Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Extra Post In Memory of Queen Elizabeth

Four Seasons Bouquet - a luxurious black and white drawing by Paivi Eerola

When I was a child, I wanted to be the Queen of England. It was the greatest thing I knew. We lived modestly in a small Finnish town near the Russian border. On Sundays, when we got a thick newspaper and bought a women’s magazine from the local kiosk, we talked about royals in Europe. The greatest of all was Queen Elizabeth, of course. I admired her so much that I got a flower bench under my bedroom window and roses called Queen Elizabeth planted on it.

Queen Elizabeth was my queen back then and still has been. She has been our queen for so long that she has seen more than most of us. With her, a time period that a single human can comprehend and remember vividly now goes away.

We, Finnish people, remember the queen’s visit to Finland in 1976. When my parents saw our politicians taking her to a forest in a walking suit, they were upset and ashamed. I remember my mother sitting on the sofa horrified and even a child understood that our love for forests could have been presented in a more sophisticated manner. But we didn’t get any headlines where the queen would complain about her circumstances, and in fact, we haven’t got much of those during all these years.

So here’s to Queen Elizabeth one more time. She inspired me to dream about jewels and kennels, courts and stables, tartans and silk, and because of her, I looked at forests like they were palaces. It made life so much better then, and it still carries me now when I am an artist.

Draw a Coloring Page and Color It Creatively!

This week, we draw a coloring page and color it creatively.

Fall Is Coming - an illustration by Paivi Eerola. See how this was first drawn as a coloring page!
Fall is Coming!

Inspiration from an Artist Friend Eeva Nikunen

This blog post is inspired by my artist friend Eeva Nikunen. She is a master at drawing coloring pages. She has many self-published books, and just recently, she drew the Alice in Wonderland coloring book for a famous British company Colouring Heaven. I especially love Eeva’s illustrations of men, and her drawing skills are superior, much further than mine. Of the two of us, she is more of an illustrator while I am a painter, but we both alternate with drawing and painting.

Inspiration from Historical Styles

The Victorian era inspires Eeva, and I love it too. In 2020, I illustrated a book called Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers. It had over 60 Victorian-style line drawings and one simple coloring page as well. I have used a similar drawing style in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom.

Animal Inkdom by Paivi Eerola. A victorian-style line drawing.
One of the projects from the class Animal Inkdom, before coloring.

I also like Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha‘s illustrations. See this old blog post from 2015 where I draw in Art Nouveau style!

Art Nouveau style drawing.

The blog post has a short drawing video too.

Art Nouveau has inspired me to create a set of coloring pages for the e-book Coloring Freely. Here are some samples of them.

Line drawings for coloring pages. From the book Coloring Freely by Paivi Eerola.
Illustrations from the e-book Coloring Freely.

Let’s Draw a Coloring Page!

There are great programs for drawing coloring pages like ProCreate and Adobe Illustrator. I like these programs, but I like to keep drawing with pens and pencils too. So let’s look at how to draw a coloring page by hand!

I started with a pencil, and the focus was first on the pose. When I had a rough idea of a woman romantically entering a scenery, I drew over the pencil lines with a black drawing pen. I like to use ink pens because I draw better when I can’t erase the lines. It makes me concentrate more, and my hand becomes steadier.

The sketch for the pose is number 1 in the photo. I think many of you would just throw it in the trash and think that the project is a disaster, but the secret is to keep going by tracing the sketch to another paper.

Many versions of the same coloring page: sketches, final version and a print on unbleached paper.
Many versions of the same coloring page: 1-3) sketches, 4) the final page, and 5) the print of the final page. Click to see a bigger image!

When tracing the old lines, you will get more ideas and new energy for adjusting the drawing. My second sketch had more elements, and I also started thinking about the facial expression of the character. When I ran out of ideas, I just drew hearts. Then I colored the sketch a bit to think about what the general idea of the image could be.

I like to develop ideas by drawing and coloring, not by thinking only. Many say they have images in their head, but mine are often too vague or too traditional. Drawing makes me more inventive and detailed. So, in the third sketch, the hearts were gone, and the lady had a bag, a leaf skirt, and a circle behind her. As you can see from the picture above, I threw the sketch away, but then when I thought about the blog post, I dug it out from the bin for the photo!

Here’s the third sketch without colors and the final version that I drew after coloring the third one for some time.

A sketch for the coloring page and the final version. See how to draw a coloring page!
A sketch and the final version of the coloring page.

The final drawing is about saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall. The bag symbolizes summer and the circle became a giant pumpkin. If you compare my lines between the sketches, they become more delicate and detailed towards the end. The first sketch is a clumsy thing, but by redrawing the lady several times, I was able to make the design more flowing. Straight lines became curvier and curves got more notches, making the shapes more interesting. By leaving some of the elements visible only partly, the image looks more coherent and less floating.

Choosing Paper for Drawing and Coloring

The thin and smooth marker paper makes tracing easy. I got to know it when I was studying as an industrial designer. Art supply stores sell it. For coloring, I prefer thicker paper, so I scanned the image and printed it on a brown drawing paper.

Making a coloring page. Papers for sketching a coloring.
Translucent marker paper for the drawing and thicker paper for the printed page.

Unbleached paper allows me to color a bit more carelessly and playing with pastels and whites is more fun.

Creative Coloring

An inspiring coloring page is not too detailed. I like pages that have some detailed elements, like the bag in mine, but that also have plenty of space for additional ideas. Then the coloring page can be treated as a foundation for creative coloring. For example, my page has pretty empty hem, and I can have fun by coloring freely – creating color changes and motifs that make the design more rich and stylish.

Coloring a hand-drawn coloring page.

I also like to color over the lines so that coloring extends the original design.

Creative coloring of a coloring page with colored pencils.

Compare the coloring page and the colored version below to see the additions made with colored pencils only!

A coloring page and the colored version.

With colors, you can also change the style of the drawing. I think mine looks quite Alphonse Mucha without colors, but after coloring, less so. I like coloring shadows and making the design less flat than what Art Nouveau had.

The Intuitive Part of Intentional Art

After finishing a drawing that was born pretty intentionally, I like to ponder what had initiated it. I found this photo on my phone, taken a couple of days ago. The two-colored leaves looked so beautiful and bittersweet to me that I had snapped a picture of them.

Fall leaves.

I am sad that summer is over but also acknowledge that summers and falls are not separate. One carries the other. It’s not fall’s fault that the summer is gone, and the present that the summer gave is dear to her.

A detail of an illustration, drawn and colored by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I hope this post inspires you to draw a coloring page through multiple sketches and then creatively color it!

Turning Memories into Paintings

This week, I talk about memories and art-making and how the connection between them can be loose but still important.

Tiikerinsilmä - Tiger's Eye, oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Tiikerinsilmä – Tiger’s Eye, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

With this new painting, I want to talk about …

Books and Memories

My parents never visited another country, and as a child, I never traveled abroad. My first foreign trip was to England when I was 21 years old.

So when I think about my childhood, the first feeling that comes to mind is boredom. “Äiti, mitä mie tekisin – Mother, what could I do next?” I often asked. But my mother’s suggestions were never inspiring, and if my friends weren’t around, I usually chose to walk to the local library so that I could see the world.

My body was local, but my mind was international. Maybe it’s because our family had the book Tuhannen ja yhden yön satujaOne Thousand and One Nights, and I found it fascinatingly exotic at a very early age.

Childhood memories, with flowers
Admiring flowers in the 1970s

So the local library became my globe. As soon as I opened the door, I glanced at England, to the bookshelf where Jane Austen‘s novels were in a row. Then I went to Africa and Asia by browsing big encyclopedias of animals, searching for big cats. I traveled to Egypt when admiring the treasures of the pyramids. I spent hours in France and Italy, contemplating whether I liked impressionism or expressionism more. Pictures of folk dresses took me to the east, across the border. I traveled west over the sea to meet my friends Uudenkuun EmiliaEmily of the New Moon, Laura Ingalls, or Vihervaaran AnnaAnne of Green Gables. And I also spent quite a lot of time in a fictional American town through Spoonriver Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

When my fingers danced on the spines of the books, my mind contemplated where to go next. And always, I was able to find a place more pleasant than the small town in Eastern Finland.

Painting Freely, Inspired by Memories

This freedom of mind still inspires me. In fact, this blog is one channel to reach you who lives far away. Despite the distance, you may have read the same books, yet our memories are unique. The common stories and pictures get mixed with personal experiences and views.

Starting a painting, a studio view

No matter how current we want to be, memories always play some role in our art too. When painting freely, it’s not as literal as illustrating a story but more about the atmosphere and associations that a traveling brush can evoke.

Painting in progress. Painting freely and letting memories flow through associations. Creating intuitive art.

Like a child, we can get enthusiastic about very little – about a spot or a simple idea and then expand our thoughts, shapes, and colors.

Painting in a small studio, inspired by memories.

I believe that the more we paint, the more we remember who we naturally are.

My Artist’s Journey

My artist’s journey has been full of practice. A lot of it has been that I have developed a class of my recent revelations and then moved forward to find more. So, it’s been a very straightforward route that way, and I am oddly relieved that it has brought me where I am now, being able to use a brush as my pen and paint stories that go beyond words.

Right now, it doesn’t feel right to develop a new class about painting, especially when I already have the master class Floral Freedom.

Painting the edges of a big painting. The painting is sideways on an easel.
Painting the edges. This piece

However, with the current series of paintings, I have got new ideas for drawing. A big part of my painting skills and imagination have come from drawing practices, and I love the quickness and playfulness that pens and pencils enable. So stay tuned!

Tiger’s Eye – Memories into Painting

I painted this piece, Tiikerinsilmä – Tiger’s Eye, like it would be a good book, taking me to unexpected places. Just like a child sees the world in a library, as an artist, I try to stretch my memories and imagination so that I don’t get stuck in the mundane.

Paivi Eerola and one of her paintings in a garden.

What kind of memories and hopes came to your mind when reading this post? Did you, too, read One Thousand and One Nights, for example?

Expressing Moonlight Magic

This week is about the moon and expressing the magic!

Kuutamon taika - Moonlight Magic, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.
Kuutamon taika – Moonlight Magic, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Kuutamon Taika – Moonlight Magic. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Mercury here, Neptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

Experiencing Moonlight Magic

One night in April, after a long workday, my spirit was low, and I felt tired. But after stepping outside to take the dogs out one more time, I saw a beautiful moonlight. I even took a picture but just with my phone camera, and the photo doesn’t do justice to the sight.

Moonlight photo

Everything looked black and white at first, but after a while, my eye saw a subtle variety of tones. It was like a message from the moon: “Paint me next! Let me be a part of your galaxy!”

Fantasy Art Connects Imagination and Past

This was not the first time expressing the moonlight magic. A few years ago, I started to feel that my art needed more fantasy. I had begun to follow many fantasy artists, for example, Jasmine Beckett-Griffith and Annie Stegg. Imaginative realism – as the genre is called – felt inviting. In 2018, I participated first time in the Inktober challenge, and in 2019 I made a class called Magical Inkdom.

Magical Inkdom online class

The world of Magical Inkdom is playful and colorful, but so that some elements look historical, just like in imaginative realism, where the story often happens in the past.

I wanted fantasy art to be present in my upcoming show too. So I wanted to make a painting with a similar historical yet fantasy-oriented look. My goal was to create a traditional floral but still include something that would tickle the imagination and feel magical.

A detail of Kuutamon taika - Moonlight Magic, oil painting on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

A slightly extraordinary composition and a combination of both decorative and more abstract elements make this painting stand out.

A detail of Kuutamon taika - Moonlight Magic, oil painting on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

I am also surprisingly fond of the color scheme and it was much more fun to paint than I expected.

Expressing Magic and the Ability to Disappear

A part of the magic is that something almost disappears and then appears again, just like the moon in a cloudy sky. There are lots of blurry elements in this painting, even if you might not notice them right away. A sharp line and some dots on a blurry spot make the flower.

A detail of Kuutamon taika - Moonlight Magic, oil painting on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

Old master painters of the 16th to 18th centuries used this technique a lot.

Jacobus Leveck, Portrait of a Lady, detail
Jacobus Leveck (1634-1674), Portrait of a Lady, detail

For example, look at the hair and the pearls in this portrait. Just blurry spots that have been sharpened with lighter and sharper strokes and dots. Don’t they look magical!

Preparing for the Show

This painting is small, 30 x 50 cm. Here’s a quick snapshot where you can see the size better.

Kuutamon taika - Moonlight Magic, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

I am currently varnishing paintings for my upcoming solo show in June. All the tabletops are full and the not-so-pleasant odor is in the air. I hope to have photos of the show next week.

P.S. Magical Inkdom is for sale until June 16th! >> Buy here!

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