Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

12 Spring Art Ideas from Over the Years

This week, I share spring-themed art from the past 10 years and give ideas for creating spring art.

12 spring art ideas from over the years by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

There’s a variety of ideas and I hope everyone can find some that inspire to get creating!

#1 – For Beginners and Dull Moments

Doodle spring flowers with the mindset “more is more”!

Doodle easter flowers. For beginners and dull moments. See more spring art ideas!
Easter Flowers, mixed media, 2013.
See the blog post: Subconscious Art

Course recommendation: Collageland

#2 – For Self-Explorers

Express your spring energy by following this step-by-step exercise: Bursting Circle

Bursting Circle, mixed media art exercise by Peony and Parakeet
Bursting Circle I, mixed media, 2014.
See the blog post: Bursting Circle

Course recommendation: Inspirational Drawing

#3 – For Free Spirits

Splash color and let everything grow from there!

Free Spirit, acrylics on paper by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Abstract floral art.
Free Spirit, acrylics, 2015.
See the blog post: Art is Freedom

#4 – For Those Who Want to be Freer

When you want to be freer, the art of seeing is as important as the art of creating.
See the video of making “March Still Life”: Painting in Liberated Style

March Still Life, mixed media art, see more spring art ideas by Paivi Eerola.
March Still Life, mixed media, 2016.
See the blog post: Painting in Liberated Style

Course recommendations: Liberated Artist Revisited and Freely Grown

#5 – For Minimalists

Pick a small piece of watercolor paper, moisten your watercolor pans, and let water do the trick.

Easter Flowers, a simple watercolor painting.
Easter Flowers, watercolor, 2017.
See the blog post: Easter Still Lifes in Watercolor – Video Included!

#6 – For Travelers

Paint a spring panorama. More examples: Watercolor Panoramas to Express Travel Memories

Spring in Scotland, watercolor panoramas by Paivi Eerola.
Spring in Scotland, watercolor, 2018.
See the blog post: Watercolor panoramas to Express Travel Memories

Course recommendation: Watercolor Journey

#7 – For Beautiful Mess-Makers

Beautify the mess by adjusting the details: paint frilly edges and draw fine lines!

After Winter, a floral watercolor still life by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
After Winter, watercolor, 2019.
See the blog post: Freely Born Watercolor Florals

Course recommendations: Floral Fantasies and Freely Grown

#8 – For Journalers

Decorate a journal cover with your original art! See more instructions in this blog post: Painted Paper Collage

Art journal cover. See more spring art ideas!
Art journal cover, mixed media collage, 2020.
See the blog post: Painted Paper Collage – 6 Tips for Intricate and Fun Art

Course recommendations: Collageland and Decodashery

#9 – For Bird Watchers

Take this challenge to move from illustration to fine art:
Step out of your comfort zone and think about a bird shape as a canvas for expressing its surroundings.

Blackbird, oil painting, Paivi Eerola, 2021.
Blackbird, oil on canvas, 2021.
See the blog post: Pros and Cons of Becoming an Artist

Course recommendation: Floral Freedom

#10 – For Art Lovers Who Procrastinate

Reduce watching those photo-realistic colored pencil videos and start coloring freely. One heart shape can lead to many and start your flight to the world of imagination!

Illuminated Heart, spring art ideas in colored pencils. By Paivi Eerola.
Illuminated Heart, colored pencils, 2022.
See the blog post: 5 Reasons Why I Love Colored Pencils

Course recommendations: Intuitive Coloring and Fun Botanicum

#11 – For Wannabe Fantasy Artists

Find the story first, then its surroundings! A character is not only described by his face.

Magician's Tea Party, oil on canvas, 2023. By Paivi Eerola, Finland. Alice in Wonderland inspired art. Spring art ideas.
Magician’s Tea Party, oil on canvas, 2023.
See the blog post: Wonderland Art – Inspiration from Alice in Wonderland

Course recommendations: Magical Forest and Magical Inkdom

#12 For Artists at Heart

Our creativity has winter and spring too. We need each other to keep the inspiration going – to turn the winter into spring.
A challenge for you: How can you make a new start – create a new spring for your art?

Mixed media art. Liberated artist Revisited, an online course by Paivi Eerola.
“I Will Be Back”, mixed media, 2024.
See the blog post: New Beginnings in Art-Making

Course recommendations: Liberated Artist Revisited

Bonus Idea #1: Spring Art Display

Gather your art on a side table for display! Make a collection of all kinds of pieces – even the smallest drawings and collage pieces can look fun this way.

Spring art display. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Most of these are from her course Decodashery.
This picture is from 2020 when I was making the course Decodashery.
I have a plastic plate that is the same size as my table.
It protects my art, and it also protects the tabletop when painting in watercolor.

Bonus Idea #2: Listen to This!

I also have a music recommendation: “Kevät”

Kevät is spring in Finnish and the song was presented by a Finnish girl band Tavaramarkkinat in 1985. Here’s an English translation of the lyrics. The tone of the song is melancholic. This kind of controversy between melancholy and joy is one of the most inspiring things in spring, I think!

P.S. PostScript for Spring Art Ideas

We still have a lot of snow in Finland, and I miss spring so much! In these spring art ideas, I wanted to combine my yearning for spring and the celebration of being a full-time artist for ten years. The actual anniversary is in September, but I want to celebrate this life span the whole year of 2024.

One part of the celebration has been making the course Liberated Artist Revisited where I invite you to paint with me – to follow directions from Paivi many years ago, and then create more with the current Paivi. At the same time, you can ponder, how your art-making has changed and will change.

Liberated Artist Revisited - online art course by Paivi Eerola.

Because of the 10-year celebration and the nature of personal stories, Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

Writing About Art

This week is dedicated to writing about art. I tell how I write these blog posts, and why it’s beneficial to write about art.

Watercolor flowers. A watercolor painting called "Juhlan taikoneet" by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
My newest watercolor painting called “Juhlan taikoneet” – those who magically created a party.
See more pics of this piece in the Taiko online art store!

How I Write a Blog Post

I have been writing these blog posts for years directly in English, so, in a language foreign to me. I wanted to develop my language skills and it seemed like the best method, even if the expression was sometimes limited. This year, I started to write these stories in Finnish first. Once the Finnish text is done, I translate it into English. I edit the translation 2-4 times before the story is finished.

Writing about art for a blog post, first in Finnish and then in English.

You might imagine that this is a slow road, but I have developed as a writer in such a way that it feels natural to push the story out first and then edit it. When editing, the subject becomes more clear and the images and texts work better together.

I love the interaction between two languages.

When I write in Finnish, I’m already thinking about English. In Finnish, passive constructions and long expressions are used a lot. I’ll try to be more concise right at the beginning. Words and expressions also differ. In Finnish, I can easily get a relaxed and even humorous tone, but I can’t translate it into English, and neither can machine translators. However, I don’t mourn the matter, I think that the union of two languages ​​is like a marriage: both have to give way.

Starting a watercolor painting.

Joyce Carol Oates talks about having a journal separate from the stories and novels. The journal could be more honest and raw, and use a little different style than what ends in the publication. For me, the Finnish script is a bit like that – a stream of thoughts that gets refined with edits.

The Relationship Between Images and Text

I used to enter the images into the post first and then write the texts directly between them. But these days I work in a word processor so that I only focus on the text. I can write more freely and the texts become more authentic and have more content. I can then fit the images between the text and add captions if needed.

Although I decide the topic of a blog post when I start writing it, most of the pictures exist before the text. I strive to always have new photos and I often plan the collection of images weeks in advance. Since this blog is about art and is aimed at visual people, I need lots of pictures. I want to inspire the reader to make art, so the pictures need also express the process, and not just finished works.

Writing Moves Art Forward

Nowadays, many have left blogging and moved to posting on Facebook or Instagram or uploading videos to YouTube. I too write regularly on my Facebook page and Instagram account. Every now and then I also make a video on YouTube.

But writing is magical. When you write a longer story, you don’t just write to others but to yourself too.

And I am not the only one who thinks that way. Last spring, I participated in an artist coaching program by the Finnish Art Agency, where the coach wanted us to write regularly about our art. She emphasized that working with words is important because visual artists often need to tell about their art.

Writing About Art is Almost Similar to Talking About Art

I believe that all who create art also want to talk about it. It’s just very difficult sometimes. Pictures go to the other side of the words and the ideas get mixed up.

Talking about your art can also feel like pompous boasting, even if the recipient would be interested. Long art stories can also bore the listener if she is not as deep in creating. The same applies to writing, you can feel pretentious or be afraid to bore someone, but when you write it’s easier to notice when you’re stuck and repeating yourself.

Watercolor painting techniques: adding soft spots by wiping the paint off.
When you use good quality watercolor paper, you can make a soft glow by wiping the paint off.

My art has not only developed by drawing and painting diligently. It evolves every time I write about it. It has developed by blog posts, manuscripts for classes, short video posts, and even description texts, where I have to briefly tell who I am or what inspired me to create a certain piece.

Writing brings out problems. You have to focus on what you really want to say and tell who you really are. There will be a temptation to find words that sound great but not say the truth. But if you can overcome the lure of meaningless words, creativity in you wakes up.

I have noticed that when I can put my wishes and ideas into words, they begin to appear in my paintings. Our creativity strives to fulfill our wishes if it can read them. So, that’s why I am writing about art weekly. Thank you for making me do that!

Do you write – or plan to write – about your art? Tell us more!

How to Create Comforting Art

This blog post is for you who want to spread more joy through your art, and make your art more comforting and captivating.

Painting in watercolor

I am listening to an interesting course on writing. It’s Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling. Writing and making a picture have a lot in common. When you look at your piece, can you find a story – so, a conflict and a solution?

Conflict Creates More Comfort

Neil Gaiman says that beginning writers leave conflict out of their stories. And that it’s the conflict that makes the story interesting. The same goes for the picture. Beginner artists usually want to use only happy colors and draw or paint only beautiful and joyful things.

I too want to make comforting art – something that takes me to a softer world right in the beginning and that will lift the viewer’s mind when finished. But the conflict must still be allowed because first showing it, and then finding a solution for it, creates comfort and happiness.

"Tuulelta suojautuneet" - a watercolor painting by Päivi Eerola. Creating comforting art.
“Tuulelta suojautuneet” (those who got protected from the wind)
Purchase this painting via the Taiko art store!

For example, in this watercolor painting above, the flowers have run indoors because it has started to get windy and rain a little.

Imagine how they first evaluate the houses: “Where would we be welcomed the most?” And then they would push through the darkest window and settle on the windowsill close to each other.

Imagine stepping into that room and seeing shattered glass and feeling unpleasant coldness. But then the colorful flowers would bend towards you. What a pleasant surprise to receive in these windy times!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Displaying conflict and a solution to create more comforting art.

When I painted this, I wanted to protect myself from the winds of the world. I started with the flowers, but the painting only came true when the wind joined in.

Overcoming Difficulties Brings Comfort

For me, the most comforting art is the one where difficulties are overcome. For example, in this painting, the flowers have experienced loss, but are still ready to take risks again.

"Unelmille avautuneet" - watercolor flowers by Paivi Eerola
“Unelmille avautuneet” (those who opened to dreams)

Build Different Characters

Neil Gaiman says that his stories are largely in the hands of the characters. Also in painting, you have to identify the main characters. Blots easily turn into flowers, but don’t leave it at that! Make small changes to the shapes so that the personality of each flower comes out. Often it’s a very small adjustment that a beginner easily ignores as insignificant. The skill of building an expression for a form no matter what it represents develops with making.

Strong characters and an understanding of the place where everything happens create a story in the picture. My main characters are strong-minded and independent and the conflict is often a fight against wild conditions.

For example, winter has arrived here, but the flowers stubbornly decide to turn the clock back to a warmer time. In this conflict, the flowers lose their color to stay alive.

Expressing with watercolors. Spreading comfort throught art. "Talven voittaneet" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.
“Talven voittaneet” (those who won winter)

Sometimes what feels good at first can break down in the long run. Can a flower live only in light? Don’t we get a better understanding of our outlines and boundaries in the shadows?

"Vapaasti kasvaneet" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.
“Vapaasti kasvaneet” (those who grew freely)

On the other hand, when life has been nothing but darkness and the colors have faded, the power of light enables a fast recovery.

"Valosta voimaantuneet" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.
“Valosta voimaantuneet” (those who got empowered by light)

Observe the Surroundings with Empathy and Imagination

As a director of disaster films, I am inspired by the survivors around me. This autumn, I listened to the lily of our new pond, who described how boldly she would soon bloom. Fall progressed and my suspicion grew. But just before the big storm, the bud opened for one day.

Lily of the pond. A photograph by Paivi Eerola.

You can survive of the deep waters – even only for a moment!

"Syvältä selvitytyneet" - watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Creating comforting art.
“Syvältä selviytyneet” (those who survived the deep)

The world of inanimate objects is also full of ideas when you use your imagination.

For example, wallpaper is one of the most pathetic things I know. The flowers are glued in place, but they still see and hear everything. If they were released, a lot of pent-up energy would be present. The silent and motionless wall flowers would party around the room. They had been thirsty for life for a long time.

"Janonsa sammuttaneet" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Using imagination in painting and drawing.
“Janonsa sammuttaneet” (those who quenched their thirst)

Isn’t that what happens when a person starts creating art? The frenzy inside her finally gets out!

Romantic Watercolor Florals

This week is about red, pink, sugar, and cream – so, romantic watercolor florals!

Talven voittaneet, a floral watercolor painting in reds and pinks by Paivi Eerola.
Talven voittaneet, 29,7 x 42 cm, watercolor

I had a break from watercolor painting for a long time, but in the summer I started again.

Romantic Flowers and Chicklit

In summer, I had all kinds of complicated ideas for a new course, but my inner voice said:

  • – What if we take out the watercolors and do something that hasn’t been done in a long time?
    – Can I be a romantic?” my artist-me asked my educator-me.
    – You can be as romantic as you want, as long as you work systematically and understandably, she said.

When the camera turned on, a short “Yippee!” went up inside me. Freely Grown was born, but watercolor painting didn’t stop there. I had been dreaming for a long time that I could do something lighter – like the writer Rachael Herron, who wanted to start her career with a profound book, but ended up writing a chick-lit novel. He noticed that chick lit is surprisingly challenging and realized that every genre of literature has its own difficulties.

Romantic watercolor florals from an online course Freely grown.
Paintings made for the course Freely Grown. >> Sign up here!

Watercolor Flowers like Sweet Desserts

I’ve learned a lot of painting techniques with watercolors in the past and it can certainly be seen in my oil paintings. But in the summer I started to be interested in what I had learned while painting with oils and whether I could do vice versa – so, use it in watercolors.

Starting new watercolor paintings. Intuitive starts - several at the same time.

Now I didn’t want to do anything hugely abstract, but sweet flowery paintings. The kind that, if they were food, would have a lot of sugar and whipped cream in them.

Painting details in watercolor. A romantic watercolor flower painting in progress.

An artist should probably only do fine dining, but this has started to resonate with me and it has also been nice to notice that there is a demand for it.

Painting flowers using a flat watercolor brush.

Even now, I’m making a small series for a gallery.

Painting romantic watercolor florals

Those Who Won Winter

This red-hued Talven voittaneet is the first for the series of four. The name would be translated into English as “Winners of Winter” but it is not quite the same. The Finnish version is closer to the expression “those who won winter.”

Paivi Eerola's watercolor painting "Talven voittaneet". Watercolor roses.

My favorite part of this painting is unexpectedly the bottom right. I often leave the edges pretty undefined, but here the bottom part plays a key role. It has melting ice from which the flowers rise.

Romantic watercolor florals by päivi Eerola. A detail of a watercolor painting.

Imagine flowers winning the winter with their warmth – isn’t it such a lovely thought! I have really enjoyed making these kinds of romantic watercolor florals.

Flowers and Gala

This week has been busy. I already received a grant from the city of Vantaa in the summer for my early autumn art exhibition, but it was celebrated only last Wednesday when the city organized a cultural gala.

Päivi Eerola and her husband in Vantaa's cultural gala.
My husband is my best supporter.

It was nice to be surrounded by respected colleagues. In the picture, a councilor Lasse Norres representing the city congratulates the visual artists. Päivi Allonen and Satu Laurel also received a grant and are there on the stage with me. They have wonderful paintings and I highly respect them both.

Vantaan kulttuurigaala, a cultural gala of Vantaa, Lasse Norres and visual artists Päivi Allonen, Päivi Eerola, Satu laurel

Have I mentioned that I love flowers? I think if you’ve been following me for even a little while you know that!

Romantic Watercolor Florals

At the moment, my small studio is a flower painter’s heaven and the flowers have free access there, even if I don’t use them directly as models. The flowers of my inner world may resemble the flowers of the outer world, but they have their own romantic life.

Floral watercolor painter's studio
I use a plastic plate on the top of the worktop when painting, and then keep the paintings in progress under the plate between the sessions.

Nice creative moments for your weekend!

Yellow and red rose, a watercolor painting in the background.
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