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Painting a Series – How I Managed It!

"Living Treasure", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read about her thoughts of painting a series.

I have just finished a series of five flower paintings on canvas. Yesterday, when I was walking back and forth from my studio to the rest of the house, preparing for the photography and the varnishing, I felt both relieved and terrified. I was relieved because nine months of hard work was at the end. I felt terrified because I had run out of excuses for delaying the start of a new series.

Technique Came First, Themes Second

But let’s get back to early spring when I was painting the first of the five paintings. My goal was to master old masters’ painting technique in acrylics so that I could teach it. I had no idea of how many pieces it would require. Before teaching, I needed to understand “why” not just “how.” I also had to develop a logic that makes learning possible, variations that show the possibilities of the technique, and the systematic way of working to make everything as understandable and to the point as possible.

"Strawberry Madonna", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

When I was painting Strawberry Madonna, it soon became clear to me that I was nowhere near to be teaching the technique. I needed to fix my strokes constantly. Even if the fixing doesn’t show in the finished painting, it became clear that I needed more practice. I couldn’t fuss around that way while teaching.

So I bought new canvases and kept on painting. I made experiments, art journal pages, and had several paintings in progress at the same time. I focused on painting what I wanted to include in the class as well: flowers and playing with historical styles. Crafts like crochet, decorative painting, jewelry, fabric, etc were also sources of inspiration. Most of the pieces took tens of hours from me to finish. The quickest is “Four Seasons” that I recorded for the class. With the final touches added after the recording, it took less than ten hours to paint. “Queen of Fantasy” took much longer. You can see me starting it in the free video, but I adjusted the painting many times after that.

"Queen of Fantasy", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Painting a Series – The Most Important Insight

The funny thing about all this is that I wasn’t intentionally painting a series. Working towards the goal of mastering and understanding the old masters’ technique, gave direction to my work. If I had thought about the series more intentionally, I would have probably freaked out! Now when I look back, the most important thing to me was that I expressed the power of flowers in all my paintings but thought about it differently in all the five paintings.

  • For “Living Treasure” I got ideas from gardening.
  • “Strawberry Madonna” connects flowers with fruits and their taste.
  • “Queen of Fantasy” is about flowers representing romance.
  • “Blooming Centuries” tells how flowers have always inspired painters, designers, and crafters.
  • “Four Seasons” shows sisu, a Finnish word for resilience when you work against all the odds and still find the spirit to bloom and prosper.

"Four Seasons", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

So I had a set of generic themes that were repeated in all the paintings, but different interpretations of them. That made them work as a series but so that they don’t look identical at all. Being very intentional about the series and prohibiting new ideas emerge while working can lead to a very boring result and in my case, it would probably make me quit because the lack of excitement and adventure that keeps me going.

I think this insight could also be useful for those who seek for their style. Rather than painting the same thing and get bored by it, find bigger themes and use your creativity to approach them from different angles.

New Era – New Series

During the past couple of months, I have felt fear when thinking where I want to go with my art. I have contemplated that can I share my plans or just keep them hidden because it’s likely that I will fail. For quite some time, I have felt the need to paint abstract art that plays with textures and geometry. I think many of the paintings of this series already have some of that.

I have a funny name for the style of the new series. It is “kinetic-romantic abstract realism.” “Kinetic” means that I want to include movement that is related to machines. “Romantic” means that I want to express through beauty and relationships. “Abstract Realism” refers to the idea of mimicking realistic surface materials for abstract shapes. Very odd, I know, and it terrifies me.

"Blooming Centuries", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Creativity is a Living Treasure – Watch the Video!

Before the new beginning, it’s time to celebrate the finished series. I have made a short video of the five pieces and the thoughts that came to my mind when painting them. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the video!

My Painting on Your Wall?

These paintings are also for sale!- Buy them directly from me here!

30 thoughts on “Painting a Series – How I Managed It!

  1. It gave me great pleasure to watch your video and look at your beautiful paintings Paivi. Congratulations this series is superb! I enjoy getting lost in the detail and gorgeous swimming colours reminiscent of a dream. You inspire me. Thank you.

  2. The work is superb-there’s a flow which is lovely and so much depth. The more I look, the more I see. I’m also inspired by your never giving up-how you kept going. All those hours show in the delicacy and beauty of the flowers and little squares and circles.
    Strawberry Madonna is a beautiful painting and i love the look in her eye.
    I am in admiration of your work.

  3. Fabulous! Such depth and complexity of design and color! I so appreciate the juxtaposition of abstract concepts with realistic images like you have in all your paintings but especially in Living Treasures. They are each beautiful! And thank you for sharing what was in your mind throughout this process. It’s encouraging to people like me who are continually being nibbled by the insecurity monster.

    1. Thank you, Vicky! I will add more abstract and geometric elements for the next pieces because I like them too. I don’t think artists are never fully self-confident, it takes quite a lot of courage to even admit that publicly!

  4. Such beauty! It is so awesome to see the wonderful paintings you do. I love this series. They progress is so interesting and they flow from one to the other. Once again you have brought beauty to us. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Hello Paivi, thanks for sharing the lovely video with us. Your paintings always have a wonderful ethereal quality that really touches me. Thanks again.

  6. Paivi, thank you for sharing your great creativity!!!

    They all are gorgeous, no room for fear or being terrified!!!!!

    They are AWESOME!!!!!!

  7. Oh, Paivi, what a beautiful video – an art piece in its own right! I am so struck by the glow that comes from each of these paintings! Am I right that this is accomplished by a million layers of glazes? So curious about where you are headed next. Happy journey!

    1. Claudia, thank you! Yes, the glow comes from the tens of layers. (Will continue on that path but bring more abstract elements to my work.) Now when I have added the final layers of varnish, the paintings really glow! I will have a separate blog post about that in the near future.

  8. Paivi you’ve done it again!! These are so striking!! Such a dreamlike quality!! They glow!! The video was especially wonderful in that it really showed the depth of each piece!! Thank you Paivi!! You are so inspiring and have taught me so much in the past 2 years!! xox

    1. Thank you, Gailie! Really appreciate it! When I was teaching IT professionals, we teachers often said that “the best way to learn new things is to teach them”. With every painting and every class, I hope to grow my skills in the direction that I can also help others better.

  9. Wow Paivi these are amazing and so you. I love each one and thank you for sharing how you came abut doing a series. This idea has been on my mind for a while now and I have done two of series of sorts in that both are about our state of Kentucky but I want in the near future to do a more specific study in the form of a series.
    These pieces are stunning.

  10. Beautiful video! Beautiful paintings! All from a beautiful soul! I feel much gratitude for having you touch my life. Thank You.

  11. The Old Master colors are so rich. Good job. I did a series of bright abstracts on 12 x 12 canvases which look bad to me. Any ideas on how to soften too bright colors. I find if I add a face, fruit, etc. as you did, I like them better.

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