This week, I share exciting personal news and celebrate with a flash sale. The animal drawing class Animal Inkdom is 40 % off this weekend! The sale ends on Sunday, July 18, 2021, at midnight PDT.>> Buy here!
This week, my husband and I had a small vacation. We went for a two-day trip to see the Finnish countryside and some towns, but first and foremost: to choose a new family member! We have been waiting for this since our beloved beagle Cosmo passed away, but beagles are very popular, and cold winter seemed to postpone the litter.
But here she is!
She is only 5 weeks in the photo and we will get her after a few weeks. We have named her Saima. It’s a Finnish girl’s name and also very similar to Saimaa, the largest lake, where we went to see her. Saima also has a grey spot on her other leg. Grey is harmaa in Finnish, and a famous Finnish poet was Saima Harmaja. So there really was only one option for the name! We are eagerly waiting for her and hope that our beagle Stella will love her too.
Celebrating Saima – Animal Inkdom 40% OFF
Last spring, when waiting impatiently for her to be born, I decided that after I get to hold a new puppy in my arms, there will also be a sale for Animal Inkdom. So now’s the time!
Animal Inkdom has been my most popular class during the past couple of years. When I recorded it, I had so much fun that I had to edit out some laughs. I think that the love for animals and the easy flow of ideas have made the class inspiring for everyone.
And because choosing a puppy isn’t something that happens often, I wanted the sale to be exceptional too. Animal Inkdom is 40% OFF, but only for this weekend! The sale ends on Sunday night, July 18, 2021, at midnight PDT.>> Buy Here!
This week, I write about my personality type based on Thomas Erikson’s book Surrounded by Idiots and how to paint free from expectations.
Here’s my newest painting. When finishing it, I became surprised gladly when “Blackbird” got a little sister “Finch.” Here’s Blackbird again:
Book: Surrounded by Idiots – The Four Types of Human Behaviour
All my life, I have had strong opinions about how and what I should paint. And yes, these opinions have not been something like “powerful dreams” but more like pushy commands. I didn’t even realize how pushy they have been until I read Thomas Erikson’s book “Surrounded by Idiots.” It made me think about my personality from a new perspective.
Even if the idea of the book – dividing personalities into four categories and naming them by colors – could be taken as nonsense, after reading it, I can’t help thinking about how “red” I am. An ambitious fact-oriented person who has pushed herself to the utmost limit with this art-making obsession.
If you are “yellow,” you probably think that I should either have fun or move on. “Greens” might recommend taking a rest and stopping working too hard. And “Blues” claim that the book is not scientifically proved and there’s no reason to quit.
But I have discovered a new solution. It’s been a joy to use my red energy only to make sure that I keep painting. When I open the tubes, my redness is gone. I am open to painting anything. Every ugly start feels like an invitation to the jungle: Let’s see what’s going on in the inner world.
Breaking the Glass – Growing Compassion Towards Inanimate Things
In the class Floral Freedom, you dive deep into Wassily Kandinsky’s ideas about abstract art. Among other things, he talks about breaking the glass – stopping being the observer and starting to be the one that experiences things. Now when I have been pushing myself for almost seven years, the glass has become thin. I feel joy about how easily it breaks right after squeezing the paint on the palette.
For a red person, it has been difficult to break through. I have been giving orders and tightened the control from time to time. But now, the only goal for the spring is to paint all the canvases that I purchased earlier this year. Not questioning what I paint, but just do it.
“Do it!” the red in me commands matter-of-factly and then leaves me working. After breaking the glass, I arrive at a lobby that’s filled with all kinds of stuff. For example, there are tulips that my husband removed from the bench where they were not supposed to grow.
They twisted and turned in the vase, like wild animals in a cage, trying to break free. And when they withered, they became angry and devastated beasts, desperate to continue their lives. They didn’t want to face the fact that they wouldn’t reproduce like they were born to do.
When painting, we can see similar things or just glide on the glass and bypass them. Shapes that don’t get the place in the spotlight. Lines that disappear before they reach high enough.
But if we put our mind into noticing them, we can make these inanimate splotches of paint breath and fly, even save some ugly spots. Not because we would hasten and thus compromise the quality, but because we feel sudden compassion towards their character.
Then a picture is not forced but appears naturally. However, the result is not static or exact like the observer would want. Instead, it describes the inner experience of being.
The Experience of Being a Finch
In this painting, the being is a little bird, facing danger, trying to take care of its nest, flying and falling, still living the summer of her life.
Have you read Thomas Erikson’s book Surrounded by Idiots? Do you see a connection between your personality and art-making?
This week, I share my newest painting, and thoughts about a life change after becoming an artist – even if I don’t quite know where I will be heading next myself.
All my life I have wanted to be an artist. But first, I went to study software engineering because it was a much more sensible thing to do at a young age. And I loved computers. How can a girl love machines so much?
There’s this girl in me who looks in the future and gets excited about technology. And then there’s another girl who looks back to history and wants to paint like Rubens or Kandinsky.
Pursuing the Dream of Becoming an Artist
After I got my degree in 1996, I repeated to myself “Paivi, you are a master of science – “diplomi-insinööri” for a couple of years. It felt so unbelievable!
But I had this other dream that I wanted to pursue, and it felt like my life would be too short for that. So many years were given to technology. However, in 2014, about seven years ago, I decided to give it a go.
I thought that I would be learning and teaching for the rest of my life, never coming home, but fully enjoying the journey.
Breaking Through in Becoming an Artist
However, this year, I found myself breaking through, seeing a new horizon. I had to really push myself to give finishing touches to my newest class Floral Freedom, and after reading Wassily Kandinsky’s book “Point and Line to Plane” the final small pieces fell in their places. It was like a big equation in an engineer’s mind became solved, and I found myself whispering: “Paivi, you are an artist.”
And similarly, as after graduating in 1996, the achievement felt unbelievable. But this time, its tone was different. It was not a validation received from others but from myself and thus, felt more holistic and life-changing. Yes, I may have been an artist for others for some time already, but finally, I have become an artist in the eyes of myself. It has made me want to put recent paintings side by side and continue the series boldly and unapologetically.
There’s also unexpected sadness in this happiness. The imaginary world that I have been building for the last years has fully opened, but with that, something has closed too. The old routines are gone. I no longer question what I should create in terms of subject or style. All I have to do is to fill a palette and start painting.
I am still unaware of what’s coming next. How to sustain myself. How to live after solving a puzzle that has been in my head for 53 years.
Blackbird in a New Territory
Every morning when I open the door, I see blackbirds in our front garden. They seem modest and hard-working. They rarely rest, and when they sing, it seems to be for a purpose. These colorless birds don’t ever surprise or make my head spin.
But yesterday, I noticed that a blackbird had left the garden and entered my inner world. And it was so delightful, like a sign of hope in all the unawareness and misery that I have had recently. Isn’t it amazing that someone so insignificant as a blackbird can reach a soul, even secretly? That someone so plain and muddy can shine so brightly when it lands in another territory!
I hope you’ll stick with me, take my classes, and hop in where ever you are in your artist’s journey. I promise to stay around and help you as a teacher and a coach at least for the rest of this year.
This post is written by Cosmo, the best studio dog ever.
A studio dog is a position in an artistic family. In short, the job is to maintain the artist’s mental and physical health. This happens by interrupting the artist regularly, but not too often, to get exercise, process inspiration, and stay grounded.
Artists often criticize themselves too much, so it’s essential to love them unconditionally. Whatever they create, they are always worth to get noticed and appreciated. It’s not the job of a dog to decide whether the art is good or bad but to value their temperament and overall creative personality.
Encouraging the artist to take breaks is not always easy. A regular schedule for interruptions is recommended. Sometimes the artist can get annoyed, but it’s good to remember that art is like pig ears. It’s easy to develop an addiction to them. Dogs can’t live with pig ears only, and artists can’t survive by only making art.
When walking the artist, it’s helpful to understand that eyes are her nose. She needs to stop and take pictures once in a while, and these sights are not always what a dog would appreciate.
Creating art is lonely. The artist may want to be alone, but there’s also a limit. Just lying on the studio’s floor can keep her company.
The hardest part of the job is to understand how the internet works. The artist wants to share pictures and stories like this, so sometimes studio dogs also end up on the internet. No matter how old you are, it’s your job to look cute and approachable. It helps if you are not entirely black or white and if you have lop ears. And when the artist is browsing the internet, that’s some kind of a pig ear too.
The job of a studio dog is a job for life. You don’t leave the artist until you have to. At the age of 15 and a half, it’s now time to say goodbye and pass the position to my assistant Stella. She is much cuter than I am, and I’m pretty sure she will handle other things as well. I do have trained her for over eight years.
Lematja’s Heathcliff, “Cosmo”, 23.3.2005 – 18.9.2020. Our hearts are broken, it was so hard to let him go.