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Embracing Artistic Origin – How to Make Images That Feel Genuine

Aquanora, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Finnish watercolorist. Read how she has become to embrace her artistic origin.

Here’s my recent watercolor painting called Aquanora (or “Akvanoora” if you say it in Finnish). I have always been passionate about art but never loved my paintings as much as I do now when I have been painting these wood spirits in watercolors (see this post and this one too).

I hope that this week’s post makes you ponder about your artistic origin. I claim that if you don’t recognize the origin when looking at your art, you don’t feel the connection with the images either.

My Cold and White Artistic Origin

The sad fact is that when I don’t paint, my life in Finland is about walking dogs and knitting. And most of the time, I dream about Europe’s glorious museums and palaces. Winters in Finland can be rough, and Stella and I don’t like them.

Finland in winter.

As you see from the photo, taken in winter a couple of years ago, Finland’s color is white. Not only winters are white, but Finnish people decorate their homes with white furniture. So even when it’s green and warm in summer, Finns stay cold in their white boxes. My home is considered very colorful, especially the bright yellow corridor gets glances. But recently, I have started to accept the Finn in me. I have come to love fresh white watercolor paper, filled with possibilities.

A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With watercolors, white has become my friend. Painting is like having a white fairy holding my hand, tightly at first, and then little by little she releases her grip.

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

Even if I would like to be the painter of the Renaissance palazzos, I am a Finn walking the dogs in bad weather, knowing the core of whiteness instead of gold.

Artistic Origin Can Be Opposite to Inspiration

We are often inspired by things that are new and exotic. Our origin can feel so common that it’s barely recognizable. It’s what we see and breathe every day and often, it’s what we want to escape when we create art. But the more I have created, I have started to think otherwise. Because I live observing moss and other nature’s wonders more than marble floors, maybe I should paint more of that greenness too.

Stone covered with moss.

Namely, when European nobility played minuets in the 17th century, Finnish savages were freezing and starving in the land of thousand lakes and forests. So we know our stones, mosses, and swamps – the language of our nature – better than musical notes or calligraphed letters.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read how she has come to accept her artistic origin.

When European priests and saints trooped on huge church halls, Finns believed in Tapio, the god of the forest. Even if old beliefs are only old stories anymore, maybe it’s no wonder that these little fairies of mine rise from nature sceneries.

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

I have always thought that my art should not be spiritual because I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t have any particular religious view myself, and because of that, I haven’t felt eligible to create spiritual art. But recently I have found it impossible to separate nature, spirituality, and imagination from each other. Nature can be our church, and for our imagination, there’s no conflict of dressing a wood spirit in a Renaissance outfit. By bringing the noble (inspiration), the wild (origin), and the playful (creativity) together, it can all fall into place. Art is about freedom after all.

How does your origin show in your art?
How could you deepen the connection?

A sketchbook page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Fairies and wood spirits. Read about giving more attention to your artistic origin.

Coming Up – New Watercolor Class!

My sketchbooks are full of ideas for the upcoming class. It will be about nature’s light, textures, and spirits. There are intentional drawing exercises with pencil and intuitive painting projects with watercolors. I am looking forward to being your guide in the woods of creativity and self-expression. The class will begin in January and the early-bird sale is soon on Black Friday weekend. So stay tuned!

10 thoughts on “Embracing Artistic Origin – How to Make Images That Feel Genuine

  1. I really love this post, Paivi! I have had much conflict in my artistic endeavors because I have always wanted to capture the spirit of whatever I paint/draw. I love this new direction your art is taking. Can’t wait for this new watercolor class. Thank you for following your inner guidance.

  2. In Ireland we believe in Leprechauns and fairies but it is a land steeped in religion so I can understand what you are saying.
    I consider myself a spiritual person but not religious and would love to be able to express my art with this spiritual element and bring in the “little people”.
    I love your work.

  3. Go on don’t hold back with your art. I’m sure you will offend someone, somewhere. At the end of the day that is their problem not yours!
    For me my art has wildness and colour, colour, colour! I have attended a few workshops recently with European tutors, with pale washy colour and tiny workings. Thankfully when I have been ignored…and they do because I must have some of me in what I am creating I am comfortable enough to think “Cest la Vie”
    Admire or not what you see but stay grounded by who you are.
    Having said that your email and then blog post is one of the few that I open and totally enjoy from first word to last. Your art resonates in this fierce Australian soul.

    1. Julie, thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s so wonderful to know that an artist on the other side of the world can relate to my stories!

  4. Lovely new direction, Paivi. I like that you are honoring your ancestral heritage. No worries about offending, at least not me…after all, art is from the heart…the spiritual heart. I think it is more authentic to look to our personal origins. Nice.

  5. Your writing and art are inspiring for me. I am looking forward to finding my artistic origins . I am wondering if my neighborhood in Central Texas, my 100+ year old roots in Utah, and also Sweden can show in my art. Very stimulating for me to think of these three locals reflecting in my art.

    1. Thanks, Wendy! You have an interesting combination of cultures and places in your background. You could start by thinking how they influenced to you as a child!

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