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 are having a party in our garden! “Who cleans this mess?”, my husband joked.
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.
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?
Roses always find their way to my drawings whether they are big or small.
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.
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!
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!
I have just finished this watercolor painting. It’s a continuum for this recent one:
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.
At the beginning of May, we got snow. We had just had a warm period but then it became really cold!
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.
It’s just magical when the old cherry tree blossoms in our new Japanese garden for the first time.
I only wish our tree would have pink flowers. But for a watercolor girl, everything is possible!
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.
I love to paint abstract shapes and then draw lines to make them flowers or filaments!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
To celebrate the upcoming class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, I have made a new free video. It is a tutorial for painting a layered floral watercolor painting. I love to paint this way – freely without reference photos and hope that you will enjoy this method too. It’s based on a negative painting technique where you paint more the areas around the flowers than the actual flowers.
Enjoyable Floral Watercolor – Watch the Video!
You only need a couple of brushes, watercolors, and watercolor paper. A spraying bottle is helpful also. Watch the video tutorial below!
More Floral Watercolor Projects
Here are some of the pieces from my floral watercolor series which I haven’t published in my blog before and which were showcased in the video. I link the title to my art shop where they are available with more descriptions. The first one is “Aamu – Morning”.