Color the Emotion

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Creating a Protector of Good

This week we get inspired by spiritual and ornamental art and create a protector of good.

Protector of Butterflies in Colored Pencils

Protector of Butterflies. Colored pencil art by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Halloween is not an official holiday in Finland, but we have All Saints’ day soon. I started gathering images for this blog post in the spirit of All Saints’ day, but soon realized that this kind of art has a special role in my life in general. There are times when I want to create art to protect all the good things in life.

Colored pencil art in progress. Creating a protector of good.
A careless sketch becomes alive when colored pencils step in.

In the small colored pencil drawing, I was thinking about the beauty of butterflies and created a protector for them.

Colored pencil art in progress. Cutting out a scrap relief. A protector of butterflies.
After cutting the motif out, I do some finishing touches.

At the same time, I created a protector for my sensitivity, and it feels good to have one in my box of joy as I call the collection of hand-drawn paper reliefs.

Protector of Everything Sacred in Collage

Back in 2011, when I wasn’t a full-time artist yet, I made this paper collage from hand-decorated papers.

Madonna paper collage from 2011 by Paivi Eerola. See her ideas for creating a protector of good.
Paper collage from 2011

I wanted to express the atmosphere of a sacred space. My hand-drawn lines were clumsy, but I cut the papers so that they look decorative. I painted icons as a child, so I made the woman’s face in that style. I still like this!

Protector of Flowers and Plants in Oil

In 2018, I was practicing oil painting and explored all kinds of organic shapes. I first painted all kinds of plants and then changed the orientation, and added the madonna. (More about the process in this blog post.)

Madonna of the Heart, oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Madonna of the Heart, oil on canvas, 2018

The frame of the painting has a real silver coating, and I think it fits the image beautifully.

Painting and Drawing Precious Artifacts

We can paint and draw precious things that make us feel protected, like candles and crosses. I found these two gouache paintings from my archives today.

Gouache paintings: a candle and a cross
Small gouache paintings from 2019

Ornaments can also be more imaginative, like these hand-drawn collage pieces.

A paper ornament of hand-drawn collage pieces. By a Finnish artist Päivi Eerola.
Handdrawn collage pieces from 2019

You can compose paper pieces together so that they look like a talisman.

Protector of Light in Watercolor

Now when we are entering dark days in Finland, I feel the need to have a protector of light.

Watercolor angel by Paivi Eerola. From her online art class Magical Forest.
Watercolor Angel – a project from the class Magical Forest

This watercolor angel was painted for the class Magical Forest. I developed a method for it so that you first paint the angel figure freely by splashing colors and then add more definition by painting the dark background.

Protector of the Child in Us

I think one of the most important protectors is the one who protects the child in us. I painted this icon in the early 1980s when I was about 10 years old. It was my second, and as you can see, I wasn’t very good at varnishing back then – too much linseed oil!

Madonna and Child icon.

The teacher of the icon painting group, Irke Petterberg, helped me with the details of the faces. I wasn’t eastern-orthodox; I just happened to live very near the church and love art-making. It was wonderful to be accepted as a part of the group which consisted of adult painters. For me, religion felt like a gate to the world of imagination.

Protector of Butterflies. Colored pencil scrap reliefs by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

No matter the religion, let’s cherish the child in us and protect the good through art-making.

12 thoughts on “Creating a Protector of Good

  1. What striking images in such a variety of techniques. I love how you generously share your creative process and influences with us. How fascinating to read about your background in learning and creating icon works.
    Icon art has given us striking pieces over the centuries. I was greatly struck by the ones I saw when I visited Russia and Eastern Europe a few decades ago.
    And I love the sentiment of this post: urging us through art-making to cherish ourselves and others, to put good energy into the world regardless of our spiritual/agnostic/atheist orientations. Your art and spirit is beautiful as always. Thank you Päivi!

    1. Thank you so much, AJ! I have often doubted if I should share things like icon painting that is so directly connected to a particular religion. Especially when I don’t profess any religion, I just consider myself being generally religious. But I feel there’s so big part of imagination that is left out if I do so! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it’s very reassuring and appreciated.

  2. Just beautiful, Paivi, this reminiscing on your protective and religious paintings. Each work says so much about the spiritual aspect of your art, even though you may not describe it as so. I too painted Madonnas, and doing that took me to a different place than other work. What truly impresses me, Paivi, in addition to your beautiful work, is that you never stopped, instead, allowing your art and you to find its own blossoming. You are a constant inspiration to me. My mother in law – an uneducated Bedouin woman – had a way of expressing gratitude for kindnesses done. I think it serves here too, as humble admiration of your work and these blogs: Thanks to your hands, she would say. Much love.

  3. I love the whole idea of painting a protector. I have always been drawn to Russian and Scandinavian art work. Of course I realize it comes from my Northern Scandinavian genetic background. My icons are more in the shapes of nature and you have inspired me to try to add some faces and spirits to them. I love your art and am always so inspired by it. You are able to paint your soul.

  4. Dear Paivi,
    Thank you once again for sharing from your open heart!! I have never thought of creating my own protector. I love that idea. It will have to ramble around in my brain for awhile for an inspiration to let itself be seen.

  5. A truly delightful post about the idea of protectors…we all have them. Even if they are “unseen” we can be sure they are watching over us and it is such a brilliant idea to try to bring them out and portray them artistically. This is something I think the child in us will love! Thank you again, Päivi!

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