Peony and Parakeet

The Child and The Adult – Finding Clarity for Your Art

This week I show a new painting “Call of the Sun” and talk about finding clarity in art. This week’s post is especially for you who feels that your art is all over the place and you have no artistic direction.

Auringon kutsu - Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Auringon kutsu – Call of the Sun, acrylics, 50 x 70 cm. Click the image to see it bigger!

The Child and The Adult – Who Do You Serve?

I used to think there are two kinds of artists – those who like to play and dream, and those who are more ambitious and aim to express their deepest emotions. Just recently, when I started this new painting, I asked myself: “What do you want to paint, Paivi?” And the answer was: “Horses!”

– You can’t paint horses only!
– Why?
– Because there’s more that needs to come out.

Artist Paivi Eerola holding her abstract painting Call of the Sun.

There was. There is. My inner child wants me to paint horses, but I am an adult too. If all my art is playful illustrations, I am desperately missing the adult in me.

Magical Pets image sheet - Paivi Eerola's drawings

The Magical Pets image sheet is now available in my art shop. Or make your own in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom!

Concrete vs. Abstract

The adult in me wants to work in a way that does not appeal to the child. The expression is more intuitive and abstract and thoughts less concrete. I feel free when painting like this. It’s like life travels through me, and it heals my soul. It makes me feel that this is the best that art can offer.

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

But I also feel free when I grab a more childish painting. I imagine talking to the horse and how it responses with gentleness.

Ebony, a miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Ebony, a miniature oil painting

This, too, is the best that art can offer – the connection to childhood, to the person who didn’t want much more than a pet of her own.

The Child and the Adult – Don’t Lose Either One

Nowadays, my studio is both the playroom and the space for meditation. The inner adult needs to paint with the inner child and vice versa.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio. She writes about finding clarity for your art.

If the child gets neglected, other people’s expectations step in, and I lose myself. If the adult is away, I focus too much on the tangible things. Then the invisible side of the experience doesn’t come through. This realization has helped me in finding clarity for my art.

What are Invisible and Intangible Things?

Examples of intangible things that we can visualize in art:

  • communicating the atmosphere with nature’s elements like light, air, and wind
  • expressing emotions that contain mixed feelings, for example, the combination of love and melancholy
  • inventing creative concepts like seeing similarities in the structure of plants and bridges
  • focusing on experiences like flying instead of painting a bird

When we omit these kinds of intangible things, we are in danger of only creating shells rather than expressing a spirit.

Viewers Have Child and Adult Too

As viewers, we also have both sides: the child and the adult.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted a dragonfly for your inner child to play with while the adult can ponder about the more abstract strokes.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Sometimes simple lines and colors can express more than realistic objects.

Finding Clarity and Balance for Art-Making

For a long time, I haven’t been happy about my art. Especially this fall, it has changed. I have found what my child needs to be satisfied with the result, and what pleases the adult in me. Surprisingly, being able to satisfy the child has been crucial for me to getting forward in abstract painting. This one is in progress, and you will get more pics and stories about it when it’s finished.

Artist Paivi Eerola and an abstract acrylic painting in progress. She helps artists to find clarity for their art.

What do you think? Are you in the journey of finding clarity for your art? What would need to change in your art so that both the child and the adult are happy? Tell me, I am interested to know!

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!

Why I Paint White Flowers – How Your Artistic Voice is Influenced by Others

There’s a lot of talk about finding your artistic voice, but very little about how other people affect it. So this week, I share a story about my mother and her influence on my art.

Painting the Same Thing Again and Again

A couple of days ago, I was on a morning walk near my home in Southern Finland. The air was fresh as well as the view, dominated by the blue sky and white clouds. My beagles’ busy noses and a glimmering brook followed a sown field that had already started to green. Both birds and earphones fed entertaining listening. But all I could think of was my painting. Was it finished? Should I add more color to the flowers? What else did I need to adjust to make most of the tens of hours? I was alone with my dogs, but the inner critic kept me company: what kind of artist doesn’t even know the meaning of her images?

An oil painting in progress by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland. Read her article about how artistic voice is not only our personal choice, but can be influenced by others.
Signed, but is it finished?

Yes, I am no artist at all. I paint white flowers, the easiest anyone can imagine, and the worst that my mother knew. “No white flowers,” she repeated to my father when her wedding anniversary came close, and he was about to buy a bouquet. “White flowers mean death.” And now, long after she has passed away, all I want to paint is white flowers.

Cherimona. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.
Icebreaker. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.
Torchbearer. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.

Commenters are Your Art Coaches

Rebelling had no place in my upbringing during the 1970s and 1980s. As a teenager, I tried to respond to my mother’s corrections and criticism with an ignorant smile. Not for long. She didn’t hesitate to tell that it wasn’t a proper reaction. She was both a direct and shy person. Her presence was almost invisible in public gatherings, but at home, in her empire, she was the master of rights and wrongs. So when I showed drawings to her, she either approved or disapproved. She didn’t talk to me as directly as to my father – what to do or what not – but her words and facial expressions told everything.

My mother was like a strict gymnastic coach with high expectations, but she lacked one essential skill – the ability to show how the tricks could be done. She was as honest to herself as to anyone in this matter and put her energy for finding time, supplies, and art education for me. Time to create was the easiest part. My mother was a housewife. She had left her job at a young age right after she got married. She didn’t want her daughters to have the same destiny, so she did her best to keep me out of the kitchen and constantly reminded me how children would prohibit me from doing what I love.

Artist Paivi Eerola and her mother. Read about how she has influenced her artistic voice.
Me and my mother in 1984

We lived in a small town near the Russian border, and our family wasn’t wealthy. The only income came from my father’s pension. In the evenings, my mother wrote all the expenses on a small black book. But purchasing pens and paper was mandatory. To her, it was the lowest level of civilization, more important than books. Our town had one bookshop that sold some supplies, but after we got more knowledge from local art groups and competitions, it became evident that I needed a better and broader selection. So every month, when my parents drove to a bigger town, I was often with them, selecting paper, paint boards, crayons, and acrylic paints from a real art supply store.

A Praised Piece Sticks into Your Mind

When I was some years over ten, in one spring morning, I decided to try out a new set of crayons. It was just a warm-up, a quick landscape without using any reference. “Look, mother, what do you think,” I said like so many times before. She looked at the image, tightened her lips, but unlike her, she didn’t say much. Later, when I opened a narrow kitchen closet to pick an iron, I stopped. The landscape was taped inside the wooden door. “I like to look at it,” she said after seeing my puzzled face.

Landscape with crayons by artist Paivi Eerola. From her teenage years.

I was devastated. That little landscape didn’t deserve the place. So many times I had poured my heart out on paper and soon found out that it wasn’t to her liking. And now – I didn’t even color all the paper!

Finding the Why Behind Your Artistic Voice – Connecting the Appraisals and Repetitions

Fortunately, my mother was not the only one commenting on my art. My two big sisters had different opinions, and my teachers and friends as well. One piece didn’t satisfy them all, but there were always kind words from someone. It encouraged me to keep painting and drawing, as everyone, especially my mother, expected.

After my mother’s death, one stormy weekend, I traveled to the childhood home to pick things that I wanted to keep before we would sell it. The house was cold, but I knew it was the last time when I would see it like it used to be. Everything was clean and tidy. Performing tasks effectively with high quality had always fascinated my mother. “If I could choose what my profession was, it would be a researcher of work – if such a profession existed.”

When I got up the stairs to an attic, the sight would surprise anyone but me. The attic had always been nearly empty. In one corner, under a sloped sealing, my father had built a small closet for safe storage. I opened its little door, and there they were, neatly in a big cardboard box – my paintings and drawings. Not all, but a collection that my mother had curated over the years, the little crayon drawing included.

So a few days ago, when I was walking by the field and looking up in the sky, my mother came to me in the form of the freshly colored landscape. I now knew that my urge to paint white flowers hadn’t been an act against my mother, but a yearn for her acceptance that blank white blobs had once given to me. Now my question is: can I let go of them, or do I want to keep her in my art forever.

Paivi Eerola and her painting in progress. Read her thoughs about artistic voice and how other people affect it.

Who has influenced your art? Can you recognize how?

P.S. I also teach drawing and painting flowers in the class Floral Fantasies.

Expressing Hope by Painting Nature

These past weeks have been black. Social distancing, pandemic, the news … However, I want to share some things that have brought consolation, hoping that they do the same for you.

Magical Forest, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

This first image is a watercolor painting created as an exercise for my newest class Magical Forest. It’s painted quickly and systematically, and it’s less romantic than many of my paintings, but I really like it. I put a lot of effort and thought into all of the class exercises, but I am especially fond of the last lesson where realistic nature themes meet abstract art in unconventional ways.

Expressing Hope – Art is Needed!

A detail of an abstract watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

One of the carrying themes in Magical Forest is spirituality, and I feel that the connection between art and spirit is more timely now than ever. The need for art that soothes will grow. It’s important that we artists create images that illustrate the inner world when there are chaos and uncertainty in the outer world. This way, we don’t only take care of our sanity but spread hope for other people as well.

Moss, Stones, Clouds – The Comforting Side of Nature

Paivi Eerola in the garden. Snowing in Finland.

We haven’t got much snow this winter in Southern Finland, so I have had lots of opportunities to observe stones, both in our garden, and in nature. When the world is in a storm, it’s comforting to watch their stillness, and how the moss is like a warm blanket over them.

Stones in the forest. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. About expressing hope in the chaos.

Last weekend, my husband and I took the dogs for a walk in the forest. When the sun shined through the trees, the view was like a sacred chapel.

Sun shines in the forest.

Last year, I got a wish to include clouds in the class, and I was able to fit that in. Clouds are surprisingly fun to paint! When the bad news came, little paintings like this became even more important. I want to look at my clouds now and then. The softness of the sky draws in and refreshes my soul.

Sunny sky and soft clouds, a  watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Expressing hope and hopefulness through art.

My beagle Stella also likes sunny skies. She has her chapel on the porch of the old shed that we have in our back garden.

A dog lying in the sun and enjoying spring.

I painted this floral bouquet last spring, and with it, I want to wish hopeful news and hopeful weekend. Let’s take some time to create comforting art!

After Winter, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Expressing hope by painting nature-themed art.

Nature is definitely expressing hope here in Finland. Let’s keep creating towards brighter days!

Spring crocuses

P.S. Weekend Sale! There’s a new presentation video about Magical Forest, and to brighten the weekend, I have reduced the price too. The sale ends on April 5 (PDT), so be quick! >> Buy here!

>> Buy the class here!

Scroll to top