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!

10 thoughts on “The Child and The Adult – Finding Clarity for Your Art

  1. This is interesting. I am not happy with my art at the moment. I always wanted to achieve something, some recognition that it was good. Recently this happened, a company asked me to represent them, I wanted this for years. I should be happy about it but it has made me freeze and question everything I do. Now I HAVE to make art – for them. I feel desperate to play, for me alone. I have lost my routine and my (art) thoughts are all over the place. I have filled books for over 30 years so it is strange to face this now and makes me feel kind of lost. I feel like I was meant to read this today, thank you so much for doing this blog and reaching out to us.

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts, Ali! And congratulations for getting a client! I have sometimes called the adult side a dark, depressive one, because without a child, it feels hard to survive. Maybe sketch with a playful hand, and then focus on the quality? Wishing you all the best, success, and joy too!

  2. Thank you Päivi for putting in to words the importance of both sides in art. I find that balance by catering to my adult side in the subject matter, and my inner child with a bit of playfulness with color. Thank you also for sharing so much quality content. I am new to your blog, but have already learned so much. Also, your artwork is beautiful!

  3. This was very interesting for me. I am a late starterat 63 and self taught.
    My ambition far outweighs my skills and I am struggling to find a style, because there is just so much I want to try. Thank you for giving me some clarity as to what is happening.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Sabine! Don’t quit exploring, especially in the beginning, art is about integrating the many sources of inspiration rather than narrowing the focus on one thing only.

  4. Thank you Paivi I found your post interesting as I thought in reverse to you.
    I have always imagined the child as the freely expressive style and the adult as the more realistic.
    Just observing my own grandchildren and their paintings I envy their freedom and lack of constraint or rules.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kathleen! In this blog post, I wrote about the taste and the desired level of expression rather than how to break the rules when creating. You are lucky to be able to observe the creativity of your grandchildren so close!

  5. I love your loose, whimsical style and delightful combination of colours.
    It’s especially great to be an artist during this craziness. Keep creating and loving life.

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