Peony and Parakeet

Art Inspiration from Sanditon

This blog post is for us who love Jane Austen and Sanditon tv series. I watched the series last month, and it has inspired me a lot. I hope you enjoy this Sanditon inspiration overload!

Torchbearer – Esther and Lord Babington on the Beach

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My newest watercolor painting called Torchbearer had a modest beginning and I had no clue how to finish it – until I saw episode 8 of Sanditon!

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My favorite female character of Sanditon is Esther and the scene where she is in the carriage with Lord Babington was so romantic! The sudden change in her appearance, his gentle smile, black horses, empty shore – oh my! It hit me, that even if my painting has flowers, not people, I could express the emotion from the scene.

A detail of Torchbearer. Inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tallest flower and the glow come from Esther’s powerful spirit.

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

The flower that bends down, expresses her sensitivity.

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

I tried to paint every flower so that they highlight the bubbling energy. Their stems are like the carriage where the couple sat.

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

The black background represents both the horses and the lord, supporting Esther’s joy.

Torchbearer. A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In this painting, Esther is a torchbearer who leads us to better times.

Tin Box – A Souvenir from Sanditon

Inspired by Sanditon tv drama. Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like little boxes that can be used for storing hand-drawn pictures and papers. I wanted to decorate a small tin box so that it would have old-fashioned and luxurious feel. So that I could think of it as a souvenir from Sanditon!

I already had saved a hand-drawn piece that was quite perfect in size.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also found some papers with a watercolor print. They were test runs of the surface pattern designed earlier this year. I mostly designed the pattern manually, so by painting a design on the center of the paper and then cutting the paper into four parts.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This way you get a continuous design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Avoid painting edges, and re-arrange papers until they are all fully painted.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then scan the papers, and clean the edges in an image processing software. Here’s a sample of my design.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made several variations in Photoshop. These papers go really well with hand-drawings, so they were perfect for the box.

Designing a surface pattern in watercolor. Test prints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The center motif was first colored with watercolors.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I hand-stitched it on a background paper and added more hand-stitching around the center. In the photo below, I highlight the surroundings of the stitches with a pen so that they look more 3-dimensional.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also added beads, more colors and decorative marks.

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The centerpiece is a button with a shank removed. I love this little box!

Decorating a tin box with beads, embroidery floss, and hand-drawn and hand-painted papers. Inspired by Sanditon tv series. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther Denham – Sanditon Paper Doll

I also wanted to create something for my ever-growing collection of collage figures. “Just an unknown habitat of Sanditon”, I decided first. I didn’t use any reference and drew the doll just freely, but when she was colored, she looked just like Esther!

Drawing a paper doll. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I played with her proportions so that she has overly long legs. That way I could make the dress more imaginative. The hem was cut from one of the watercolor papers. I couldn’t help playing with her right away, trying wings on her, filling the teacup with herbs from Sanditon. The wings and the teacup are from my fun class Magical Inkdom.

Drawing a paper doll and playing with hand-drawn pieces. Inspired by Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Her hat is also a collage piece cut from watercolor papers.

Hand-drawn paper doll inspired by Esther Denham of Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Souvenirs from Sanditon!

Paper art inspired by the tv series Sanditon. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The Romance Continues

I am currently painting an oil painting that looks quite romantic already.

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

My vision is to make it the third in the series after Icebreaker and Torchbearer – and put it in the middle of them.

Two watercolor paintings of Paivi Eerola, an artist from Finland.

One Source of Inspiration – Many Interpretations

If you have been following my blog, you know that some of my projects are fine art, others more illustrational, and there can be a bit crafty things too. This blog post demonstrates well how the inspiration can be the same, but the interpretation is different. For me, the wide range of projects is a way to stay inspired and creative, and I hope that you have tolerance for all of them. I don’t believe in getting too serious or not getting serious at all. The humorous side of art allows us to get playful, and the playfulness feeds our ability to express the deeper side of our inspiration.

Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Esther can be the person who handed me a crafty gift box, or an innocent paper doll, or a mysterious flower in a painting that took tens of hours to create. The key to your artistic style is less in the looks and more in the inspiration. For me, it’s often old-fashioned romances, like Sanditon.

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– Paint watercolor fantasies – Sign up for Magical Forest!
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Doodler’s Sampler Step by Step

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

I have always loved antique embroidery, and it inspires my art too. This week, I invite you to treat your pen as a needle and doodle the look of the precious hand-stitched fabric. My drawing – I call this Doodler’s Sampler – is 9 by 12 inches but you can make a smaller or bigger piece with these instructions. The best paper for this is Bristol paper. It’s smooth and nice to color with watercolors.

Step 1 – Draw a Grid

Because we aim for ornamental stiffness, a grid helps to place the elements. Use a pencil so that you can erase the lines before coloring. Start by outlining a space for a frame. Then divide the rest of the paper so that they help to place the main elements.

Making a symmetrical drawing with the help of a grid. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted my Doodler’s Sampler to be symmetrical, so I drew a vertical centerline, and then divided the two halves into three parts. Another idea that I had was to have a vase of flowers. So I drew horizontal lines that mark each third, and the lowest third is reserved for the vase.

Step 2 – Sketch the Structure

Old samplers are filled with decorations but at the beginning, it’s enough to sketch the places for the biggest elements and their shapes.

Making a symmetrical drawing with the help of a grid. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted to have something rectangular on the top corners, the vase on the bottom, plant-like organic shapes coming out of the vase, and then an angular jewel-like thing on the top of the ornament.

Step 3 – Doodle and Decorate

Pick a thin-tipped drawing pen, that has permanent ink, and start doodling! Make more shapes and fill them with circles, rectangles, flowers, hearts, anything you can think of!

Drawing ornaments for a doodler's sampler. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My pen is Copic Multiliner, tip size 0.05. I add shadows to my doodles so that they don’t just outline the shapes but there are darker parts too.

Doodling with Copic Multiliner. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I make the decorative border simpler so that it doesn’t take the power away from the centerpiece. Trembling lines look more decorative than straight ones.

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Here’s my Doodler’s Sampler after Step 3, ready for coloring.

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Step 4 – Color the Background

You can use any supplies for coloring, but in my opinion, the softness of watercolors complements the sharp black lines best. Start the coloring by adding some color to the background.

Doodler's Sampler in progress. See the step by step instructions!

I use very little pigment and many tones so that the background looks like old antique linen.

Step 5 – Color the Doodles

Pick one main color for the sampler. My choice is cool carmine red. When coloring, add more decorations like dots and other decorative shapes. You can also color around a shape instead of inside the shape.

Doodler's Sampler in progress. See the step by step instructions!

Pick slightly different tones for the frame. I use warmer red and a little bit of orange.

Coloring a black and white drawing. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When you have colored the sampler with a very narrow color scheme, make it more lively with some new tones.

Watercolors and doodling. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I added blue and yellow, but very sparingly.

Coloring the doodles with watercolors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

You can also highlight the main elements by making the darkest areas pitch black.

Coloring the doodles with watercolors. Doodler's sampler by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here are the black and white version and the colored version side by side. Click the image to see it bigger!

Doodler's Sampler, a drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See the step by step instructions!

Doodler’s Sampler – For the Love of Flowers and Hand-Stitching

Henri Matisse has said: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things”. I think that to me, it goes like this: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the similarities between things.” So here’s for the love of flowers and hand-stitching!

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Expressive Watercolor Card – Free Video Tutorial

Expressive watercolor card - free video tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

This week I have a video tutorial for you. We’ll paint an expressive watercolor card that connects several artistic approaches together.

Fine Art, Illustration, or Design?

Visual art is often divided into categories like fine art, illustration, and design. I am not a one-category artist, but interested in all of them. I need to do fine art to let go and feel free. Illustrating connects me with the outside world and other people. And I have started creating surface designs again because simplifying is a game that keeps fascinating me, and I love to develop products.

This week, let’s create a card – you could also say “a product.” It has a clear structure, so “a design,” but it can also be an illustration with a message. My card is about a house filled with plants, and I think I am illustrating my home. Visitors sometimes comment: “Wow, you have a lot of houseplants!” Almost every room in our house has plants, and their welfare constantly worries us, especially during winter when there’s less daylight.

Home with house plants

But this card is not an illustration at all when thinking about how it started. The way it’s created makes it fine art. I painted freely and didn’t have any pre-defined images or ideas for it. However, I had a method that can produce many kinds of images. So, the method gives practical guidelines for painting, but the result can be different each time.

Expressive watercolor card - free video tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

Expressive Watercolor Card – Paint With Me!

Watch the video and start painting!

In the video, I use the negative painting technique a lot. Even if you can use any technique that suits you, negative painting is the best technique when you want to make lines and shapes more elegant and the painting more finished. Dive deeper into this wonderful painting technique in the class Magical Forest.

Magical Forest – Dive Deeper into Expressive Watercolor Painting

Magical Forest, an online class about expressive watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Learn essential watercolor techniques like negative painting and layering, and express with light! In Magical Forest, we paint magical nature sceneries with flowers, trees, water, and fantasy.

Hop along! The class ends as late as at the end of April, and you will get the published lessons right after the registration. >> Sign up here!

The Power of Boredom

When I was a child, my most prevalent feeling was boredom. It felt like childhood was a long wait for things to happen, life to start. I was at the mercy of others and dreamed of the time when I could do it all by myself.

Moments of boredom are necessary for creativity. Digital collage made of hand-drawn and hand-painted elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

At that time, in the 1970s, there was no iPad to keep me company. Instead, I often grabbed the only picture book from the shelf where my parents kept their books. It was a softcover book about old paintings. I was staring at Monet and Manet while my mother cooked us dinner. The book wasn’t big, and the images were small. But this way, culture was introduced to me at a young age. Having this one book on the shelf, my parents unknowingly affected my life’s journey.

I was browsing the book in a colorful living room.

It had yellow, orange and red textiles and a grey sofa. Later, the colors were changed to warm green, and brown. It was all fine before my mother bought greyish mint green curtains. She was exhilarated about the color and kept talking about how well mint green fitted with the rest of the decoration. I, in turn, was in shock – cool green doesn’t fit with the warm tones! Every time I was in that room, the curtains made me feel uncomfortable. I waited for the day to pick my own palette!

Enjoying colors. Digital art made of handpainted and handdrawn elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My sisters were living in a red room. It also had white, so it was quite cheery, but I didn’t like the colors. Even the table had a red frame, and it bothered me quite a bit. When my sisters moved away, and the room became mine, my parents traveled to the nearest big town Joensuu to buy new wallpaper. And when they came back, surprisingly, my father, who never had anything to say about the colors, had chosen little yellow roses! “Aww … everything has to be changed to yellow now!” I cried. My mother agreed. They bought curtains that had yellow flowers, a yellow clock, a carpet that had yellow and brown, and sunny yellow bedcovers for the two beds that the room still had. 

Back to childhood. Watercolor painting and a photo of a clock. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and parakeet.
I still have that clock!

I was thinking about these colors all the time.

Did everything match? What I liked and what I didn’t like? I assumed that all people were similar, contemplating their color choices, walking around their homes, thinking about the tint of the curtains.

Digital art made from handpainted and handdrawn elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My first art book got abandoned when I started using the local library. It had huge books filled with master paintings. For years, I sat in the library and waited for my life to begin. I admired the colors, and Picasso and Matisse became my favorites.

Boredom increases creativity. Digital art that uses hand-painted elements. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

At a young age, I knew that green is not only green. It could be muddy green or mint green or something between. And when I was accepted in the local icon-painting group, I also learned that there can be a strictly defined range of tones. It was so satisfying when my teacher told me that I had produced not only an acceptable but beautiful blue for the background. We all used the same amount of the same pigments, and still, every one of us had a slightly different blue. Amazing!

Digital art from hand-painted elements by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about how her childhood affected her art!

When walking to my home from a group session held at the cellar of the nearest church, I looked at the dark starry sky and admired its deep shade against the white snow. The number of colors that I was able to see was growing all the time.

Illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

All this seemed insignificant back then.

I was just filling the moments of boredom while waiting for my life to begin. And then, finally, I grew up, moved away, went to study, met my future husband, got a dog and a good job, built a career, bought a house. 

Paivi Eerola and her art.

But when I am creating, these events feel less important. Instead, I want to get back to those childhood years trying to remember every single dull moment and detail, including the tone of my yellow bedroom. I am dependable on that boredom. It defines me as an artist. Everything genuine and sincere in my art can be connected with my childhood, with the age of boredom.

Leaf Chapel, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

Does your childhood show in your art? Do you aim for the images that you see other people create, or are you geared to finding your own? This is one of the carrying themes in Lesson 2 of Magical Forest, starting on February 1st.

Hop along! The class ends at the end of April, and you will get Lesson 1 right after the registration. >> Sign up here!

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