Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Coloring Without Limits

This week, I want to talk about colored pencils and coloring without limits. You can color without a preconceived idea, without outlines, and without sketching.

Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Coloring without limits, no outlines or sketching.

You only need to feel drawn to one color first. Recently, purple-blue has called me.

What to Draw?

Have you ever been thinking about what to draw when everything in the world seems to be drawn already? Maybe you too have wondered whether you draw a face, a bird, or a flower, and if so why. But there is always a secret path in art – the possibility to deviate from the traditional path at the very beginning and see what appears on paper freely.

Abstract art with colored pencils. Coloring in an art journal.

I have a small colored pencil journal where it’s easy to make a spread now and then.

Art journal page with colored pencils.

This was a quick and fun little project.

Choosing Paper with Colors

The smoothness of the paper affects the coloring experience. Single strokes are better visible on smooth paper.

Art journal page with abstract coloring. Coloring without limits.

My colored pencil journal has very smooth paper, and I find it less effortless to color than a rougher one.

Coloring on a smooth paper. Colored pencil art. Free coloring on blank paper.

But when I want the colors to shine more and achieve a little blurrier and thus a softer result, the paper is better when it has some tooth.

Coloring on Fabriano Accademia drawing paper. Coloring freely on a blank paper without limits.

I currently have a pad of Fabriano Accademia drawing paper and it’s very nice with colored pencils.

Coloring supplies. Colored pencils organized in boxes by color and paper for creating colored pencil art. Fabriano Accademia drawing paper.

I keep my pencils organized by color. All brands are mixed in one box. Some are watercolor pencils, some are regular, and all of them are in the same mix.

Just Start! – Two Tips

Bring the pencils to a place where you can see them often. And then …”Just start!”

Sometimes it’s easier said than done. When getting started feels like a chore, I have two tips for you.

First, let the color do the talking. Pick a pencil and examine it’s tone. Color lightly first, and then bring in more layers. Every color has a spirit. Connect with it like it’s your pet or an angel. You don’t need to rationalize why you feel drawn to this or that color. Find the pencil that resonates the best with your current self.

Coloring without limits - a start.

Second, give the color at least two other colors as friends. Often one color is very little, but when it’s side by side with two other colors, art will appear. A shape that has only one color is flat but with two other colors, it becomes much more lively.

Colored Pencils Say This All The Time

I know many colored pencils complain that they always have to create something figurative and realistic. They envy paints who can roam freely on paper and how people only smile at their tricks. Colored pencils are too often squeezed tightly and pressed hard against paper at the very beginning. They have to follow strict discipline and are under pressure to produce something that looks real. And when they try to do exactly as they are told, the result is stiff. “Nothing like what can be achieved with paints,” their owners say which makes the pencils sad. If they could choose they would be coloring without limits.

I believe in free education when it comes to colored pencils: “Make what you want and enjoy!” I often say to them. “Imagine that you are something more than just pencils!”

Colored pencil art in progress. No sketching, just coloring without limits.

My pencils jump out of their boxes and do all kinds of silly marks. They are like paints.

Without Limits – Imagine You Are More!

In art, it is terribly important that we imagine to be more than what we are. Be more skillful, more innovative, more unique, and more important. Then, at that very moment, the pencils, life, and fantasy cannot be separated. The colors speak inside us and the art steps in.

Colored pencil artist's work table - pencils organized by color, a smooth surface on the table top. Colored pencil art by Päivi Eerola.

Love of Coloring Without Limits

When I was a child, colored pencils often kept me company. They still bring me joy and I want to keep staying their advocate.

A journal spread and a small drawing, both colored intuitively and freely, without limits. Colored pencil art can be more abstract than you think.

Get 20 % OFF from the classes Intuitive Coloring and Fun Botanicum!
The sale ends on Sunday, May 5, 2024, at midnight PDT.

Using White as a Color in Painting and Drawing

In this post, we explore the color white and find ideas on how we could change the way we use it in art-making.

Käännekohta - Turning Point, oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm, by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Käännekohta – Turning Point, oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm.

I posted this painting about a month ago, but I still had to fix it! You might not notice the difference, but it matters to me. I have changed the center of the painting so that it is more abstract.

Painting over details with a thin brush.

A long time ago I thought that it doesn’t matter if I don’t like some detail of my work or if I don’t like some of my work in general. I thought there would always be someone who would like it.

But the longer I’ve been painting, the more important it has become that I have to be a fan of my own work. When you are a beginner, quantity is more important than quality. But I’ve been working for a long time and the equation has thus turned the other way.

Before and after - fixing a white painting.
Before and after. I changed the center and some other details.

I know some would prefer the more realistic flowers, but I don’t! I have too much reality around me, especially now when the weather has been too cold to be spring.

Living in a White Country

This painting is also special because it has so much color that is difficult for me – white! There is far too much white here in Finland. Even if now is the end of April, we got a lot of snow a couple of days ago!

Spring in Finland - snowing can still happen.

I think white is a terrible color because it is full of emptiness.

Artist Paivi Eerola and her oil paintings.

Finnish people usually have white walls and white furniture, but our home is full of colors. I love to display my paintings on this yellow wall.

Not One White But Many Whites

In the recent painting, I wanted to play with pastels and show the side of white that is often not talked about.

A detail of a white oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Many whites and pastel shades in one painting.

For an artist, there is not just one white. There is a warm white that holds the promise of the sun. There is a purple-toned white that falls in love when it sees a deep cold red. There is a white that allures you with a hint of sweet mint. So, many whites, not just one Finnish white!

It’s exciting to mix various whites and then see how the pastel colors slowly begin to appear. You need a lot of white and just a little bit of color to get the toned whites and pale pastels.

Titanium or Zinc White?

The most common white in paint tubes are Titanium White and Zinc White. In oils, you have to be careful with zinc white because it can cause crackles. I mostly use only Titanium White. I would love to use Zinc White because it’s more transparent. In this painting, I have tried my best to bring the soft transparent effects mostly with Titanium White, but it’s not easy!

Vapauden puolesta - For Liberty, oil on board, 45 x 45 cm. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Vapauden puolesta – For Liberty, oil on board, 45 x 45 cm.

In acrylics and gouache paints, you can use Zinc White more freely.

When White is Not Needed

Beginners think that adding white on top can fix everything. Ten years ago, I was madly doodling with a white gel pen. What went wrong, got covered with white circles. But white also can make the piece busy and destroy depth. Here’s a quick example of the small collage piece that I made in 2014 (here’s the old blog post with the video too). The first is the old piece and the second is a photoshopped version showing how I would fix it now.

A collage piece that lacks depth and has too much white and a demonstration of how it could be fixed.

When I tone down the white, the image gets clearer and the depth grows. The highlights in the central parts get more attention and it’s easier to know where to look. I wish someone would have pointed this out to me back then. It took a lot of time to realize this!

If White Were a Person …

I am pretty sure that if White were a person she would say: “I have much more potential than you think. Stop seeing me as a blank background or a quick fix to a piece that lacks contrasts!”

Paivi Eerola and her paintings.

What’s your relationship with White?

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!

5 Tips for Quick Abstract Flowers

This week, we paint quick abstract flowers freely without any references.

Quick abstract flowers in acrylics. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I have a black Dylusions Creative Journal and make small paintings there occasionally. It is especially good when there’s still paint left on the palette at the end of the painting session. I think it makes sense to use all the paint, and not throw the leftovers in the trash.

Art journal filled with flower paintings.

I don’t use any gesso but paint directly on the page.

Quick abstract flowers in acrylics. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

When I painted pieces for the course Liberated Artist Revisited, I noticed that there had been a long break in acrylic painting and some of the tubes had started to harden.

A quick abstract floral painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It motivates me to paint in the black art journal again because I don’t want those paints to go to waste. And sometimes it’s nice to paint something small quickly and see what comes out most effortlessly.

Quick Abstract Flowers – Five Tips!

I like painting abstract flowers, and thick paints are very suitable for abstract flower paintings. Here are my five tips for painting flowers quickly.

1) Start from the Old Mess

The fastest way is to start from an old painting.

I have a lot of pages in my journal where I’ve hastily painted shapes with leftover paints.

Starting to revamp an old painted page. Painting on an art journal.

Continuing the beautiful mess feels much more effortless than starting a new one from the beginning.

Abstract flowers in progress.

For example, here’s one page that still waits its turn to become a finished painting.

Abstract flowers in progress. In a black square Dylusions Creative Journal.

Most of my beginning messes are much more messy though!

2) Dark-Bright-Light

Include all three degrees of darkness in one painting.

Make color mixes and compare them in terms of darkness. By including all three – dark, bright, and light – you can achieve depth and atmosphere.

Mixing acrylic paints on a palette. You can use old lids as a palette.

Make clear larger areas so that you can point to different places in the background and say, there is dark, there is bright, and there is light.

Painting quick abstract flowers by using different color values.

Flowers can have all three – dark, bright, and light colors.

3) Forget the Real Flowers!

Don’t think too much about the real flowers.

Don’t think about what a rose looks like or what flowers you want in your painting. All that stiffens your expression.

A messy beginning of an art journal page.

Focus on the colors and let the flowers form from the brushstrokes.

Using a palette for painting quick abstract flowers.

After all, a flower is just a few colorful strokes and a line for the stem.

A small floral painting in progress.

Use your imagination when you look at your work in progress!

4) Leave Room for Spirit

Not everything needs to be defined or look like a flower.

Flowers are concrete matter, so let the colors express the spirit!

Painting flowers in an art journal. Playing between abstract and representational.

If you want to be extra quick, sharpen just one flower near the center and leave the others more abstract and vague.

Detail of a floral painting.

5) No Forced Feelings

Open yourself up to an emotional experience.

The speed of the painting depends highly on how soon you get an emotional connection with yourself and what you are doing. Let even the darkest thoughts come. For creativity, everything genuine is equally good.

Painted spread in a Dylusions Creative Journal. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

The beauty of making art is that imagination creates abundance and eternal life from almost nothing – from the leftover paint and leftover energy. And the more often you create, the more you get out of it!

Quick floral abstract from leftover paints.

Liberated Artist Revisited – Buy Now!

In Liberated Artist Revisited, we time-travel to meet the teacher – Paivi from 2015, and create new art with her.

Liberated Artist online course

This course is both for the left and right brain. The young Paivi gives systematic instructions while the older Paivi enjoys her freedom and ponders about art-making and life in general.

Paivi Eerola and quick abstract flowers in her art journal.

Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

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