Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Designing Cross Stitch Patterns

This week, I have something very different than before: cross stitch!
Buy my first commercial design Primavera from my Etsy shop called Needle and Peony!

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

There are two main reasons for designing this pattern. The first is the need for creative play and the second that I couldn’t find anything like this from other designers: a fantasy woman’s facial portrait that wouldn’t be a huge project.

Playing and Drawing in the Stitchly App

My need for creative play comes from being very serious with art this year. I have spent a lot of time in programming computer art and I have been painting a bit too. It’s all great but I started to miss drawing, and especially, making something that is purely illustrative and not so abstract and artistically challenging.

So because I have had cross stitching as a hobby almost all my life, I bought an app called Stitchly and started drawing there – on lunch breaks and such, a few stitches at time. First I just doodled freely with the Apple pen to get to know the app.

Designing cross stitch patterns in the Stitchly app.

Stitchly is easy to use and with the pen, drawing is fun and the squares get filled nicely. Of course, you can also import a photo and let the app create the chart automatically. But to make the image look realistic enough, the stitch count needs to be high and the design … well I don’t think it would be a design anymore, just a pixelated photo. So, when I design, I like to draw with the pen and if I use references, I only use them as inspiration and draw every square myself.

I also like that you can have a custom palette in Stitchly. I have made a palette that has all the DMC colors from my stash, so I can also check the real color when designing.

Drawing and Stitching Faces

When people begin drawing in adulthood, they often start with faces. Eyes, mouth, nose too. Facial features create a connection to the person born on paper. It’s also fun to draw hair and add decorations there.

So, one day it hit me that even when doing cross stitches, I can get company from the character I am stitching. However, couldn’t find a cross-stitch pattern that was a reasonable size and where the character was naturally asymmetrical, but still sparked the imagination.

My stitching time is lonely time in the evening. I clean the studio if I have been painting, and then pick extra glasses and while stitching, watch other cross stitchers’ videos on Youtube, so Flosstube as we cross stitchers call the channels.

Cross stitching in the evening

So when I wanted to stitch a facial portrait of an imaginary person, I decided to draw it in Stitchly. After making the chart, the fun started – I was stitching my own pattern!

Cross stitch project Primavera in progress

Primavera can be stitched in the colors I suggest in the pattern, but since there are only 11 colors, it’s easy to change them as you like.

DMC floss and aida cross stitch fabric

Although Primavera means spring, by changing the colors you can associate a different season or different theme with the character. The decorations are designed to be so general that they don’t limit the character you create.

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

The hair has three colors of different darkness, the skin has four. The hair band has two colors close to each other. It is easy to change the accent colors of the mouth and eyes, and also the colors of the decorations.

You can buy the pattern for Primavera in my Etsy shop!

Needle and Peony

It feels nostalgic to have something on sale at Etsy again! Long before I became a full-time artist, I opened the Etsy shop called Kukkilintu, then later changed the name to Peony and Parakeet. That little shop had a major impact on my career and life. Most of my customers lived outside Finland and I started communicating more and more in English.

Folk bags by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Me and some of my folk bags in 2008.

Maybe some of the current readers of this blog were my customers over ten years ago when I sold folk bags (currently available as a knitting pattern), handknitted doll clothes, hand-decorated papers and cards!

Now I changed the shop name to Needle and Peony and intend to add some charts over time. Maybe some slow stitching ideas also, as I have some of them too. Last week, I set up an Instagram account called @needleandpeony to show my cross stitch projects – also what I have stitched from other designers.

Which Design Should I Do Next?

While designing Primavera, it hit me that I have a pile of drawings that I have made for classes and that could be turned into cross stitch patterns. When I browsed them, I couldn’t decide what to choose next, so I now ask you – what would you like me to design next? I have picked 5 drawings to choose from, leave a comment and let me know which one is your favorite! Which one of these would make a great cross stitch design?

A) Angel

Angel drawing by Paivi Eerola

See how I drew the angel in 2022: Angel Drawing for the Inner Child

B) Girl

Flower girl drawing by Paivi Eerola

This flowel girl was drawn for the course Doll World.

C) Cat

Funny cat drawing by Paivi Eerola

This cat was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

D) Leaf

Folk leaf drawing by Paivi Eerola.

This folk leaf is an older design, from 2015. See more: Art Quilts in a Modern Way

E) Horse

Fantasy horse drawing by Paivi Eerola

This fantasy horse was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

Tell me your favorite of the five – A) Angel, B) Girl, C) Cat, D) Leaf, or E) Horse?

Support me in the cross stitch design journey, here’s the link to purchase Primavera!

Kaunosielu – Painting and Drawing Sensitivity

Kaunosielu is a Finnish word for which I don’t know an English equivalent. It means a dreamer who loves beauty, but the word has an ironic undertone. This romantic soul, alienated from everyday life, cares little about taking care of practical matters and frequently stops to admire the beauty around her.

Kaunosielu, oil on canvas, 70 x 60 cm

I’ve been thinking about people’s yards in my neighborhood a lot lately. The new houses have a small lawn area, a wooden patio, and a row of white cedars. These homes are advertised as “easy-to-maintain yards” in real estate ads. And yet, it often happens that when time passes, a few violets or a peony bush appear. It makes me believe that we all are “kaunosielu people” who have a sensitive heart and eye for beauty.

Analyzing a painting.

So my Kaunosielu painting is dedicated to that part of you who stops after seeing something beautiful. This topic was challenging for me because I usually express movement. Here, however, it’s all about staying rather than leaving and looking rather than running away.

Inspiration from Pastel Drawings

I am making a series of paintings for an exhibition called “In the Mood of Albert Edelfelt” and I have browsed a lot of Albert Edelfelt’s (1854-1905) works. Surprisingly, his pastel drawings fascinate me the most. Look at this woman, for example – or rather – her dress!

Albert Edelfelt, Dalinin kevätlaulu. Pastels on paper.
Dalinin kevätlaulu – Dalin’s Spring Song by Albert Edelfelt

I see a similarity with flowers in old portraits. The outfits are pleated like the petals of ​​flowers and the lines form interesting patterns.

I also started using chalk brushes in the ProCreate app. Here is a digital pastel drawing: peonies and strawberries.

A digital pastel drawing created in ProCreate. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I have done oil pastel work for the course Innovative Portraits, but now I dug out the soft pastels.

Drawing with soft pastels.

Soft pastels are more chalky than oil pastels and maybe a bit more difficult too because, unlike oil pastels, soft pastels also need fixative.

A pastel drawing in a sketchbook. Floral abstract by Paivi Eerola.

This is just a small notebook and a small piece but I like to practice between bigger paintings.

Kaunosielu on Canvas

My painting Kaunosielu is painted in oil, but it is close to pastel artworks in terms of color scheme and the use of lines.

Päivi Eerola and her painting Kaunosielu

The painting is inspired by a lovely pastel drawing by Albert Edelfelt called “At the Window.” I was lucky enough to see this work authentically in the Albert Edelt exhibition of the Ateneum Art Museum. This piece is 68 x 62 cm, so it’s quite large for a work drawn on paper. And look at that frame!

Albert Edelfelt, At the Window, pastel on paper.

I was especially fascinated by the composition, and as soon as I started my painting, I felt that now it was coming: Kaunosielu! I had been planning to do a piece called that for a long time.

Abstract oil painting in progress.

I wanted to incorporate haziness and vagueness into this painting, but at the same time use strong variations in darkness. With the big differences in color value, I wanted to create a sense of presence similar to Albert Edelfelt’s paintings.

Abstract floral oil painting called Kaunosielu in progress.

When I took this photo in the morning sun, it felt like the moment stopped and two Kaunosielus came into the picture.

Paivi Eerola and her painting Kaunosielu.

This photo shows so well how darkness and light go hand in hand.

This Week’s Challenges for Your Art-Making

  • Empathize with the kaunosielu personality: Examine what it means to be an impractical but sensitive sielu – soul!
  • Examine old portrait paintings. Dind the similarities between flowers and luxurious dresses.
  • Be bolder with contrasts. Enhance your expression by combining pastel colors with really dark blues and browns.
  • Experiment with soft pastels or oil pastels or mimic their effects with other art supplies.

I hope all these tips inspire you to start creating!

Watercolor Fairies – Painting the Magic of Nature

I’ve been going through my art supplies lately and reflecting on my path as an artist so far. In recent blog posts, I’ve featured drawings, but now we’re moving on to watercolors. This post is about painting watercolor fairies and the wilderness around them.

Watercolor fairy by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Watercolor Surfaces – Aquabord vs. Paper

I love thick watercolor paper, but I made a special find in my stash: a hard base meant for watercolors. I bought it years ago but had forgotten it. But now I had to try this Ampersand Aquabord!

Watercolor painting supplies. Ampersand AquaBord replacing paper.

Watercolors have a built-in sense of surprise that keeps me interested in the work. Still, you can also do accurate and illustrative details. I like to use a lot of water at the beginning and less at the end. Even if Aquabord is surprisingly absorbent, I prefer the effects that a good-quality paper creates. But maybe this is the thing that would need more practice. It is said that to get to know a certain paper, tens of experiments are needed.

Starting an intuitive painting. Painting on Ampersand Aquabord.

When the painting progresses I move on to negative painting, so paint the background in such a way that I leave the shapes from the previous layers exposed to maintain the brightness.

Lifting color from Ampersand Aquabord. Painting in progress.

Aquabord turned out to be more convenient than paper in keeping the painting light. It is easy to wipe off color with either a rag or a dry brush. But even if lifting color is harder on paper, I still would prefer watercolor paper, especially 100% cotton, because it feels so wonderful! However, for beginner watercolorists, Aquabord is great because you can erase and start over!

Watercolor Fairies

About four years ago, my watercolor set was a close friend, and I thought I was at my best in watercolor painting. One of my favorite subjects in watercolor was fairy-tale characters – spirits of nature that rise from the surrounding greenery and have the sensitivity of a butterfly. It was also fun to come up with names for them!

Cherimona / Symbiosis II, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. See how she paints watercolor fairies!
Cherimona
Shyeling, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. See how she paints watercolor fairies!
Shyeling
Aquanora, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. See how she paints watercolor fairies!
Aquanora
Mirimer, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. See how she paints watercolor fairies!
Mirimer

When painting a watercolor, a character can appear by accident. It’s fascinating to see who comes up as the round shapes of the plants encourage the spirit to emerge.

Watercolor painting in progress. Painting organic plant shapes.

Even though nowadays I mostly paint with oil, I still want to step into wild nature with a brush and listen to my intuition. Watercolors have taught me a way to first splash freely and then finish with intention.

Magical Forest with Watercolor Fairies

I have also made a watercolor course about this kind of intuitive nature painting: Magical Forest.

Magical Forest combines light with hope, trees with spirituality, water with flow, and wilderness with curiosity.

Flower or Fairy?

In this work on Aquabord, I first thought that the weird purple flower could be enough of a character. But after looking at the flower for a while, I felt that someone was squatting under it.

Watercolor painting in progress. First a flower, and after this, a fairy!

And it wasn’t a shy spirit either, but quite lively.

Painting facial features for magical characters.

I even painted hands for her.

A detail of a fairy painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

The butterfly flew there too as if by accident!

What Makes a Fairytale?

In my opinion, a watercolor painting with a fairy tale character can leave a lot of guesswork. The mystery is allowed! There may be abstract shapes that only describe the atmosphere rather than anything else.

Holding a small watercolor painting, painted on Ampersand Aquabord. By Paivi Eerola, Finland. See how she paints watercolor fairies!

When the shy watercolor fairies started appearing in my art in 2019, they represented the part of me that is needed for making art. Now my artist fairy is more confident and cooperative and is not afraid to appear when called.

Easter Sale – Magical Forest Over 40% OFF!

Magical Forest online course

To celebrate Easter and watercolors, Magical Forest is now over 40% OFF!
The sale ends on Monday, April 10, at midnight PDT. >> Buy Now!

In the Mood of Albert Edelfelt

This week, I present you a Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt and talk about my upcoming exhibition.

This month, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö – Albert Edelfelt’s foundation contacted me. They invited me to participate in a group exhibition in their villa starting in August. I went to sign the contract this week.

Päivi Eerola & Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Me and Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen from Albert Edelfelt’s foundation

This is very happy news! If you have read my blog for some time, you know I love art history. Even if I follow contemporary art actively, old paintings inspire me more. Many of the techniques that I use for my paintings are old, even if the expression is abstract or half-abstract. So, one of my secret dreams has been to display my paintings with historical ones.

Albert Edelfelt

Albert Edelfelt (1854 – 1905) was one of the most famous Finnish painters. He painted portraits and landscapes and, in my opinion, was exceptionally skillful in sceneries that had a group of people. He also made illustrations, studied and worked in Paris, and lived in Haikko, Finland, where his foundation is also located.

Albert Edelfelt sketching
Albert Edelfelt, photographed by Pietinen, 1905

Here’s a better picture of the painting “Onkiva ukko” – a guy fishing – that you can see in the background of the first photo, taken in Villa Albert of Albert Edelfelt’s foundation.

Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva Ukko, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva ukko, oil on canvas, 1896

One of Albert Edelfelts most famous paintings, especially in France, is the portrait of Louis Pasteur. And many of his female portraits are so romantic, look at this one, for example!

Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880
Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880

And look how careless the strokes are here, still expressing the essential so skillfully!

Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882
Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882

But Albert Edelfelt didn’t only paint young beauties. See this one:

Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887
Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887

Browse more here: a big collection of Albert Edelfelt’s paintings

Last year, there was Albert Edelfelt’s big exhibition in France, and it’s now in Göteborg, Sweden, then later in May in Finland.

Villa Albert and The Haikko Area

Edelfelt’s studio is still up. It’s a small wooden cottage and a popular sight. Villa Albert is a new building in the same courtyard. It has a gallery space and a gift shop.

Villa Albert, Haikko, Porvoo
Villa Albert, gift shop, art gallery, Haikko, Porvoo, Finland
Inside Villa Albert, a view of the gift shop

The Haikko area is beautiful. The sea is right there, and a beautiful manor hotel, Haikon kartano, is only a walk away.

The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt's art studio in January 2023
The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt’s art studio in January 2023

This area is very different in summer, much more welcoming than in the picture that I took this week. Here’s Albert Edelfelt’s painting of his villa in Haikko, currently privately owned but still up and located near the studio.

Albert Edelfelt, The Artist's Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.
Albert Edelfelt, The Artist’s Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.

It takes only 15 minutes to drive to an atmospheric old town Porvoo, which is also a very popular tourist attraction.

Entering Porvoo old town
Entering Porvoo, the old town has a lot of wooden buildings

Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt

I will be painting a new series for the exhibition called “Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa” – Artists in the mood of Edelfelt. Even if Albert Edelfelt was a portrait painter, my intention is not to paint portraits but plants. I am excited to pick inspiration from his work, though!

The exhibition will have four other artists too: another painter Kristina Elo, photographers Maarit Lehto and Niclas Warius, and a sculptor, Kaj Lindgård. I am very happy to be displayed with these wonderful artists.

Aug 8 to Oct 10, Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa (Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt), Villa Albert, Haikkoo, Porvoo.

Coming Up in This Blog

This spring, you will see me painting for the exhibition, and I will also share some details of Albert Edelfelt’s life. Between those, I will be posting more playful posts – drawings and journal pages – so, as usual, art history, my oil paintings, and more illustrative work will alternate in this blog. I hope you find all this very inspiring.

Scroll to top