Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Learning from Artistic Influences – Answering a Question

This week, I have a letter for you who want more from your art. Success looks different in different stages, but wherever you are in the artist’s journey, intuition says that moving forward will be tedious. So, it’s tempting to find a shortcut.

Paivi Eerola and her watercolor art. Read more about Paivi's artistic influences and find what you can learn from them.
In 2019, I painted a lot in watercolor and felt I had found my thing. But the more I thought about it, I started doubting that watercolors did not support my new goals. It wasn’t a nice revelation, and it took about a year to swallow.

Last week, I got a message from a reader asking if I could recommend one or two artists that have influenced your work. “Who, in your opinion, is someone a new artist must learn about?” she wrote.

Here’s my answer to the message with some additional explanations and images.

Listing Artistic Influences

There are a lot of things that have influenced my work, starting from the slow and long summer days as a child in Nothern Karelia, browsing art history books in a local library, studying computer engineering and learning conceptual thinking, studying industrial design and learning the basics of visual communication through shapes, reading Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, learning old master techniques first in a couple of courses, then on my own, etc.

Two artists that I have admired in the past few years have been Peter Paul Rubens, a Baroque painter, and Wassily Kandinsky, an abstract art pioneer.

(These artists have inspired me to teach as well. In the last section of Floral Fantasies, you learn old master’s techniques, and in Floral Freedom, you learn abstract art through Kandinsky’s and Klee’s ideas.)

Paul Peter Rubens' painting in Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.
A snapshot of Paul Peter Rubens’ painting “Consequences of War” at Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy. I think this is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. I was mesmerized when I saw it, and I have a copy of it in the lid of the box where I store my paints.
Read more about my visit to Palazzo Pitti in 2017!

However, these may not be the answers you want to hear. The answer that is most beneficial for you is to ask yourself what’s the root reason for the question.

Questioning Your Direction

When I was searching for an answer to that question about ten years ago, I wanted to find a direction that would take me to the art world. I knew my skills weren’t spectacular, so I wanted to find someone successful who creates art that is simple enough. But then I realized that my taste was a way further, and the only admiration I had for those artists was in their courage to come up and the success as far as I was then able to define it.

Hand-drawn paper collage. Made by Paivi Eerola in 2012.
In 2012, I was eager to see if I could find my path by exploring and developing my hand-drawn line. The course Inspirational Drawing was born a few years later. Here’s the link to the second edition Inspirational Drawing 2.0.

I believe in intuition, and based on that, I assume that you are at the intersection, wondering whether to start going further forward: becoming braver to share your work, build stronger technical skills, and move to the next level in what influences your art and how.

In the next level, the answers become more complicated and multi-faceted. You should learn more about art history and all kinds of contemporary art, go to art museums and galleries, and stop to think not only on the level of “I like that red” but on a more conceptual level: “what does that red represent and how could that effect be created in other ways too?”

Expanding Knowledge and Inspiration for Art

As an artist, you belong to the chain of creative generations, and your roots are long and broad.

An artist Paivi Eerola from Finland painting in her studio. Read more about her artistic influences.
I have just started a new series of oil paintings where I combine art history, fantasy, and Finnish landscapes.

You might also be in a spot where you need to start looking for inspiration outside art, expand into designing, illustration, architecture, and further: nature, culture, and whatever fields are close to you. Art happens when things collide. The nature of art is to expand, not narrow down.

My letter ends here, but how would you have answered the question? 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.

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!

Scroll to top