Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Getting More into Drawing and Coloring

This week, I share a method that is helpful when you want to get more into drawing and find your style. It is called “topic-spirit-story-abstract.” With this method, art can open to you step by step!

Venus slipper orchid. An illustration by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

For me, everyday life experiences, illustrations, creative writing, and abstract art are all connected. If I take something away, the chain breaks and my expression stiffens. Most of my creative work follows this “topic-spirit-story-abstract” method. I don’t always have to draw a spirit, but recently I’ve spent time in such abstract dimensions when creating computer art that I have wanted to play with the spirits with colored pencils.

Start with Template!

When you want to practice the method, start by making a template! Divide the paper so that you have a part for the spirit and another part for more abstract coloring. You can just draw a line or be more creative and make a circle for the most figurative part, and several other divisions for more abstract ideas.

Topic-Spirit-Story-Abstract method for getting more into drawing and coloring. By Paivi Eerola.

Do some intuitive coloring with a light touch as a warmup before proceeding.

Method: Topic-Spirit-Story-Abstract

After the warmup, find a simple topic that you want to explore.

Think about your recent experiences and find something small and concrete there.

Garden center

In the example, my topic was a recent visit to a garden center. My husband bought me a beautiful venus slipper orchid there.

Second, imagine a spirit that symbolizes the topic.

Use your imagination – anything contains a spirit!

Drawing a spirit for a flower. Using imagination with colored pencils.

In the example, I was thinking about the venus slipper and how mysterious and exotic it looks for a Finn.

Third, let the spirit tell a larger story.

What other associations come to your mind when you think about the spirit? Think about literature, music, food, movies, places – what comes to your mind that enlarges the original topic. What is the world that the spirit can open?

Getting more into drawing and coloring. Illustration in progress.

In the example, I started thinking about the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and Asian culture: sushi and rice bowls. I also had just browsed Kaffe Fassett‘s quilting books and thought about the richness that can be achieved with colors and simple shapes. I slowly enlarged the mixed yet curated world that I was able to reach through the spirit.

Fourth, explore more the abstract side of the discoveries through the story.

Play with the basic shapes and make decorative borders, ribbons, and patterns.

Getting more into drawing and coloring: combining organic and geometric shapes.

I find it easier to draw abstract motifs, ornaments, and patterns after finding the spirit than if I start from a blank paper.

Optional: Write the Story!

After making the image, I like to put stories to words. This helps me to get even more into drawing and makes my work as an artist more meaningful.

Venus Slipper Orchid, the spirit of a plant, illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Art is like a venus slipper. It’s like a plant in the back corner of a garden center. Those who only look at traditional roses won’t even notice it. But whoever dares to bend over the shy plant and curiously fit her mind to the shoe, becomes a master in a game where basic shapes break everything and then build a new whole. This way, the beauty of art is limitless, and not only on the surface.

Here’s another example that I made last week. Here, the center is reserved for the quote from the story, and the spirit and the motifs are in the frame.

Art is a spirit in a pencil. Quote and illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Art is a spirit in a pencil. A single pencil is nothing. It doesn’t cost much, takes up very little space, and you don’t even notice it if it’s at the bottom of your bag. But still, a pencil can connect us to art. When I was a child, I played with pencils while my big sister was coloring. Every pencil had a personality and while I was watching my sister draw, my herbs grow, and my teddy bear rest, I had no idea that those little moments would dictate my future. Art back then was only a spirit in a pencil. When art is a spirit in a pencil, we say yes to a journey that takes us closer to who we are. We say yes to expression that has no limits. This freedom is why I want to support creating.

Getting More Into Drawing Frames and Borders

Decorative art is a bridge between illustration and abstract expression.

Decorative stripes with colored pencils

Reality consists of both organic and geometric shapes. The question is: how can you bring both of these worlds into your art and use them in a creative way?

Making an illustration. Space for a quote.

I hope you find all this inspiring and helpful to get more into drawing and coloring.

5 Tips for Quick Abstract Flowers

This week, we paint quick abstract flowers freely without any references.

Quick abstract flowers in acrylics. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I have a black Dylusions Creative Journal and make small paintings there occasionally. It is especially good when there’s still paint left on the palette at the end of the painting session. I think it makes sense to use all the paint, and not throw the leftovers in the trash.

Art journal filled with flower paintings.

I don’t use any gesso but paint directly on the page.

Quick abstract flowers in acrylics. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

When I painted pieces for the course Liberated Artist Revisited, I noticed that there had been a long break in acrylic painting and some of the tubes had started to harden.

A quick abstract floral painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It motivates me to paint in the black art journal again because I don’t want those paints to go to waste. And sometimes it’s nice to paint something small quickly and see what comes out most effortlessly.

Quick Abstract Flowers – Five Tips!

I like painting abstract flowers, and thick paints are very suitable for abstract flower paintings. Here are my five tips for painting flowers quickly.

1) Start from the Old Mess

The fastest way is to start from an old painting.

I have a lot of pages in my journal where I’ve hastily painted shapes with leftover paints.

Starting to revamp an old painted page. Painting on an art journal.

Continuing the beautiful mess feels much more effortless than starting a new one from the beginning.

Abstract flowers in progress.

For example, here’s one page that still waits its turn to become a finished painting.

Abstract flowers in progress. In a black square Dylusions Creative Journal.

Most of my beginning messes are much more messy though!

2) Dark-Bright-Light

Include all three degrees of darkness in one painting.

Make color mixes and compare them in terms of darkness. By including all three – dark, bright, and light – you can achieve depth and atmosphere.

Mixing acrylic paints on a palette. You can use old lids as a palette.

Make clear larger areas so that you can point to different places in the background and say, there is dark, there is bright, and there is light.

Painting quick abstract flowers by using different color values.

Flowers can have all three – dark, bright, and light colors.

3) Forget the Real Flowers!

Don’t think too much about the real flowers.

Don’t think about what a rose looks like or what flowers you want in your painting. All that stiffens your expression.

A messy beginning of an art journal page.

Focus on the colors and let the flowers form from the brushstrokes.

Using a palette for painting quick abstract flowers.

After all, a flower is just a few colorful strokes and a line for the stem.

A small floral painting in progress.

Use your imagination when you look at your work in progress!

4) Leave Room for Spirit

Not everything needs to be defined or look like a flower.

Flowers are concrete matter, so let the colors express the spirit!

Painting flowers in an art journal. Playing between abstract and representational.

If you want to be extra quick, sharpen just one flower near the center and leave the others more abstract and vague.

Detail of a floral painting.

5) No Forced Feelings

Open yourself up to an emotional experience.

The speed of the painting depends highly on how soon you get an emotional connection with yourself and what you are doing. Let even the darkest thoughts come. For creativity, everything genuine is equally good.

Painted spread in a Dylusions Creative Journal. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

The beauty of making art is that imagination creates abundance and eternal life from almost nothing – from the leftover paint and leftover energy. And the more often you create, the more you get out of it!

Quick floral abstract from leftover paints.

Liberated Artist Revisited – Buy Now!

In Liberated Artist Revisited, we time-travel to meet the teacher – Paivi from 2015, and create new art with her.

Liberated Artist online course

This course is both for the left and right brain. The young Paivi gives systematic instructions while the older Paivi enjoys her freedom and ponders about art-making and life in general.

Paivi Eerola and quick abstract flowers in her art journal.

Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

New Beginnings in Art-Making

Let’s think about new beginnings and give one to our art-making!

One example of the course Liberated Artist Revisited - being wild and free in the beginning and more focused in the end. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

In recent months, I have felt that a new era has begun in my life. It has been surprising. I have thought that I am already too old for anything new – that the new beginnings in life have already been experienced, at least in terms of working life. But it just so happened that my work as an artist has a new beginning thanks to the grant for creating digital art.

At the same time, I have gained a new perspective on the past and my artistic development. Now, it feels that life with its changes is full of new beginnings, and art, too, is full of them! There are big beginnings and then smaller beginnings within them.

Valuing Randomness and Intuition

I developed the latest course Liberated Artist Revisited, because I wanted to relive the idea of the old course Liberated Artist. I wanted to relive that time in 2015 when a new beginning meant letting go of excessive control and surrendering to happy accidents and intuition. Because isn’t it the case that whenever a new era begins, we need faith in chance and intuition – so, the art of letting go!

Paivi and her art. Read more about her new beginnings.

At the current new beginning, I have been thinking about what I have to give up. Because, couldn’t you say that life with its changes is full of not only beginnings, but endings, and ask if the same applies to art? While making the course Liberated Artist Revisited, I listened to Paivi from 2015.

Liberated Artist - Banner from 2015.
Old banner from 2015.

Younger Paivi was very prompt: Step A and Step B and so on. If I compare her and I, I am partly different and partly similar. I would do some things differently now but in many ways., I am still quite the same artist. The new course Liberated Artist Revisited is a dialogue between the old and the new. You could also say that I have changed as an instructor a bit. Nowadays, I want to open up your artistic thinking, not so much to exclude options.

Mixed media art-making in progress. New beginnings can include randomness and happy accidents.

Life is so grand that everything that once had a beginning, stays in our hearts for a long time, even if it has ended. It’s the same in art. I can smile at Päivi after more than eight years, but not ironically, but warmly. “It’s wonderful to create something new with you again,” I say to young Päivi, and it’s also wonderful to invite you all to a new course again!

Liberated Artist Revisited – Buy Now!

Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

Enrich Your Art – Play with Shapes!

This week it’s time to get inspired by shapes and start playing with them!

Art play with shapes. "Visionäärit - Visionaries", colored pencils, from 2023. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
“Visionäärit – Visionaries”, colored pencils, from 2023.

My dear reader, I guess you follow my blog because you love colors. And yes, isn’t it wonderful to choose, for example, a colored pencil from among several different colors: “Should I pick pink or red, hmm?

Art play with simple shapes. "Walking the Dog," mixed media, from 2018. By the artist Päivi Eerola.
“Walking the Dog,” mixed media, from 2018.

I have a degree in industrial design and maybe that has influenced me to think like this:

A color is a child. A form is a mother.

Colors take spurts freely on the paper while forms set limits. But you can play with form too!

Back to Nature, acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola, 2020. Playing with organic shapes.
“Back to Nature”, acrylics on cardboard, from 2020.
See more about making this in this blog post!

There is no need to turn the mother into an old woman who only sees the reality.

The soul of any shape is abstract and yet, even a simple shape has an expression. It’s fun to draw random shapes and then carefully alter them.

Retro living. Mixed media art. 2017. Art play with shapes.
“Retro Living,” mixed media, from 2017.
See more about making this in this blog post!

Shapes form a design language that you can constantly enrich. Don’t just draw isolated geometric shapes, but combine them to get more interesting ones!

The Secret Language of Peonies. Art journal page. Mixed media.
The Secret Language of Peonies, from 2017.
More about making this in this blog post!

When you have a shape on paper, give your full attention to it.

Art Play with Shapes

Talk to the shape! Interview it!

Don’t ask what she represents, but what kind of world she would like to create around herself.

Paradise, acrylic painting, by Paivi Eerola, 2020. Playing between realistic and abstract.
“Paradise,” acrylics on paintboard, from 2020.
See more about making this in this blog post!

Ask where she belongs, and what kind of shapes she would like to meet.

"Arotuuli - Steppe Wind," acrylics on canvas, from 2020, Paivi Eerola, Finland. Abstract painting with horses and a variety of shapes.
“Arotuuli – Steppe Wind,” acrylics on canvas, from 2020.
See more about making this in this blog post!

Shapes can take you to imaginative places where realistic and abstract meet. Once you have been traveling for some time, you will notice that the delicacy of art is in the form, and the color – the child – is there only as a spice.

Jupiterin malja - Jupiter's Bowl, oil on canvas, 2022, by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Full of shapes and movement.
“Jupiterin malja – Jupiter’s Bowl,” oil on canvas, 2022.
See more about making this in this blog post!See more pics on the Finnish Art Store Taiko!

Art play with shapes – What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments!

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