Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Learning from Artistic Influences – Answering a Question

This week, I have a letter for you who want more from your art. Success looks different in different stages, but wherever you are in the artist’s journey, intuition says that moving forward will be tedious. So, it’s tempting to find a shortcut.

Paivi Eerola and her watercolor art. Read more about Paivi's artistic influences and find what you can learn from them.
In 2019, I painted a lot in watercolor and felt I had found my thing. But the more I thought about it, I started doubting that watercolors did not support my new goals. It wasn’t a nice revelation, and it took about a year to swallow.

Last week, I got a message from a reader asking if I could recommend one or two artists that have influenced your work. “Who, in your opinion, is someone a new artist must learn about?” she wrote.

Here’s my answer to the message with some additional explanations and images.

Listing Artistic Influences

There are a lot of things that have influenced my work, starting from the slow and long summer days as a child in Nothern Karelia, browsing art history books in a local library, studying computer engineering and learning conceptual thinking, studying industrial design and learning the basics of visual communication through shapes, reading Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, learning old master techniques first in a couple of courses, then on my own, etc.

Two artists that I have admired in the past few years have been Peter Paul Rubens, a Baroque painter, and Wassily Kandinsky, an abstract art pioneer.

(These artists have inspired me to teach as well. In the last section of Floral Fantasies, you learn old master’s techniques, and in Floral Freedom, you learn abstract art through Kandinsky’s and Klee’s ideas.)

Paul Peter Rubens' painting in Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.
A snapshot of Paul Peter Rubens’ painting “Consequences of War” at Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy. I think this is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. I was mesmerized when I saw it, and I have a copy of it in the lid of the box where I store my paints.
Read more about my visit to Palazzo Pitti in 2017!

However, these may not be the answers you want to hear. The answer that is most beneficial for you is to ask yourself what’s the root reason for the question.

Questioning Your Direction

When I was searching for an answer to that question about ten years ago, I wanted to find a direction that would take me to the art world. I knew my skills weren’t spectacular, so I wanted to find someone successful who creates art that is simple enough. But then I realized that my taste was a way further, and the only admiration I had for those artists was in their courage to come up and the success as far as I was then able to define it.

Hand-drawn paper collage. Made by Paivi Eerola in 2012.
In 2012, I was eager to see if I could find my path by exploring and developing my hand-drawn line. The course Inspirational Drawing was born a few years later. Here’s the link to the second edition Inspirational Drawing 2.0.

I believe in intuition, and based on that, I assume that you are at the intersection, wondering whether to start going further forward: becoming braver to share your work, build stronger technical skills, and move to the next level in what influences your art and how.

In the next level, the answers become more complicated and multi-faceted. You should learn more about art history and all kinds of contemporary art, go to art museums and galleries, and stop to think not only on the level of “I like that red” but on a more conceptual level: “what does that red represent and how could that effect be created in other ways too?”

Expanding Knowledge and Inspiration for Art

As an artist, you belong to the chain of creative generations, and your roots are long and broad.

An artist Paivi Eerola from Finland painting in her studio. Read more about her artistic influences.
I have just started a new series of oil paintings where I combine art history, fantasy, and Finnish landscapes.

You might also be in a spot where you need to start looking for inspiration outside art, expand into designing, illustration, architecture, and further: nature, culture, and whatever fields are close to you. Art happens when things collide. The nature of art is to expand, not narrow down.

My letter ends here, but how would you have answered the question? Leave a comment!

In the Mood of Albert Edelfelt

This week, I present you a Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt and talk about my upcoming exhibition.

This month, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö – Albert Edelfelt’s foundation contacted me. They invited me to participate in a group exhibition in their villa starting in August. I went to sign the contract this week.

Päivi Eerola & Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Me and Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen from Albert Edelfelt’s foundation

This is very happy news! If you have read my blog for some time, you know I love art history. Even if I follow contemporary art actively, old paintings inspire me more. Many of the techniques that I use for my paintings are old, even if the expression is abstract or half-abstract. So, one of my secret dreams has been to display my paintings with historical ones.

Albert Edelfelt

Albert Edelfelt (1854 – 1905) was one of the most famous Finnish painters. He painted portraits and landscapes and, in my opinion, was exceptionally skillful in sceneries that had a group of people. He also made illustrations, studied and worked in Paris, and lived in Haikko, Finland, where his foundation is also located.

Albert Edelfelt sketching
Albert Edelfelt, photographed by Pietinen, 1905

Here’s a better picture of the painting “Onkiva ukko” – a guy fishing – that you can see in the background of the first photo, taken in Villa Albert of Albert Edelfelt’s foundation.

Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva Ukko, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva ukko, oil on canvas, 1896

One of Albert Edelfelts most famous paintings, especially in France, is the portrait of Louis Pasteur. And many of his female portraits are so romantic, look at this one, for example!

Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880
Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880

And look how careless the strokes are here, still expressing the essential so skillfully!

Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882
Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882

But Albert Edelfelt didn’t only paint young beauties. See this one:

Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887
Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887

Browse more here: a big collection of Albert Edelfelt’s paintings

Last year, there was Albert Edelfelt’s big exhibition in France, and it’s now in Göteborg, Sweden, then later in May in Finland.

Villa Albert and The Haikko Area

Edelfelt’s studio is still up. It’s a small wooden cottage and a popular sight. Villa Albert is a new building in the same courtyard. It has a gallery space and a gift shop.

Villa Albert, Haikko, Porvoo
Villa Albert, gift shop, art gallery, Haikko, Porvoo, Finland
Inside Villa Albert, a view of the gift shop

The Haikko area is beautiful. The sea is right there, and a beautiful manor hotel, Haikon kartano, is only a walk away.

The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt's art studio in January 2023
The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt’s art studio in January 2023

This area is very different in summer, much more welcoming than in the picture that I took this week. Here’s Albert Edelfelt’s painting of his villa in Haikko, currently privately owned but still up and located near the studio.

Albert Edelfelt, The Artist's Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.
Albert Edelfelt, The Artist’s Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.

It takes only 15 minutes to drive to an atmospheric old town Porvoo, which is also a very popular tourist attraction.

Entering Porvoo old town
Entering Porvoo, the old town has a lot of wooden buildings

Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt

I will be painting a new series for the exhibition called “Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa” – Artists in the mood of Edelfelt. Even if Albert Edelfelt was a portrait painter, my intention is not to paint portraits but plants. I am excited to pick inspiration from his work, though!

The exhibition will have four other artists too: another painter Kristina Elo, photographers Maarit Lehto and Niclas Warius, and a sculptor, Kaj Lindgård. I am very happy to be displayed with these wonderful artists.

Aug 8 to Oct 10, Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa (Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt), Villa Albert, Haikkoo, Porvoo.

Coming Up in This Blog

This spring, you will see me painting for the exhibition, and I will also share some details of Albert Edelfelt’s life. Between those, I will be posting more playful posts – drawings and journal pages – so, as usual, art history, my oil paintings, and more illustrative work will alternate in this blog. I hope you find all this very inspiring.

3D Paper Collage of Hand-Drawn Art

This week, let’s play with hand-drawn paper pieces and create 3D collage art.

3D paper collage by Paivi Eerola

My example is eight by eight inches (about 20 x 20 cm), so fairly small, but it has quite a lot of details. I used foam tape to add dimension to it, and the result is lovely. It brings embroidery or applique to my mind.

3D effects with foam tape. A closeup of hand-drawn collage art.

The idea of using foam tape between the layers is familiar to many from card-making, but I think the result is much more original when you use your own hand-drawn art.

Boxes of Joy – Shops Made by You for You

For years, I have been inspired by the idea of creating my own little paper shop. This shop is not about selling stuff for others but creative play where you are both a shop owner and its best customer. This picture is from 2016, when my shops were pretty simple and contained mostly paper sheets.

Playing with paper.
See the blog post from 2016: Painterly Collage in Rut Bryk’s style

But the longer I have been in business, the more demanding my customer has got. I have got requests from myself to draw doodles, embroidery imitations, animals, magical stuff, flowers, dolls, and the little shops that I call boxes of joy have increased year by year and course by course.

Working with hand-drawn paper pieces to create 3D paper collage.

Sometimes the things I have drawn feel too precious to put to use. For example, the roses that I made for Doll World.

Hand-drawn rose for collage art.

But the older the pieces get, the more I try to use them. And if something doesn’t “sell,” I can recolor it or add something to it so that I – my best customer – feel tempted to “buy” it.

Drawing on collage art.

I like this process of adding more to something that’s pretty full already!

Thick Paper Love

One of my favorite papers is thick and smooth watercolor paper. It is suitable for both painting and drawing, but I sometimes avoid it because the collage gets so bulky. But for 3D effects, thick paper is perfect. It’s sturdy and goes very well with foam tape. Another paper that I like is Bristol paper. It’s not so thick but very smooth and sturdy enough for 3D.

Making of a 3D paper collage. Hand-drawn pieces, scissors, foam tape.

The background of this 3D paper collage is hand-painted watercolor paper. The elements are hand-drawn on watercolor paper or Bristol paper mostly.

Colored Pencils for 3D Paper Collage

Back in 2016, I used acrylic paints a lot. But nowadays, they feel less tempting. Not only because they are messier than colored pencils or watercolors but also because they are too similar to oil paints that I use for canvas paintings. I want to separate play from the pieces that I sell.

Collage art in progress.

With play, I also want to grow my drawing skills. Colored pencils are great for that. They also go well together with watercolors. I have had a break with watercolors, but I hope to use them more this year.

3D paper collage of hand-drawn elements.

I like the many tones of green in this piece! I have colored many white parts with green to integrate the pieces better with the background.

Artist’s Life – Upcoming Projects

My playing time will get more limited soon because I will start a new series of oil paintings. I have been invited to a wonderful art history-related group exhibition that begins in August, and there is a smaller fantasy-related show in April. I will tell you more about these in the upcoming posts.

This spring is also full of art in other ways. I enjoy seeing all the lovely dolls from the participants of Doll World and other classes in my Bloom and Fly community. I hope to help you there as much as I can throughout the year. I am also participating in a Finnish artist coaching program to get to know the practices of the fine art world better. You have enabled my growth, and I hope that my growth will also benefit you. I hope that 2023 will be a good year of art for both of us.

The Joy of Drawing Paper Dolls

This week is about drawing paper dolls. At the same time, we celebrate the social nature of hand-drawn paper dolls.

For an artist, the difference between a doll and a human is that the doll opens the door to a fantasy. Thus, drawing paper dolls is very different from painting portraits. But if I have to pick from the two, I would say that paper dolls make you more of an artist.

Paper doll as a nature's spirit. A digital collage of hand-drawn art. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
A digital collage of hand-drawn art.

Compared to a human, only a doll can be a creature of the imagination – for example, a plant and a spirit at the same time.

Dream Wardrobe

Only a doll can have a wardrobe where every piece is organized.

Drawing paper dolls. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Only a doll can get out of the box and go where ever the imagination takes her.

Drawing paper dolls and their clothing.

Only a doll can wear a butterfly as a wig and rose leaves as a bodice.

Flower fairies and beyond. Drawing paper dolls with colored pencils.

To be a fashion designer for a doll is the play we can’t resist.

Unspoken Secrets

Only a doll can hold the secrets that every artist has.

A hand-drawn paper doll.

Because isn’t it so that no matter how close we are, there are dreams that we can’t tell anybody? Dreams that would perhaps sound silly, too grand, or too selfish. Dreams that make you an artist.

True Friends

Only for a doll a true friend is easy to find.

Drawing paper dolls and their world.

With paper dolls, I examine the social aspect of an artist’s life – how we can feel less lonely when creating and how the result can be a bridge between all the art that we have created. And when we give or share a picture of a doll, it also invites other people to play and connect with themselves and others.

Doll World – Drawing Paper Dolls

Come to draw adorable dolls and their dresses with me!

Doll World - an online art class for drawing paper dolls and their clothing.

Doll World lasts from January to May. When you sign up, you will get the published lesson right away. >> Sign up Now!

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