Color the Emotion

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3 Tips for Bringing More Life into Your Art

This week, we look for what’s natural and lively in a bit different way than usual. I share three tips for bringing more life into your art.

"Unchanging" - an oil painting by artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
“Unchanging – Muuttumaton”, oil, 65 x 80 cm

I just finished this green painting. It’s called “Muuttumaton” in Finnish, but this time, the translation “Unchanging” fits it better because the English word has a more active tone.

This painting was in progress in the video that I shared a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the video again so that you can see me working with this in practice and compare the middle and the end!

So, that was the video, but in this post, I want to give you ideas on how you could bring more life into art.

These ideas are not technical because I think that my classes are better for learning the techniques, but more about changing the way you get inspired and observe what first appears on paper or canvas.

Tip #1 – Let Weeds be Weeds

In my painting, the main character and the focal point is a blooming weed. It appeared on the canvas right away and reminded me of Fernando Pessoa‘s poem that talks about a crop bending with the wind and then straightening once the wind stops. This kind of natural resilience that weeds also have is inspiring. In art, we usually make weeds look more like a flower. But could we loosen up and bring more life by letting the weeds be weeds?

A detail in the first layers and after finishing. Read more tips about bringing more life into your art.

So, I just made the big plant look a bit more defined and let it be the star of the show.

Tip #2 – Try to Ignore Color

Even if I took pictures of the painting in our garden, I have been more inspired by the untamed side of nature lately.

Photographing a painting in the garden. Oil painting "Unchanging" by Paivi Eerola.

With my beagle Stella, I have been exploring banks and woods that look ugly but are full of layers. For Stella, layers of smells, and for me, layers of shapes and textures. I have tried not to seek the most beautiful spring flower, but develop my eye to notice other than colorful things.

Walking the dog in nature.

What looks ugly first can be beautifully free.

A detail of a painting by Paivi Eerola. Abstract shapes, muted colors, and a lively feel.

Subtle changes in color can make the painting look more lively than if you throw in a bunch of strong colors.

Tip #3 – Embrace Destruction

When bringing life into art, it’s not that we have to start with life. We can look at broken and deserted things like fallen or chopped branches. They can then have another life in our art. Imagine branches falling further down and breaking the cover between the outer and inner world. What kind of life could you give them there?

Fallen branches can inspire for bringing more life into art. Read about how to handle inspiration to make your art more natural and lively!

Admire how the grass grows, but also, how it withers!

Growing and withering grass.

When we create, we can start with destruction and then use colors to make all the ugliness bloom. This way, we build a bridge between the garden and the wilderness – between the traditional beauty and nature’s aesthetics.

A detail of an oil painting by Paivi Eerola and tips for bringing more life into your art.

I don’t use references for my half-abstract paintings like this one. But I believe that things that we see and appreciate find their way to our art in one way or another.

So when you want to bring life to your art,
look for life as it is in the wilderness, not only as it is in your garden.

"Unchanging" - an oil painting and the artist Paivi Eerola.

When looking at this painting, I want to be like that weed, stand tall where I happened to fall. I want to believe there’s something unchanging in this ever-changing life that keeps us creating. I hope we can be Pessoa’s crop that straightens right away when it gets the chance!

10 thoughts on “3 Tips for Bringing More Life into Your Art

  1. Ilahduin lukiessani, että sinäkin käyt koirasi kanssa yhteisillä nuuskuttelureissuilla lähiluonnossasi.

    Itselleni nämä pikku retket karvakamun kanssa ovat paras inspiraation lähde ja loputon aarrearkku. Välillä toinen haistelee ja sitten toinen pysähtyy ihmettelemään ja kuvamaan kännykällä jotain hienoa ja jännittävää.

    Luovaa Vappua ja sykähdyttäviä luontohetkiä!

    T. Katriina

  2. I no longer have a garden but I buy flowers to place in the vase in the window. I leave them until they start to die off – I remove the ones that are no longer blooming – and the ones that are still blooming I make new bouquets. Then I buy more flowers and mix them with the old ones. I love to see the new shapes that come through when the petals fall off. At Christmas I was given roses and I eventually let them dry out and they are really lovely – like paper. I also pressed some flowers which I had never tried before and they were so lovely – like an old fashioned art. I love your ideas and inspiration. There is beauty everywhere, even in decay.
    Thank you Paivi.

  3. when walking outside; I am drawn to the fallen branch; the fallen hornets nest; the corner of a rock that has shiny sections of quartz in it. I’ve even managed to get my granddaughter interested in the shapes, colors etc. not just the perfect flowers or leaves.
    For my birthday a couple years ago==she handed me some sticks and a pinecone–because “you like nature, Grammy” thought that was so sweet of her
    thanks again for you inspiration

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