Peony and Parakeet

Drawing Tutorial – Let’s Draw a Magical Crystal Ball

How to draw a magical crystal ball, a drawing tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

To celebrate my upcoming new class Magical Inkdom, I made a free tutorial about how to draw glass and create magical glowing effects. In the video, we will draw a crystal ball with a black ink pen and color the ball with watercolors. I hope you enjoy this little project and I hope to see you in Magical Inkdom too!

Magical Inkdom begins on July 8, 2019 – Sign up here!

Draw Flowers and Fairies for The Soul!

Flowers for The Soul, an ink drawing by Paivi Eerola

This weekend, we are celebrating Midsummer in Finland. Our nights are full of light, and peonies are blooming. It’s the best time to be in this part of the planet. So I wanted to draw flowers and the growth that makes me take photos of our garden all the time.

I hope you don’t mind me starting the blog post in black and white, it will get more colorful near the end!


I have well over 10 peonies – so many that I have stopped counting. This one is Augustin d’Hour, and I wish I could send you the smell. It’s the best perfume that I know. The pink color is also adorable.

Peonies, Augustin d'Hour

Peonies are having a party in our garden! “Who cleans this mess?”, my husband joked.

Peonies in Japanese Garden

Flowers and Fairies Fill the Studio

And while the peonies are partying, I also have a floral party in my studio. There are several floral pieces that I have made for the new class Magical Inkdom. Here’s a sneak peek to one little fairy.

Flower fairies, a detail of an illustration by Paivi Eerola. Play with the scale. Draw huge flowers and small fairies!

This fairy is the princess of the poppies and no wonder how they got there, I have quite many of them too. They are still blooming with the peonies!


Life’s Big Luxuries

I love drawing things that rise above everyday life. Can there be anything more luxurious than blooming flowers?

Hand-drawn flowers

Roses always find their way to my drawings whether they are big or small.

Rose in the garden

When I enjoy the flowers, they become big and I shrink. It’s a good feeling, perhaps the same that makes flower fairies so joyful.

Drawing flowers. A detail of an illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Flowers are never just flowers. They are symbols of everything precious and beautiful. In this drawing, I wanted to create a temple of flowers. You go there and feel refreshed and comforted.

Draw Flowers and Fairies for the Soul!

Hand-drawn floral playing cards by Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet

I hope you join me at Magical Inkdom where we get into the hearts of witches, fairies, and everything adventurous, including flowers too. Sign up here!

Watercolor Girl in a Spring Garden

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have just finished this watercolor painting. It’s a continuum for this recent one:

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This spring, I have been painting flowers, fruits, vegetables, vases, and pots – my inner garden – while my husband has been busy taking care of our outer garden!

I don’t intentionally paint what I see in the garden, but I am fascinated by it. Our front garden had big changes last summer so it’s interesting to see what has survived through the winter and what hasn’t. It’s a bit like when starting a painting – some details stay, and some get covered.

Watercolor painting in progress.

At the beginning of May, we got snow. We had just had a warm period but then it became really cold!

Snowing in a Japanese garden.

Fortunately, the weather has got warmer again. This morning, I walked in the garden and thought how perfect all the shapes and colors are. I imagined I am a watercolor girl in a watercolor world, translating all the beauty on a coarse cotton paper step by step.

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

It’s just magical when the old cherry tree blossoms in our new Japanese garden for the first time.

Cherry blossoms in a garden.

I only wish our tree would have pink flowers. But for a watercolor girl, everything is possible!

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

One of our flowerbeds is filled with a variety of tulips. We buy some new bulbs every autumn, and the bed gets fuller and fuller every spring.

Tulips in a garden.

I love to paint abstract shapes and then draw lines to make them flowers or filaments!

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

Does your garden appear in your art?

How to Create Art that Reflects Your True Self?

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article about finding visual style!

We artists talk a lot about finding our visual style. But while working on with this watercolor painting, I started to wonder if we try to force it too much through big declarations like:

– “I am going to paint portraits only.”
– “I am a fantasy artist.”
– “I only do abstracts.”

Isn’t style more in small and practical decisions that take place when we are creating. The problems arise so quickly and accidentally that we routinely respond to them. We often follow the easiest or the most ordinary path which usually leads to art that doesn’t reflect our true selves.

Child Doesn’t Think about Visual Style

A girl with a carrot. Children are creative no matter what they do.

When I was a small child, every day was filled with wonders of life. When I didn’t think too much of what would be appreciated in the world of adults, I led myself to enjoy things fully. I didn’t question if my hair was ok when my mother asked me to get in front of the camera. I loved the sunny day, the attention, and was proud of that big carrot, a miracle grown in our own garden.

A watercolor painting in progress. You can't see your visual style in the beginning of the painting.

So, when starting a painting, more than trying to see the whole garden at once, I try to dig out a carrot – a small detail that I choose to embrace. It can look ugly and insignificant to others, but to me, it feels lovely.

Watercolor painting in progress.

If I start questioning if this is my style, it’s like saying “If you want to become an artist, you should hold a brush instead of a carrot” to the child. In the class Floral Fantasies, I have an exercise where we grow a painting from a baby to an adult. The painting that’s just a small child can’t look like a grown-up. At best, you move towards your true self layer by layer.

Overcoming the Seek of Acceptance

Expression-wise, the most important decisions are made when you have been painting for a while. Then you are dealing with a teenager. In general and also in paintings, it’s the age when you follow what others do and seek acceptance.

A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article about visual style and small decisions that we make during creating.

I tend to lock too easily what comes up in the middle of the painting process. In this watercolor painting, I saw a duck coming up. It would have been so easy to make the duck the centerpiece of the painting. I like animals, and I know many of my customers like them too. But I wanted the image to be more mysterious and express growth. So I left the egg instead and changed the duck to a pot. It required a lot more work, but I am very happy with the decision!

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

Preserving Some, Letting Some Go

I have had the privilege to follow my dog Cosmo getting old. In the age of 14, has let go of many things, but he fights to keep the things he has always enjoyed. He wants to go for a walk in the woods, steal my socks, and roll over to get a pig’s ear.

Old dog.

With Cosmo, I have been thinking about how difficult it is to me to let go of the things that I don’t even want.

Here’s what we artists say to ourselves when we refuse to remove the duck, the obvious or the accidental elements:
– “Maybe somebody else will enjoy this painting.”
– “It was just an experiment.”
– “My next painting will be better.”
– “I don’t know if this is good or bad.”
– “I feel unfocused.”

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

If we try to preserve everything, we are left with nothing. Like Cosmo, we need to choose what makes life and our images rich and what reflects our true selves. Not forgetting “stealing socks” – embracing humor, small vices, often little embarrassing characteristics that make us who we are.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her visual style is shown in the details.

To me, putting more value on these small decisions in the middle of creating has helped to make art that, more often than before, reflects my true self and is a clear presentation of my visual style.

A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article on finding visual style.

You can still sign up for my class Floral Fantasies while it’s running. So sign up before May 24 to grab this class! >> Sign up here!

Scroll to top