Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Paint Beautiful Decorative Flowers!

This week, we create stylized beauty. You will see how I painted these beautiful decorative flowers.

Beautiful decorative flowers by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Time for Some Happy Art!

At least here in Finland, May-June is a time for parties. There are school graduations and then Midsummer at the end of June, which is celebrated not only by people but by Finnish nature too. Days are long and the deep sleeps during the dark winter are now coming into use. If different art forms had seasons, this uplifting time would be dedicated to decorative painting. Beautiful decorative flowers and other curvy motifs go well with the celebrations.

A detail of a hand-painted old chest.
A detail of a hand-painted old chest. A black and white photo from 1936. Photographer: Pietinen. From the archives of The Finnish Heritage Agency.

Decorative art is happy art for most people. Its tradition extends all over the world and it only requires a little sensitivity to beauty from the viewer.

Uplifting Art-Making

Three years ago, when the Corona lockdowns started, I buried myself in decorative painting. I made decorative collages from hand-painted papers and practiced decorative painting techniques.

Art journal cover. A collage of handpainted papers.
A decorative journal cover from handpainted collage pieces. See more: Painted Paper Collage -6 Tips for Intricate and Fun Art

These curvy forms and lines are still present in my paintings, where decorativeness is mixed with a more dynamic and abstract expression.

Menuetti - Minuet, a floral abstract oil painting by Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Menuetti – Minuet, oil on canvas, 2022.

Painting in a decorative style is fun. A few thoughtful brushstrokes create beauty, and even a beginner’s work looks great when viewed from a far enough distance. Over time, the brush mark improves and has an effect on all drawing and painting, even handwriting. And it’s the perfect style for cards and gifts!

Starting a Decorative Painting

As I watched the blossoms in apple trees, I felt like painting something small and nice to celebrate the beginning of the blooming season.

Starting a decorative painting.

I took out my black Dylusions Creative Journal and acrylic paints and painted the background very dark blue. Then I made leaves on top of each other, and so that they get lighter layer by layer.

Painting leaves in decorative style.
Dark leaves on the background, lighter ones on the top.

At the same time, I watched the videos of my course Decodashery.

Decodashery – Painting Techniques for Vintage Flowers and More

I still like this course a lot. Decodashery is beautiful, inspiring, and detailed in its instructions. It is also full of ideas. When the Corona lockdown was on, I had plenty of time to experiment with decorative painting and make more examples than usual. This course is for watercolors, gouache, and acrylic paints. You can choose what you want – most of the decorative techniques suit all of them.

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Beautiful Decorative Flowers in Two Parts

At first, I thought about making two separate paintings for this post but then decided to make one work in two parts. The first part is simple and stylized and the second part is more creative. In this first part, I used quite raw colors: mainly ultramarine blue and white. I also mixed some brown umber with them.

Painting beautiful decorative flowers - the first strokes.

To highlight the decorative theme, I painted some parts with silver acrylic paint.

Painting leaves with silver paint.

Finally, I added some Sienna brown and turquoise (manganese blue hue) to bring warmth to the details.

A decorative flower painting in progress.

Now the first part is finished. The flowers that are only partly visible give the impression of continuous space.

Beautiful Decorative Flowers – The Second Part

In the second part, I wanted to bring more depth and warmth to the work. So I spread a thin layer of yellow-green color over the painting.

Adding a wash over a painting to create depth and warmth.

I used glazing gloss as a thinner here, but you can also try to thin the paint with water.

Wiping of excess paint after adding a color wash.

Immediately after application, I removed the excess paint by rubbing the surface with a cotton cloth. The thin color wash warms the tones of the whole painting.

Beautiful decorative flowers - adjusting details.

After the color wash, the painting is a bit hazy. Next, I added more details and brought some of them back up from the lower layers. This sharpens the best parts.

Painting beautiful decorative flowers in acrylics. Dylusions Creative Journal, square, black pages.

I had lots of tubes on the table but only used a few. Decorative painting encourages making a variety of tones by adjusting the lightness and darkness of color instead of always changing the actual color.

Happy for the Artist, Happy for the Viewer

There were moments of joy that only decorative painting can give me while making the page. This style feeds gentleness and peace. And even if the pleasures of the decorative painting process are only experienced by the painter, the decorative painting leads to results that are extrovertedly joyous, ready to brighten up anyone’s day.

Beautiful decorative flowers by Paivi Eerola, Finland. A detail.

Decodashery online course – Paint vintage beauty – Buy Now!

Why Draw in Black and White?

I have often asked myself: “Why draw when you can paint?” And as someone who loves colors, it hasn’t always felt appealing to omit them. Still, one of the biggest things in my artistic development has been to find a connection to my childhood through black-and-white drawings.

Virtual Reality, an illustration drawn in ProCreate using an iPad and an Apple Pen. By Paivi Eerola.
Virtual Reality, drawn in ProCreate using an iPad and an Apple Pen.

In this week’s blog post, I want to inspire you to draw things you love in black and white. If you want to practice ink drawing with me, see these courses: Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom!

My Way to Drawing in Black and White

It’s been over thirty years since my father’s death. He was quite distant, but I still vividly remember when he drew horses when I was a child. The horses were not noble and streamlined like in the picture books, but furry sympathetic characters. It was as if my dad really knew these animals.

So it was no wonder that when I participated in the Inktober drawing challenge in 2018, my drawing style borrowed a short hair-like line from my father. You can say that at that time, I fell in love with drawing. Nowadays, I still draw in black and white every time I want to visualize something through my thoughts. I now have an Apple Pen and Procreate, but I sometimes draw on paper as well.

See a quick 4-minute flip-through video about one of my sketchbooks!

See more pictures of the children’s book illustrations: The Beauty of Science – Illustrating a Children’s Book

Why Draw? – Move from One Idea to Many!

Drawing visualizes the invisible and makes us think deeper. First, the idea is wavering and could take any direction. But as the details increase, the big picture also grows. Therefore, it’s important for me to let the pen linger in small areas. I find pleasure in putting tiny pieces in place so that they are part of a bigger story.

Drawing in black and white. Paivi Eerola answers to the question: Why draw and why draw in black and white?
See this drawing finished in the blog post: All Things Necessary in My Artistic Journey

There are two good things about drawing with a thin black marker pen. First of all, the pen mark cannot be erased. You have to figure out how to make the wrong stroke a part of the drawing. It has often happened to me that the core of the picture was created while correcting a mistake. Another advantage is that when you don’t have to worry about colors, you can focus on shapes and patterns in peace. And of course, you can always color the drawing afterward, for example with colored pencils or watercolors.

Why Draw? – Connect Your Art with Your Origin!

I believe that anyone who has drawn for a while will develop an understanding of why they draw. I have a feeling that I was created to express things through ornaments. For me, an ornament is not just a picture, but a whole language. When drawing ornaments, I’m on the border between writing and illustrating, and feel that I am doing something important. As if I belong to those authors to whom poetry appears as pictures.

Black and white ornament. An illustration by Paivi Eerola.

It’s confusing, but this connection between drawing and writing seems to have arisen in me when my father drew a horse. Of course, I didn’t know how to break it down like that as a child, but I now think of my father’s horses as ornaments that summarized the origin of our family. It wasn’t the most elegant possible, but I still wanted to give it wings. Nowadays, every time I draw, I feel close to where I am coming from. I hope that by drawing you too will find wings for your origin!

What would you like to draw? Leave a comment!

Drawing Inspiration – What I learned from Inspirational Drawing

This week, I have some drawing inspiration for you. Let’s celebrate our living line!

Recently, I heard the term “transition” and it resonated strongly. After receiving the grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, I have thought about my artistic career forward and at the same time also backward. I’ve noticed that it’s hard to think about the future without thinking about the past. I thought I’d write a few blog posts this spring about how I’ve grown my artistic skills by building courses.

Artist Päivi Eerola in her studio. Oil painting in progress.

First, I want to talk about a course that formed the basis not only for everything I teach but also for how I paint today.

From Dots and Circles to a Living Line

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) said “Everything starts from a dot.” On the same topic, Paul Klee (1879-1940) stated: “A line is a dot that went for a walk.” I think that when a person feels the call of fine art, he is at a point where he wants to get to know himself, to walk inward. I first went on a small tour only: I drew circles.

Drawing circles. Handmade business cards.
Handmade business cards from 2010.

When I finally understood that I could open the circle and boldly move forward, a new world opened up. I saw my living line pulsating strongly. I felt I could draw anything and didn’t have to “know how to draw” to draw.

Drawing inspiration. Art journal page about a visit in an art museum. By Paivi Eerola, 2015.
Art Museum – An art journal page from 2015.

Fall in Love with Your Line

It became my calling to help people who are stuck and going around in circles move forward. In 2015, I first made a trial course for Finns called “Inspiroidu piirtämisestä” (Get inspired by drawing) and learned how to make an online course and clarify my points. Then, based on the Finnish course, I made an English version called Inspirational Drawing. When time passed and I got more experience, I made the same course a third time. In 2017, the most comprehensive version Inspirational Drawing 2.0 was born, which is also in my current course selection.

Inspirational Drawing is based on getting to know your own line. You don’t immediately remove your hand from the paper, but let the line travel a longer distance. This technique is commonly called “contour drawing”, but in my version, you don’t copy what is presented, but walk with your line and let the landscapes open up to the unpredictable.

Art journal page from 2015. Drawing freely without models. Drawing inspiration for those who say they can't draw.
Being Alive, 2015

Your line is as unique as your signature. The most motivating thing in art-making is to fall in love with your line. When you want to repeatedly see your line and cherish it, it will also reveal its hidden potential. With your line, you can go much deeper in drawing inspiration and feel much freer than if you cut and compose collages from magazines or use stencils or stamps.

Handmade collage pieces combined with drawing. Drawing inspiration for those who want to start drawing.
Instead, you can use your less successful drawings as collage pieces. This picture is from 2015.

Drawing Inspiration

Inspiring pictures are also at the core of Inspirational Drawing. It’s natural for a creative person to collect pictures in one way or another, and drawing is a wonderful way to spend time with them. In the course, you will be guided to use the pictures you have chosen in drawing so that the pictures are not copied in the traditional style. To fuel free drawing, ideas are extracted from them. I still use this kind of inspiring effect of images in my painting process.

A drawing inspired by an old painting. Drawing inspiration for those who want to draw freely and use images to get inspired. By Paivi Eerola, 2015.
A drawing inspired by an old painting, an art journal page from 2015.

When moving from a point and closed shapes to an open, free-roaming line, inspiration has been a keyword anyway. With inspiration comes courage. It’s wonderful to draw when inspired. And it’s wonderful to inspire others with your own creative outcome.

Start Drawing!

Inspirational Drawing is now for sale this weekend, from March 15-19, 2023 (midnight PDT).

Inspirational Drawing – Get 20 % OFF – buy here!

Colored Pencil Doodling

This week, we are doodling wildly with colored pencils.

Intuitive art with colored pencils. By Päivi Eerola.

Free doodling is the most natural way for me to create. I can just start. No browsing the internet for ideas, no trying to think what to express. It only requires trust that something will appear – that a problem I wasn’t aware of gets solved, a key to a door that I didn’t notice is found, and a place that didn’t exist is born for everyone to explore.

Mindless Doodling

When doodling with colored pencils, I like to pick a pencil and start coloring mindlessly.

Starting an intuitive art journal page.

I often pick a neutral color and use a light touch so that I can later add layers on the top.

Closeup for coloring curves.

The mindless curves can go on top of each other, already creating a new layer.

When I get bored, I pick another color and do the same.

Simple coloring and layering.

I try not to worry about how it looks because it’s just a warmup.

Enjoying Colors

When my thoughts begin to flow effortlessly, I add more colors. Now I color areas or spots over the doodles.

Coloring arcs and curves is fun.

I also highlight some parts of the doodles with color.

I cover most of the blank areas so that the image becomes less busy.

Coloring freely with colored pencils.

Drawing Something Intentional

If I get stuck and feel discouraged, I draw something to cheer me up.

Drawing a heart in the middle of doodling.

A heart is a message for myself: “Keep going; everything will be ok.”

Discovering by Shadowing

“What should I draw?” we often ask ourselves. I often push through by picking a fairly dark tone and shadowing around a random area.

Colored pencil art journaling in progress.

I also like to color stripes, so I color and shadow them. It usually doesn’t take long when I feel the sense of new, exciting scenery.

Doodling All The Crazy Stuff

Recently, I have become more open to allowing all the things that don’t seem to make sense. I also have got more courage to put expression over prettiness.

Doodling with colored pencils.

The success of this kind of wild doodling is connected with the more traditional art skills. I have noticed that after doing the projects for the class Doll World, I have been able to include human shapes and characters more effortlessly for drawings and paintings.

Colored Pencil Doodling – The Result

I think that the finished work expresses that I am at a crossroads. I have a new exciting project on the horizon that you will find out more about soon. I am considering what old things to continue and what to abandon.

Colored pencil doodling on a journal page. Intuitive use of colored pencils by the artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

But I think that everything will be ok anyway because when I turn the spread upside down, the world still looks exciting and inviting.

A colored pencil journal page upside down. Intuitive art often makes sense when turned around too.

More Intuitive Art Projects

My classes – Inspirational Drawing and Intuitive Coloring, go into this kind of free-flowing process in more detail. If you prefer watercolors to doodles, check Magical Forest for a similarly intuitive approach.

Browsing a colored pencil journal

This small colored pencil journal is currently my favorite art journal. Check the class Fun Botanicum for a jump start for beginning colored pencil journal pages!

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