Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Designing Cross Stitch Patterns

This week, I have something very different than before: cross stitch!
Buy my first commercial design Primavera from my Etsy shop called Needle and Peony!

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

There are two main reasons for designing this pattern. The first is the need for creative play and the second that I couldn’t find anything like this from other designers: a fantasy woman’s facial portrait that wouldn’t be a huge project.

Playing and Drawing in the Stitchly App

My need for creative play comes from being very serious with art this year. I have spent a lot of time in programming computer art and I have been painting a bit too. It’s all great but I started to miss drawing, and especially, making something that is purely illustrative and not so abstract and artistically challenging.

So because I have had cross stitching as a hobby almost all my life, I bought an app called Stitchly and started drawing there – on lunch breaks and such, a few stitches at time. First I just doodled freely with the Apple pen to get to know the app.

Designing cross stitch patterns in the Stitchly app.

Stitchly is easy to use and with the pen, drawing is fun and the squares get filled nicely. Of course, you can also import a photo and let the app create the chart automatically. But to make the image look realistic enough, the stitch count needs to be high and the design … well I don’t think it would be a design anymore, just a pixelated photo. So, when I design, I like to draw with the pen and if I use references, I only use them as inspiration and draw every square myself.

I also like that you can have a custom palette in Stitchly. I have made a palette that has all the DMC colors from my stash, so I can also check the real color when designing.

Drawing and Stitching Faces

When people begin drawing in adulthood, they often start with faces. Eyes, mouth, nose too. Facial features create a connection to the person born on paper. It’s also fun to draw hair and add decorations there.

So, one day it hit me that even when doing cross stitches, I can get company from the character I am stitching. However, couldn’t find a cross-stitch pattern that was a reasonable size and where the character was naturally asymmetrical, but still sparked the imagination.

My stitching time is lonely time in the evening. I clean the studio if I have been painting, and then pick extra glasses and while stitching, watch other cross stitchers’ videos on Youtube, so Flosstube as we cross stitchers call the channels.

Cross stitching in the evening

So when I wanted to stitch a facial portrait of an imaginary person, I decided to draw it in Stitchly. After making the chart, the fun started – I was stitching my own pattern!

Cross stitch project Primavera in progress

Primavera can be stitched in the colors I suggest in the pattern, but since there are only 11 colors, it’s easy to change them as you like.

DMC floss and aida cross stitch fabric

Although Primavera means spring, by changing the colors you can associate a different season or different theme with the character. The decorations are designed to be so general that they don’t limit the character you create.

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

The hair has three colors of different darkness, the skin has four. The hair band has two colors close to each other. It is easy to change the accent colors of the mouth and eyes, and also the colors of the decorations.

You can buy the pattern for Primavera in my Etsy shop!

Needle and Peony

It feels nostalgic to have something on sale at Etsy again! Long before I became a full-time artist, I opened the Etsy shop called Kukkilintu, then later changed the name to Peony and Parakeet. That little shop had a major impact on my career and life. Most of my customers lived outside Finland and I started communicating more and more in English.

Folk bags by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Me and some of my folk bags in 2008.

Maybe some of the current readers of this blog were my customers over ten years ago when I sold folk bags (currently available as a knitting pattern), handknitted doll clothes, hand-decorated papers and cards!

Now I changed the shop name to Needle and Peony and intend to add some charts over time. Maybe some slow stitching ideas also, as I have some of them too. Last week, I set up an Instagram account called @needleandpeony to show my cross stitch projects – also what I have stitched from other designers.

Which Design Should I Do Next?

While designing Primavera, it hit me that I have a pile of drawings that I have made for classes and that could be turned into cross stitch patterns. When I browsed them, I couldn’t decide what to choose next, so I now ask you – what would you like me to design next? I have picked 5 drawings to choose from, leave a comment and let me know which one is your favorite! Which one of these would make a great cross stitch design?

A) Angel

Angel drawing by Paivi Eerola

See how I drew the angel in 2022: Angel Drawing for the Inner Child

B) Girl

Flower girl drawing by Paivi Eerola

This flowel girl was drawn for the course Doll World.

C) Cat

Funny cat drawing by Paivi Eerola

This cat was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

D) Leaf

Folk leaf drawing by Paivi Eerola.

This folk leaf is an older design, from 2015. See more: Art Quilts in a Modern Way

E) Horse

Fantasy horse drawing by Paivi Eerola

This fantasy horse was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

Tell me your favorite of the five – A) Angel, B) Girl, C) Cat, D) Leaf, or E) Horse?

Support me in the cross stitch design journey, here’s the link to purchase Primavera!

Art Inspiration from Sanditon

This blog post is for us who love Jane Austen and Sanditon tv series. I watched the series last month, and it has inspired me a lot. I hope you enjoy this Sanditon inspiration overload!

Torchbearer – Esther and Lord Babington on the Beach

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My newest watercolor painting called Torchbearer had a modest beginning and I had no clue how to finish it – until I saw episode 8 of Sanditon!

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My favorite female character of Sanditon is Esther and the scene where she is in the carriage with Lord Babington was so romantic! The sudden change in her appearance, his gentle smile, black horses, empty shore – oh my! It hit me, that even if my painting has flowers, not people, I could express the emotion from the scene.

A detail of Torchbearer. Inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tallest flower and the glow come from Esther’s powerful spirit.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The flower that bends down, expresses her sensitivity.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I tried to paint every flower so that they highlight the bubbling energy. Their stems are like the carriage where the couple sat.

A detail of Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The black background represents both the horses and the lord, supporting Esther’s joy.

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In this painting, Esther is a torchbearer who leads us to better times.

Tin Box – A Souvenir from Sanditon

Inspired by Sanditon tv drama. Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like little boxes that can be used for storing hand-drawn pictures and papers. I wanted to decorate a small tin box so that it would have old-fashioned and luxurious feel. So that I could think of it as a souvenir from Sanditon!

I already had saved a hand-drawn piece that was quite perfect in size.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also found some papers with a watercolor print. They were test runs of the surface pattern designed earlier this year. I mostly designed the pattern manually, so by painting a design on the center of the paper and then cutting the paper into four parts.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This way you get a continuous design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Avoid painting edges, and re-arrange papers until they are all fully painted.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then scan the papers, and clean the edges in an image processing software. Here’s a sample of my design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made several variations in Photoshop. These papers go really well with hand-drawings, so they were perfect for the box.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. Test prints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The center motif was first colored with watercolors.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I hand-stitched it on a background paper and added more hand-stitching around the center. In the photo below, I highlight the surroundings of the stitches with a pen so that they look more 3-dimensional.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also added beads, more colors and decorative marks.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The centerpiece is a button with a shank removed. I love this little box!

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther Denham – Sanditon Paper Doll

I also wanted to create something for my ever-growing collection of collage figures. “Just an unknown habitat of Sanditon”, I decided first. I didn’t use any reference and drew the doll just freely, but when she was colored, she looked just like Esther!

Drawing a paper doll. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I played with her proportions so that she has overly long legs. That way I could make the dress more imaginative. The hem was cut from one of the watercolor papers. I couldn’t help playing with her right away, trying wings on her, filling the teacup with herbs from Sanditon. The wings and the teacup are from my fun class Magical Inkdom.

Drawing a paper doll and playing with hand-drawn pieces. Inspired by Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Her hat is also a collage piece cut from watercolor papers.

Hand-drawn paper doll inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Souvenirs from Sanditon!

Paper art inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The Romance Continues

I am currently painting an oil painting that looks quite romantic already.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My vision is to make it the third in the series after Icebreaker and Torchbearer – and put it in the middle of them.

Two watercolor paintings of Paivi Eerola, an artist from Finland.

One Source of Inspiration – Many Interpretations

If you have been following my blog, you know that some of my projects are fine art, others more illustrational, and there can be a bit crafty things too. This blog post demonstrates well how the inspiration can be the same, but the interpretation is different. For me, the wide range of projects is a way to stay inspired and creative, and I hope that you have tolerance for all of them. I don’t believe in getting too serious or not getting serious at all. The humorous side of art allows us to get playful, and the playfulness feeds our ability to express the deeper side of our inspiration.

Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther can be the person who handed me a crafty gift box, or an innocent paper doll, or a mysterious flower in a painting that took tens of hours to create. The key to your artistic style is less in the looks and more in the inspiration. For me, it’s often old-fashioned romances, like Sanditon.

Welcome to my online classes!
– Paint watercolor fantasies – Sign up for Magical Forest!
– Draw the magic – Buy Magical Inkdom!

Make Samplers to Save Bits and Pieces

Samplers by Peony and Parakeet, using stamping and embroidery

My sampler madness began when I found an unfinished embroidery project. I had started it two years ago on an online course called Happy-Go-Lucky Stitchalong. It was led by Amy Powers and the goal was to embroider a sampler showing all the things that make you happy.

An embroidered sampler by Peony and Parakeet, a phase photo

It was only a two-week course and I got some more squares done than what is shown here but there was still plenty to go. I had dyed the fabric with monoprinting method and quite liked it. I was not happy with all the embroidery that I had made but I felt compelled to finish this project. The embroidery floss I had to finish this looked so tempting!

Embroidery floss

So I began to work little every day for a couple of weeks. Some of the squares were remade and some were complemented with extra stitches.

Stitching an embroidered sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

In the end I added some more details to the background fabric using the same method than in the beginning. By using a glass plate and textile dye I was able to prints some more color and doodling to make the result even more interesting.

Monoprinting fabric, by Peony and Parakeet

I painted the frame with bright coral red to create an athmosphere of hot summer days (which I love and which are all too rare in Finland).

An embroidered sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

I am pretty happy with the finished piece. Can you spot a peony and a parakeet there?

While stitching the sampler, I was thinking about samplers in general. They can be really handy of saving things. Even virtually! Isn’t Pinterest like a big sampler too?

An embroidered sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

I chose not to spend an extra hour at Pinterest but make a stamped sampler showcasing some of my favorite stamps.

Phase photo of a stamped sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

Folk style suits well to samplers so I decided to make a sampler that reminds me of folk costumes. I doodled around the stamped images to get extra details. Then I colored them with colored pencils and markers.

Phase photo of a stamped sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

Thinking of folk costumes, I got the idea of adding buttons in the middle of each square. They all had to be different, of course. That way they would repeat the idea of a sampler too.

Adding buttons to a stamped sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

Before sewing the buttons I had painted the frame with faux antique paint. Many folk costumes use a lot of lace and ribbons so I picked all the stamps which were like them. Luckily I had so many that I was able to use each once and get the decoration around the frame.

Rubber stamped sampler inspired by folk costumes, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

While making this sampler I got the idea of a sampler made from handdecorated papers. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an art journal page showcasing the scraps of papers? Or just coloring and drawing 9 squares while on vacation, one per day and then gather them into a sampler. Or giving each family member a square … The possibilities are endless!

Rubber stamped sampler inspired by folk costumes, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

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