Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Beautiful Blog Post

This week is about creating beauty, and I have a beautiful blog post for you.

Pansies, pansies, pansies. An illustration for a beautiful blog post by Paivi Eerola.

Violets on an Adventure

Ten years ago, an old yard tiling gave us a surprise. Renovating it had been on our to-do list, but there had been other things to do in the house. But we were lucky.

Life in a pot, a detail.

The violets planted in the pot had looked at the tiling and its gaps with completely different eyes. What an opportunity for seeds! So, the following year, we were able to enjoy the glory of flowers in the surprising place.

Pansies give a beautiful surprise.

Creativity is a flower that wants to break free from its pot and get on an adventure. Abundance is allowed and ugliness can enable beauty. 

A beautiful blog post about real pansies and painting beautiful flowers.

A painting that starts with a few ugly brushstrokes can be decorated
to rich and beautiful.

Beautiful Decodashery

Paint beautiful flowers in the online class Decodashery. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My online class Decodashery is about creating beauty that easily finds its purpose. This kind of art is not just fun to make but perfect for cards and gifts.

Decodashery is one of my personal favorites. The videos are inspiringly colorful and uplifting. You play with the tradition of decorative art and create beauty that people have always found attractive. >> Buy here!

Get Creative in Drawing Ornaments!

This month, the focus is on art history. Art history is often talked about in a very serious tone, but let’s examine it through imagination and start by drawing ornaments!

Ornament Tells a Story from Childhood

It’s fascinating that even if the ornaments are stiff and organized compositions, one can express a whole story.

Strawberries and whipped cream, an illustrative ornament by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

The background of this drawing is a funny story from my childhood. When the school asked each student’s favorite food, I answered “Mansikoita ja kermavaahtoa!” – Strawberries and whipped cream” while the others listed macaroni dishes or meatballs. Both the teacher and the students were quite shocked by the answer, but I wondered how anyone would prefer to eat something so modest and usual.

This story tells a lot about how I’ve always wanted to get away from the mundane. I still want to draw things so that they look like a luxurious celebration rather than a gray everyday life. I like drawing jewels, lace, floral motifs, and swirls, and you can have a lot of those on the ornaments.

A closeup of an ornament, drawn in ProCreate by Paivi Eerola.

I often want to include people or animals too. For example here, I wanted to make the whisk half-human, and draw two fairies that enjoy the dessert.

A closeup of an ornament, drawn in ProCreate by Paivi Eerola.

The method that I teach for human poses in the course Doll World was very helpful here.

Inspiration from Antiques, Old Buildings, and Paintings

There are plenty of ornaments in my photo archive. When I visit old buildings, I go through doors, ceilings, wall panels, and floors, looking for nice ornaments.

Ornaments of the doors in Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.
From Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.

I also love to examine antiques closely.

Items from the antique collection of the Turku castle.
From the collection of the Turku castle, Finland.

Old paintings often have lovely frames. Whenever I photograph one, I always try to include the frame in the picture.

Pietro Perugino's painting and the beautiful frame. Uffizi gallery, Florence, Italy.
Pietà by Pietro Perugino, oil on wood, 1493-1494, photographed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

This frame is like an ornament representing a palace!

Lots of Simple Shapes

The decorative appearance of the ornaments can mislead you into overestimating their complexity. When an ornament is taken apart, the shapes can be quite simple.

Ornamental frame, a detail.
Ornamental frame from Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki

I love this kind of sophistication based on quantity and repetition, with which you can express anything – humorous subjects …

Smileys, an ornamental illustration by Paivi Eerola.

… or more serious.

Peace, an illustration by Paivi Eerola. Two fairies form an ornament.

This example shows well that you can also express light when drawing ornaments.

Ornaments Can Both Hide and Reveal

I am fascinated by the fact that although the subject can be drowned in decorative forms, it can also be brought out more directly and more concisely than in a regular drawing. Time travel to the past can become surreal when the horizon disappears and the items are arranged as part of a floating structure.

Combining ornament and imagination. A black and white line drawing by Paivi Eerola.

Ornaments as Collage Art

If drawing the whole ornament in one go feels too demanding, remember that the ornaments can also be collage art. You can glue individual elements so that they form a decorative tree or medallion. I have put together many kinds of ornaments from hand-drawn animals and hand-decorated papers.

Collage art in an art journal.
From one of my art journals.

You can also scan or photograph the drawings and assemble the ornament digitally with an image processing program. Here are animal figures and flowers from the course Animal Inkdom and a teacup from the course Magical Inkdom.

A digital collage of hand-drawn elements, a fun ornament with animals. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Digital collage composed in Photoshop from hand-drawn items.

Drawing Ornaments is Expressing the World

After working with ornaments for a while, you begin to realize that the world is largely based on them. Surface patterns are everywhere. The beauty of organic forms can be found in all living things.

A drawing full of ornaments. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Ornaments build a bridge between the living and the non-living. They make the living an object and the object alive.

Hidden Love for Ornaments and How it Shows

I think that many of us have an innate need to design ornaments. Maybe you dream about designing fabrics or have a huge stash of them. Maybe you collect jewelry or save photos of them. Maybe you feel that something is lacking if you only draw or paint complete images and are not able to rearrange the composition so that it’s something more stylish and less representational.

I only realized this tendency of mine when I made ornaments as part of the illustration for a children’s book. Back then, I used transparent marker paper to design the symmetry, and my desk was full of different versions.

Drawing ornaments on marker paper

One day when picking the pen, I suddenly felt happy and meaningful: “I should do this more!” Since then, I have not underestimated even the smallest encounters with ornaments.

Drawing Ornaments Inspired by Embroidery

I relax from my work as an artist by doing cross-stitch and those projects also inspired me to draw ornaments.

Drawing an embroidery inspired ornament.

See here how to draw and color an embroidery-inspired ornament – Doodler’s Sampler Step by Step!

Drawing Ornaments without Perfect Symmetry

I drew the last ornament with the ProCreate app. The good things about it are that the background can be kept separate so that the background colors can be varied and it is easy to create symmetry. However, I think completely symmetrical ornaments are a bit too stiff and boring, so I also made quite a lot of asymmetry for this ornament.

Strawberries and whipped cream, an ornamental illustration by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I hope you will start drawing ornaments right away whatever technique you choose!

Related Courses

Wonderland Art – Inspiration from Alice in Wonderland

Last fall, I was asked to participate in a small gallery exhibition called Kaninkolo (Rabbit Hole). I thought that the name was a funny reference to the Alice in Wonderland book and an opportunity to create fantastic wonderland art. I had previously covered the wonderland theme by drawing for the Magical Inkdom course. It was fun to see how the theme would lend itself to my painting style, which is much more abstract.

Wonderland Rises From the Dark

Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Älä pelkää ihmemaassa – Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas

For me, wonderland art calls for dark colors. I’ve seen Tim Burton’s movie Alice in Wonderland and I think it has some wonderfully gloomy scenes. I would really like to paint dark paintings because exciting things can happen in the dark. However, I try to curb this desire, because Finnish homes are light and light paintings sell better!

Starting a new painting. Creating wonderland art. Paivi Eerola in her studio.

But now I got permission from myself to paint one dark painting, in which I also rejoiced with colors.

New is a Wonderland

I started with confidence, but at some point in the frenzy of painting, I stopped: “Could I paint so boldly? Should I tone down a bit?” But then the painting replied: “Päivi, don’t be afraid in wonderland!”

A fantasy-themed painting in progress. Creating abstract wonderland art - art inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

And yes, whenever we are on the verge of something new, we are a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Then you just have to keep experimenting and painting. I admire brave people and I would like to paint with courage. It’s not always possible to do that, but I’m going to continue to let loose from time to time!

Wonderland Art – Queen, Alice, and Others

This “Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland” piece was really fun to paint. Among the characters in the book, my favorite is the Queen of Hearts. Of course, Mad Hatter also had to be painted.

A detail of Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, oil on canvas. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Queen of Hearts (center) and Mad Hatter (top left corner).

I also included Cheshire Cat, as well as the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

A detail of Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, oil on canvas. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Alice (bottom), the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (left, above Alice), and Cheshire Cat (all over the place!)

In this painting, Alice is a flying flower!

Wonderland Art – Wheel of Fortune

When I started building the Magical Inkdom course in 2019, one of my first drawings was this Wheel of Fortune.

Wheel of Fortune, a gameboard drawing with a separate center wheel. Wonderland art by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

When drawing all the details, I thought about how I would divide the lessons. I got the idea to make a separate central circle for the drawing, which can be rotated and thus change the heads and outfits of the characters. You can see the wheel at the end of this video:

Magical Inkdom – Buy here!

Drawing a gameboard with a wheel helped me to come out with the idea of playing cards and a bag for storing them.

Wonderland art. Art inspired by Alice in Wonderland. From the course Magical Inkdom by Paivi Eerola.

So when I went more abstract and thought about the concept of the wonderland, it fed ideas for several lessons.

Moving from Wonderland Characters to Wonderland Mood

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between representational and abstract and what can be expressed with abstract imagery. For example, could I paint an abstract outdoor tea party?

A magical bunny and a teacup. By Paivi Eerola, Check out her online drawing course Magical Inkdom!
A rabbit and a teacup for the course Magical Inkdom

I saw the arbor and the delicate porcelain cups in my mind, but could I detach the motifs from the cups and fly to the place as a magician who removes the excess realism?

Starting an oil painting.
Starting point: just a few colors first.

When painting abstract, I try to change the original idea to a mood, and then paint the mood. My mind is then in a 3-dimensional dynamic space rather than trying to maintain a 2-dimensional static image.

Creating wonderland art. Paivi Eerola painting a small piece inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

I think this tea party themed little painting turned out pretty well!

Taikurin teekutsut - Magician's Tea Party, 40 x 32 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Taikurin teekutsut – Magician’s Tea Party, 40 x 32 cm, oil on canvas

Art is a wonderland where you can do anything!

The Finnish artist Päivi Eerola and her painting Taikurin teekutsut - Magician's Tea Party.

Here you can see the size of the painting better: 40 x 32 cm, about 15 3/4 and 12 1/2 inches.

Does Drawing Help for Loosening Up in Expression?

Oil paintings in Paivi Eerola's studio.
Paintings in my studio.

I have wondered if my abstract painting style would ever have been found without drawing figuratively. But I don’t think that would have happened. To become looser, it has been important to learn how reality works and how to express it with shapes.

Playing with hand-drawn collage pieces and art journaling. See the courses Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom to create your own wonderland art.
Playing with hand-drawn collage pieces.

That’s why I’m really happy that my way to wonderland has been through a bend. And even that kind of a bend that I can share with the rest of you through the Magical Inkdom course among others.

Paivi Eerola and her painting Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas.
Älä pelkää ihmemaassa – Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, about 23 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches.

April 8-27, 2023, Kaninkolo group exhibition at Gallery Art Frida, Korkeavuorenkatu 25, Helsinki

Does Alice in Wonderland inspire you?

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!

Scroll to top