I have often written about using your own art for inspiration and combining many ideas into one piece. But this time I want to show that more in detail. With the video below, I invite you to my studio to browse art journals and sketchbooks and see how you can practice, create, and also play.
The Best Inspiration for Art – Watch the Video!
Come to Draw with Us!
Come to draw and decorate animals with us at Animal Inkdom! You will get the published lessons immediately after the registration, and you can start drawing right away. Sign up for Animal Inkdom!
This blog post is about breaking the rules when choosing what to create.
Let’s begin with this oil painting. Oil paintings are big projects for me, and I only finished two of them last year. The first was Temptation, and this is the second one, called Madonna of the Heart.
Following the Heart – Breaking the Rules
My Madonna is a small painting, only 18,5 x 23,5 cm, but it’s quite detailed. I first planned to make it fully abstract, but then got second thoughts.
As a child, I learned the basics of eastern-orthodox art by attending an icon painting group. I was taught many rules – what colors to choose, how to mix the right tones, how to build layers, etc. It was not just about learning the right techniques, but also obeying the long tradition. The repeating discussion in the group was the difference between right and wrong. There was very little room for creativity, and I loved it! I was about 10 years old and eager to learn new things. Work was challenging, and it was comforting to know that there’s one clear direction.
When painting the small canvas, I was tempted to travel back to my childhood, and participate in that small and safe group of icon painters again. But I also knew that it’s very wrong not to follow the rules. My supplies were wrong, my background was wrong, the whole idea was wrong. But it felt natural and tempting, so I made it.
Natural to You, Wrong to Some
Recently, I have found many creative blocks like this one. To paint an icon with oils on an abstract background is wrong to some, but it’s natural to me. I love painting intuitively, and the idea of an icon is the most beautiful that I know. Don’t we all need an image that offers consolation and reminds about kindness? To me, it has nothing to do with any specific religion. Everybody has a right to have a Madonna of the Heart.
While building the class Animal Inkdom, I have also filled my “boxes of joy” with hand-drawn collage pieces. Very soon after starting, I realized that the principle “natural to me, wrong to some” also applies to these small drawings.
Yes, I love to draw flowers, birds, butterflies, very innocent stuff. But there are also pieces that are quite odd like this one.
This hand-drawn ornament has two women, both dressed in old Byzantine clothing, and the lion. It has a handle so that it can be held like a sacred image. This small drawing is packed with stories about my childhood. I remember the conversations with my mother, already passed away. I remember my idol, Joy Adamson, and her lion Elsa. I remember my love for blue color. Seeing all that together makes me happy.
I also love to play with the ornament by adding more handdrawn elements around it!
Breaking the Rules Between Serious and Playful
So it happened that a carefully painted oil painting and this little ornament became equal. Of course, not equal in monetary value, but equal in the kind of satisfaction I get from them. And it also feels that this world that I am building is surprisingly inclusive, both humorous and deep. All I need to do is to make what’s natural to me, even if it would look wrong to some.
We often miss this natural zone because we are so focused on what makes sense to others. When choosing what to create, we work with pre-defined labels like “portraits” or “art journal pages” or “abstracts.” We do what seems to be right for the genre, rather than step into the world where someone might not get it, or in the worst case, might get offended. Still, the freedom in art can’t exist without the freedom of imagination.
Come to Play and Draw with Me!
So, I dare to suggest: play with your art! Cross the boundaries between “right” and “wrong”! Follow the general rules of aesthetics but brea the rules of subject matters.
I think that with Animal Inkdom, you can nail it. You will get practical tips and techniques, but there’s also humor and play, all flavored with the love for wildlife.
It’s still a good time to sign up for Animal Inkdom! The first one of the five modules is published, and you will get it right away after the registration.
Let’s keep on drawing, and never forget the playing part either!
The year 2018 was groundbreaking to me. I was able to include things that seemed separate from my art in my art and build a new foundation for it. It strengthened my visual voice and style, but also, it felt more holistic than just that. I would say that my artistic identity got updated.
As a former software engineer, I see it this way:
Peony and Parakeet 1.0 – intuitive circles and colorful patterns, 2012-2014 Peony and Parakeet 2.0 – from mixed media to fine art, 2015-2017 Peony and Parakeet 3.0 – fantasy illustrations, 2018 -?
About a year ago, I developed a process for setting artistic goals. I introduced it to my art community Bloom and Fly back then. It’s called Guiding Word, and it’s about choosing your word and then processing it through art journaling – drawing, painting, and writing.
My word for 2018 was “Depth”, and now when I look back, it was related to my old desire to create fine art. But the process of exploring depth was like the symbol of yin and yan. It started a journey towards the opposite word “Play.”
The process of choosing a word and exploring it through art-making had a huge impact on me, so I decided to share it openly. Watch the video to define your word and to explore it more in depth!
Guiding Word – Watch the Video!
My word for 2019 is “Play”. I am looking forward to increase fantasy and drama in my art, and I hope you follow the journey with me.
P.S. As you probably noticed already, this website and my artist website has been updated! There are still things to adjust and add, but feel free to browse the new look!
Here’s my newest watercolor painting called “Brave” (for sale in my art store!) I got an idea of using a horse to symbolize bravery that comes with finding your passion(s). Isn’t it a romantic thought to see the passion as a horse inside us, rising from the depth and blowing strength!
Past Passion for Horses
Recently, I have found a lot to be passionate about. Many of those things have been inspiring to me as a child. but I have let them go for tens of years. One of these things is horses. I used to play a lot with toy horses, and I was also addicted to taking care of my hobby-horse, an ugly plastic blue thing! Sadly, I rarely saw real horses and I haven’t ever had a horse as a companion.
Once my parents took me to a field where a small horse farm offered horse-riding for children. They lifted me on a big Finnish Horse that had no saddle. Someone walked the horse, and I tried to keep myself sitting straight even if the back of the horse was really slippery. I made it to the center of the field and then fell off. The field offered a soft ground, and the horse didn’t step on me. They offered me a horse with a saddle, and it was much more comfortable! That’s most of the practical experience I have about horses. But of course, my theoretical knowledge was much more vast. As a child, I had borrowed all the possible horse books from the library and stayed busy building stables or crocheting rugs for the toy horses.
Finding the Creative Play with Horses Again
It must be early teenage years when I got alienated from the subject. Since then, I had never had a desire to own a horse, to ride a horse, or to do anything with horses. Until I participated in Inktober, the monthly drawing challenge. While making this drawing, my love for horses was reawakened.
As adults, we easily ignore things that resonate with us but that don’t belong to our outer world. Even if we can draw and paint anything, we easily define ourselves with outer standards. If not having experience about real horses didn’t bother me as a child, it shouldn’t worry now either. I may not be a horsewoman in the outer world, but I can have a stable as big as I want in the inner world.
Creating Horse Art with Watercolors
I started the painting from the flowers and as usual, didn’t use any pencil sketch. It’s a bit risky way to create, but I love problem-solving and knowing exactly what to put and where is not always a practical solution for me. Here are some quick early stage pics! I used a reference loosely for the head of the horse.
I was painting happily but in the middle of the process, I was in trouble, not knowing how to finish the piece. When working with watercolors, it’s especially tempting to just stop so that the painting doesn’t end up too dark.
But here, I loved the idea and didn’t want to leave it looking unfinished and busy.
Planning in the Middle of the Project
I took a snapshot of the unfinished painting and made a plan in Photoshop. This is how I help my students all the time, and it’s a very handy skill to have!
The first image above is the starting point, and the next images are made in Photoshop. They demonstrate what changes should be made next. This time, I also followed the plan. But sometimes it happens, that I end up with a totally different solution but which would have never crossed my mind without the Photoshop play.
Late Night in the Studio
I like to paint so that I watch tv shows or video podcasts on my iPad at the same time. It can happen that I paint a romantic and profound piece and then watch a tv reality show that I can barely stand! Sometimes it feels like the worst the show, the better the painting becomes!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! What did you love as a child but that doesn’t show in your current creative life?