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Peony and Parakeet

Pros and Cons of Becoming an Artist

This week, I share my newest painting, and thoughts about a life change after becoming an artist – even if I don’t quite know where I will be heading next myself.

Blackbird - Mustarastas, an abstract oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Blackbird – Mustarastas, oil, 60 x 73 cm.

All my life I have wanted to be an artist. But first, I went to study software engineering because it was a much more sensible thing to do at a young age. And I loved computers. How can a girl love machines so much?

There’s this girl in me who looks in the future and gets excited about technology. And then there’s another girl who looks back to history and wants to paint like Rubens or Kandinsky.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Pursuing the Dream of Becoming an Artist

After I got my degree in 1996, I repeated to myself “Paivi, you are a master of science – “diplomi-insinööri” for a couple of years. It felt so unbelievable!

But I had this other dream that I wanted to pursue, and it felt like my life would be too short for that. So many years were given to technology. However, in 2014, about seven years ago, I decided to give it a go.

Paivi Eerola in 2015, after leaving a day job to become an artist
Paivi in 2015, after leaving a day job to become an artist

Every day since then I have banged my head against the wall between the outer and inner world. I have learned to draw freely, get intuitive with watercolors, illustrate animals and magical fantasies, and paint flowers and abstracts.

Experimenting with watercolors
Experimenting with watercolors in 2019

I thought that I would be learning and teaching for the rest of my life, never coming home, but fully enjoying the journey.

Breaking Through in Becoming an Artist

However, this year, I found myself breaking through, seeing a new horizon. I had to really push myself to give finishing touches to my newest class Floral Freedom, and after reading Wassily Kandinsky’s book “Point and Line to Plane” the final small pieces fell in their places. It was like a big equation in an engineer’s mind became solved, and I found myself whispering: “Paivi, you are an artist.”

Painting abstract art, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

And similarly, as after graduating in 1996, the achievement felt unbelievable. But this time, its tone was different. It was not a validation received from others but from myself and thus, felt more holistic and life-changing. Yes, I may have been an artist for others for some time already, but finally, I have become an artist in the eyes of myself. It has made me want to put recent paintings side by side and continue the series boldly and unapologetically.

There’s also unexpected sadness in this happiness. The imaginary world that I have been building for the last years has fully opened, but with that, something has closed too. The old routines are gone. I no longer question what I should create in terms of subject or style. All I have to do is to fill a palette and start painting.

I am still unaware of what’s coming next. How to sustain myself. How to live after solving a puzzle that has been in my head for 53 years.

Blackbird in a New Territory

Blackbird - Mustarastas, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Blackbird – Mustarastas, oil, 60 x 73 cm.

Every morning when I open the door, I see blackbirds in our front garden. They seem modest and hard-working. They rarely rest, and when they sing, it seems to be for a purpose. These colorless birds don’t ever surprise or make my head spin.

But yesterday, I noticed that a blackbird had left the garden and entered my inner world. And it was so delightful, like a sign of hope in all the unawareness and misery that I have had recently. Isn’t it amazing that someone so insignificant as a blackbird can reach a soul, even secretly? That someone so plain and muddy can shine so brightly when it lands in another territory!

Paivi Eerola surrounded by her art. Read her story about becoming an artist!

I hope you’ll stick with me, take my classes,
and hop in where ever you are in your artist’s journey.
I promise to stay around and help you as a teacher and a coach

at least for the rest of this year.

3 Tips for Bringing More Life into Your Art

This week, we look for what’s natural and lively in a bit different way than usual. I share three tips for bringing more life into your art.

"Unchanging" - an oil painting by artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
“Unchanging – Muuttumaton”, oil, 65 x 80 cm

I just finished this green painting. It’s called “Muuttumaton” in Finnish, but this time, the translation “Unchanging” fits it better because the English word has a more active tone.

This painting was in progress in the video that I shared a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the video again so that you can see me working with this in practice and compare the middle and the end!

So, that was the video, but in this post, I want to give you ideas on how you could bring more life into art.

These ideas are not technical because I think that my classes are better for learning the techniques, but more about changing the way you get inspired and observe what first appears on paper or canvas.

Tip #1 – Let Weeds be Weeds

In my painting, the main character and the focal point is a blooming weed. It appeared on the canvas right away and reminded me of Fernando Pessoa‘s poem that talks about a crop bending with the wind and then straightening once the wind stops. This kind of natural resilience that weeds also have is inspiring. In art, we usually make weeds look more like a flower. But could we loosen up and bring more life by letting the weeds be weeds?

A detail in the first layers and after finishing. Read more tips about bringing more life into your art.

So, I just made the big plant look a bit more defined and let it be the star of the show.

Tip #2 – Try to Ignore Color

Even if I took pictures of the painting in our garden, I have been more inspired by the untamed side of nature lately.

Photographing a painting in the garden. Oil painting "Unchanging" by Paivi Eerola.

With my beagle Stella, I have been exploring banks and woods that look ugly but are full of layers. For Stella, layers of smells, and for me, layers of shapes and textures. I have tried not to seek the most beautiful spring flower, but develop my eye to notice other than colorful things.

Walking the dog in nature.

What looks ugly first can be beautifully free.

A detail of a painting by Paivi Eerola. Abstract shapes, muted colors, and a lively feel.

Subtle changes in color can make the painting look more lively than if you throw in a bunch of strong colors.

Tip #3 – Embrace Destruction

When bringing life into art, it’s not that we have to start with life. We can look at broken and deserted things like fallen or chopped branches. They can then have another life in our art. Imagine branches falling further down and breaking the cover between the outer and inner world. What kind of life could you give them there?

Fallen branches can inspire for bringing more life into art. Read about how to handle inspiration to make your art more natural and lively!

Admire how the grass grows, but also, how it withers!

Growing and withering grass.

When we create, we can start with destruction and then use colors to make all the ugliness bloom. This way, we build a bridge between the garden and the wilderness – between the traditional beauty and nature’s aesthetics.

A detail of an oil painting by Paivi Eerola and tips for bringing more life into your art.

I don’t use references for my half-abstract paintings like this one. But I believe that things that we see and appreciate find their way to our art in one way or another.

So when you want to bring life to your art,
look for life as it is in the wilderness, not only as it is in your garden.

"Unchanging" - an oil painting and the artist Paivi Eerola.

When looking at this painting, I want to be like that weed, stand tall where I happened to fall. I want to believe there’s something unchanging in this ever-changing life that keeps us creating. I hope we can be Pessoa’s crop that straightens right away when it gets the chance!

Your Art and Loosening Up

This week, I talk about being unique and loosening up in a video. You also get to see me working with a new oil painting.

Your Art and Loosening Up – From a Former Engineer

With the video below, I want to get you to think about how much you do layering. But this time, I don’t talk about the actual layers of the painting, but the layers of you and your life – the more abstract stuff. Namely, we often lead our artistic direction too literally and don’t allow contradictory or silly ideas. I hope you enjoy this video!

This is a little different than many of my videos. I would be interested to hear how you like it! Do leave a comment!

Links Relevant to the Video

Expressing Inner Storms by Painting

This post is dedicated to all who have lost their creative inspiration during these challenging times when outer storms cause inner storms too.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
This Too Shall Pass – Ohimenevää tämäkin, oil, 60 x 73 cm

I have always loved art that uplifts and is more on the bright side of fantasy than in the darkness. I have defined myself as an artist who does not express agony or suffering or bring out what’s wrong in society. My art has based on the possibilities of imagination. It’s about the richness of the inner world. “Spiritual freedom” has been my word.

But the longer I have painted, the more courageous I have become. How flowery do my paintings have to be? To free up my art and to free up my thinking as well, I have begun to accept all kinds of shapes, colors, and emotions. The same flowers that bloom in my watercolor pieces become little monsters when I paint more freely in oil. It’s like there’s a new world under the inner world I only used to know.

Painting Inner Storms

At the end of January, I started a new big painting. It had dark colors, but I intended to brighten it. “When the time is right, I will make it more cheerful,” I promised to myself. Weeks went by, and it always felt like I had something more important to do. I didn’t have the energy, or I had too much energy. The more I postponed the finishing, the moody I became. “This pandemic gets to my nerves,” I said to my husband.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola.

But when my spirit got more and more low, I had to do something. One night I picked paints and brushes, abandoned all the happy stuff I was creating and continued the painting. The brushes felt heavy at first. The paint tubes were like stones. But then I remembered the magic words: “Päivi, you can paint!” This confidence, even if it always feels false first, energizes my strokes and thoughts. The painting begins to speak to me, and my responses become more and more natural.

Expressing inner storms. Abstract art by Paivi Eerola.

This Too Shall Pass

“What are you painting, Päivi,” I heard my inner critic saying after a while. “The piece is still very dark.” My immediate answer was: “Yes, it’s dark, but this too shall pass.” At that moment, I knew the name of the painting and why it should not be forced to look more cheerful. Inner storms can be as beautiful as the happy moments and little monsters as clever as any flower.

Oil painting in progress. Adding finishing touches by laying the painting on the table. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Expressing inner storms. An oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola.
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

When I woke up the following morning, my mind was calm and still. And when I look at the painting, it gives me hope no matter how stormy and gloomy it seems.

Here are some detail pics.

A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

Here’s the whole painting again.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

Sometimes the lack of inspiration is a sign of not letting out what needs do so.

Have a creative Easter!

P.S. My abstract painting class Floral Freedom is now available as a self-study. Watch the video below!

My free painting style is based on Paul Klee’s and Wassily Kandinsky’s timeless teachings presented in this class. >> Buy here!

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