This week, let’s get excited about colored pencils and embrace the inner child!
I used to play with colored pencils as a child. Not just use them for drawing and coloring, but also treat them as dolls. A brand was their surname. I had Caran d’Aches, Derwents, Lyras, … My sister was coloring while I played with the pencils. So, it often happened that someone precious got blunt and tired in my sister’s hands and needed some loving care after coming back to my play.
Colored Pencils – Do Yours Need Some TLC?
Some weeks ago, when taking the jars of colored pencils out of the cabinet, I sighed: “I want a new set; these are getting quite short.” But if I look at my diverse selection of pencils in child’s eyes, all they needed was some sharpening and close observation – what is the family name, who could this little pencil be?
I picked a tray for a smaller selection so that I can get to know them again: “Hello, Cretacolor! Let’s work together!” And then, I made some mixed selections and drew more, and it felt as much fun as a brand new set. I also found some small sheets of paper, and it felt as satisfying to fill them as it is to knit with leftover yarns.
Coloring with the Inner Child
The same difference in attitude goes for drawing and coloring. As adults, we may color some random shapes, feel disappointed in their composition, and try forcing the image out. Or we can change the rational to irrational. Then, like a child sees a person in a pencil, we see life in a simple shape. What could be its counterpart, and where could be its reflection? And could it remain blurry – breathe better without outlines?
Instead of controlling the big picture, we can reveal the personality behind each shape. The image will then grow slowly but naturally, and we get to release our inner child.
This post includes sneak peeks of my upcoming class Intuitive Coloring – Stay tuned!
This week’s theme is the artistic spirit. I share a new painting, glimpses of my painting fever, and inspire you to explore the zone between abstract and realistic art.
Here’s an acrylic painting that I just finished yesterday. It’s called “Paradise” and it’s quite big: 61 x 50 cm, about 24 x 19,5 inches.
Painting at Late Evenings and Wee Hours
I like to paint in the late evenings when the world quiets down. Now when it’s summer, Finland floods in light, and nights are short. When the blackbirds begin to sign at 3 am, I know it’s time to wash the brushes.
After a long night, I rush to the studio in the morning: “What have you done! You’ll never be able to finish it!”
But with this painting, I decided to accept whatever comes up. And with that, I have a little story to tell. I shared it on Peony and Parakeet’s Facebook page recently, but if you missed the post, here it is, with one of the paintings from the teenage years.
My Story about Artistic Spirit
As a teenager, I browsed big art books at the local library. I started hanging around with Matisse and Picasso and they said: “Hey Paivi, take this obsession from us, and make the most of it.” First, their inspiration was like a fever: mustpaint…mustpaint… mustpaint. Then, after too many matissepicassos, it became a burden and I went to study engineering.
During the past five years as a full-time artist, I have been hanging around with other guys – like Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rubens. Even if I first thought so, they are not much different. After too many rubenscaravaggios, the empty feeling takes over again.
But recently, I went to my studio secretly, picked the brushes, squeezed the paints, and in silence, I met a spirit. It was not me or any of my masters, but the spirit that arrives when we are ready to let go of the ego.
To paint like me, I need to let go of me. I am pretty sure Matisse and Picasso already told this, I was just so impressed by their names that I didn’t listen.
Abstract, Realistic, or Stylish?
Every time I make a class, I don’t only teach but also learn new things. The newest class Decodashery boosted my confidence to paint decorative motifs right from my imagination. Between “abstract” and “realistic,” there’s a zone that’s “stylish.” Then you simplify what’s real, and complicate what’s not. By simplifying, you dig the artistic spirit out of tangible things, and by complicating geometric shapes, you make the spiritual things more tangible.
I really like this painting, and hope that you enjoy these close-up pics too.
Wishing you many happy moments with painting and drawing!
This week, the theme is painting imaginary people and how to find their soul. There’s plenty of examples in this blog post!
One of the wonders of painting and drawing is that we can give birth to an imaginary person – that we can create someone who breathes, talks, and has a life of her own. However, many times the doll that I have on paper hasn’t come alive. Or she has taken just a few breaths, and after the creative spark has gone, she just stares with empty eyes. So no wonder that I have had a love-hate relationship for painting imaginary people. I want to experience the miracle, but it can also be too much of a struggle.
References – Working with a Soul that Breathes Already
Using a reference may be the least innovative solution but if you find an image that really speaks to you, it can be a good one. Tiny changes in facial features lead to a whole new person so if you don’t follow the reference in the smallest detail, yours is like distant relative to the original – familiar features but still unique. For this oil painting called “Heaven and Earth“, I used a detail of Sandro Botticelli’s painting “Madonna of the Magnificat” (1483) as a reference.
Here’s a close-up of the faces. I changed the angle of the face, opened the eyes more, and made the mouth look more determined.
Sounds easy, but I often struggle with finding the soul when using references. With this painting, I tried to slowly work towards an individual personality, but creating a connection took a lot of time. Botticelli painted his soul, and it’s not the same as mine.
Here the work was in the early stage so that you can see how she has changed.
From the struggles of this painting and many others, I have learned this:
Working on the face alone never brings up the soul.
With the Madonna, as soon as I figured out the purpose and the style of the surroundings, I was able to finish the face.
The Soul Spreads Over the Painting
Even if a person is usually the focal point of the painting, the soul is not focused but spread.
The soul is in the setting, in the things, in the atmosphere. Even Botticelli’s Madonna can look just like a bored person without the crown, the light, the child, the book, etc.
So no matter if you paint intuitively without pre-defined ideas, sketches, or references, or more intentionally with a clear idea of how you want your imaginary people to look like, seek for the soul in everything you paint.
Flowers have soul.
Pots have soul.
Hair and hats have soul.
Inanimate and organic things also give the soul to the imaginary people.
In this watercolor painting called “Mirimer“, the fairy is the focal point, but her soul is spread all over the paper.
Imaginary People Exist in Shapes and Colors As Well
The painting doesn’t even need to have a face. Your imaginary people can be abstract, like in this small acrylic painting that I recently painted on a sketchbook.
Shapes and colors have soul.
Imaginary People – First or Last?
The idea for this post came from the question that I received a couple of days ago:
“I like your little people peeking out from within your art. I would like to learn more about that. Do you draw them first and paint around them or paint and then save a spot for them?”
In Magical Forest, we lure fairies to appear intuitively from the watercolor background. The soul begins with the feeling.
In the new class, Decodashery, we start by building a visual world and then make the dollies to fit with it. So the soul is first just a small flower, then it expands to floral paintings, cakes, lace, and finally, the imaginary people are born. By gradually setting the style and the spirit is the best intentional way to add soul to your work.
This week, I get back to the project that I started earlier this spring. It’s a small notebook that I have filled with happy art. I call it Rainbow Journal because it has brought me both joy and hope. Here’s a quote from the video below:
“When working on this journal, I have been able to live inside a happy bubble momentarily. It’s been refreshing, and my inner critic has got gentler. I have gained new inspiration for my paintings and classes.”
Watch the video to get inspiration for yours!
Creative Prompts for Your Rainbow Journal
Use the following prompts to make yours!
Cover – Make It as Decorative as You Can!
Use a limited color palette and let the colors and shapes flow.
Spread #1 – Get Inspired by Happy Interiors!
Think about textiles, wallpapers, and painted motifs on wooden furnitures and dishes.
Spread #2 – Embrace the Good and the Innocence!
Once you have set the style of the world you are building, who could be wandering there, full of happy thoughts with an innocent mind?
Spread #3 – Paint Something Juicy!
Show how it feels when the glass is full, even overflowing.
Spread #4 – Grow the Flowers of Imagination!
The dark soil makes flowers grow and shine.
Spread #5 – Show the Bright Future!
Get creative with rainbows, how many can you fit in?
I hope this lifted your spirit and inspired you to keep creating!