Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Drawing Sceneries with Watercolor Pencils

This week, I have a fun drawing idea: fill a paper with many small sceneries!

Drawing sceneries with watercolor pencils. Watercolor pencils art by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Colored with Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils.

For this project, I have used watercolor pencils and Fabriano Accademia drawing paper (size: A4). The paper is very nice with colored pencils and goes well with watercolor pencils too.

Inspiration for Drawing Sceneries

Creating mini-sceneries is easy when you start playing with the scale. Think about a bumblebee – how it first flies over fields admiring the view and then finds a mini-world inside a flower.

A bumblebee inside a peony.

Your mind can be a busy bee, collecting a variety of ideas – big and small.

A detail of a collection of mini-sceneries by Paivi Eerola. Drawing sceneries with watercolor pencils in a fun way.

Your hand can then pick some of those ideas and put them into one picture like it would be a treasured collection in a secret museum. “Faberge eggs,” said my husband when I showed my picture to him.

Watercolor Pencils

Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils, landscape colors.

I often use regular colored pencils but slowly I have become interested in watercolor pencils too. I have had a few Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils for a while and I love their quality – vivid colors, lovely to hold, and work well without water too. A couple of weeks ago, I bought 20 landscape colors to accompany what I already have.

Mini-Sceneries – Start Here!

Start your collection by picking a circle template, for example, a lid. Draw circles so that they overlap partially. Put one idea into one circle and color each of the circles separately.

Drawing sceneries with watercolor pencils. Combining many mini-sceneries on one paper.

This can be a “one in a day” project. Take your time to focus on each circle.

Watercolor Pencils in Use

Watercolor pencils are great for quickly filling larger areas. Color the area lightly and then add water over the colored area.

Using watercolor pencils for drawing small sceneries.

Let dry before adding a new layer on the top.

Drawing Sceneries – Playing with Styles

My favorite thing is to combine nature-related ideas such as landscapes and flowers with decorative motifs. I like to draw dots, other simple shapes, and lines so that they form frames and ornaments.

Ideas for watercolor pencils. By Paivi Eerola.

In this project, the circles are nature-related while the background has a more ornamental approach.

Using Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils for drawing sceneries.

When you keep the background unified, you can use many styles in one piece. One paper then becomes a diary where anything handmade looks great together because it’s made by one hand and one mind.

Drawing in Ornamental Style

Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle watercolor pencils and ideas for drawing sceneries. By Paivi Eerola

This project is another variation of the earlier blog post: Colored Pencils – Ornamental Approach. If you have taken the course Intuitive Coloring, would you be interested in creating something like this on a course next?

How to Add Depth When Coloring Freely

This week, we will color freely on a watercolor background and learn about adding depth to our colorings. I am using regular colored pencils, but you can also use watercolor pencils.

Garden spirits. Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola.

My drawing is inspired by the garden and the ornamental shapes of the plants, insects, and birds. So, let’s go deep in the garden and create lushness!

Quick Start with Watercolors

Blank paper can feel intimidating, but if you fill it first with watercolors, coloring is fun.

I was going through my paper pads when I found an unfinished watercolor painting.

A watercolor background ready for coloring.

It was just a background with random spots but the paper was smooth, just perfect for colored pencils. I think the paper is Arches Aquarelle Hot Press, nice and sturdy, 300 gsm/140 lbs thick.

I picked up my pencils and started drawing and let my inspiration come from the painted shapes.

Drawing on a watercolor background.

I drew flowers, leaves, swirls, and all kinds of odd organic shapes that I would then later adjust.

Add Depth – Expand the Outlines!

When you draw, don’t just outline, but broaden the lines to form larger areas. For example, a black outline can be broadened so that it gradually gets lighter (“shadowing”) or so, that it remains dark and solid but expands to a larger and exciting shape.

Coloring over a watercolor background.

Dark and light should have clear differences so that you can point out separate areas: here’s dark, here’s light, here’s dark again, and so on.

Adding Depth is a Slow Process

When you are working without any references, you are on an adventure! What first looked like a flower, can become a butterfly after a while. Art is a shy fairy and it takes time to attract it.

In this intuitive coloring style, adding depth is a process where you slowly brighten or darken different areas. Start with a transparent layer, then add another one. When you have areas that haven’t been worked on with colored pencils yet, you can also use watercolors for layering.

Working with colored pencils and watercolors at the same time. Adding depth.

Compared to accurately replicating a photo, this kind of free coloring may first feel much faster. But if you aim for depth, it’s not!

Add Depth – Find the Spirit!

At some point, your piece feels full and finished. But at this point, let me ask you a question:

Have you found the spirit of your piece?

Have you found something soulful that seems too gentle for this world?
Or is there something that cuts your heart and feels painful?
The depth in art is not only visual but something that evokes emotion.

Colored pencil art in progress. Drawing details and adding depth.

In my piece, I discovered a spirit in the right upper corner. It’s not a flower or anything recognizable, but I felt it strongly.

After you have found the spirit, give more visibility to it. Make it so that it impacts the overall piece.

You Are the Sun

In your art, you are the sun. First, you can bring warmth to the piece by adding yellow. If you have areas that still take in watercolors, add a yellow wash over the greyish tones and let the warmth in.

Watercolor wash over a mixed media piece. Colored pencils and watercolors.

Second, remember that you really are the sun. So, you can decide how the light travels and where the shadows are. You don’t need to calculate how the shadows should go like there would be one correct solution. Start deciding who deserves the sunshine, and who doesn’t! Who gets more color, and who will stay more in the shadow?

Using colored pencils for highlighting the best barts. Adding depth by coloring.

In nature, there are all kinds of reflections, and I find them artistically inspiring. Look at this photo that I took today from our garden pond!

Reflections on a garden pond.

Playing with light, shadow, colors, and reflections is a lot of fun when you are creating freely. Remember that there’s no “shadow judge”, only “sun goddess” – you!

Add Depth – Force Yourself to Choose the Winners

Some people think about the composition all the time when they are creating, but I try to push that urge away as long as I can. You may have a lot of stuff on paper, but if you only highlight your favorites, balancing is easy. The problem is that you really have to choose!

Here, I have turned the paper upside down to get a different view of my work. That yellow flower looks very pretty, but the yellow butterfly shape near it is maybe even more attractive. Decisions, decisions!

Turning the piece upside down to analyze the composition. Creating freely with colored pencils and adding more depth step by step.

When I was at this point, I thought this was finished.

Colored pencil art in progress. This could have more depth. By Paivi Eerola.

But when you want to add more depth, you want to reduce the competition for attention. I wanted to make the spirit in the upper right corner and the yellow butterfly clear winners even if it meant I pushed back many pretty things.

How to add dept when coloring creatively. Creating colored pencil art.

For example, the pink rose got toned down.

Room for Imagination

Things that are further away are blurry, like whispers, and things that are close, are sharp and louder. If everything shouts, and nothing whispers, the viewer will likely turn away. And vice versa, if everything only whispers, the viewer easily walks by.

Garden spirits. Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola.

If depth is lacking, you look at a wall and can’t see further. Depth is not only the impression but the imagination. With depth, you begin to imagine what more could be there. That’s especially why I want to add depth to my art whatever the subject is.

Learn more about watercolors and colored pencils together: See my course Freely Grown!

Joy of Nature in Colored Pencil

This week, we learn from nature and bring its joy to our colored pencil art.

Joy of nature. Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

It makes me sad how colored pencils are used only for replicating photos, and how little there is room for free expression. Nature grows freely, so why not give our art the same opportunity? I hope this post inspires you to do more intuitive coloring!

Joy of Nature: Patchwork

Think about nature sceneries as crazy quilts that have fabrics and seams! The fabrics are larger areas and the seams are lines. Patchwork has short seams, so keep your lines quite short too.

Joy of nature and working with colored pencils: create something small and colorful!

When you walk in nature, stop, and see the quilt by searching for the mesh of trees and bushes. Observe how twigs cross over each other and form nature’s patchwork.

Nature's patchwork and disorder

Then when you start coloring a blank paper, focus on building the asymmetric and abstract style quilt, rather than thinking about trees and such.

Patchwork coloring. Creating freely with colored pencils. Exploring the joy of nature in colored pencil.

I find this kind of “patchwork coloring” a lot of fun. Many call this mark-making, but I like to think about creating a patchwork instead. Marks are a more abstract term but textiles connect me to the creative world that is full of ideas.

Joy of Nature: Harmony

Despite its patchy structure, nature sceneries have harmony that our art often lacks. When you walk in nature, step back to admire the big picture and point out the areas by their dominating colors. You could think that the sky and earth both have a few quilts: patchwork areas that mostly have similar colors.

Harmonic spring scenery

So, when your paper has all kinds of patchwork, compose larger areas by coloring over them so that they get a stronger identity in color. For example, you can have a couple of green areas, a dark area, a more neutral brown area, and one with very light colors.

Learning  from nature. Adding harmony to your colored pencil drawing.

So, first, you start coloring gently with a wider color scheme and then add larger unified layers over the colorful patchwork.

Joy of Nature: Spirit

I like to think that light is nature’s spirit. When you walk in nature, seek for this spirit. You miss the spirit, if you only point out the big concrete things in the scenery like bushes, trees, water, and sky. To see the spirit, you have to step into the abstract world and look for the light: odd shapes on the trunks of the trees, pattern play on the leaves, and in general, all kinds of small reflections.

Reflections from water.

For me, it’s helpful to think that the spirit has twins. One is the light and the other is the shadow. When you want more light, you will also get stronger shadows.

Adding nature's spirit to colored pencil art.

Light and shadows add contrast and scatter. When you add them to your piece, it becomes less harmonic, but also less boring.

Joy of Coloring Small

Recently, my colored pencil pieces have been quite small, and the paper has been divided into smaller pieces.

Joy of coloring small. Dividing the paper in parts.

Coloring can be a bit like weeding: you can do it little by little.

Spring garden

First, the result is nothing, but it will bloom over time.

Coloring freely with colored pencils.

Colored pencils beat other supplies when we are creating this kind of small joyful art.

Getting creative with colored pencils

Here one A4-sized paper has two pieces of colored pencil art. So, you can take short walks or long walks to express the joy of nature in colored pencil.

Colored pencils and colored pencil art. Learning visual principles from Mother Nature. Coloring freely without references.

Mother Nature is the best art teacher. That’s why most of my classes are about what I have learned from her.

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!

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