Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

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!

Painting and Drawing Fruits

This week, I share my love for fruits and give inspiration for fruit-themed paintings and drawings.

Jupiterin malja - Jupiter's Bowl. An oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland, that has fruits.
Jupiterin malja – Jupiter’s Bowl, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Jupiter’s Bowl. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Uranus here, the Moon here, Mercury hereNeptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

Fruit Storm in a Magical Bowl

The idea for this painting started from the orange storm that the planet Jupiter has. But then I thought about the Finnish saying “myrsky vesilasissa” which is “storm in the water glass” in English and similar to the saying “storm in a teacup.” It felt playful and funny to compare the planet to a small bowl and make a still life that doesn’t look still at all.

Intuitive painting in process.

The first layers were very different from each other, and it felt like there was still more to come. The final version has brighter colors and juicy fruits that burst everywhere. Here’s a closeup of some:

A detail of Jupiter's Bowl, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Inspired by fruits.

I love lemons and oranges. I think they are one of the most attractive things in the world. Their smell, taste, and look captivate me. And they are not difficult to paint or draw either!

Decorative Slices in Black and White Drawing

Here’s a line drawing from 2018 when I participated in Inktober for the first time. The slices were fun to draw, especially because I treated them like Faberge eggs: filled with jewelry and other decorative elements.

Oranges and jewels. Drawing fruits with decorations. By Paivi Eerola.

Back then, I was finding out things that I really like and bringing them together in my drawings.

Intuitive Fruit Painting in Gouache

In 2019, I made a gouache painting (see the video!) that reminds me of Jupiter’s Bowl. It has fruity and fresh colors and some stormy vibe too.

Painting fruits. A fruit-themed refreshing intuitive painting. By Paivi Eerola, 2019.

I was a bit clumsier painter back then, but the idea of refreshing fruity burst is evident.

Fantasy Fruits in Colored Pencils

This year started by making a new class called Fun Botanicum. The second lesson of the class is about fruits and berries. Here’s my example from the class, made with colored pencils.

Drawing juicy fruits and berries in a class called Fun Botanicum. Colored pencils in a journal. By Paivi Eerola.

I wanted the spread to look juicy with my own fantasy fruits. Practically, you can draw a circle, add shadows and decorations, and it will look like a fruit!

Juiciness vs. Fruits

When I took pictures of Jupiter’s Bowl, it was late May and grass and tulips were in full bloom. There’s a lot of juiciness in summer colors.

An oil painting by Paivi Eerola and the juiciness of summer colors.

My suggestion is to focus on the juiciness when drawing or painting fruits. If you think about how the fruits look in reality, the result gets stiff more easily. If you let go and focus on the juicy part, creating is much more fun and the result more expressive. Anything can have the spirit of the fruit, and art can be juicy without presenting the actual lemons and oranges.

Tell me, which are your favorite fruits? Do they appear in your art too?

Coming Up with Ideas that Make You an Artist

This week’s blog post is about working with ideas that bring more of you together and make you an artist.

Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola
Merkuriuksen lämpötilat – Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Merkuriuksen lämpötilat – Mercury Temperatures. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Neptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

My first intention was to create Mars, not Mercury, so I started with sharp strokes and fiery colors.

Painting in progress. How to come up with ideas that make you an artist?

But it happened that Mars appeared in another painting, so I changed the subject after the first layer. This wasn’t hard. All I needed was to get back to left-brain thinking, which I call my inner engineer.

Fact-Finding for Artistic Inspiration

It has been fun to find out facts about the planets. I have also had great discussions about them with my husband. We both love science and are interested in the bits of information about outer space. The mind-blowing fact about the planet Mercury is that its temperature varies about 650 degrees! Night and day in the same location can have very different temperatures.

Painting in progress. How to come up with ideas that make you an artist?

I try to keep the fact-finding separate from the painting process as possible. I want the facts to be just one of the many inspiration sources and be intuitive and inventive during actual art-making. For example, in this painting, I also thought about pattern designs, interior decorating, wallpapers of William Morris and Designers Guild, fantasy stories with unicorns, gardening … all kinds of inspiration got mixed into one piece.

Hidden Love for Natural Science

Over a couple of years, natural science has got more and more impact on my art. However, I have been pretty quiet about it because it feels weird to talk about science and then show flower paintings. But now, my inner engineer said that Mercury Temperatures is the only appropriate name for the piece, and I noticed how happy she looked, being involved and accepted more than many times before.

A detail of Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

This spring, I have learned a lot about leading myself artistically. I have noticed that if my inner engineer can provide concepts like “temperature changes” rather than direct images, my inner artist can then tie them freely with visual ideas. Together they form an effective pair. My inner engineer can provide exciting ideas based on her background studies, and my inner artist can still get all the creative freedom she needs.

Digging Deeper into the Professional Identity

It has started to feel that there’s a reason why I first studied engineering, then moved to design, and only finally to art. I play with the question that if my career had started as an artist, would I be studying technology now? It feels that my ideas are on several levels, and if I omit the science level, something is missing.

A detail of Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

For years and years, I have been trying to manage what my inner engineer can do and how she should not disturb the inner artist. But now, when I have given the inner engineer a significant role, the inner artist hasn’t complained at all. On the contrary, it feels like the artist praises the engineer and vice versa.

This understanding has also closed the gap between design and art. Some of my work can now be openly more design-oriented than others. My inner designer had a lot of fun participating in this painting.

Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

I feel happy about being able to use my curiosity about natural science in the artistic process. I have even started to think that my background in technology and science can be one factor that makes my art unique, even if it doesn’t get the leading role when marketing my work.

Coming Up With Genuine Ideas

We often think about using the skills from one profession to another very literally. But the identity in one can be used for another when we get to the level of ideas and inspiration. Every field has pieces of information that are super inspiring, especially if you already have the foundational knowledge of the area. With the knowledge, your imagination can build bridges between what is and what could be.

Ideas that make you an artist are not about art.

The artistic identity is more like an umbrella rather than an individual thing. An artist is a connector rather than a lonely one on a closed island.

What do you think?

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