This week is about drawing paper dolls. At the same time, we celebrate the social nature of hand-drawn paper dolls.
For an artist, the difference between a doll and a human is that the doll opens the door to a fantasy. Thus, drawing paper dolls is very different from painting portraits. But if I have to pick from the two, I would say that paper dolls make you more of an artist.
Compared to a human, only a doll can be a creature of the imagination – for example, a plant and a spirit at the same time.
Only a doll can have a wardrobe where every piece is organized.
Only a doll can get out of the box and go where ever the imagination takes her.
Only a doll can wear a butterfly as a wig and rose leaves as a bodice.
To be a fashion designer for a doll is the play we can’t resist.
Only a doll can hold the secrets that every artist has.
Because isn’t it so that no matter how close we are, there are dreams that we can’t tell anybody? Dreams that would perhaps sound silly, too grand, or too selfish. Dreams that make you an artist.
Only for a doll a true friend is easy to find.
With paper dolls, I examine the social aspect of an artist’s life – how we can feel less lonely when creating and how the result can be a bridge between all the art that we have created. And when we give or share a picture of a doll, it also invites other people to play and connect with themselves and others.
Doll World – Drawing Paper Dolls
Come to draw adorable dolls and their dresses with me!
Doll World lasts from January to May. When you sign up, you will get the published lesson right away. >> Sign up Now!
This week we get inspired by spiritual and ornamental art and create a protector of good.
Protector of Butterflies in Colored Pencils
Halloween is not an official holiday in Finland, but we have All Saints’ day soon. I started gathering images for this blog post in the spirit of All Saints’ day, but soon realized that this kind of art has a special role in my life in general. There are times when I want to create art to protect all the good things in life.
In the small colored pencil drawing, I was thinking about the beauty of butterflies and created a protector for them.
At the same time, I created a protector for my sensitivity, and it feels good to have one in my box of joy as I call the collection of hand-drawn paper reliefs.
Protector of Everything Sacred in Collage
Back in 2011, when I wasn’t a full-time artist yet, I made this paper collage from hand-decorated papers.
I wanted to express the atmosphere of a sacred space. My hand-drawn lines were clumsy, but I cut the papers so that they look decorative. I painted icons as a child, so I made the woman’s face in that style. I still like this!
Protector of Flowers and Plants in Oil
In 2018, I was practicing oil painting and explored all kinds of organic shapes. I first painted all kinds of plants and then changed the orientation, and added the madonna. (More about the process in this blog post.)
The frame of the painting has a real silver coating, and I think it fits the image beautifully.
Painting and Drawing Precious Artifacts
We can paint and draw precious things that make us feel protected, like candles and crosses. I found these two gouache paintings from my archives today.
Ornaments can also be more imaginative, like these hand-drawn collage pieces.
You can compose paper pieces together so that they look like a talisman.
Protector of Light in Watercolor
Now when we are entering dark days in Finland, I feel the need to have a protector of light.
This watercolor angel was painted for the class Magical Forest. I developed a method for it so that you first paint the angel figure freely by splashing colors and then add more definition by painting the dark background.
Protector of the Child in Us
I think one of the most important protectors is the one who protects the child in us. I painted this icon in the early 1980s when I was about 10 years old. It was my second, and as you can see, I wasn’t very good at varnishing back then – too much linseed oil!
The teacher of the icon painting group, Irke Petterberg, helped me with the details of the faces. I wasn’t eastern-orthodox; I just happened to live very near the church and love art-making. It was wonderful to be accepted as a part of the group which consisted of adult painters. For me, religion felt like a gate to the world of imagination.
No matter the religion, let’s cherish the child in us and protect the good through art-making.
This week, I talk about the colorful bridge that art can build between real and unreal.
This is my latest oil painting called Forest of Wishes. My fall is filled with those – wishes! Wishes that can’t be fulfilled.
I wish winter would only last a day or so. I wish there would be regular life for regular people – not war, not suffering, not lack of anything. And while I am thinking about these melancholic thoughts, it feels like my creativity ignores them and lives in a fairytale. I want to draw you in this fairytale too. I hope these pictures inspire you to create and make life more magical!
Hello Fall – Hello Colors!
In art, colors can make a fairytale. My oil painting brought this older watercolor piece to mind. Like “Forest of Wishes,” this one uses blue in a similar way: to create a connection with the viewer. It’s a reminder that blue can be strong and soulful and approach the viewer, not just stay still in the background.
There’s also a video of painting this!
This painting started with the reference photo, but once the painting process got further, the expression replaced it. And splattering with a brush is a lot of fun!
The Magic of Growth
When I look at our garden, the wonders of summer become visible when trees prepare for fall. They have grown a lot, for example, this monkaburi – a pine tree that we planted a few years ago. Back then, it felt like it would take forever for it to form a gate over our heads, but now it already has a branch that grows over the path.
The magic of growth also happens when filling a blank paper or a canvas. First, there’s very little life, but by adding more colors, shapes, and layers, we can grow a forest.
Sometimes the forest comes in one piece, and other times in many little pieces.
The same applies to artistic growth: sometimes it happens quickly, other times more gradually. I like to break the rules of being a serious artist only and allow play to show me the magic.
I want to learn from Saima, our youngest beagle. She is obsessed with the ball, but when we mention that to her, she seems to laugh: “It’s only a hobby!” At the same time, fetching the ball seems to be both her passionate work, but also a tool for imagining and playing.
In the forest of wishes, we want to use a different mirror for ourselves – not to see the limitations but imagine the potential. It’s an exciting place that has many dangers as well.
Going deep can take us deep down, but when combined with play, the humor steps in. Here’s my wish for a winter that would only last one day!
Ask: “Is it the fall or is it a fairytale – real or unreal?” And then answer: “Today it’s a fairytale, a colorful escape!”
Art can truly add magic to our lives. I feel that life isn’t real without the unreal.
This week I have a consolation post for any artist!
We start from a movie and then let thoughts fly from top to bottom and come back up.
The Movie – The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Just a couple of days ago, I watched an inspiring movie called The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. It’s a story about the illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) who got famous for his cat drawings. Louis Wain’s life was full of misery, he was poor, responsible for five unmarried sisters, lost her wife to breast cancer soon after the marriage, made bad business decisions, and suffered grief and mental illness.
And yet, Louis’s cat drawings were fun illustrations full of liveliness and details.
The Two Undertones of Any Day
The movie felt strangely therapeutic. Maybe partly because it expressed so well what I had been thinking lately: how life has both melancholic and uplifting undertones and how important it is to recognize and make room for both of them.
For Louis, life had two separate sides – the harsh reality and the wonderous world of imagination. I think that many of us can relate to that even if in our lives, the melancholic and uplifting undertones would spread more evenly. If I think about my artist life, there have been so many rejections that where I am now is a small miracle. And if I think about the future, more small miracles are needed to move forward.
In the end, you only need to have one person who believes in you as an artist. Many times you can be that person for yourself. Like Louis, the world of imagination has the power to keep the uplifting undertone going.
But for me, there have been times when a small miracle has been needed – that someone else brings me up. When Louis found supporters in the movie, I thought of mine. They are a part of my electrical life story. Who could be yours?
It wasn’t easy to contact any of them – ask, apply, and reach out just after losing the belief and energy, but doing that has pushed me forward. Sometimes they have been friends, but many times strangers who have given me a chance to connect with their audience. In the art world, and especially in the fine art world, people are hesitant to accept outsiders. But once you get one door open, some others will open up too. The number of your supporters will grow step by step.
Opening Up for Small Miracles
In the beginning, art was something I did in secret. If I didn’t believe in my art, I simply stopped creating for a while. But the more I created, the more I wanted to find connections with other people. First with others who create, and then more publicly. After going public, stopping is much harder because you start to see wider: There must be someone who says yes.
I see that the melancholic and uplifting undertones are wrapped around each other like two plies in a yarn. By expressing both of them, not only a person but also her art becomes stronger – more touching and captivating. It’s then easier to make small miracles happen – have positive electricity as Louis Wain would put it.
What do you think? Have you seen the movie?
P.S. If you want to turn back the clock and learn from 6-years-younger Paivi, here’s your chance! Planet Color, is retiring on Sept 30, at midnight PDT.
If you are a beginner in painting and want to use acrylic paints more, for example, in your art journals, check this class! Planet Color is now more than 50% OFF before it goes away! >> Buy here!