This post continues the series of inspiring quotes that I have heard or read recently. The last week’s post was the first one of the series. It’s about being honest about what you want to create, read it here. But now to this week’s inspiring quote – especially geared to us who are late bloomers in art!
Lisa is also a late bloomer, not pursuing art right from the beginning. When she was starting her art career, she dreamed about living a successful and carefree life as an artist. She thought that when she has it all figured out, she will reach a happy destination. But when Lisa’s fame grew, new challenges came along. She wrote: “If I have arrived at all, it’s in a place of accepting that I will never arrive.”
One Masterpiece vs. Chain Reaction of Inspiration
I am a late bloomer in art, just turned 50 this year, and been a working artist for only five years. The older I have got, the more aware I have become that one day this life is over. A few years ago, my reaction to it was to aim for creating pieces that will continue their life after my death. I wanted to leave a legacy. Recently, I have become to think differently, and Lisa’s post also contributed to that. I believe that everything we do for others is a legacy. Even this blog can be one of mine. And it’s not defined by how long the posts will be available, but by their effect on the readers.
The encouragement for art starts a chain reaction. When we support other people to create, they can do the same and pass the inspiration forward. The drops become a cupful, and our existence lasts longer. And when we take the pressure off from a single piece of art, it also gives us the courage to express what we truly love – referring to the last week’s blog post – that feels honest to us.
Do You Have This in Common with Leonardo?
Leonardo da Vinci was famous for not being able to do his commissions on time. He had several different projects on the go all the time, and some never got finished. He felt like he was a failure and saw himself more like an engineer than an artist. (10 things about Leonardo)
If Leonardo felt like he had never arrived, the feeling must be connected with creativity. When we are creative, we are on an adventure and don’t stay put. The journey becomes tedious and depressing if we focus too much on the destination instead of enjoying the views.
Heading Away from the Safe Road
Instagram is full of skillful art, and sometimes, it makes me question myself as an artist when millions and millions of “better” images are uploaded all the time. It has made me postpone sending my work to juried exhibitions and reaching for opportunities to do illustrative work because “I am not quite there.”
I have started to think that if the fact is that we never arrive, I should get out of my comfort zone and try walking on some of the side paths too. I also want to allow myself to create more art that is humorous and that can’t be taken seriously because every time I do that, it makes me smile and brings the sun into my studio. I may not follow the road that I had imagined a long time ago, but it makes the adventure of being a late-bloomer more exciting.
Take the Next Step – Do This!
Imagine that you already have all the artistic skills that you will ever get. Do something that you have postponed because you have been waiting for your skills to grow!
Here’s my mantra: Paint flowers – it cures everything.
When you want more color to your life, paint flowers.
When you need more confidence, paint flowers.
When you miss somebody, paint flowers.
When in bloom, paint flowers. When frozen, paint flowers.
Paint flowers and everything will be ok, at least for the time you are painting flowers.
I am excited to teach a floral painting class starting on Monday, April 29! Floral Fantasies is a 4-week class, and you also get access to my art community Bloom and Fly for the rest of the year. This is the only time I will be offering the class this year, so now is the time to join!
“I have been able to relax more and just let feelings flow into the colors and shapes.”
“I love seeing art through your lens and through your personal experiences. It most definitely adds depth towards my creative process by exploring various styles and techniques.”
“Although I have taken several of your classes and loved them all, this one has deepened my knowledge of art and techniques considerably. I know I will go back to the beginning again and redo the class many times.”
This fantasy art piece is a hand-made collage called “Zebra Madonna”. It’s made mostly with Copic markers, some elements have been colored with colored pencils. It’s hand-drawn from start to finish, mostly for my class Animal Inkdom where I show easy ways to draw and color wonderful wildlife animals like flying butterflies and running zebras.
Time Flies When You Are Having Fun
It often happens to me that I am going to draw just something small, but then end up making a bigger project. Jane Austen has a novel called “Sense and Sensibility”, but my inner conversation is not very romantic.
Sensibility says: “I have an idea.” Sense says: “Don’t!” Sensibility says: “I want to do it. Now.” Sense says: “It’s 2 AM, no way! Go to sleep and wait for tomorrow.”
What was I drawing in the middle of the night? A small drawing of a girl with a zebra. The girl is a bit like zebra herself, and the zebra looks almost like a unicorn without a horn.
I started with a black and white drawing, but because coloring is fun too, I couldn’t resist. Time flew, and I was having fun.
For Animal Inkdom, I drew a lot of collage pieces as samples, and then many in the videos. So I have two boxes, big and small, that have all kinds of fantasy creatures. It felt like the zebra of the small drawing started calling his fellows, and these three came out!
Even if my zebra madonna was framed and all, I wanted to make a new image where the other zebras could join her. I cut a big piece of Bristol paper, approximately 14 x 20 inches. This is when I went to sleep! It was apparent that I would need quite a lot of energy to fill it with markers and doodles.
Next morning, I woke up determined to continue the project. I wanted to “paint” with markers – use several layers so that they would blend. I also wanted to draw with a very thin pen, Copic multiliner 0.03, so that most of the background would have subtle patterns. At this point, I wasn’t so sure if these were good ideas. Drawing took a long time, and markers weren’t so quick either.
I was also hesitating to use the zebras. Of all the animals that I had drawn for Animal Inkdom, they were my favorites. I reminded myself that because I had developed an easy way to make them, I could draw more at any time!
Before starting to ill the background, I had marked the places for the elements with a dashed line. Still, there was quite a lot to color. Here you can see how uneven the coloring is when there’s just one thin layer. I needed more layers!
It’s typical that at some point my Sense is starting to say: “This wasn’t a very good idea.” I am at the rock bottom trying to figure out how the project could be finished quickly because it doesn’t seem so fun anymore.
New Inspiration for Fantasy Art
My way to cope with what I call “the ugly phase” is to focus on a small area and start listening to an audiobook or a podcast. I also get inspired by colors, mostly by … black! It makes other colors shine, and my collection of black pens is growing steadily. I find it difficult to express any fantasy without black!
Fantasy art can be just fantasy and play, but I usually have a deeper thought in my mind. Despite the happy colors and fantasy feel, the message that I have in mind often has dark tones. Here zebras symbolize things in our past that have been difficult first, but after accepting them, they have become our strength.
Fantasy Art – Zebra Madonna in Detail
Here’s the finished piece again.
And because it has a lot of details, here are some pictures of them.
The butterflies are also from my class Animal Inkdom. I think they fit perfectly to the color scheme. I also added the third butterfly on the background. It’s just a careless drawing but it adds depth because it looks to be further away than the two colorful collage elements.
Here’s what this challenge did to me:
1) Following the prompts and working with black ink only revealed some creative blocks. Becoming aware of these helped me to remove them!
2) I found what I love to draw and it has strengthened my visual voice.
3) I have always liked to draw with non-erasable ink but now I am addicted! I am more creative when I can’t erase the lines.
4) I have a lot of stories to tell that have never found their way to my art before.
5) I like being challenged by weird words that are difficult or even appalling to visualize.
What you can learn from all this:
a) Draw with pen or pencil only now and then so that your voice won’t get hidden behind the products.
b) Write what people have said to you about your creative skills. These may have been good advice back then but irrelevant now.
c) Start a list about things you love – these are also the things you should draw, no matter how superficial or deep they are. Make sure you include some things you loved when you were a child.
d) Give yourself a problem and solve it by drawing. Don’t settle for the obvious solutions!
Strengthening the Visual Voice – Watch the Video!
In the video, you can see all 31 drawings as a flip-through video, some thoughts, and how I used my sketchbook during the challenge.
I also attach the drawings in this blog post with the notes that I wrote for each one during Inktober.
Inktober #13 – Guardian
The external world may be designed for extroverts, but every introvert is a designer and guardian of her own world.
Inktober #14 – Clock
As a child, my favorite play was to be the queen of England. I lived in a small town near the Russian border, and the only real luxury was nature. To me, trees were the pillars of the enormous halls, and I graciously wandered from room to room, repainting every plant and bird in my mind. No matter what’s the time or the place, this is still true: We can’t be the queens of England, but we can all be the queens of Imagination.
Inktober #15 – Weak
Even if all the ties and responsibilities may feel heavy, they are what keep us going through the hard times. Let’s stay connected so that we can support one another!
Inktober #16 – Angular
Have you seen the newest version of The Great Gatsby? It’s directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, and it’s gorgeous. My favorite scene is the big party scene where everybody dances disco: “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” wearing art deco party dresses in a divine-looking villa with pools, staircases and all. So today and tomorrow my Inktober pieces are dedicated to a big party, and you are all invited!
Inktober #17 – Swollen
Let’s continue the party from yesterday! Imagine that art has two feet. One foot represents the techniques, and the other one is the imagination. Moving forward in one foot only is impossible in the long run. You need both feet. And – even if sometimes your other foot is swollen, don’t let that bother you too much! Here’s to celebrate our creativity!
Inktober #18 – Bottle
If only we could bottle nature inspiration! I would have a stash of Finnish summer days! Now when trees are losing their leaves, I could spray some summer breeze and the smell of peonies!
Inktober #19 – Scorched
Sometimes the process is more beautiful than what comes out of it. All of us who like arts and crafts have experienced that, do you agree?!
Inktober #20 – Breakable
The misconceptions about what we can’t do are breakable. When becoming aware of any of mine, it feels like I have been a bird inside a soap bubble forgetting to use the beak. Why float inside the bubble when you can fly? Let’s believe in ourselves!!
Inktober #21 – Drain
After drawing some ethereal and romantic pieces, I went to a couple of contemporary art exhibitions and this happened! When I was studying industrial design, it was made clear to me that this is NOT the acceptable style to draw. But today, let’s not care about those “don’t”s and “no”s and denials, and let the humor be a part of the art!
Inktober #22 – Expensive
What could be the most expensive bouquet ever? All the four seasons in one bunch!
Inktober #23 – Muddy
I believe in mud and dirt. If life becomes too sterile, it is not enjoyable anymore. That’s why I have animals and house plants, the garden, and I think that those who have children share this thought too. The same principle applies to art as well. If every stroke you paint, every line you draw is controlled and pre-planned, it lacks the soil where the ideas grow. So here’s to celebrate the mud in our lives!
Inktober #24 – Chop
Now when I am well over the halfway, I have started to make a list of things that I love to draw. My list includes stuff like folk art, antique jewelry, glass, fabric, etc. Most of them are quite decorative and luxurious stuff. I have also sliced and chopped these words to less general subjects like Russian handpainted trays, victorian necklaces, crystal, kelim, etc. It has felt like day by day, I am getting more hang of what I really love to illustrate. One item on the list is citrus fruits, oranges, lemons, etc. so I made some for today’s challenge, decorated with jewels and folk art, of course! — Tell me, what’s on your list!
Inktober #25 – Prickly
Virginia Woolf has said: “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” So when the pot feels prickly and the hat too heavy, there can still be some kind of peace and satisfaction in all that.
Inktober #26 – Stretch
This one is dedicated for all who love to write. Many prepare for NaNoWriMo to write a novel during November. I am more of a visual creator, but there’s definitely risktaking involved in both writing and drawing. You never know where it takes you, but that’s also a big part of the reward!
Inktober #27 – Thunder
Only 4 to go! Really enjoyed drawing this one.
Inktober #28 – Gift
Out of the box, towards the change! Ink pens and watercolor on Bristol paper.
Inktober #29 – Double
When you get to spend time with someone who likes similar things … Thank you, my friend, fantasy artist Eeva Nikunen! Here’s for the friendships between artistic souls!
Inktober #30 – Jolt
When I started this monthly challenge, I was quite timid. First, I used everyday life as an inspiration, but the more I drew, the more I yearned to go on a journey to the hidden world. I have always loved Russian zhostovo paintings, luxury handbags, decorative fabrics, antique jewelry, Dolce & Gabbana … so slowly all the luxury found their way to these drawings.
First, it felt like they would be fragile and disappear soon, but now I can take a hammer and hit them, and they just keep flowing onto paper. I have cried because I have lost a part of my old style and mindset, but after 30 drawings, there’s no hammer big enough to make all of this luxury disappear. Thank you for still following me, I know this has been quite a change for many of you, I hope you continue the journey with me anyway.
Inktober #31 – Slice
After the challenge, I am a like a nomad, carrying all the stuff that has come along with the journey, wondering what will happen next. Time will tell! Here, have a slice of cake with me to celebrate both this accomplishment and Happy Halloween!