Peony and Parakeet

Artist Statement, Portfolio, Prints – Presenting a New Website for My Art!

Paivi Eerola's new website at paivieerola.com. She has original art and prints for sale, a portfolio, an artist statement etc.

I have a new website for my art! It has an online shop filled with originals and prints, a portfolio, pictures of the paintings in progress, and my story. Go to paivieerola.com!

This Peony and Parakeet site will also continue, as well as blogging, classes, etc. but I wanted to have a better presentation of myself as an artist, not only as an art teacher. First, my intention was just to update this site, but it is already full of information, many of which I would like to bring more rather than less visible. So I decided to keep this site for art education and create a new site for selling art. Time will tell if having two sites is too confusing, hopefully not!

Paivi Eerola's business cards. She teaches art at www.peonyandparakeet.com

Artist Statement or Not?

I re-wrote the About page tens of times! It was quite easy to pick the things that I wanted to say, but it’s still difficult to not to be too boring! I decided not to put it in the form of an artist statement because I didn’t want to alienate anyone with long and grandiose sentences although the first sentences under the title could be seen as one:

“When Paivi Eerola is painting, she is a scientist who plays with the reality. Ducks can become plants, a fruit can replace fabric, and flowers can form a factory that produces glass. In this new world, everything is changing and moving, and it’s all celebrating the lushness of life.”

I wrote my story in the third person so that it can be used easily on other occasions too. While writing my story, I questioned if it’s really how you see me and my art. But in the end, everyone has their interpretations of the images, and this is just how and what I think when I am creating them. One thing that I left out is how I test my paintings.

Original Canvas Paintings and How I Test Them

When I paint on canvas, my goal is to create a treasure rather than just an image. I test the painting so that I lay it flat on the table, walk away from it and then turn back to see what my gut reaction is. If I just make a mark that there’s a painting on the table, I need to continue working on it. If the painting looks more like a thing, a glowing treasure box, then I have achieved my goal.

A detail of an original acrylic painting. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

It’s really important to me to make paintings that stand the test of time. I have spent tens of hours painting these, and I hope that they will live longer than me. Sometimes I wonder if I have this strong aspiration because I don’t have any children.

Original art. A detail of an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Nothing beats the luxury of an original painting, especially when it’s varnished and the colors glow like the paint would still be wet. See the originals that I have currently available!

Prints from Me to You

So far, I have sold prints via Saatchi Art. It’s great for US customers especially because the prints are delivered directly from there, and they also provide canvas prints. However, I also want to have few prints available directly from me, and there’s a small selection at my new store. I have printed them with an inkjet printer on a lovely fine art paper.

Healing Power - a limited Edition print by Paivi Eerola. Available at paivieerola.com!

I am selling one of the prints as a limited edition. Every copy of it is signed and numbered. The painting in the print is called Healing Power. The original painting is sold, and I only produce 40 art prints from the image. So if you wish to have some healing power, would like to give that to someone, get your copy!

Portfolio

To show a big picture of what I have done, I wanted to include a portfolio that is like a small art gallery on my new website. I tried to pick the pieces that present my style but there was a lot to select from.

For example, I didn’t pick this one because I didn’t want to add too many. Anyway, I have a gallery on this site too, and it can be less curated!

Harvest Still Life, 2015. A mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola.
Harvest Still Life, 2015

Picking pieces for the portfolio is a really good exercise. It made me think about my artist’s path and see how my ideas have merged and grown to produce new work.

Paintings in Progress

I always aim to be as transparent as possible. Being very secretive has never worked for me, it’s against my personality. So there’s a section called In Progress which shows the paintings that I currently work on. Now it shows my first series of oil paintings. Here’s one of them so far:

Oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her original art is available at paivieerola.com

Oil paintings take even more time than acrylic paintings because I need to let them dry properly before adding a new layer. You can follow the progress at the new site. I also have a separate mailing list for all who are interested in buying my paintings. Subscribe to the list here!

Hopefully, you enjoy the new site!

Finding Your Visual Voice – Free Webinar!

A letter to the reader of this blog:

Dear friend and soulmate in art,
Like you know, I have had this dream to be an artist from a little girl. Back then, and many times before taking the leap, I didn’t quite understand how unsure and tentative the life as an artist can be. When I was about five years old, I thought I knew what I liked to create and how. In a way, I did, but life got more complicated year after year. When I was about 16, I had a turning point. I discovered the way to paint that made me tremble with joy. Two of those paintings are still displayed here in my home, and they remind me of that time.

Two paintings from Paivi Eerola. She painted these as a teenager.

But then I got critical towards myself. I thought that my paintings lacked content, something. I thought that I need some experience in life to become a better artist. Soon after that, I started studying, lost my parents and all that made me stop painting. In the perspective of art, I became nobody to myself.

But if you have been following me, you already know that. And you know that my journey in art has been quite obsessive in the last years. It has felt like I had wasted all those years when I was not painting, and I need to hurry and fast forward before life ends. Losing close people make you realize that. That life does end some day, and the dreams can remain dreams. That’s why it’s sometimes necessary to step into the unknown and try the wings.

I started painting a new series about a month ago. ” I have put so much thought into the series that my brain hurts,” I wrote on Instagram. And the more I have been painting recently, the more I feel the same than as a teenager! Wow! It’s even better now when I have more ways to handle with the self-criticism.

A series of paintings in progress, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also understand that this new euphoria has a simple explanation. My imagination, expression, and the technical skills finally meet. I have also discovered a process that feels natural to me. I know this won’t last forever. When the life changes, as it constantly does, I can’t develop or even maintain this. But at this very moment, I feel joy and relief. It is a pleasure to rest in this new base camp for a while before I feel the need to start climbing up or walking down to the mountain called art.

Because I am painting with oils, I need to wait for every layer to dry for a week or so. So these paintings will get more color slowly but surely. You will be surprised!

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

During painting, I have been thinking: do you want to find your visual style or your visual voice? Is there a difference for you? To me, the voice is at a deeper level than style. I can play with styles, but the voice is more static, something that you have born with. Or is it only me who sees similarities between those teenage paintings and these recent ones?

I thought I record a video of these thoughts and show you some examples. But even if I can edit out all the umms and breaks from the video, it doesn’t feel so good to talk on a camera instead of talking to you. So I suggest we meet live on Jan 31, 11 am PST and chat about this together. Can you come?

Many warm greetings from


Free Live Webinar about Visual Voice

So yes, come to my live webinar “Finding Your Visual Voice – How to start the journey” where I tell some key points that have made a big difference to me!

A free webinar about visual voice by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

When you register, enter your time zone, and you will see when the webinar begins where you live. Save your spot even if you couldn’t come just at that very moment. You can then watch the recording later that week!

“Floral Fantasies in Three Styles” is Back!

One of the big things to me has been to find enjoyable techniques, including the ones that old master painters used. You can now study them too! I am rerunning my best technique workshop so far, Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles. It’s about taking the best tricks from three visual approaches and immerse into the beauty of flowers. The workshop is now in the early-bird sale, so it’s a great time to reserve your spot!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles. Floral art workshop by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet that also teaches Flemish old masters' painting techniques.
If you haven’t attended my classes before, please be assured that you will be supported and your questions will be answered. I also run discussions and give visual suggestions if you run into problems. See what students have said!

So I hope to see you in the class and of course, at the webinar too!

Loving Vincent and Purchasing Oil Paints

Schminke Mussini oil paints. Photo by Peony and Parakeet.

Yesterday, I opened the door of a local art supply store and headed to a specific shelf. On my way to the store, when walking on the narrow streets in the center of Helsinki, I felt it. The feeling that I got a year ago when I opened a tube of Mussini oil paint for the first time. I was attending an art class about old masters painting techniques, and we used the best oil paints I could imagine. Not that I could imagine so much because I had never used oil paints before. But I didn’t expect to experience that strange feeling. It contained both appreciation and excitement. The appreciation of color, and the excitement to learn more from it.

It was not that I would have been new to color. I had been painting with acrylic paints for a long time. When I was a teenager, I got them from my parents who thought that it was a perfect solution to me. No worrying about toxic painting fluids and still being able to paint with ease. The acrylic paints have developed a lot since that time, since the eighties. They have worked perfectly for my needs. I have found a good brand too. I really like Golden acrylics.

A self-portrait in Vincent van Gogh's style. By Paivi Eerola by Peony and Parakeet.

But now I was standing in the front of a vast collection of Mussini oil paint tubes. I picked the color chart and went through my choices one more time. For a whole year, I had been going through this in my mind: raw umber, zinc white, titanium white, yellow ochre and so on. It had been a mantra that changed a little bit every month. The paints are expensive, and I had to pick the colors carefully. One tube can cost more than 70 euros.

Plan for the Hand and Mind

After trying out the paints for the first time, I went to live in denial. Yes, I had painted the class pieces with oils because they were provided by the class. But the odorless and water-soluble acrylics felt much more suitable for me. After a while, my attitude changed a bit. I let myself dream about the oil paints. I visited the art supply store, touched the clean and shiny tubes, imagined getting just a bit of paint on a palette and make it last for as long as possible.

But dreaming and reality are surprisingly close. It’s difficult just to dream and not to do anything. So I made a plan that felt more like extortion. I had to get my floral painting class finished. I had to get several acrylic paintings finished. I had to figure out where and how I would store the paints. I had to get more information about the oil paints and the painting liquids.

I still had some finishing touches to do for my paintings in progress, but other than that I had followed the plan. So I started picking the tubes: raw umber, zinc white, titanium white, yellow ochre and so on. After selecting the colors, I went for the liquids: poppy oil, turpentine, and glossy dammar varnish.

When I left the store, my mind summarized the past year. Learning the old masters’ techniques had been essential for growing my technical skills. My art had become less imaginative, and more conventional.

Acrylic paintings by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

I had a turning point in 2016 when I felt that my imagination and my hand didn’t function so well together anymore. My imagination wanted to proceed to new territories, but my hand couldn’t follow. But now when my hand is wiser, I can also challenge my mind more freely. Purchasing the oil paints were a reward for the persistence that I have had for the last twelve months. However, it wasn’t the only reward. I was also going to see the new movie Loving Vincent.

Loving Vincent – The Movie

The movie theatre was about 10 minutes walk away from the art supply store. When I arrived, there were several queues for the tickets. I joined one. While I was waiting for my turn, a young man suddenly came to me and asked: “Do you want a free ticket? I have two, and my friend wasn’t able to come.” I happily accepted it and thanked the man. “Is this a sign?”, I asked myself. “Is this the final sign that I should do this – go forward, open the tubes, start painting my newest, odd ideas?” I don’t believe in destiny so much, but at that moment, it felt like Vincent van Gogh was talking to me: “Do that, paint those ideas, just like I painted mine.”

I found the movie very emotional. Every time, I saw a familiar painting coming to live, tears came to my eyes. I realized that this movie had to be published now, not earlier. Vincent’s art has become so well-known during the past decades that it unifies us. Art that was odd for masses of the 19th century is understood by every one living the 21st century. It has become so familiar that it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate it. And still, we need to feel the togetherness that Vincent’s paintings can offer. They are like icons that make us stronger together.

Looking back helps us to move forward. As artists, we are all Vincent’s descendants. No matter how we paint, what technique we use, we know about modern art because of Vincent. We know more than the people of the 19th century, and that enables us to explore art to all kinds of directions.

Loving Vincent – Art from the Students

I want to celebrate Vincent by showing beautiful pieces made by my students. They are made from my class Selfie Fantasy that shows an adaptation of Vincent’s technique.

Christie Juhasz:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration by Christie Juhasz, USA. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Terry Whyte:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration from Terry Whyte, Canada. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Denise Dineen:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration by Denise Dineen, USA. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Gina Meadows:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration by Gina Meadows, USA. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Patricia Furey:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration by Patricia Furey, USA. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Stephanie Carney:

Vincent van Gogh inspiration by Stephane Carney, USA. An art journal page spread made from the mini-course Selfie Fantasy by Peony and Parakeet.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it?

Imagine Through Art – Buy 5 inspiring mini-courses! (including the Vincent-inspired one)

Have You Ever Felt Like an Outsider?

Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

I have finished a new oil painting called “Gypsy Madonna.” I painted it at Emmi Mustonen‘s class during this spring while learning more about old masters’ painting techniques. It took about 42 hours from start to finish and about four months in calendar time. Every thin layer of paint had to dry before adding a new one. I show you some phase photos, but I focus on the deepest thing that I learned from this painting: feeling like an outsider and what to think about it.

The Basics of the Painting Process

My Gypsy Madonna combines two Renaissance paintings: Boccaccio Boccaccino‘s Gypsy Girl and Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine.

By Boccaccio Boccaccino and Leonardo da Vinci

First I was just on a mission to get better with the painting technique.

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Then I wanted to play with the setting and discovered several stories that could be told through that (some of them are in this blog post).

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, underpainting, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Experiences of Being an Outsider

One day during the painting process, I remembered a childhood memory of a real gypsy girl. The local library had a weekly hour for children to listen to fairy tales and to play together. We were playing a game where two of us danced in the middle while others were watching. There were a lot of children, all waiting for to be chosen. Someone picked me, and we danced in the center of the ring while others were cheering.

Then it was my turn, and my friend Anne almost stepped up. But I had seen a sad gypsy girl sitting there, head drooping. She knew that nobody would pick her up. It was one of those games that would only depress her. It broke my little girl’s heart to see her sadness. I just had to do it, leave Anne sitting and ask the girl to dance with me. I never forget that smile when we were swirling around. It may have been the best thing that I have done in my life so far.

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, finishing, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

When I continued painting, it was suddenly me in the picture. I became the gypsy girl who gently scratches her pet. The outsider who never got children because she was much more enthusiastic about her love for animals. The outsider who was the only girl in most of the classes when studying technology. The outsider who dreamt about art while trying to tackle the more practical career. There are so many moments when I have felt like a black Madonna, not quite fitting in.

A detail of a Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

Everybody Is an Outsider

To me, the finished image symbolizes the beauty of choosing differently, being different. Even if I know that it’s perfectly ok to be different, the painting helps me to connect with the feeling on a deeper level. It makes me empathize with other people as well. Everybody is an outsider despite their personal story. We all belong to a minority in some ways. We are all Gypsy Madonnas in one way or another.

A detail of Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

Have You Ever Felt That Nobody Understands Your Art?

To be honest, I feel shy about showing this painting. It’s not what I usually create, and I have shared some very personal stories. It has crossed my mind for several times how you, as a reader of this blog, might feel confused: “Is this what Paivi is creating nowadays? Is she going back to the Renaissance age?” I have also feared that the dark colors of the painting will make you want to stop reading. But on the other hand, I don’t want to stop exploring. If you don’t explore, you are unable to integrate new things into your creative work. Pablo Picasso has said: “To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic.” So no wonder if there are times when nobody understands what you are creating!

It’s also difficult to grow artistic identity when a part of that experience is feeling like an outsider. When you start creating art, you want to find your personal way to do it, but those discoveries can also make you feel lonely sometimes. This contradictory has caused me to challenge myself. I want to be better at not only understanding my personal feelings but also supporting other artists in their explorations. In the end, we are all on the same journey. We are standing together on the border of art and the rest of the world, expressing the same view through different eyes.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, with Gypsy Madonna, one of her oil paintings. Read her blog post about feeling like an outsider as an artist and how to get through it!

Stay tuned for my new class for building belongingness, making art that matters, and strengthening your artistic identity! The registration will open in May!

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