Peony and Parakeet

Imaginary People – How to Paint Their Soul?

This week, the theme is painting imaginary people and how to find their soul. There’s plenty of examples in this blog post!

Imaginary People - How to Paint Their Soul? An article by paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

One of the wonders of painting and drawing is that we can give birth to an imaginary person – that we can create someone who breathes, talks, and has a life of her own. However, many times the doll that I have on paper hasn’t come alive. Or she has taken just a few breaths, and after the creative spark has gone, she just stares with empty eyes. So no wonder that I have had a love-hate relationship for painting imaginary people. I want to experience the miracle, but it can also be too much of a struggle.

References – Working with a Soul that Breathes Already

Using a reference may be the least innovative solution but if you find an image that really speaks to you, it can be a good one. Tiny changes in facial features lead to a whole new person so if you don’t follow the reference in the smallest detail, yours is like distant relative to the original – familiar features but still unique. For this oil painting called “Heaven and Earth“, I used a detail of Sandro Botticelli’s painting “Madonna of the Magnificat” (1483) as a reference.

"Heaven and Earth" - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s a close-up of the faces. I changed the angle of the face, opened the eyes more, and made the mouth look more determined.

Using a reference. "Heaven and Earth" by Paivi Eerola and "Madonna of the Magnificat" by Sandro Botticelli.

Sounds easy, but I often struggle with finding the soul when using references. With this painting, I tried to slowly work towards an individual personality, but creating a connection took a lot of time. Botticelli painted his soul, and it’s not the same as mine.

Here the work was in the early stage so that you can see how she has changed.

Using a reference. "Heaven and Earth" in an underpainting stage by Paivi Eerola and "Madonna of the Magnificat" by Sandro Botticelli. Read about Paivi's thoughts on painting imaginary people with or without a reference.

From the struggles of this painting and many others, I have learned this:

Working on the face alone never brings up the soul.

With the Madonna, as soon as I figured out the purpose and the style of the surroundings, I was able to finish the face.

The Soul Spreads Over the Painting

Even if a person is usually the focal point of the painting, the soul is not focused but spread.

The soul is in the setting, in the things, in the atmosphere. Even Botticelli’s Madonna can look just like a bored person without the crown, the light, the child, the book, etc.

"Madonna of the Magnificat" by Sandro Botticelli.

So no matter if you paint intuitively without pre-defined ideas, sketches, or references, or more intentionally with a clear idea of how you want your imaginary people to look like, seek for the soul in everything you paint.

Flowers have soul.

A detail of "Mirimer" - a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Pots have soul.

A detail of "Mirimer" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Hair and hats have soul.

A detail of "Mirimer" - a watercolor fairy by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Inanimate and organic things also give the soul to the imaginary people.

A detail of "Mirimer" - a watercolor fairy painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to paint imaginary people and their soul.
“Mirimer” – a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In this watercolor painting called “Mirimer“, the fairy is the focal point, but her soul is spread all over the paper.

"Mirimer" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about painting imaginary people and finding their soul.

Imaginary People Exist in Shapes and Colors As Well

The painting doesn’t even need to have a face. Your imaginary people can be abstract, like in this small acrylic painting that I recently painted on a sketchbook.

"Pinkpolka" - a small acrylic painting on a sketchbook by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Shapes and colors have soul.

A detail of "Pinkpolka" - an abstract painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Imaginary People – First or Last?

The idea for this post came from the question that I received a couple of days ago:

“I like your little people peeking out from within your art. I would like to learn more about that. Do you draw them first and paint around them or paint and then save a spot for them?”

I have many approaches.

"Rising Star", a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about creating imaginary people by drawing and painting!

In Innovative Portraits, we use references and make a sketch. The soul begins with the plan.

"Valomio", a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Buy her class Magical Forest to learn to paint imaginary people like this little fairy!

In Magical Forest, we lure fairies to appear intuitively from the watercolor background. The soul begins with the feeling.

Art for the class Decodashery. Paint flowers, lace, cakes, and omaginary people called Decodollies! By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In the new class, Decodashery, we start by building a visual world and then make the dollies to fit with it. So the soul is first just a small flower, then it expands to floral paintings, cakes, lace, and finally, the imaginary people are born. By gradually setting the style and the spirit is the best intentional way to add soul to your work.

Decodashery, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Decodashery will begin on June 29, 2020. >> Sign up now!

Strawberries and Inspiration – Watch the Video!

Strawberries - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Watch her video about painting this!

This week, I have a new free video for you. In the video, I create this small watercolor painting and inspire you to create art as well, even if all you can come up with would be just a few strawberries!

With this video, I invite you to join my new class Decodashery where we paint beautiful art with delicious colors.

Decodashery will begin on June 29, 2020. >> Sign up now!

Rainbow Journal – Fill a Small Notebook with Happy Art!

Rainbow Journal, an art project by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week, I get back to the project that I started earlier this spring. It’s a small notebook that I have filled with happy art. I call it Rainbow Journal because it has brought me both joy and hope. Here’s a quote from the video below:

“When working on this journal, I have been able to live inside a happy bubble momentarily. It’s been refreshing, and my inner critic has got gentler. I have gained new inspiration for my paintings and classes.”

Watch the video to get inspiration for yours!

Creative Prompts for Your Rainbow Journal

Use the following prompts to make yours!

Cover – Make It as Decorative as You Can!

Use a limited color palette and let the colors and shapes flow.

The covers of a small traveler's notebook insert. Raibow Journal by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #1 – Get Inspired by Happy Interiors!

Think about textiles, wallpapers, and painted motifs on wooden furnitures and dishes.

Decorative paintings on a small notebook. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #2 – Embrace the Good and the Innocence!

Once you have set the style of the world you are building, who could be wandering there, full of happy thoughts with an innocent mind?

A small art journal spread inspired by Jane Austen's book Emma, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #3 – Paint Something Juicy!

Show how it feels when the glass is full, even overflowing.

Rainbow journal. An art journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Gouache paints and watercolors.

Spread #4 – Grow the Flowers of Imagination!

The dark soil makes flowers grow and shine.

Floral notebook page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #5 – Show the Bright Future!

Get creative with rainbows, how many can you fit in?

A spread of Paivi's Rainbow Journal. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this lifted your spirit and inspired you to keep creating!

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Delicious Colors – Salvage Them!

Delicious reds - a gouache painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

I have never been overly enthusiastic about bright reds, but now seems to be the time. I feel that in this black world, we need to salvage the delicious colors and amplify them with sugary decorations!

Finding Comfort from Delicious Colors

In the evenings, while waiting for the news around the world to be gathered, I paint in my little studio room. The more I think about the sad statistics, the more I want to create the opposite – a careless world with deliciously tasty and juicy colors.

Painting delicious colors and sugary shapes. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My studio is now like a sweet bakery, and as the main cook, I have lots of motivation to create!

Delicacies from DecoDashery!

Art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Fruity colors.

What first was just one little painting, has now grown to resemble a series that expresses an imaginary world. I call this world as DecoDashery, inspired by the old haberdashery from the movie Emma. DecoDashery will also be the next class that I am building, hoping to release it within a couple of months!

You Can Always Start Small!

Delicious colors, hand-painted collage pieces, and paintings by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

As usual, I haven’t made paintings only, but also collage pieces to my boxes of joy.

Hand-painted pink rose by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Delicious Meringues, Lace, and Porcelain

Now when my husband is working from home too, we eat together more than ever. Fortunately, he can cook! I have never been into that so much. But my specialties are side dishes and desserts, and it’s been fun to make one good meal in a day and combine our skills.

Delicious merengues with strawberries.

I had never made strawberry meringues, but a recipe from a knitting magazine caught my eye. Strawberries, an old plate, and a hand-crocheted lace doily were all as essential as the meringues themselves.

My current oil painting has progressed well too. Even if there’s a lot of work left, I get a lot of pleasure from working on it. Salvaging all the deliciousness of the random shapes feels so good.

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

Doesn’t the painting look strangely similar to the meringues, lace, and porcelain? The world of Decodashery is expanding!

Meaningless Has Given Me a New Meaning

It’s kind of funny that when I decided to remove deeper meaning from my work for a while, I feel that my art the overall creative process has become more meaningful than ever.

Artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet and her oil painting in progress.

It’s like I have released the beast that I have always quietly carried with me, and once I have seen it eye to eye, it has become my angel in the crisis.

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