Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Painting Roses and Their Spirit

This week, we get inspiration from roses – their spirit, resilience, and decorative beauty.

Ruusun henki - The Spirit of The Rose, 22 x 25 cm, oil on canvas. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Ruusun henki – The Spirit of The Rose, 22 x 25 cm, oil on canvas

With this post, I want to encourage you to expand the use of decorative art. You can add decorative elements to any art style! See another example in the older blog post: From Decorative to Expressive Art

The Spirit of the Rose Stays Alive in The Fall

Roses surprise me every fall. When other flowers have given up weeks ago, roses still make buds and continue to bloom. Not as galore as in summer, but they try their best on cold nights and cloudy days. The spirit of the rose is born from warmth and light, but once it’s up, it doesn’t quench easily.

Autumn rose.

In our garden, roses are more my husband’s thing – I collect peonies! But in the fall, I have to admit how superior roses are, queens of the garden, one could say. When the colorful leaves take over the scenery, even the most modest rose flowers stand out simply because they are different in colors and shapes.

Paivi Eerola and her small rose painting.

It reminds me of how resilience and beauty are connected. So mere persistence in creating makes your art beautiful.

Expressing with Small and Decorative

This painting is a small one, only 20 x 25 cm (approximately 8 x 10 inches). When I was a beginner in painting, the small size felt easier. But nowadays, I prefer big canvases, and if I want to create something small, I usually grab my colored pencils, not brushes. But on the other hand, I like the challenge that the small size gives.

Painting roses in oils.

When painting roses in a small size, I need to have an extra focus on the quality of brushwork. Even the tiniest strokes should be elegant, especially if the painting is called ”The Spirit of the Rose.”

A detail of Ruusun henki - The Spirit of The Rose, oil on canvas. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Decorative paintings often look very static, but I like to add movement with lines. At best, my small paintings are like short classical musical pieces with a clear melody, lots of short violin strokes, and clever piano tunes in major. It often helps me if I define the desired outcome by other art forms like music or movies.

A rose painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

But decorative art has its limitations. The spirit of a rose is not visible if you only paint one kind of rose and if all that you paint is roses. Add flower variations, how the flowers affect their surroundings, and how the surroundings gather around the flowers. Add elements that resemble the living spirit, and let colors interact too so that the roses are not separate but part of the living scenery. So, painting roses is never just about roses, it also expresses how you see the world.

Painting Roses – Decorative Flowers of Decodashery

Even if single floral motifs are often not so expressive, I am fascinated by the techniques of decorative art, especially folk art. A couple of years ago, I noticed that I need practice with the brushstrokes. I wanted to learn to paint in a decorative style and then combine that with a looser and more abstract approach that I already had in my style toolbox. I think that style should not be a matter of narrowing down but expanding, and I felt that more experience in decorative painting was something that I could benefit from. So I made a course called Decodashery and painted flowers after flowers to improve my strokes.

Painting roses - handpainted roses in watercolors and acrylics, from the online course Decodashery
Decorative roses in watercolors and acrylics from the class Decodashery

You see, preparing for the course requires deep understanding. A teacher isn’t only someone who masters the technique but one who can also break it into pieces and explain it. And by doing that, the skill becomes more stable and versatile. So, you can create quicker when knowing how things are constructed, and it’s easier to adapt the technique to your own liking. In the classes, whether you are a student or a teacher, the resilience grows, and the spirit of the rose becomes stronger: ”There’s still time to bloom, and I will do it!”

Drawing Roses and Flower Girls – New Course Is in the Making

This fall, I have not only been painting a new series but also developing a new course.

A rose-covered box full of handdrawn figures.

Its working title is ”Doll World,” and it’s about drawing human figures. I think it’s a skill that enables us to do illustrations that captivate the viewer and something that we all would like to do for fun too. We will draw flowers as warmups and decorate the dresses with colored pencils. I plan to run the class next year and open the registration next month. So stay tuned!

Pink Inspiration

This week is full of pink art inspiration. I hope that this post will get you to find your pinks and start creating sweetness!

Dreamy Pinks in Colored Pencils

First, one of the journal spreads that we will create at Fun Botanicum, the newest class.

Pink art journal spread. Colored pencil art by Paivi Eerola.

The softness that you can create with colored pencils is divine and you can highlight that with sharp strokes. The versatility of colored pencils always amazes me. With one pencil you can create the whole value range from light to dark so a few pencils go a long way. I like those shelves of individual pencils in art supply stores because it’s like picking candies!

Pink Handdrawn Playing Cards

These cards are from the class Magical Inkdom. They are drawn with a black pen and then colored with watercolors.

Pink handdrawn playing cards. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. From her class Magical Inkdom.

My husband asked when he saw me drawing these:
– “Playing cards? What’s the game?”
– Well, these are like collector’s items! And you can invent the game yourself!

Because if you make more than one, isn’t that like a little oracle deck? You can ask yourself how you feel by picking a card that reflects your mood.

Lots of Pink Petals

I am already waiting for summer and see my pink peonies bloom in June. If I was a small fairy, I could live in those petals!

Pink peonies as pink inspiration.

Petals, petals, more pink petals – that’s how the flowers are constructed! These are from the class Decodashery.

Pink gouache flowers from the class Decodashery by Peony and Parakeet.

Pick a small brush, some pink gouache paints or watercolors, and paint small spots in layers!

Red and Green are Pink’s Best Pals

Here’s more pink gouache art – a small journal cover that also has reds and greens.

Journal cover in pink, red, and green. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I love this color combination. Each color makes the other shine brighter. I can almost taste the colors when I look at them.

Pink Glow in the Dark

Pink is also a wonderful color with darks. You can paint a pink glow that makes the image look romantic.

Restless Heart. Pink glow in an oil painting. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Restless Heart, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm

Here’s a blog post where you can see process pictures of this painting.

Powder Pink Inspiration

One night my husband showed me new Swatch watches. I wasn’t so interested at first, but when I saw the photos and got the concept, I got so inspired that I am using that inspiration for the new series of oil paintings!

Here’s the new pink Swatch called Mission to Venus. I am definitely going to somehow incorporate all this into a painting! Not literally, but conceptually.

Bioceramic Swatch in Pink. Mission to Venus.

The powder pink with decorative details speaks of a beautiful adventure to me.

This watercolor painting has powder pinks too.

Floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted this one a few years ago when my mission was to find the best way to paint flowers freely in watercolors without using a reference. I have a class about it too Floral Fantasies – Watercolor Edition!

Pinks and Other Pastels

What about selecting some acrylic paints and going wild on an art journal?

Art journal spread in acrylics. Pink and turquoise on dark background. Pink inspiration from Peony and Parakeet.

Add darks on the bottom and let dry. Then mix white to the colors and have fun with pastels. Use different brushes to have some variety in strokes as well.

You can be rough like above, or go in a more delicate direction with thinner brushes.

Lovestory, an oil painting on canvas by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Lovestory, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm

Black with pink is also a great color combination!

Pink Inspiration – How to Go Deeper

If you are a color-oriented artist as I am, pink is never just one pink. Challenge yourself to make all kinds of pinks from light to dark, from warm to cool, and use them all in one painting. Nature doesn’t select just one pink, so why would you?

Pink tulip photo.

The same goes for shapes, lines, and ideas. The more you embrace the variety, the more exciting the art-making becomes, and the more you create. Restrict supplies and increase imagination!

Paivi Eerola and a spread in her colored pencil journal.

I hope you have an adventurous Pink Inspiration Day!

P.S. You can still sign up for Fun Botanicum and make wonderful colorings of plants!

Pop Music in Art Journal

This week – turn some pop music on and start art journaling!

Since I started working full-time as an artist in 2014, my taste for music has gone wider. Listening to different genres has enriched not only my life but also my art. Music has taken me to all kinds of visual worlds. Even one sound can bring color or a shape to mind.

Music in art journal. Create music-inspired pages.

I have an old book as a music-inspired art journal. I like how the variety of music is shown on its pages. Now I wanted to make a spread inspired by Asian pop.

Sometimes Music is a Human, Other Times a Machine

Asian pop music is fun to listen and very easy-going – like an acquaintance who is always ready for a visit to a candy shop and to have a light conversation about current movies.

But when I paint big paintings, I prefer music that’s more like a vehicle – no melodies, only interesting sounds that make me go deeper and deeper in concentration.

Abstract oil painting in progress.

Without a repeating chorus and clear rhythm, I don’t feel the need to express the music or paint at its speed. That’s how I have become a fan of contemporary classics that I used to find too boring.

Pop Music in Art Journal – Playtime with a Friend

But this week, I wanted my friend back. I went to the Finnish radio website and turned on the newest of “Papananaaman K-Pop Show” which plays current Asian pop. My candy store was the box where I keep my red, pink, purple, and orange colored pencils.

A box of red colored pencils and how to use them in an art journal.

My music-inspired pages are in the “beautiful mess” style that I show step-by-step in an art journal mini-class called Music. It’s relaxing to create step by step and not worry too much about the “proper” supplies. I played with black pens, stamping inks, and the shortest pencils.

Making a beautiful mess with the leftovers of art supplies.

When I create canvas paintings, I use oil paints, but acrylics are great for this kind of messy play.

Making a beautiful mess. Painting in progress.

The spread started as red, but I then introduced a wider range of candy colors gradually. This mono-tone approach is great when you want to keep things simple first, and then splash the colors in.

Expressing pop music in art journal.

I like the candy colors and the informal look of the finished spread – pop music in an art journal!

Music-inspired art journal spread. Asian pop played in the background.

I showed the spread to my Blythe dolls and they also gave their approval: “If that’s how you see Asian pop, we can live with that.”

Blythe dolls and a music-inspired art journal.

Maybe these dolls have made me listen to Asian pop in the first place! One thing so often leads to another.

Music in Art Journal – Step by Step!

Music art journal mini-class

The art journal mini-class Music is now available as an individual class. But you have to be quick – it will go away on Feb 7! >> Buy here!

Start a Music-Inspired Art Journal!

Paivi Eerola with her journals, holding a music-inspired art journal.

In 2020, I made a mini-class for a collaboration project that included several artists. Each picked a topic that raised the feeling of gratitude.

I chose music. I had just seen a documentary about a musician called Avicii. He was a young Swedish boy who got into composing electronic music and, within a few years, became a world star. His story ended too soon, though.

This month, I read a biography about Avicii. The book had more explanations for why the life that everybody envied was unbearable. But still, his music feels pure and bright.

When I hear A Sky Full of Stars, I am a little girl on a cold Tuesday evening in Eastern Finland. After participating in an icon painting group, I walked down the snowy hill looking up. The starry sky was blue-black, I realized. Not black like for those who glance carelessly or blue like for those whose skies were always blue. Working with colors had made the world look more beautiful.

What song takes you back in time?
What colors do you find there?

Avicii composed dance music but was inspired by folk songs and old pop music that his father used to play. He open-mindedly mixed different styles and genres.

Which things can you bring from the past to refresh your art?
Which ideas from your queue could you combine?

Avicii started a song from a few sounds and short melodies and then layered them together.

Pick a pen and scribble something small along with your favorite music, then layer colors on the top!

Music-inspired art journal in progress

So, I suggest starting a music-inspired art journal!

I can now offer the class from the collaboration of 2020 individually. Only 15 EUR (about 17 USD), but be quick, the class is available for purchase only today to Feb 7!

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