Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Inspiring Art Journals

This week is dedicated to inspiring art journals that hopefully make you start creating right away.

Towards the end of last year, I started to really miss drawing. When I want to come up with ideas, I need a pen and paper! Or maybe I should say that I need my art journals because that’s where the ideas stay in good order.

An annual art journal spread of 2024. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made this spread in my colored pencil journal. 2023 is an old romantic woman that is going away and a young girl who is ready for adventure will take her place.

There are only a few pages after the previous year’s spread.

An annual art journal spread of 2023. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope to make more pages in this colored pencil journal this year.

Inspiring Art Journals

This week, I picked up random art journal books and browsed them. I especially love the one in the upper left corner with the black and white drawings the most.

Inspiring art journals by Päivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The drawings have no color but they are all full of ideas that still inspire me.

Black and white drawing from 2019. Illustration with black ink pen. By Paivi Eerola.

I now want to add ink drawings to my colored pencil journal as well.

Tiny Pages

Last year I bought a very small art journal. This is a pretty cute page!

A tiny art journal page. By Paivi Eerola.

All the reds and pinks looked very nice together.

Inspiring art journals by Paivi Eerola.

Years go by and my skills grow, but even the clumsiest covers still seem to fit with the new creations.

Doodler’s Resort

While browsing the journals, I found a spread with a transparent film in the middle. I had printed doodles on it and I still quite like the effect. This idea is from 2020, when the world stopped and I couldn’t do anything but mindless doodling.

Doodler's resort. An art journal page spread with a transparent film in the middle. Art journal ideas.

This art journal also has a lovely inside cover.

Inside cover page for an art journal.

Divide the Content!

I don’t understand why it took so long before I realized that I could add annual pages, inside covers, chapters, and other pages telling about the content of the book in art journals.

Chapter cover page for an art journal. Fun Botanicum is the name of the chapter and the online course by Peony and Parakeet.

Nowadays, I have a course called Fun Botanicum, where you make a chapter cover, themed pages, and an end page in the middle of an art journal.

Inspiring Art Journals Tell About Time

It was fun to look at old art journals and wonder how these are connected to everything that is going on now.

Inspiring art journals.

Time is a mysterious place. It is like an illuminated palace that blinds us. We can only walk away from it to the darkness. But as long as we are alive, we can start the adventure and get creative. “It takes a long time to become young,” said Pablo Picasso.

10 years of art journaling. A page made in 2014 and another made in 2024. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Inspiring art journals.
2014 and 2024

In my opinion, only by drawing can we know what we really think. The more you draw, the more your skills grow, and the more you will find out!

Do you agree?

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

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!

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?

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