This week, let’s play with hand-drawn paper pieces and create 3D collage art.
My example is eight by eight inches (about 20 x 20 cm), so fairly small, but it has quite a lot of details. I used foam tape to add dimension to it, and the result is lovely. It brings embroidery or applique to my mind.
The idea of using foam tape between the layers is familiar to many from card-making, but I think the result is much more original when you use your own hand-drawn art.
Boxes of Joy – Shops Made by You for You
For years, I have been inspired by the idea of creating my own little paper shop. This shop is not about selling stuff for others but creative play where you are both a shop owner and its best customer. This picture is from 2016, when my shops were pretty simple and contained mostly paper sheets.
Sometimes the things I have drawn feel too precious to put to use. For example, the roses that I made for Doll World.
But the older the pieces get, the more I try to use them. And if something doesn’t “sell,” I can recolor it or add something to it so that I – my best customer – feel tempted to “buy” it.
I like this process of adding more to something that’s pretty full already!
Thick Paper Love
One of my favorite papers is thick and smooth watercolor paper. It is suitable for both painting and drawing, but I sometimes avoid it because the collage gets so bulky. But for 3D effects, thick paper is perfect. It’s sturdy and goes very well with foam tape. Another paper that I like is Bristol paper. It’s not so thick but very smooth and sturdy enough for 3D.
The background of this 3D paper collage is hand-painted watercolor paper. The elements are hand-drawn on watercolor paper or Bristol paper mostly.
Colored Pencils for 3D Paper Collage
Back in 2016, I used acrylic paints a lot. But nowadays, they feel less tempting. Not only because they are messier than colored pencils or watercolors but also because they are too similar to oil paints that I use for canvas paintings. I want to separate play from the pieces that I sell.
With play, I also want to grow my drawing skills. Colored pencils are great for that. They also go well together with watercolors. I have had a break with watercolors, but I hope to use them more this year.
I like the many tones of green in this piece! I have colored many white parts with green to integrate the pieces better with the background.
Artist’s Life – Upcoming Projects
My playing time will get more limited soon because I will start a new series of oil paintings. I have been invited to a wonderful art history-related group exhibition that begins in August, and there is a smaller fantasy-related show in April. I will tell you more about these in the upcoming posts.
This spring is also full of art in other ways. I enjoy seeing all the lovely dolls from the participants of Doll World and other classes in my Bloom and Fly community. I hope to help you there as much as I can throughout the year. I am also participating in a Finnish artist coaching program to get to know the practices of the fine art world better. You have enabled my growth, and I hope that my growth will also benefit you. I hope that 2023 will be a good year of art for both of us.
This week, we are creating a chapter cover for our art journals that marks the new year.
When I think about the new year, there are lots of uncertainties that first come to my mind. What will happen in the world, what will happen in my life, and what will happen in my art? I can only present educated guesses about the threats and possibilities. This kind of wondering makes me feel passive, and it’s not very uplifting, so I rather pick up my pencils and start drawing.
Draw a Chapter Cover for a Journal!
As I told you in the recent video blog post, I got the idea of making a chapter cover in the colored pencil journal, marking where the new year begins. So all I had to do was to add the numbers on the next spread and then color a bit on them and around them. This project was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it!
Play with Numbers!
Just as the world is not only based on facts, the numbers are not just numbers either. Their shapes don’t entirely define them. The number “2” can be a kneeling woman with stockings and a skirt, or a flower that bends down – or both! The number “0” can be a mirror that not only reflects the surroundings but open ups a new scenery. Isn’t that what we want to see in the new year – not only experience the chronologically bypassing days but also make them take our minds to a new place? Stairs that are ahead can lead to nowhere or everywhere, and the fingers that hold a treasure can, at the same time, be the leaves of a plant.
The way we can combine everyday life and fantasy creates joy and hope, and uncertainties feel not only exciting but necessary.
Numbers as Fashion Models
Every time I build a course, I learn something new myself too. But this time, with Doll World, I feel that there’s a lot that comes in the shape of a person.
When I am more familiar with drawing human figures, I seem to be better able to see those everywhere, for example, in numbers too. And it often seems to come to my mind that I can dress up a shape and, that way, make it more imaginative and fun.
Year of Art
The year 2022 has been a year of art for me. I acknowledge that eight recent years have been like that in one way or another when I have been a full-time artist. But this year, it felt like Art came out of the cellar and opened her heart. And when asking what to do next, she usually said: “Leave me alone,” but this year, the answer was softer, sending a question back to me: “Tell me what you want to see!” Art, who was an animal that used to escape and hide, became a pet, even a caressing spirit. She wanted to stick around and show how something little can grow to become enough – how I can be enough.
It all felt like a gift even if I had suffered for years by trying to tame Art’s spirit, trying to understand her, trying to stick around even if she would only live in a dark cellar. And now, when I play with the pencils, it doesn’t feel like I do that without her, but with her, even if I am not painting.
When we spend time together with Art and together as artists too, every year is different. We don’t stay the same, but our foundation becomes more similar. And the older we get, the more we inspire each other, and our art is like a group of fairies that gently fly around us. At least, that’s what I hope for the upcoming year.
Time will tell how this journal continues!
Doll World – Join Us!
Come to draw adorable dolls and their dresses with me!
This week, I celebrate a big finish – the series of ten nature-inspired oil paintings that I started in July!
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:
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:
I like the idea of having a secret tiny treasure, so I try to make the small paintings look like that.
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.
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.
Four seasons are also present in this series. Expressing seasons is an idea that I could repeat in future series too.
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.
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.
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.
Tiger’s Eye is a sister to another big painting – Queen of the Night.
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.
In the upcoming class Doll World, the plants become alive as flower girls!
Black Friday course sales event organized by me on this website!
For me, this is a lot! Fortunately, I have had time to prepare. For example, I got the deadline for the suggestions for the curated group show on Sept 1st. I was then able to apply and have new work specifically painted for the gallery.
Of these four, I am most anxious about the 2-day Christmas sales event even if it’s the smallest one! I have a sales table there, and I haven’t been preparing one for ages. I enjoy selling face-to-face, so it’s also something that I look forward to. It’s also great to see all kinds of sales items on one table and make a nice selection.
Selecting Sales Items – Delivering the Experience of an Original
Even the smallest sales table is a chance to strengthen your artistic voice and communicate your art brand. Most customers may buy postcards and other affordable items only, but still – we want to give them the whole experience. People have come back to me saying: “I remember you. I bought one card from you a couple of years ago, and I look at it every day.” I like to think that with the card, they also buy a piece of the world I am presenting to them. That’s why I always try to include original art as well.
Here’s one of the small paintings that I just finished. It’s called Samettikukan sointi – The Sound of the Marigold.
The Sound of the Marigold is a sister to a piece that I showed you earlier called Ruusun henki – The Spirit of the Rose. But when I placed the paintings side by side, I wanted to make adjustments to the rose painting so that its’ color scheme is less similar. So here’s the new version of The Spirit of the Rose:
Here are the two versions together so that you can compare the changes.
I am going to have small stands for them so that they will stand out from the rest of the selection.
There are also a couple more small oil paintings. They are still in progress, but I hope to finish them soon so that they have time to dry.
I have noticed that people who don’t regularly go to art events forget the difference between a photo and an actual painting. – like it would be the same browsing the feed or picking a postcard as watching an original.
On my sales table, prints will dominate in quantity. And because most of them are pictures of oil paintings, I also want to deliver the experience of an original oil painting. With the four small ones, I can hopefully present one medium-sized original, maybe Forest of Wishes.
What A Part of Your Audience Expects to See
In my experience, some people are interested in a specific art technique. Previously, when I had the sales table at a similar event, there were some who wanted to talk about watercolor painting and were disappointed that I only had one example or so. These are people who are art hobbyists themselves and who are potential customers for my classes.
I used to paint a lot in watercolor, but lately, not so much because they don’t sell as well as oil paintings and have a low price point. Because I need to make a living and because I enjoy creating big paintings, I have focused on oils. But this time, I thought I would take a bunch of watercolor paintings with me and set the price lower than expected. If I still actively sold watercolor paintings, I wouldn’t do that, but now I see the chance to reach this part of the audience and show my watercolor work.
Because most elements of my style were developed in watercolor first, these pieces fit well with cards that have oil paintings.
These cards came out gorgeous! They have a satin finish and are bigger and thicker than standard postcards. I ordered them as well as the cards from Moo.com (affiliate link, but I would recommend them without one too!)
What to Leave Out
Many times, I have put everything I have on the sales table, and that’s never been a good thing. You might have potential best sellers, but bringing items that don’t make sense to them will ruin the sales. For example, I brought fabrics with my designs and some craft items to an event focused on fine art. And vice versa, I took some original art to a craft show. Yes, you might get some sales from the odd items, but confuse most of the audience.
Price can be a reason to exclude some too. For example, if the organizer takes a percentage of the sales or if the price of the sales table is high, selling the most affordable items doesn’t necessarily make sense. And vice versa: when people come for good finds on their way to the shopping center, selling the biggest and most expensive pieces can be hard.
This painting – Tiger’s Eye – has been waiting to get to a curated exhibition that interests art collectors. Now I am happy to pack it and two other paintings for a big gallery show.
My oil paintings always get a varnish and a hanging wire so that they are ready for hanging on the wall.
In my experience, original art that is ready to hang is more tempting to buy than pieces that require, for example, framing. However, if the price point is very low, it doesn’t always make sense to frame the pieces. Whatever the case, it’s always good to present a unified collection and leave out some that are too different in size, style, or frame than others.
When selecting work for the small postcards, I left out many paintings I like and value. For example, many of my big paintings are not so great for postcards. Their details get lost in the tiny size, and their subject is more suitable for decorating interiors than sending wishes.
And then some paintings are quicker but more suitable; for example, Kukkiva maa – Flowering Earth that I painted in acrylics for the class Floral Freedom.
I think it’s perfect for a postcard – full of colors and flowers!
How You Will Be Remembered
Many times when I have been preparing for the events, my behavior has been on my mind: Am I able to show my enthusiasm? How could I not only make sales but be remembered afterward too?
But the best answer here is quite technical. You should have something to give that has your contact information on it. And all your products should have your name and website – or at least an email – on them. I use the same tactics, the same generosity that is, that I have used with selling online courses. I give something for free and invite people to see if I am suitable for them. On the sales events, I have small cards that have different pictures – details of my art – and I invite people to pick one that they like.
This begins a conversation about their likings about them, and when they have the mini card, I can serve them better and be remembered too.
The postcards also have contact information printed on the back.
There’s also another artwork as a frame.
I think about these features as generosity as well. I have taken the time to design the back to make the cards even more valuable.
Sales Events Are the Opportunity to Test
Even if it’s good to have a unified style and selection, the sales event is also an opportunity to test new ideas and approaches. I like to do tests that are not big new things but hidden in the small stuff. This time, I made a postcard of my colored pencil work to see how many people can recognize the medium and how many are interested in this style of drawing.
This postcard is composed digitally of many colored pencil pieces.
As you know, I am not just an oil painter, but also love colored pencils. It would be fun to talk about them too.
This leads us to my course sales event on Black Friday weekend. All classes will be on sale and registration for the new class Doll World will open. Doll World will begin at the beginning of January.
During the years, I have learned that if I love the class, there’s a possibility that you will love it too. The same goes for all art really. We have to pamper it and give attention to its needs. And when the course or the painting asks: “Will there be anyone for me?” we must say: “Yes, my dear – kyllä kultaseni – sometimes it will just take a little bit of time.” We both feel vulnerable about this.
P.S. The engineer in me says that this is not a comprehensive article about setting a sales table. But I intend to share some pics when I set the actual table on December 3-4 at Galleria K, Vantaa, Finland. So stay tuned for Black Friday sales and future blog posts!