Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Pleasures of Watercolor Painting

This week is about watercolor painting and the pleasures that can be found there!

Unelmille avautuneet - Opened to Dreams, a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.
Unelmille avautuneet – Opened to Dreams, 29,7 x 42 cm, watercolor

Getting Inspiration

Now I’ve been busy with a lot of different things – a new big art project, the new course Freely Grown, commissioned work, etc. Despite that, I stole some time and went to look at old paintings online – skillfully painted portraits of women in fancy dresses. They always make me want to paint, even though I prefer to paint plants and flowers instead of beauties.

Look at this painting of the Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1859!

Inspiration from portraits. Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, oil on canvas, a detail of a larger painting.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, oil on canvas.
A detail – only a part of the painting is in this image.

The colors, the brilliant brush strokes, and all the delicate and decorative details are so inspiring!

I used to think that inspirational images must be the same as what I want to paint next. So, if I wanted to paint flowers, then I would only look at flower paintings. But nowadays, I love to be inspired by something different. Then the inspiration doesn’t limit me. It doesn’t depict what I should do and how, but sets an atmosphere that I want to follow.

Love for Good Watercolor Paper

After getting inspired, I opened the closet of my studio, as if secretly from myself, and tore a clean sheet from the watercolor paper pad.

Arches hot press watercolor paper.
Arches Hot Press watercolor paper

One hundred percent cotton, aah! So soft, thick, and ready to receive color. Good paper is expensive, but I paint better when I know in advance that I don’t want to waste a sheet.

Painting and Doing Other Stuff at the Same Time

When I steal time to paint, watercolors are an easy choice. Especially in the beginning, I can do one coat quickly and then let it dry for hours while I do other work.

Pleasures of watercolor painting - starting with a mess.

I can add details little by little, and the pauses often just clarify the idea of ​​the subject of the painting. And when you paint slowly from light to dark, you can always fix it with the next layer.

Pleasures of watercolor painting - proceeding layer by layer.

I often have my iPad nearby and listen and watch something at the same time while I paint.

Watercolor painting in progress.

Luxury Combined with Minimalism

When finishing, it’s pleasurable to take just a little color on the brush, and often near the pan, if it has spilled there. I also check the corners of the palette, where unused paint easily remains. When the color is activated on paper, even a small amount becomes a treasure and an experience!

Painting in progress. Flowers in watercolor without references.

I always buy good artist-quality watercolors one pan and one tube at a time and use them right up to the end. If I buy a tube, I squeeze a small amount into a pan to dry and this way, use the tube in small portions. I love this kind of union of luxury and minimalism – definitely one of the pleasures of watercolor painting to me!

Watercolor painting and supplies.

Finally, I wash the brushes carefully. Washing with water is enough for most brushes, but I often use soap to make sure that all the color has come off. With clean brushes, it’s nice to start a new painting again when I find time.

From Detail to Detail

Here are some pictures of the details.

A detail of a floral watercolor painting by the artist Paivi Eerola.

I like to paint a lot of subtle details, and I love the warmth that yellow has.

A detail of a floral watercolor painting by the artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Signing the piece before the final finishing touches makes sure that the signature fits with the rest of the composition.

Pleasures of watercolor painting. A detail of a larger piece painted by Paivi Eerola.

I hope this blog post inspired you to pick watercolors and paint freely!

P.S. Freely Grown – You can still hop in!

Freely Grown - an online art class about painting flowers freely

>> Sign up here!

Watercolor Flowers in Louisa M. Alcott Style

This week, I talk about Louisa M. Alcott’s characters and painting flowers in watercolor.

Freely Grown 5, a watercolor painting by the artist Päivi Eerola, Finland.

They say that nature should not be humanized, but when I paint flowers, I do that without hesitation.

Splashes Start an Adventure

I love getting to know my flowers little by little. Their life begins with random splashes and I try to grow them as freely as I can.

Random splashes in watercolor. Beginning of a flower painting.

At its best, a painting is like a good book that hooks you into the atmosphere and cannot be left unfinished. It’s always exciting to see what kind of characters turn out on paper and what happens to them.

Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott

In this painting, the big peony was born first. She is a girl who is sure of her position, but always ready to hug and strengthen others as well. I was reminded of the novel Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott. Could that peony be like Meg, the big sister of the family?

Painting flowers in watercolors. Imagining flowers as characters.

And could there be Amy next to her, a growing beauty and sometimes a bit self-centric too?

Painting watercolor flowers. Expressing characters of the book Little Woman by Louisa M. Alcott as flowers.

Right below white and glamorous Amy, there’s sweetly round Beth who left this world far too soon.

Painting the Atmosphere

When the watercolor wets the thick cotton paper, I would like to invite you to my little studio and give you a thin brush. Together, we would then paint small shapes like writers working on a common story.

Painting the atmosphere. Abstract flowers in watercolor.

However, as everything in flowers does not have to be literal or recognizable, we could just focus on the atmosphere.

Jo the Tulip

The key figure in my painting is the tulip in the background. He is like Jo, unique and more modern than others, ready to create her life joyfully, but without being forced to the center of the painting. I admired Jo as a child, and it has taken me a long time to dare to be like her – step aside and do my own thing.

Finishing a painting that has the characters of Little Women as flowers. Louisa M. Alcott inspired art.

Somehow I also think that when you come to my course, you too want to be like Jo – do your own thing, express the flavor of life, embrace the abundance of nature, and allow unapologetic playfulness.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Painting abstract flowers in watercolors. Getting inspiration from the book Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott.

Freely Grown – Sign Up Now!

The course Freely Grown starts next week. I can hardly wait for it to start – join me!

Freely Grown - online art course by Peony and Parakeet

Freely Grown >> Sign up here!

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