Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Bringing Life to Illustrations – Coloring the Air

The Chain of Generations, an art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

This is an art journal spread called “Chain of Generations.” I made this to express how decorative arts and crafts have connected women through generations. I feel I am part of that long chain, one foot in crafting and another in creating art.

Spinning wool

From an Accidental Start to an Intentional Theme

The making of the art journal spread began almost accidentally. I had doodled a border on the right page a long time ago. Then many months later, I had quickly drawn a woman from 1920s and glued it beside the doodles.

A few weeks ago, I saw wonderful photos of Ukrainian folk art (pinned some to my Pinterest board Fantastic Folk Art). I got an idea of women connected with flying ribbons. I made a quick sketch with a pencil and then added more details with a drawing pen. I also got started with the coloring, but finishing felt too much work back then.

Coloring tips for an art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

This happens to me often: I begin with one idea and end with another sometime later. I think it’s one of the best things in creating art and especially in creating art journal pages. When there are no fixations, surprising connections can happen. Like here, the women on the right are from different eras: Rococo and 1920s, just perfect to tell the story of how folk art and fashion and their timeless connection.

Inspiration from Atmosphere

While coloring the spread, I thought how I have always felt disconnected with folk art of my country Finland. Instead, I have always loved Russian and other Slavic countries’ approach to it. Finnish folk art feels very plain and unimaginative to me. Before the success in IT and education, Finland was a poor country. Many who come to Finland are surprised how few historic buildings there are and how modest the life seems to have been.

I have been born in Eastern Finland, near the Russian border, but visited Russia only three years ago. The grand atmosphere of the big churches in St. Petersburg made a big impact on me. The mosaics at Church of the Savior on Blood (yes, all the “paintings” are made from tiny mosaic pieces) lighted by the candles inspired my coloring.

Church of the Savior on Blood

The atmosphere in these kinds of old, precious buildings is amazing. As the theme of the spread was not only practical but also spiritual, an atmosphere of an old church felt a good choice to bring in.

The Chain of Generations, an art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Coloring “The Air”

Imagine that I had colored the spread so that I had stayed inside the outlines only. The page would have been much flatter, contained much less atmosphere and emotion. When I color, I also try to color “the air”. I try to think not only about the light but also how the air feels on the face and how it interacts with the light.

Coloring tips: coloring "the air" by Peony and Parakeet

Things don’t have only one color when they are exposed to light. When coloring, think about the air and the lights flowing through space. Color over the outlines and show those less obvious, but so essential streams!

The Chain of Generations, an art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Buy the E-Book – Coloring Freely!

Coloring doesn’t only have to be calming. It can be expressive and inspirational. Purchase my e-book Coloring Freely to learn more about coloring freely with colored pencils. The book can be used with any coloring page or with any blank page. Buy now!

19 thoughts on “Bringing Life to Illustrations – Coloring the Air

  1. This is beautiful – not only the finished project but also the process, as usual. Love the words “color the air” and “lights flowing through the space” which conjure up such visuals. I resonate with the thoughts. Thank you for all your sharing and inspiration.

  2. Absolutely stunning – your attention to detail is wonderful, look forward to your posts, thanks so much for sharing

    1. Elena’s comment according to Google Translator: “Thank you for your love for Russian culture!” Thanks, Elena, spasiba!

  3. I love to read your thoughts on creating. They are so insightful and your art touches the soul. Thanks for allowing us to see the inner you.

  4. Hello Paivi, how lovely and how inspirational. Your idea of the transformative power of light is so beautiful and so correct when one thinks of it.

  5. This is so very lovely, Paivi! Thank you for your sharing ways. These kinds of posts are so helpful. I just bought and printed out coloring Freely! I am excited about everything you offer!

  6. Oh Paivi, you have a way with words! The most magical, emotional transfixing, inspirational, and enlightening vision is the sun painting beams of light through the air and through the trees into the darkened and hushed silence of the woods hidden glade. When you said those words, I immediately understood how to color over the lines to make a statement. Your eraser does this in the above painting as well as the coloring over the lines does it. I do think you missed one connection in your openiing paragraph concerning your place in a long chain of women through the ages in crafts and in art. I firmly believe you have a integral link to education in that chain which allows you to show others how to expand their abilities in these areas, also. Dear teacher, you are one of a kind.

  7. Paivi
    I am working on Christian Art paintings at the moment and your ideas and work are such an inspiration.
    Thank you so much

  8. This is quite incredible how you see generations within your family. The price for great palaces or churches was very high for the population.

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