Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Dolls and Angels – Video Blog Post

This week, I have a video blog post for you! I talk about dolls and angels – winter, the new class Doll World and Christmas memories, among other things!

Paivi Eerola and her paper dolls.

You will also see my table at the recent sales event. I hope you enjoy the video!

Dolls and Angels – Watch the Video!

Links to Related Blog Posts

Related Online Classes

Expressing Winter Memories

This week, I have a new winter-themed painting, and we talk about the many approaches for expressing winter and memories of any season.

Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma, 60 x 80 cm, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Winter Night’s Poem – Talviyön runoelma, 60 x 80 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s my newest painting called Winter Night’s Poem. This time, the Finnish name is much more beautiful: Talviyön runoelma. I wanted to give the painting a poetic name – like Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Kesäyön unelma” but something more wintery. So I come up with the Finnish name, which sounds so romantic (if you know Finnish that is!), and then translated it to English as accurately as possible.

I painted this piece for the local artist association’s winter-themed art exhibition. Winter sceneries aren’t really my thing, but I wanted to take the challenge. I started by exploring Japanese woodblock prints and made a small colored pencil study that is more like a fall scenery, but that has similar abstract elements than in the final painting.

Colored pencil art. An abstract scenery.

I talked more about this colored pencil piece in October’s video blog post.

Winter Memories

I found it challenging to get emotionally connected with the theme. As Finn, I do know winters. They are cold and dark, and there’s not much that I enjoy about them. As a child, I lived further north, and winters were even colder and darker. Here’s a picture of me in 1974 when I was 5 years old.

Winter memories from 1974.

However, I have one special winter memory. Earlier this year, in one of the weekly emails, I wrote about Avicii‘s music and how it brings the memory to my mind:

When I hear A Sky Full of Stars, I am a little girl on a cold Tuesday evening in Eastern Finland. After participating in an icon painting group, I walked down the snowy hill looking up. The starry sky was blue-black, I realized. Not black like for those who glance carelessly or blue like for those whose skies were always blue. Working with colors had made the world look more beautiful.

I also remember getting an idea for a poem that I later wrote down. It was something about the starry sky. And there was a melody too. The sight, the words, and the sounds all formed this beautiful winter memory. And isn’t it so that memories are full of sensations of all kinds? Why should we then paint only what we see?

But then I heard myself saying: “Paivi, remember that it’s a winter-themed exhibition. It has to look like winter!”

How Does Winter Look Like?

In 2013, I made this hand-drawn collage for Christmas cards. It has a decorative approach to winter. Snow, hearts, berries, pastel colors – they all form a light-hearted and entertaining take on winter.

Hand-drawn paper collage, 2013.
A hand-drawn paper collage from 2013

An even more obvious choice would be to paint a realistic winter scenery with snow, trees, and such. Here’s a watercolor painting from 2018:

Fall and winter, two seasons in watercolor, Paivi Eerola's painting from 2018.
Two Seasons, watercolor, 2018 – From the class Watercolor Journey

My idea was to paint both fall and winter into the same piece. This is a class project from Watercolor Journey where we paint all kinds of sceneries in watercolor.

Winter in a Poem

But the more I thought about winter, the more connection I felt with the abstract side of it. I didn’t want to just paint an empty-looking scenery in black and white. I wanted the lights and darks to have a rhythm.

Starting an intuitive painting about winter.

My favorite poet Eeva-Liisa Manner has a winter poem that I have read hundreds of times because it was in a little poem book my family had. For a small child, the content felt strange, but the more I read it and the more I grew, I fell in love with its rhythm. The poem doesn’t rhyme, it’s free verse, very modern. But still, when I read it, I feel the rhythm, and when it ends, it feels like you have listened to a song, not read a poem. The words have been thrown into the air, carelessly, and yet, it feels like everything has a purpose. It’s like every word would have fought to get into to poem, and after accepted, they are ready to fly beautifully, each on their turn, and then to get mixed up even more elegantly in the reader’s mind.

Maybe you too, love poetry and have experienced the same. The words glow like jewels and have a long effect even if the time spend on the reading, is just a minute or two. Isn’t that what we aim for in visual art too?

Abstract painting in progress.

Wonders of a Winter Night

More than thinking about realistic scenery, I approached the painting with a poetic mindset. I imagined the sounds and rhythm of a winter night and visualized those. I trusted that the result will look wintery even if the painting is abstract.

Abstract painting in progress

I also thought about how things move, and one of my favorite details is the curvy black wind that blows snow.

A detail of Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Carelessly painted ice-like objects are on the top, and the sound of ice is visualized below them.

A detail of Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Probably the childhood memory of the winter night has stayed with me because it’s a little bit scary to walk alone in the cold and in the dark, under a few street lights only.

A detail of Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

The color scheme was one of the challenges. I didn’t want the painting to look off-puttingly cold. Instead of only using blue and white, I brought a wide variety of tones but so that most of them are quite dark or pale.

A detail of Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Fortunately, winter is not here yet, but usually, we have the first snow in November. So the garden scenery will change soon!

Paivi Eerola and her painting Winter Night's Poem - Talviyön runoelma

I hope this blog post inspired you to express winter or any season that you have fond memories of!

Draw a Coloring Page and Color It Creatively!

This week, we draw a coloring page and color it creatively.

Fall Is Coming - an illustration by Paivi Eerola. See how this was first drawn as a coloring page!
Fall is Coming!

Inspiration from an Artist Friend Eeva Nikunen

This blog post is inspired by my artist friend Eeva Nikunen. She is a master at drawing coloring pages. She has many self-published books, and just recently, she drew the Alice in Wonderland coloring book for a famous British company Colouring Heaven. I especially love Eeva’s illustrations of men, and her drawing skills are superior, much further than mine. Of the two of us, she is more of an illustrator while I am a painter, but we both alternate with drawing and painting.

Inspiration from Historical Styles

The Victorian era inspires Eeva, and I love it too. In 2020, I illustrated a book called Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers. It had over 60 Victorian-style line drawings and one simple coloring page as well. I have used a similar drawing style in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom.

Animal Inkdom by Paivi Eerola. A victorian-style line drawing.
One of the projects from the class Animal Inkdom, before coloring.

I also like Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha‘s illustrations. See this old blog post from 2015 where I draw in Art Nouveau style!

Art Nouveau style drawing.

The blog post has a short drawing video too.

Art Nouveau has inspired me to create a set of coloring pages for the e-book Coloring Freely. Here are some samples of them.

Line drawings for coloring pages. From the book Coloring Freely by Paivi Eerola.
Illustrations from the e-book Coloring Freely.

Let’s Draw a Coloring Page!

There are great programs for drawing coloring pages like ProCreate and Adobe Illustrator. I like these programs, but I like to keep drawing with pens and pencils too. So let’s look at how to draw a coloring page by hand!

I started with a pencil, and the focus was first on the pose. When I had a rough idea of a woman romantically entering a scenery, I drew over the pencil lines with a black drawing pen. I like to use ink pens because I draw better when I can’t erase the lines. It makes me concentrate more, and my hand becomes steadier.

The sketch for the pose is number 1 in the photo. I think many of you would just throw it in the trash and think that the project is a disaster, but the secret is to keep going by tracing the sketch to another paper.

Many versions of the same coloring page: sketches, final version and a print on unbleached paper.
Many versions of the same coloring page: 1-3) sketches, 4) the final page, and 5) the print of the final page. Click to see a bigger image!

When tracing the old lines, you will get more ideas and new energy for adjusting the drawing. My second sketch had more elements, and I also started thinking about the facial expression of the character. When I ran out of ideas, I just drew hearts. Then I colored the sketch a bit to think about what the general idea of the image could be.

I like to develop ideas by drawing and coloring, not by thinking only. Many say they have images in their head, but mine are often too vague or too traditional. Drawing makes me more inventive and detailed. So, in the third sketch, the hearts were gone, and the lady had a bag, a leaf skirt, and a circle behind her. As you can see from the picture above, I threw the sketch away, but then when I thought about the blog post, I dug it out from the bin for the photo!

Here’s the third sketch without colors and the final version that I drew after coloring the third one for some time.

A sketch for the coloring page and the final version. See how to draw a coloring page!
A sketch and the final version of the coloring page.

The final drawing is about saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall. The bag symbolizes summer and the circle became a giant pumpkin. If you compare my lines between the sketches, they become more delicate and detailed towards the end. The first sketch is a clumsy thing, but by redrawing the lady several times, I was able to make the design more flowing. Straight lines became curvier and curves got more notches, making the shapes more interesting. By leaving some of the elements visible only partly, the image looks more coherent and less floating.

Choosing Paper for Drawing and Coloring

The thin and smooth marker paper makes tracing easy. I got to know it when I was studying as an industrial designer. Art supply stores sell it. For coloring, I prefer thicker paper, so I scanned the image and printed it on a brown drawing paper.

Making a coloring page. Papers for sketching a coloring.
Translucent marker paper for the drawing and thicker paper for the printed page.

Unbleached paper allows me to color a bit more carelessly and playing with pastels and whites is more fun.

Creative Coloring

An inspiring coloring page is not too detailed. I like pages that have some detailed elements, like the bag in mine, but that also have plenty of space for additional ideas. Then the coloring page can be treated as a foundation for creative coloring. For example, my page has pretty empty hem, and I can have fun by coloring freely – creating color changes and motifs that make the design more rich and stylish.

Coloring a hand-drawn coloring page.

I also like to color over the lines so that coloring extends the original design.

Creative coloring of a coloring page with colored pencils.

Compare the coloring page and the colored version below to see the additions made with colored pencils only!

A coloring page and the colored version.

With colors, you can also change the style of the drawing. I think mine looks quite Alphonse Mucha without colors, but after coloring, less so. I like coloring shadows and making the design less flat than what Art Nouveau had.

The Intuitive Part of Intentional Art

After finishing a drawing that was born pretty intentionally, I like to ponder what had initiated it. I found this photo on my phone, taken a couple of days ago. The two-colored leaves looked so beautiful and bittersweet to me that I had snapped a picture of them.

Fall leaves.

I am sad that summer is over but also acknowledge that summers and falls are not separate. One carries the other. It’s not fall’s fault that the summer is gone, and the present that the summer gave is dear to her.

A detail of an illustration, drawn and colored by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I hope this post inspires you to draw a coloring page through multiple sketches and then creatively color it!

Let’s Get Inspired by Tassels!

This week, we dive deep into the soul of tassels and get the most out of our creativity.

Saturnuksen kirkko - Church of Saturn, an oil painting on canvas by Paivi Eerola.
Saturnuksen kirkko – Church of Saturn, 50 x 30 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Church of Saturn. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Jupiter here, Uranus herethe Moon hereMercury hereNeptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!) When I painted it, I thought about the rings of Saturn, the god of agriculture, branches and twigs, an old wooden church from my childhood, wabi-sabi, and the beauty of – tassels!

Tassel Dolls

When I was living in Eastern Karelia in the 1970s, the simplest doll we could make was a tassel doll. I painted it in watercolors so that you can check if it’s something that you had too!

Watercolor painting of a tassel doll.

The doll was made of wool yarn and so simple that even a 5-year-old could make it. It’s a good example of a thing that is not valued by our adult self, but that brings up our inner child: “Hey, Miss Tassel, where do you want to go?”

Tassels as Extra Decorations

"Double" from Inktober 2018. An ink drawing by Paivi Eerola. Horses with tassels.

I rediscovered my love for tassels in 2018 when I participated in the Inktober challenge. Back then, I thought of tassels being a fun accessory and I have enjoyed using them as extra decorations in my drawings.

This week, I drew a new tassel for my boxes of joy and had a lot of fun making it.

Drawing a decorative tassel.

First I drew some circles and lines with a black drawing pen, then added textures and shadows in the style I each in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom.

Coloring a tassel with colored pencils.

After colored pencils, I picked some other hand-drawn pieces from my boxes and admired the luxurious collection.

A collection of decorative handdrawn elements.

Who needs shopping when you can have your own personal store and draw all the good stuff for it!

Blowing Life to a Tassel

A tassel drawing can be more than a decoration only. You can have more fun by playing with it so that it will get a personality. Imagine a tassel as a person or an animal – a living thing. Here I see two tassel ladies on a stroll!

Small tassel drawings.

Now, the tassel has a mind of its own. An artist can see any simple object as an element of expression.

In the painting “Church of Saturn,” the tassels have a spirit that makes them an integral part of nature.

Oil painting in progress, painting tassels.

These tassels are organic, and the style is abstract rather than illustrative.

A detail of Saturnuksen kirkko - Church of Saturn, an oil painting on canvas by Paivi Eerola.

As artists we need to do this – go beyond what’s expected and commonly seen.

Ornamental Figure with Tassels

In the class Magical Inkdom, I draw a funny bunny with a tassel on her head and now I got the idea of making an ornamental figure so that the tassels form the body.

Small drawings inspired by antique tassels.

To make a symmetrical ornament, I traced the tassel three times on the right side marker paper. Marker paper is thin so it’s easy to see through it.

Making an ornamental drawing that has tassels.

Then I taped the paper to the window and traced the three tassels on the left side of the paper. I added additional elements to the center and some facial features too. My tassel doll!

Drawing an ornament on marker paper. Ornamental figure with tassels.

But when I continued the drawing, I got a crazy idea of a knitting hamster. Tens of years ago, I was a hamster breeder, attending shows and everything. I know those little animals well! Knitting is one of my favorite hobbies and the thought of a hamster collecting all the yarn and trying to knit it made me smile.

An ink drawing in progress. Shadowing and adding details to tassels.

Then the word “Knitwork Orange” came to my mind, and I included the orange as well!

Knitwork Orange - an ink drawing by Paivi Eerola.

Here’s me, in the middle of the night, knitting away!

Tassel Dolls on Mars

Last spring, I had a small canvas that was first just a mess. I like to start my paintings in this intuitive way and without a plan. I had some leftover paint so nothing was wasted.

Starting a small canvas painting intuitively.

The first ideas are terribly traditional and mine was to make a vase with flowers.

A small floral painting in progress.

But after this, I was taken to another planet, to Mars! There, tassel dolls met art deco, and I had a lot of fun finishing the painting with all the decorative details.

Painting decorative details in oil. Getting creative in painting.

I love the Great Gatsby movie from 2013. It has the best party scenes and good music. I had a lot of fun creating a tassel doll party that took place on another planet.

"Kultahatut Marsissa - Gatsbies on Mars", a small oil painting by Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Kultahatut Marsissa – Gatsbies on Mars, 22 x 27 cm, oil on canvas

This small piece ends the Milky Way series – 11 oil paintings from March to May. I have taken a break from creating art, but feel like I am recovering now. Thanks to making the tassel drawings for this post! I hope they work for you too!

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