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!

Get a free mini-course when you subscribe to my inspirational weekly emails!

Paint Spiritual Energy – Step by Step!

Paint spiritual energy! Art journal page by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

When there is a big crisis in the outer world, it’s important to protect and strengthen the inner world. In this project, we paint spiritual energy with loose strokes, continue it to form a face, and then add a protecting frame around the painting. I find this project soothing and healing. I hope it makes you pick the brushes again too!

A) Where to Paint?

I have made these paintings on my newest art journal which is a black Dylusions Creative Journal. It is my third Dylusions Creative Journal, and I really like this product. It’s durable, the paper is thick, and it can be closed with an elastic band.

My first two Dylusions Creative Journals were large ones, but the newest one is a bit smaller, the page size being 8 by 8 inches.

The links above are Amazon.com affiliate links to product pages.

Dylusions Creative Journals with decorated covers

Watch the flip-through videos of the first two art journals! See these journals in practice and to get more inspiration:
Journal 1 Flip-Through
Journal 2 Flip-Through

B) Collage or Painting?

This project can be made as a painting or as a collage where you paint the figure separately from the rest of the image.

When I did this project the first time, I made a collage. I painted the profile on a paper, cut it out, and glued on the art journal page, and then continued painting the background and adjusting the facial features. In the photo below, the white line shows how I cut the face.

Paint spiritual energy! Art journal page by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

If you choose the collage technique, it’s good if the paper is not too thick. I used Bristol paper, which is fairly sturdy but thinner and easier to attach than thick watercolor papers.

C) Pick the Colors that Bring Energy!

I painted the second version directly on an art journal page.

Paint spiritual energy! Art journal page by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

Both versions have a limited color palette. By picking only a few colors, they come alive and express energy more effectively than if you work with all the possible colors. So, choose the colors that energize you – that you feel drawn to at the moment.

I recommend choosing three different tubes of acrylic paint and adding white to the mix as well. If none of your colors is dark, pick black or another dark color so that you get a strong image with good contrasts.

For the first version, my colors were these (+ Titanium White):

Choosing a limited color palette. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Golden Heavybody Acrylics.

For the second version, my colors were these (+ some Mars Black for finishing)

Choosing a limited color palette. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Golden Heavybody Acrylics.

My acrylic paints are Golden Headybody Acrylics.

D) Paint Spiritual Energy!

Let’s create some abstract art! Use selected colors and paint with horizontal strokes. Mix white to get lighter strokes and make muddy mixes to get tones that make the pastels shine. Enjoy the colors and making most of the narrow selection.

Starting a painting with horizontal strokes and limited color palette. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

If you paint directly on a page, mentally divide the page in half, and paint on the other side only. This way, you will have enough room for the face.

E) Sketch the Face!

Pick a pencil and sketch a profile. You can adjust it later by painting, so focus on the location of the face more than the actual look. I used a white pen in the photo below so that you can see my sketch clearly.

Sketching a profile of a woman. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

F) Draw a Frame!

Take a round object, for example, a plate, and draw a protective frame around the person.

Drawing a frame around a portrait. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

G) Paint the Face!

Paint the skin and facial features. Instead of outlines, paint shapes. Allow yourself to be more unconventional. Don’t paint bright white scleras or red lips but shapes that connect the person with the abstract part of the painting. In this project, the energy that the strokes represent is more important than the person herself.

Painting in progress. See all steps of this project! By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

H) Paint the Background!

Surround the person with everything that soothes and heals. At this point, it can be just subtle strokes that will be more defined later, when you finish the painting.

Making a spiritual painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Paint the frame too. Use muted colors so that the frame doesn’t take the energy away from the person.

Painting an art journal page with acrylic paints on a black paper. Dylusions Creative Journal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I) Finishing: Give Her All the Beauty She Needs

Paint details with a thin brush so that she will get all the softness and beauty she needs. Again, prevent using intense colors for the details on the background.

Painting details with acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Connect her forehead with the beauty so that she is in the middle of the energetic strokes and more delicate and soft fillings.

Spiritual energy with acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

I also added some decorations on the frame.

Paint spiritual energy! Art journal page by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

Less Control – More Energy and Expression

Art is freedom! In this project, we started with wild strokes and then built a portrait around them. These kinds of less-controlled uses of supplies are an important part of self-expression.

Paint spiritual energy! Art journal page by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step instructions!

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, I will be talking about doodling and how to expand it to various supplies and styles in my art community Bloom and Fly. The session will be recorded too. If you have bought my class this year, you are invited! I have sent an email to the members yesterday.

How to join Bloom and Fly for 2020?
>> Buy any of my classes!

Art Inspiration from Sanditon

This blog post is for us who love Jane Austen and Sanditon tv series. I watched the series last month, and it has inspired me a lot. I hope you enjoy this Sanditon inspiration overload!

Torchbearer – Esther and Lord Babington on the Beach

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My newest watercolor painting called Torchbearer had a modest beginning and I had no clue how to finish it – until I saw episode 8 of Sanditon!

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My favorite female character of Sanditon is Esther and the scene where she is in the carriage with Lord Babington was so romantic! The sudden change in her appearance, his gentle smile, black horses, empty shore – oh my! It hit me, that even if my painting has flowers, not people, I could express the emotion from the scene.

A detail of Torchbearer. Inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tallest flower and the glow come from Esther’s powerful spirit.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The flower that bends down, expresses her sensitivity.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I tried to paint every flower so that they highlight the bubbling energy. Their stems are like the carriage where the couple sat.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The black background represents both the horses and the lord, supporting Esther’s joy.

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In this painting, Esther is a torchbearer who leads us to better times.

Tin Box – A Souvenir from Sanditon

Inspired by Sanditon tv drama. Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like little boxes that can be used for storing hand-drawn pictures and papers. I wanted to decorate a small tin box so that it would have old-fashioned and luxurious feel. So that I could think of it as a souvenir from Sanditon!

I already had saved a hand-drawn piece that was quite perfect in size.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also found some papers with a watercolor print. They were test runs of the surface pattern designed earlier this year. I mostly designed the pattern manually, so by painting a design on the center of the paper and then cutting the paper into four parts.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This way you get a continuous design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Avoid painting edges, and re-arrange papers until they are all fully painted.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then scan the papers, and clean the edges in an image processing software. Here’s a sample of my design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made several variations in Photoshop. These papers go really well with hand-drawings, so they were perfect for the box.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. Test prints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The center motif was first colored with watercolors.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I hand-stitched it on a background paper and added more hand-stitching around the center. In the photo below, I highlight the surroundings of the stitches with a pen so that they look more 3-dimensional.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also added beads, more colors and decorative marks.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The centerpiece is a button with a shank removed. I love this little box!

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther Denham – Sanditon Paper Doll

I also wanted to create something for my ever-growing collection of collage figures. “Just an unknown habitat of Sanditon”, I decided first. I didn’t use any reference and drew the doll just freely, but when she was colored, she looked just like Esther!

Drawing a paper doll. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I played with her proportions so that she has overly long legs. That way I could make the dress more imaginative. The hem was cut from one of the watercolor papers. I couldn’t help playing with her right away, trying wings on her, filling the teacup with herbs from Sanditon. The wings and the teacup are from my fun class Magical Inkdom.

Drawing a paper doll and playing with hand-drawn pieces. Inspired by Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Her hat is also a collage piece cut from watercolor papers.

Hand-drawn paper doll inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Souvenirs from Sanditon!

Paper art inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The Romance Continues

I am currently painting an oil painting that looks quite romantic already.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My vision is to make it the third in the series after Icebreaker and Torchbearer – and put it in the middle of them.

Two watercolor paintings of Paivi Eerola, an artist from Finland.

One Source of Inspiration – Many Interpretations

If you have been following my blog, you know that some of my projects are fine art, others more illustrational, and there can be a bit crafty things too. This blog post demonstrates well how the inspiration can be the same, but the interpretation is different. For me, the wide range of projects is a way to stay inspired and creative, and I hope that you have tolerance for all of them. I don’t believe in getting too serious or not getting serious at all. The humorous side of art allows us to get playful, and the playfulness feeds our ability to express the deeper side of our inspiration.

Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther can be the person who handed me a crafty gift box, or an innocent paper doll, or a mysterious flower in a painting that took tens of hours to create. The key to your artistic style is less in the looks and more in the inspiration. For me, it’s often old-fashioned romances, like Sanditon.

Welcome to my online classes!
– Paint watercolor fantasies – Sign up for Magical Forest!
– Draw the magic – Buy Magical Inkdom!

From Portraits to Stories – How to Dive Deeper in Visual Expression

"Mirimer" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post about moving from portraits to stories in visual expression.

Here’s my latest watercolor painting called “Mirimer”. The name is a combination of “Miracles” and “Meri” (sea in Finnish). I love to invent these names that mix the two languages!

When I started this piece, I had two things in mind: I wanted to use Cobalt Blue Spectral (see the previous blog post about this gorgeous color), and I also wanted to continue my series of watercolor fairies.

Watercolor fairies by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

These fairies really speak to me. I feel that I should have started making these story scenes a long time ago and not wasted my time for stiff self-portraits, for example.

Life in Self-Portraits

As a teenager, I stared myself at the mirror and made self-portraits all the time. Any cardboard or piece of paper had my face!

A self-portrait by Paivi Eerola. See her blog post about how to move from portraits to stories.

Every time I wondered if this would be a portrait of an artist: “Would my dream come true? Is this piece good or not?”

It has taken tens of years to move from literal self-reflection to expressing my emotions and my inner world. If I could turn back the time, I would peg myself to move from technique back to childish imagination, because there’s always enough time to learn the techniques, and never enough time to deepen the expression.

A self-portrait by Paivi Eerola.

This is a self-portrait from a couple of years ago, and I like that the inner world finally begins to show.

However, for me, the greatest satisfaction of art is not in self-portraits or portraits in general. I want my art to move from portraits to stories, be more dynamic than just staring faces, tell about my experiences, and how I can see them in a new light. I believe that our inner world is full of stories that connect us to other people on a deep level. When I have thought about my artistic style or whether my art is “good” or “bad,” I have often neglected this story-telling aspect.

Mirimer – From a Portrait to a Story

When painting “Mirimer”, there was a magical moment when I heard my mother calling my name. She passed away tens of years ago, and I thought I had forgotten the exact tone in her voice, but the painting brought back the memory. It must have been because of the blue color, her favorite. I realized that I wasn’t painting a portrait of a fairy anymore. I was painting the story of accepting loss as a part of life.

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Mirimer became a blue-hooded angel, and the drops of water got some red to indicate that life carries pain that we can’t get to choose.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. See the blog post about moving from portraits to stories.

Illustrating Stories by Lucas Cranach

Stories also came to my mind when I went to see Lucas Cranach’s exhibition in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Lucas Cranach (The Elder) and her son, Lucan Cranach (The Younger), were not only German master painters in the 16th century, but they also knew how to run an art business. They had a workshop, an illustration studio, which had many employees, a logo, a style that everyone had to follow, and they produced prints too. So even if they lived in the Renaissance, they did what most artists today dream about. They built a visual world around stories that people yearned for.

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Diana and Actaeon.

Many of the Caranachs’ stories were from Greek mythology. This painting, my favorite from the exhibition, tells a story about Actaeon turning into a stag when Diana and the nymphs splash water on him. They don’t like him to watch them, and his dogs begin to attack him too!

Paivi Eerola and Lucas Cranach, the Younger. See Paivi's blog post about moving from portraits to stories in visual expression.

In the painting below, there’s Venus and her child, a little cupid. The cupid has been stealing honey and the bees have bitten him.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Venus and Cupid the Honey Thief

There’s also an old poem, written in Latin on the top corner of the painting too:

As Cupid was stealing honey from the hive
A bee stung the thief on the finger
And so do we seek transitory and dangerous pleasures
That are mixed with sadness and bring us pain

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.

From Portraits to Stories – 5 Tips

  1. Allow more intuition and imagination into your process: Add splashes and other unexpected elements. Spend time with a color that speaks to you. Instead of actively painting something, spend time discovering and highlighting what already can be seen.
  2. Grow your skills from faces to body gestures. Learn to process a shape that’s on paper, in your head too so that you can find alternative ways to continue the painting.
  3. Play with the scale of the elements. We tend to make shapes that are all equal in sizes. But if you want to paint a tiny fairy, for example, you need huge flowers to indicate the small size.
  4. Let go of strict outlining, and leave room for spots of light and shadows. There’s no story without the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is created by setting the lighting.
  5. Take time to let the story unfold. Often, the stories have many layers, and the first associations are just the path to deeper ones.

Magical Forest – Discover Stories by Painting!

Magical Forest, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Move from portraits to stories and paint nature and fairies in watercolor!

Paint watercolor fairies and nature’s spirits in their magical surroundings. Enjoy freeing up your expression while exploring flowery woods, shallow ponds, leaf chapels, and adventurous sceneries. Magical Forest begins on January 1st >> Sign up Now!

Scroll to top