Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Response from the Universe

This week, I have exciting news and talk about life’s big decisions.

In the spring, I will only paint canvas, but later this year, in addition to that, I will also paint the virtual world! Namely, I have received a part-time 1-year grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation to produce a digital, three-dimensional artwork called Unknown Land.

A grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation

This is an excerpt of the application that I sent last fall to the foundation.

In my works, I search for a solution to the problems of the external world through the root causes, so strengthening the inner power of a person. By inner power, I refer to imagination and intuition – the human ability to imagine and sense the future. The future is an unknown land.

We can think of this unknown land as a new untouched continent. When we arrive there, everything seems like a newly born fantasy at first, but soon, we will see that this is not the case – only the emphasis has changed. Things emerge from the past, the meaning of which we have previously underestimated. In an unknown land, we are in a state where we no longer want to return to the past, but on the other hand, we cannot escape it. Then it is possible to see the old shadows in a new light and make an effort from that to the new one. Like my paintings, we, therefore, travel between the future and the past – the abstract and representational.

In the project, I will create an interactive virtual reality artwork based on my oil paintings. The project has many kinds of computer work – digital painting, 3D modeling, programming, testing, etc. So, things that feel more like my past self than the current one.

Past’s Big Decisions

Let’s rewind to the 1980s when I was making big decisions in my life. My father had just died. I was engaged but not in love. I sent applications to universities and got accepted by them all. Although I tried not to think about it in the picture below, I knew this would happen: I would move far away to the south to study technology, I would not marry the guy I was engaged to, and I would leave art – at least for a while.

Making big decisions in the 1980s

I had wanted to be an artist but didn’t think the art schools would be as accepting as the universities. I had self-evaluated my skills and talent, which weren’t where they should have been. When I said no to art, I got yes to many good things: intelligent ideas, challenging jobs, better income, etc. I was fascinated by computers, and I believed that the universe wanted me to study software engineering.

But later, it dawned on me that the universe is not quite that simple.

Worlds Are Fighting Over You

Even if I am not a big believer in destiny, I believe that there are worlds that fight over you. No matter how depressed on unpopular you feel at times, remember that some worlds would always do anything to win your heart. And even if you shout to the universe and it remains silent, the worlds are still there for you, waiting for the right moment.

Talviyön runoelma - Winter Night's Poem, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm, 2022. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Talviyön runoelma – Winter Night’s Poem, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm, 2022.

Art didn’t give up on me even if Technology won the battle in the 1980s. There have been big fights since. Last fall, just when Art thought that Technology had been beaten for good, I got excited about VR – virtual reality. Art and Technology have their own ways of capturing my attention. Art is like the beast of my inner world, demanding attention and energy. Technology always attacks outside – sends a few inspiring lines to read about innovations, an abbreviation to figure out, or an invitation to a special event for nerds.

“I will let the universe decide,” I told myself when I wrote the application. But so it happened that the two worlds that had been fighting over me for all my life finally agreed to come together. My life’s big decisions make sense now.

Changes Will Come

I will start the exciting new project in the fall. It will take a lot of my time, and changes will come, but I don’t want to think about them yet. I am painting for the next exhibitions and leading the class Doll World this spring. Then it’s time for Art and Technology to collide.

Butterfly fairies illustration by Paivi Eerola.
The fairies and butterflies from Doll World and the frame from Magical Inkdom

What are the worlds that are fighting over you? Tell us – leave a comment!

In the Mood of Albert Edelfelt

This week, I present you a Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt and talk about my upcoming exhibition.

This month, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö – Albert Edelfelt’s foundation contacted me. They invited me to participate in a group exhibition in their villa starting in August. I went to sign the contract this week.

Päivi Eerola & Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Me and Hanna Kaarina Syrjäläinen from Albert Edelfelt’s foundation

This is very happy news! If you have read my blog for some time, you know I love art history. Even if I follow contemporary art actively, old paintings inspire me more. Many of the techniques that I use for my paintings are old, even if the expression is abstract or half-abstract. So, one of my secret dreams has been to display my paintings with historical ones.

Albert Edelfelt

Albert Edelfelt (1854 – 1905) was one of the most famous Finnish painters. He painted portraits and landscapes and, in my opinion, was exceptionally skillful in sceneries that had a group of people. He also made illustrations, studied and worked in Paris, and lived in Haikko, Finland, where his foundation is also located.

Albert Edelfelt sketching
Albert Edelfelt, photographed by Pietinen, 1905

Here’s a better picture of the painting “Onkiva ukko” – a guy fishing – that you can see in the background of the first photo, taken in Villa Albert of Albert Edelfelt’s foundation.

Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva Ukko, Villa Albert, Albert Edelfeltin säätiö
Albert Edelfelt, Onkiva ukko, oil on canvas, 1896

One of Albert Edelfelts most famous paintings, especially in France, is the portrait of Louis Pasteur. And many of his female portraits are so romantic, look at this one, for example!

Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880
Albert Edelfelt, Parisienne Reading, oil on canvas, 1880

And look how careless the strokes are here, still expressing the essential so skillfully!

Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882
Albert Edelfelt, Portrait of Young Woman, oil on canvas, 1882

But Albert Edelfelt didn’t only paint young beauties. See this one:

Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887
Albert Edelfelt, Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti, oil on canvas,1887

Browse more here: a big collection of Albert Edelfelt’s paintings

Last year, there was Albert Edelfelt’s big exhibition in France, and it’s now in Göteborg, Sweden, then later in May in Finland.

Villa Albert and The Haikko Area

Edelfelt’s studio is still up. It’s a small wooden cottage and a popular sight. Villa Albert is a new building in the same courtyard. It has a gallery space and a gift shop.

Villa Albert, Haikko, Porvoo
Villa Albert, gift shop, art gallery, Haikko, Porvoo, Finland
Inside Villa Albert, a view of the gift shop

The Haikko area is beautiful. The sea is right there, and a beautiful manor hotel, Haikon kartano, is only a walk away.

The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt's art studio in January 2023
The surroundings of Villa Albert and Albert Edelfelt’s art studio in January 2023

This area is very different in summer, much more welcoming than in the picture that I took this week. Here’s Albert Edelfelt’s painting of his villa in Haikko, currently privately owned but still up and located near the studio.

Albert Edelfelt, The Artist's Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.
Albert Edelfelt, The Artist’s Summer Villa in Haikko, oil on canvas, 1905.

It takes only 15 minutes to drive to an atmospheric old town Porvoo, which is also a very popular tourist attraction.

Entering Porvoo old town
Entering Porvoo, the old town has a lot of wooden buildings

Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt

I will be painting a new series for the exhibition called “Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa” – Artists in the mood of Edelfelt. Even if Albert Edelfelt was a portrait painter, my intention is not to paint portraits but plants. I am excited to pick inspiration from his work, though!

The exhibition will have four other artists too: another painter Kristina Elo, photographers Maarit Lehto and Niclas Warius, and a sculptor, Kaj Lindgård. I am very happy to be displayed with these wonderful artists.

Aug 8 to Oct 10, Taiteilijat Edelfeltin tunnelmissa (Artists in the Mood of Edelfelt), Villa Albert, Haikkoo, Porvoo.

Coming Up in This Blog

This spring, you will see me painting for the exhibition, and I will also share some details of Albert Edelfelt’s life. Between those, I will be posting more playful posts – drawings and journal pages – so, as usual, art history, my oil paintings, and more illustrative work will alternate in this blog. I hope you find all this very inspiring.

Inspired by Nature – Finishing a Series of Paintings

This week, I celebrate a big finish – the series of ten nature-inspired oil paintings that I started in July!

Four small oil paintings by Päivi Eerola, Finland. How to plan and finish a series of paintings.

The series has four small, four medium-sized, and two big paintings. All of them are some kind of floral landscapes.

Small Paintings + Video!

I worked from big to small. I like to start the series boldly and then pick ideas from them for smaller pieces. This is the last painting – Rapunzel of the Garden:

Puutarhan Tähkäpää - Rapunzel of the Garden, a small oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Puutarhan Tähkäpää – Rapunzel of the Garden, 20 x 25 cm. See more pics in the Taiko art store!

Because of the small size, this painting required very thin brushes and a lot of precision. Here’s a 1-minute video where you can see me painting it:

These are the rest of the small paintings:

Varjon lohtu - Comfort of the Shadow, a small oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Varjon lohtu – Comfort of the Shadow, 20 x 25 cm. See more pics in the Taiko art store!
Samettikukan sointi - The Sound of the Marigold, a small oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Samettikukan sointi – The Sound of the Marigold, 20 x 25 cm. See more pics in the Taiko art store!
Ruusun henki - The Spirit of the Rose, a small oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Ruusun henki – The Spirit of the Rose, 20 x 25 cm. See more pics in the Taiko art store!

I like the idea of having a secret tiny treasure, so I try to make the small paintings look like that.

Medium-Sized Paintings

The medium-sized paintings are in two parts: two are smaller, and two are bigger. I like to paint “sisters” – so two paintings in a row or at the same time so that they complement each other. It’s an easy way to create variation in the series.

Toivomusten metsä - Forest of Wishes, a medium-sized oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Toivomusten metsä – Forest of Wishes, 40 x 50 cm. See more pics in this blog post!

I like to name each painting of a series so that the titles have some kind of similarities. For example, the previous series all had celestial bodies in their names, and the one before that was a V-series – all the titles started with the letter V. This time, the similarity is not perhaps so evident, but it’s there – all the titles have a genitive form.

Unelmien kevät - The Spring of Dreams, a medium-sized oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Unelmien kevät – The Spring of Dreams, 40 x 50 cm. See more pics in this blog post!

Four seasons are also present in this series. Expressing seasons is an idea that I could repeat in future series too.

Talviyön runoelma - Winter night's Poem, a medium-sized oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Talviyön runoelma – Winter night’s Poem, 60 x 80 cm. See more pics in this blog post!
Currently on display at the exhibition “Talven taikaa” in Galleria K, Vantaa, Finland.

In every series, there are paintings that have seeds for the next one. In this series, I like how abstract I went with Winter Night’s Poem, and the natural look in The Echo of Moss inspires me a lot. These two will set the foundation for the next series.

Sammaleen kaiku - The Echo of Moss, a medium-sized oil painting by Päivi Eerola. read her blog post about creating a series of paintings!
Sammaleen kaiku – The Echo of Moss, 60 x 80 cm. See more pics and a video in this blog post!

Usually, I am exhausted after finishing a series, but this time not so much. I have many ideas and already ordered the canvases. I like to plan the size of the series and the sizes of the paintings beforehand. Before I even begin to make any background studies, I have ideas on interiors they could fit or galleries or exhibitions they could go to, and decide the size based on those.

Big Paintings

Even if all my paintings are my children, I can’t help picking my personal favorite of the series. In this one, it’s Tiger’s Eye.

Tiikerinsilmä - Tiger's Eye, 100 x 80 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola, Finland. See her blog post about finishing a series of paintings.
Tiikerinsilmä – Tiger’s Eye, 100 x 80 cm.
Currently on display at the gallery Gumbostrand Konst & Form.
See more pics in this blog post!

Tiger’s Eye is a sister to another big painting – Queen of the Night.

Yön kuningatar - Queen of the Night, 100 x 80 cm, oil on canvas. By Paivi Eerola, Vantaa, Finland.
Yön kuningatar – Queen of the Night, 100 x 80 cm. See more pics in this blog post!

I like the drama in these big paintings.

Nature Inspired The Series of Paintings

Often, people ask an artist: “What inspires you?” and the artist responds, “Nature.”

But I think that it’s really important for an artist to get more specific. For me, it’s the plants – who they want to be and what kind of world they hope to build. I love to imagine what kind of personalities plants have.

A flower girl. Colored pencil art by Päivi Eerola.

In the upcoming class Doll World, the plants become alive as flower girls!

Doll World - an online art class for drawing people in adorable nature-inspired dresses.

Come to draw people in nature-inspired dresses – Sign up here!

Out in the Open – Feelings from the First Solo Show

This week I talk about my first solo show called Linnunrata (The Milky Way)
and share thoughts and feelings that being out in the open has evoked in me.

Here’s one of the last paintings that got finished for the solo show.

Court of Uranus, Uranuksen hovi. An oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Adventurous time traveling.
“Uranuksen hovi – Court of Uranus”, 70 x 120 cm, oil on canvas
Click the image to see it bigger!

I started it in April when there were too many water puddles in Finland.

Water World

walking in spring

Water blocked roads and filled fields. It was frustrating and ugly and at the same time, magical and beautiful! I realized that I could watch the mud or look further and see the sky and the trees. Their reflections created a miraculous underwater world.

Puddles in spring

Just like the planet Uranus, this imaginary world had no solid matter – only gas and water!

Pressure Rises

Because I wanted to present my best work at the show, the pressure for bringing out the best of my skills was high. When I started the painting, its identity and colors were weak and the composition weird. I was worried if I get it finished in time.

Starting an oil painting

It took many layers before the painting was finished. Because I like to keep the layers thin and fairly separate, lots of time was spent on drying between the sessions. My studio got too small, and there were paintings drying everywhere!

Paintings drying for the show

I find it quite nerve-wracking to handle wet paintings!

Unexpected Turn

I usually never change the orientation of the painting in the middle of the process, but this time I did. I felt that I could open the space more by doing that. However, I think this piece works in both ways, what do you think?

Court of Uranus, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, upside down
Upside down
Court of Uranus, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Actual orientation

Hanging Plan for the First Solo Show

One of the most challenging things when painting for the show is to keep the overall selection coherent. I had a hanging plan right from the beginning, and I updated the plan after each painting. Here’s how the plan looked before the actual hanging.

The problem with the last paintings was not only to create unique artworks but ones that would also complement the overall collection. I formed small groups from the paintings to give visual rhythm to the exhibition.

We mostly stuck with the plan.

Hanging an art exhibition

I wanted it to be noticed as a main piece of the right side wall. But Court of Uranus was such a strong piece that I wanted to move it to a more central place.

Paivi Eerola's first solo show Linnunrata - The Milky Way.

I left some space around it so that it stands out. This painting causes bittersweet feelings in me, being both beautiful and spooky at the same time. It has been interesting to hear how people see it.

Gallery Space

My show had four walls on the lower level. The building is from 1957 and the walls and the floors are protected. The wooden walls did not bother me, I think my art goes well with them. Here’s a better picture of the gallery space.

Paivi Eerola's first solo show Linnunrata - The Milky Way.

The two big paintings on the white back wall At Home in Pluto and Jubilee in Neptune were painted when I was middle of the series. I think it’s best to paint some smaller pieces first before making the largest ones. I used Neptune for the poster of the show.

Galleria K, Vantaa, taidelainaamo.

When the main pieces are done, there’s more room for something unexpected. That’s how Court of Uranus was born.

Court of Uranus feels like the painting defines me rather than I would define the painting. It seems to display my future and show what more I could do.

A detail of an oil painting called Court of Uranus. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

The big yellow flower is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever painted, and still, it makes me uncomfortable, like I have gone too far, revealed too much.

A detail of an oil painting called Court of Uranus. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I like how light-weighted the flower is. Like she has no worries at all!

At the Opening of the First Solo Show

Riika Anundi‘s show was also her first, and we had an opening together. I gave a speech, we had nice sparkling wine and delicacies, tens of guests, and a very enjoyable atmosphere.

First solo shows of Päivi Eerola and Riika Anundi, Galleria K, Vantaa, Finland

I had invited both relatives and old friends from the past decades. It was wonderful to relax and enjoy after the hard work that the show required.

At the first solo show

Every series has a painting that looks forward. In the picture above, I am talking about Vanitas, the painting that I made last year.

Vanitas, oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Vanitas, 65 x 81 cm, oil on canvas, 2021

This painting, especially the top left corner, led my thoughts to outer space and thus, it was essential to display it at the Milky Way show. I don’t know where the court of Uranus is leading me, but it definitely sets a new direction.

Court of Uranus, a detail of an oil painting by Päivi Eerola, Finland

Even if the colors are dreamy and pastel, there are also technology-inspired details in the painting.

Life After the Solo Show – Open Question

Lastly, I want to show you an old crayon drawing, made as a teenager at school. The subject was the underwater world. Even if I have always hated swimming, never been diving, and never liked water, the drawing came out naturally. Like I had known what I was made to paint already back then.

35 years before and after, developing an artistic style and skills

This post is perhaps more like an open question than an answer that closes everything. Time will tell where my journey goes next! Thank you for walking (or swimming) with me!

Linnunrata – The Milky Way is open from June 3 to June 19, 2022.
Last week! Thursday-Friday 11-17, Saturday-Sunday 12-16
Galleria K, Asematie 7, 01300 Vantaa, Finland

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