On this last day of the decade, I share some moments from my art studio in Finland. Watch the 1-minute video!
Many times when people look at art, they say admiringly: “How did the artist do that?” They assume that the artist intentionally painted every spot. But often, art is more about seeing what accidental spots to preserve rather than how to intentionally paint them. It’s the nature of art to explore the wild and uncontrollable side of life, and it’s the job of an artist to make it serve the expression.
During the past years, I have tried many art techniques, many approaches, but this the journey that’s for me – to produce and teach art that goes out of control at times, and that has unrealistic and abstract elements as well.
When forcing yourself to focus on a few things only, you will get bored and feel restricted. Rather than gaining more meaning for your art, you drift further away from what you are. You are then also less likely to fascinate and serve other people as well.
But let’s think this way:
The core of your creativity needs space for expanding. Don’t set a single technique, skill, project, or source of inspiration as your primary goal. Instead, ask:
“What kind of fantasy world do I want to build?”
Look Further Rather than Narrow the Goal
Don’t just say: “I want to paint flowers,” but imagine a place where your flowers grow. For example, is it a palace with huge vases, or a meadow full of light? Continue to travel further: what’s around them, where do they lead, what kind of patterns, colors, and atmosphere are there? When searching for inspiration, select things that fit with your imaginary world.
When you think about the world instead of a style, you allow things to get mixed and merged. You will see the many things you do as one big world-building factory. Your art-making is then more focused on how to integrate than how to minimize, and you become many steps closer to your true self.
Creative Goals – Frequently Asked Questions
“I want to become an abstract painter, how does this world-building fit with that?” Abstract art also sets an atmosphere and takes ideas from representational things. If you try to avoid that, you won’t have any ideas for abstract art. The inspiration for the world-building also includes all the senses. You can curate what sounds and music belong to your world, for example. It’s also a mental thing: think what kind of philosophy and experiences you want to express, and see them as events in your world. You can go as far as you want, but start simple and expand as you create and integrate.
“I just want to create like my idol X.X. does.” What kind of world is she or he building? What is missing if you think about your origin and your childhood? Two people never have similar worlds. But that’s also where the exciting part begins: our worlds can cross and enrich each other.
Come to Draw and Paint with Us!
Come to expand your visual world lesson by lesson! Forest is a place where nature meets both abstract and representational, intuitive and intentional. >> Sign up for Magical Forest!
When the end of the year gets closer, it’s time to look back. One of the big themes in 2019 has been watercolors. I gathered the paintings, filled my art shop, and made a Christmas video for you. I hope you enjoy the video below!
Happy Watercolor Holidays!
New Painting – Splashpompom!
Here’s the newest painting called “Splashpompom”. It has citrus fruits, marshmallows, and cotton flowers, and it’s all about partying in a magical forest! I really like this one!
Here are some details. The bursting orange:
White flowers that are like soft cotton clouds and flying marshmallows:
Some happy accidents that I highlighted with care:
It’s been quite a year, and I will post more about it in the next post, but this is for watercolors and my upcoming class Magical Forest. I hope you will join! >> Click here!
Wishing Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the good things for you and your creativity!
These fairies really speak to me. I feel that I should have started making these story scenes a long time ago and not wasted my time for stiff self-portraits, for example.
Life in Self-Portraits
As a teenager, I stared myself at the mirror and made self-portraits all the time. Any cardboard or piece of paper had my face!
Every time I wondered if this would be a portrait of an artist: “Would my dream come true? Is this piece good or not?”
It has taken tens of years to move from literal self-reflection to expressing my emotions and my inner world. If I could turn back the time, I would peg myself to move from technique back to childish imagination, because there’s always enough time to learn the techniques, and never enough time to deepen the expression.
This is a self-portrait from a couple of years ago, and I like that the inner world finally begins to show.
However, for me, the greatest satisfaction of art is not in self-portraits or portraits in general. I want my art to move from portraits to stories, be more dynamic than just staring faces, tell about my experiences, and how I can see them in a new light. I believe that our inner world is full of stories that connect us to other people on a deep level. When I have thought about my artistic style or whether my art is “good” or “bad,” I have often neglected this story-telling aspect.
Mirimer – From a Portrait to a Story
When painting “Mirimer”, there was a magical moment when I heard my mother calling my name. She passed away tens of years ago, and I thought I had forgotten the exact tone in her voice, but the painting brought back the memory. It must have been because of the blue color, her favorite. I realized that I wasn’t painting a portrait of a fairy anymore. I was painting the story of accepting loss as a part of life.
Mirimer became a blue-hooded angel, and the drops of water got some red to indicate that life carries pain that we can’t get to choose.
Illustrating Stories by Lucas Cranach
Stories also came to my mind when I went to see Lucas Cranach’s exhibition in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Lucas Cranach (The Elder) and her son, Lucan Cranach (The Younger), were not only German master painters in the 16th century, but they also knew how to run an art business. They had a workshop, an illustration studio, which had many employees, a logo, a style that everyone had to follow, and they produced prints too. So even if they lived in the Renaissance, they did what most artists today dream about. They built a visual world around stories that people yearned for.
Many of the Caranachs’ stories were from Greek mythology. This painting, my favorite from the exhibition, tells a story about Actaeon turning into a stag when Diana and the nymphs splash water on him. They don’t like him to watch them, and his dogs begin to attack him too!
In the painting below, there’s Venus and her child, a little cupid. The cupid has been stealing honey and the bees have bitten him.
There’s also an old poem, written in Latin on the top corner of the painting too:
As Cupid was stealing honey from the hive A bee stung the thief on the finger And so do we seek transitory and dangerous pleasures That are mixed with sadness and bring us pain
From Portraits to Stories – 5 Tips
Allow more intuition and imagination into your process: Add splashes and other unexpected elements. Spend time with a color that speaks to you. Instead of actively painting something, spend time discovering and highlighting what already can be seen.
Grow your skills from faces to body gestures. Learn to process a shape that’s on paper, in your head too so that you can find alternative ways to continue the painting.
Play with the scale of the elements. We tend to make shapes that are all equal in sizes. But if you want to paint a tiny fairy, for example, you need huge flowers to indicate the small size.
Let go of strict outlining, and leave room for spots of light and shadows. There’s no story without the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is created by setting the lighting.
Take time to let the story unfold. Often, the stories have many layers, and the first associations are just the path to deeper ones.
Magical Forest – Discover Stories by Painting!
Paint watercolor fairies and nature’s spirits in their magical surroundings. Enjoy freeing up your expression while exploring flowery woods, shallow ponds, leaf chapels, and adventurous sceneries. Magical Forest begins on January 1st >> Sign up Now!