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Peony and Parakeet

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!

16 thoughts on “The Power of Boredom

  1. I love this story about your youth and development. Now I am thinking about my own history with color . I will post something in class!

  2. Your paintings and your words are magical! How amazing that you felt colour so deeply when you were young, and can still articulate the feelings you had then. Your paintings also speak of your continuing love of, and instincts about, colour.
    I admire your work so much and often have one of your paintings close by when I play with my watercolours in the hopes I can one day, perhaps, produce a background like yours.
    Jakki

  3. I always see colour first then shape then if possible touch… As a child I was always given red clothing and my sister blue. She was fair and I dark. I love colour but also appreciate black and white as my father insisted on black and white photos which are more difficult to compose. I so enjoy your paintings there is so much to explore . It is hard to explain but some give me the most peculiar feeling of having been “ in them” at some point in my life. I must experiment more !

  4. Boredom in childhood can lead to discovering that one enjoys being by oneself and all the possibilities available. Much of who we become as adults comes from our childhood experiences. I would get cozy in the cubbyhole behind my bed reading with a flashlight. Wonderful memories.

  5. Wonderful blog post! I can particularly relate to both the boredom and the yellow. Yellow was always my first choice for everything until, at the age of twelve, purple became beautiful. It had always looked like a bruise or a grape popsicle until then. Now, at almost fifty, I have gone back to yellow. It’s joyful, the color of light. And purple is the perfect complement.

  6. I firmly believe that boredom is a source for creativity. Unfortunately, television has taken away a lot of children’s down time. Nature, not color has always been my inspiration.

    1. I agree with what you said about television. I was 7 when we got one but back then, there were not so many tv shows or movies to watch. It was fortunate to be born at that time but also, be alive now when the internet has come. These are so interesting times in human history!

  7. I love this story of how your boredom became linked to noticing color and art. I think your artwork is so playful and expresses your childhood sense of exploration.
    In one of the meditation classes I study they have a belief that everything comes with it’s paired opposite. I wonder if boredom and creativity are these paired opposites that co-exist and that boredom points us to creativity.

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