This week, I have a new free video for you, inspiration from my drawing classes, and there’s also an extended Black Friday Sale going on! Exciting!
Extended Black Friday Sale – Shop Here!
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The sale ends on Nov 29, midnight PST.
Intuitive Coloring Explained – Watch the Video!
This video is an excerpt of the live speech that I gave for my art community Bloom and Fly this month. It introduces a fresh way to think about drawing and coloring. Lots of art-making inspiration is packed into this 6-minute video!
The longer I draw, the more things come together. Not only so that I find more inspiration from the individual previous pieces, but also so that they describe a world that’s lively and ever-expanding. I also feel that my classes are like doorways to building a world of your own.
In Intuitive Coloring, we travel from one meadow to another lesson by lesson and play on the way.
In Animal Inkdom, we start with little creatures and the animals get bigger lesson by lesson.
Insects and butterflies are simple to draw, but decoration makes them look fantastic!
Animal Inkdom is one of my most popular classes, maybe because it’s so playful! I had to edit out some of the laughs and smiles because I had so much fun drawing these that it would be a bit disturbing! And after Animal Inkdom, I couldn’t stop, but made an independent sequel – Magical Inkdom!
Art is a journey, so combining previous work with the new one, has often made me see new possibilities.
Inspirational Drawing is based on doodling and creating meshes from lines, but also on picking inspiration from images. I still collect inspirational images and use them indirectly in this way.
All Classes Are 25% OFF!
Now is the time to get the classes you have been thinking about! >> Shop Here!
Our back garden is a mall for birds. We get to see many species and, if lucky, some butterflies too. I became interested in birds in the early 90s when I shared an apartment with a friend who had budgies and a cockatiel. Living with the birds made me notice them outside too. And what a great ability they have – flying!
“Free like a bird,” they say, and yes, flying and freedom do belong together. But when a blue tit enters a small bond under our dining room window, I see worry. Worry if he manages to clean himself before my beagles run out of the door or before bigger birds take their turn. His freedom is limited like anyone’s in this world. Even a dove couple who I jokingly call “the owners of the spa” are frightened by their surroundings. Last summer, a dove was killed near our home, maybe by a fox, and it took some time for the couple to reappear.
Flocks, couples – we are born not only to be free but also dependent on each other. When we have each other, we are safer than alone.
But birds have taught me that the longing for freedom is also about safety. The blue tit feels safe enough to wash on the ground because he is free to take off. Insignificant dots, that’s what we all are to him. And still, he also enjoys that we do exist – we who keep the bond clean and pretty.
Intuitive Version of 17th Century Floral Still Life
I wanted this painting to be my version of 17th century still lives. They had black backgrounds and were filled with things that had hidden meanings.
Nowadays, we can be freer and let the colors and shapes hit straight to our souls. We have the artistic and spiritual freedom to create intuitively and also, feel safe enough to open our inner world to others.
Freedom – What are your thoughts?Does it show in your art?
Recently I have thought about Wassily Kandinsky so much that he has become an imaginary character in my mind. He seems to enjoy this life after death, and I like him hanging around when I paint. This time it led to emotional catharsis – a very powerful experience. Here’s the story!
“Because expressing light is impossible without painting the darkness, I have decided to explore spirituality’s ultimate opposites as well. Like insolence, materialism, and money.”
“Let’s do it!” Wassily immediately exclaimed with his Russian accent. “Let’s paint what money looks like! Do you like money, Paivi?”
The question alone was vulgar and intrusive, and the whole subject made me shiver. “What’s the problem? Haven’t you ever painted the dark side?” Wassily asked and looked confused and a bit more gentle too.
Well, I hadn’t. Not in this scale, anyway. The idea of spending the next few weeks with blacks and bloody reds felt heavy. In my life, there have been times when I had liked money too much, for example, when I sold IT solutions to big organizations. Secretly, it felt almost as good as making art. Back then, I bought lots of art supplies, but the time for using them was much more limited. Too limited.
“Wassily,” I said, “money almost took me away from creating, so how can I create a painting about it?” But Wassily is a funny guy. He doesn’t answer questions that he wants me to answer through creating. Then he just stares at me silently like a watchdog, preventing the escape from the studio.
So I can do nothing but start.
From a Pet to a Beast
While filling the blank canvas, I tried to comfort myself by thinking about how money can be a good thing too, enabling grand and beautiful things.
“I will paint all the luxury,” I said to Wassily and picked Indian Yellow, the color of gold.
It all went fine for a long time. The painting was like a lion cub, cute and pretty at a young age, a true pet.
But then slowly, the colors got stronger, and shapes began to stretch in all directions.
The pet had become a beast, and I couldn’t control it anymore.
Emotional Catharsis – Letting Go of Control
Just before I was about to give up the fight, Wassily stepped towards and said: “What was it like as a teenager before you chose money” He was pointing me with a brush that had Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red. The colors that I used so often back then.
“Not now, Wassily, I can’t be weak now. I have this beast to handle”, I gulped, pointing towards the painting. But he grabbed my hand and, unlike his usual self, brutally fed it to the growing lion. The pain took over, the colors splashed uncontrollably, and for a short time, moments of my life ran through me when the lion ate me bit by bit. I was a teenager trying to find her painting style and become an artist. A young adult losing her parents and, as a result, counting pennies.
But then, just before the last ray of light burned out, I heard Wassily’s demanding voice: “You are not dead yet. Open your eyes and finish the painting.”
Days went by, and I visited the painting now and then like it would be a rare animal in a cage. Something had happened, but what? Wassily got frustrated: “Can’t you see it? It’s vanitas!”
Vanitas – Emotional Catharsis Explained
Vanitas paintings are still lives that express the inevitability of death in symbols. They were in fashion in the Netherlands in the early 17th century, but they have inspired artists later too.
Suddenly, my lion shrank to only a skull, and there were bubbles, smoke, candles, musical instruments, playing cards, flowers, a bowl … all kinds of historical symbols for the futility of pleasure and certainty of death. Now finishing was easy. I just made the objects a little more distinct.
Here’s the closeup of the lion skull.
Playing cards are flying in the air.
Here’s the crown, thrown in the mud.
If you look carefully, you can also find lots of other symbols too. For example, a red bowl in the middle broken by icy water. And the yellow bottom expresses musical instruments and their sounds.
My favorite part is what the imaginary Wassily painted:
“This is how money looks like,” said Wassily in his teaching voice. “Don’t feel pity or fear about it anymore. Now you are free to paint whatever you want.”
– “I want to paint a couple of big floral still lives inspired by the 17th-century Dutch masters!” The relief and enthusiasm filled my mind.
– “Whatever,” yawned Wassily. Clearly, it would not have been his choice, but I hope he’ll keep sticking around anyway.
Have you ever experienced emotional catharsis through art-making? So, feeling purified after going through the climax of negative emotions? Do you always create for beauty or do you like to step to the other side too?
Here’s what we will create: flowers that have joyfully gathered together and reach towards the light. No references, imagination only!
I made the drawing in my colored pencil journal and used colored pencils only. But these instructions can be easily applied to other mediums too.
Step 1 – Flowery Blobs
Pick a pencil of any color and draw blobs.
More than perfecting each flowery blob, make sure that the blobs are: a) not similar in size – draw small, medium, and big blobs! b) not separate – draw some only partly so that they go on the back of others! c) not fully on the paper – draw some near the edges so that they are only partly visible! d) not spread too evenly – leave some space too, but don’t place it in the middle!
This way, you set the foundation for joyful flowers so that you express diversity (a), togetherness (b), continuity (c), and freedom (d).
Step 2 – From a Blob to a Flower or a Leaf
Pick flowery colors and a black pencil for the background. Focus on the area in the low middle and work towards either side of the paper.
With black, color notches on the blobs so that they begin to look like flowers. With bright and flowery colors, color some random shapes on the blobs. Color a center for the blob to make it look more like a flower.
All the blobs don’t need the center; they can be leaves. You can also draw veins on them. Add many colors so that the leaves and flowers look lively. Layer colors to get a variety of tones.
Step 3 – Background
Start with the black background, but gradually change to lighter tones. Leave a pitch-black area small, and add layers of other colors, like blue, on the top of the black, then gradually let the different colors take over. Leave a blank area too. Color softly and gently so that every layer adds intensity to the drawing.
One of the joys of coloring is to relax and not rush at all. Stay in a small area and work with a few flowers only (Step 1) before feeling confident enough to expand the working area and focus more on the background.
Step 3 – Setting the Colors for Joyful Flowers
You can mark the colors for each flower and leaf by coloring them carelessly first.
When some parts are more finished than others, there’s both joy of looking and joy of coloring!
Step 4 – Changing Most Whites to Pastels
I assume that you now have white everywhere: between the strokes, near the edges, in the flowers, and in many places on the background. But let’s change that! Leave only one area in the background that’s pure white and color over other blank parts.
Add more color on the areas where careless coloring has left white stripes, and change the larger white areas to pastel colors. All this makes the image more joyful because the joy is in the nuances, not in the big changes.
Step 5 – The Joy of Cohesion
One of the greatest joys in art-making is to feel togetherness. So more than trying to achieve a particular style, I make changes to the image so that it feels like a place where I belong. I also want my flowers and leaves to look happy, but not so that I force them to smile by throwing “happy colors” but imagining that everyone has a friend in the scenery: someone to trust and lean on.
I also make some flowers look like me: who need to feel free to bloom. So they are less defined and almost disappear into the light, but their spirit still looks strong. So, the less realistic a flower is, the more room there’s for the expression.
At some point in art-making, I begin to question if other people will like the image. It’s comforting to know that if we manage to create the feeling of effortless belonging, the image will naturally resonate more widely. The joy of cohesion also allows something to go wrong and become different than we expected. If we make every element feel accepted and welcomed, joy will naturally appear.
I a flower or a leaf looks lonely, add a stem that connects it with others. Long lines can look commanding and stiffen the image, so erase a glimpse of a stem only. Stems also look more natural if they don’t start right from the flower but appear and disappear as softly as possible. Stems can also go across each other and form a connecting mesh.
When one flower leads to another, and the eye always finds a clue about where to look next, cohesion is present.
More Inspiration for Joyful Flowers
I have got so many ideas from flowers that even when I don’t create them, my visual language is very flowery.
This week, I started two big oil paintings. These are 120 x 100 cm – it’s the biggest size that I have ever painted!
My first inspiration source for these is floral still lives from the 17th century. But these are just beginnings, and let’s see how they will progress in the upcoming weeks.
My little studio has been full of projects this week and will continue to be so!
I hope this blog post inspires you to create joyful flowers – big or small, pencils or paints!