety of sizes so that the composition looks more lively.

Continue with green, but now use a thicker color. Make the leaves sharper and a bit more elegant. Only paint a part of a leaf with a darker green.

Step 4 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

See how pointy my darker shapes are, and how they don’t cover the whole leaf!

Step 5 – More Details to Flowers

Start with thick green paint and a thin brush. First, add green triangles between the petals to make the flower look more three-dimensional.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Second, paint around the petals so that they look more frilly.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then change to a bigger brush and add more water to make the paint transparent. Paint pale green spots on petals and on the centers.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With a thinner brush, add green lines to the petals and centers. Finally, change to pink, and paint centers and petals so that they are partly darker.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The nostalgic look comes from the contrast colors and the color variation.

Step 6 – More Details to Leaves

Add pink shadows to the leaves.

Step 6 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With thicker green and the smaller brush, paint think lines on the leaves.

Step 6 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Step 7 – Dark Background

Mix thick paint from green and pink, and paint the background areas between the flowers.

Step 7 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also check all the edges around the cluster so that it’s easy to cut.

Step 8 – More Color Variation

To make the flowers glow, add more color variation. Use thin paint, and add yellow to the leaves. Only paint each leaf partly.

Step 8 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Similarly, add green to the centers.

Step 8 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my finished cluster before cutting.

Watercolor flowers step by step, a tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Step 9 – Cut It Out!

You can still change the shape of your cluster when cutting around it.

Decorative floral art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step by step instructions for making this floral cluster!

It’s so much fun to make and find backgrounds that come alive with these little flowers.

And of course, they bring more joy to the box of joy too!

Flowers in a box of joy. The box of joy is any box that you fill with handpainted and hand-drawn collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Vintage Style Flowers – Starting More Intuitively

Painting small pieces is fun, but my bigger paintings are born more intuitively and they take a longer time.

A watercolor painting in progress. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I love to dig out flowers of random blooms and spatters, and then move on to paint them more intentionally.

Finnish artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet paints flowers in watercolor.
Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

When the paper is full of details, it’s sometimes hard to decide which ones can take the central role and remain bright, and which ones get more background color so that they don’t stand out so much.

A floral watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished piece again. It took about two days to complete.

Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

Even the smallest single flowers are still part of the same world.

Watercolor flowers by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this post inspired you to create, whether it’s a project of two hours or two days!

Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

Painting Through Difficult Times – 4 Easy Tips!

"Baroquai" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her tips for painting through difficult times.

This painting, called “Baroquai” is about painting through difficult times by discovering a secret place at home. A couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie Knives Out. It had a wonderful big house with secret doors, ladders, and all. I would like our house to have similar kinds of secret spaces, it would be so uplifting to change the scenes without leaving home!

In a way, art offers us those secret spaces. When I start a new watercolor painting with random splashes, it’s like seeking the hidden door.

Splashing paint to relieve stress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

“What to Paint?” – “Wallpaper!”

Social distancing during the pandemic has made me reduce the requirements for my art. I try to paint what brings me the most joy and keep the ambition level low. If I ask myself “What to paint?”, I just answer “Wallpaper” every single time. It’s the easiest thing that I can think of painting, and the more I paint it, the more hidden doors seem to appear.

A decorative watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The thought of a wall of ornaments that come to bloom is both calming and inspiring. When I examine and alter the shapes with the brush, hidden spaces begin to reveal.

A decorative watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The space that I am sitting seems smaller, and the other space – that’s in my mind – gets larger.

Focusing on the details. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

How Does Your Art Sound?

It’s also inspiring to think about what sounds the painting evokes. For this one, it’s baroque cembalo music, Jamiroquai, and softly singing choir of colorful budgies.

A decorative watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Mixing and Matching – The Reality Check

Painting wallpaper is also about creating something that complements and refreshes the reality.

Mixing and matching hand-made art. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I used a pansy – painted and cut for my box of joy – to test my “wallpaper.” The fit looked so perfect that I painted some pansies there too!

A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s a close look at my finished “Baroquai.”

A detail of "Baroquai" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her tips for painting through difficult times.

Artful Impact on the Wall

Always remember to celebrate the result! Add the signature once you are finished …

"Baroquai" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her tips for painting through difficult times.

… and place the painting on the wall! The space that art creates extends the limited physical space.

Having art on the wall and photographing it. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also like to photograph my paintings when they are on the wall. In my studio, I have art on the table too. There’s a plastic cover that protects the pieces.

Art displayed behind a plexiglass in the studio of Paivi Eerola, Finland.

4 Easy Tips For Painting Through Difficult Times

  • Find a simple answer like “Wallpaper” or “Flowers” to be ready for the inner critic’s question: “What are you creating?”
  • See your art as soundscapes rather than landscapes.
  • Mix and match things you create, no matter how small they are. Think about decorating a secret room with a collection of stuff rather than going out in the open with a single masterpiece.
  • Find joy in the interaction between the surrounding space and your art. Art makes the space, and also, the space can boost art.

Let’s give art the possibility to gently lift our spirits!

"Baroquai" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her tips for painting through difficult times.

Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

Ornamental Flowers – Paint with Me!

Ornamental Flowers - a watercolor greeting card by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

This week, I have a video tutorial for you! Let’s paint a watercolor card that’s like a piece of beautiful floral wallpaper. Watch the video!

Flowers have always been my favorite, but now even more than ever. I hope you’ll enjoy painting this!

Ornamental Flowers - a step by step tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

Floral Fantasies – Weekend Sale!

I am also happy to announce that Floral Fantasies – my flower painting class is now available again!

Honestly, this is the class to take when you want to become a floral painter + it’s for sale April 23-26 (PDT)! >> Buy here!

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