Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Drawing Swirls with Colored Pencils

This week, let’s make a summery drawing by coloring ornamental swirls!

Colored pencil journal spread by Paivi Eerola. Drawing an image by coloring swirls.

Here’s the latest spread in my colored pencil journal. I have been recovering from painting a big series of oil paintings, so I wanted to create something small and experiment with the idea that I got in mind while cleaning the studio for the next paintings. Because I like to create freely and intuitively, my colored pencil journal is not a direct sketchbook for paintings, but more like a study book of ideas – a place to ponder and practice at the same time. This time, I wanted to focus on ornamental swirls so that they flow freely on the page. The elements themselves have stiffness but the overall impression is dynamic when the ornaments are layered on top of each other.

Drawing Swirls is a Good Art Practice

Practicing swirls makes all your drawings more beautiful because it develops both the hand and the eye. Try to make a perfect curve that ends with a perfect little circle, then widen parts of the curves so that they grow broader gradually. Observe not only the swirl itself but also the shape that it creates besides it.

Coloring swirls is a good art practice.

If you tend to place the swirls stiffly row by row, draw some free lines as guides for their placement. You can also turn the page in different directions and color ornaments that are directed differently from each other.

Shadows Can Be Swirls Too

I like to color many layers and make some swirls disappear into the background. When layering, you can make everything ornamental: the background, the shadows, and the actual elements.

Shadows can be swirls too. Drawing an image from swirls. Colored pencil art.

There are lots of swirls in my drawing but I also included some simple scallop shapes and circles to make the visual language more diverse.

Darkening a Little More Than You Would Normally Dare

If you want to make your drawing atmospheric, cover most of the white spots.

Layering with colored pencils.

Darken the drawing gradually by coloring thin layers over most of the elements.

Add Something Angular to Go With Swirls

When my drawing progressed, it started to remind me of old still live paintings, for example, those that Riks Museum in the Netherlands has. There the vase was often placed on a tabletop. The rectangle on the bottom works as a contrast to the organic flowery shapes.

Angular elements go well together with swirls. Drawing swirls with colored pencils. A detail.

Add some shapes that break the rectangle, like the leaf-like one in my drawing. This way the result looks less strict and more layered.

Summer Coloring – A Little Bit Now and Then

I like and need this easiness of colored pencils when I slowly rebuild and restrengthen my creative core. Colored pencils are easy to grab for short sessions and you can color outside too. It’s now summer in Finland, and the weather has been fantastic. I think it shows in my drawing.

An art journal spread with colored pencils only.

This journal has quite many colored pages already. It brings me joy to browse them. I am dreaming of the day when the journal is full even if it may be far away.

P.S. Check the class Fun Botanicum for more journal inspiration!

6 thoughts on “Drawing Swirls with Colored Pencils

  1. I love that your Summer weather has been fantastic! Your color pencil work is wonderfully unique, your students are lucky to have you as a teacher, many artists don’t teach and you have stellar teaching skills.

  2. It seems to me that the points you raise here are also a good summary to bear in mind with any drawing, colouring and painting. Also I especially like the care you take with each photo you include in your posts. The last photo here particularly makes me smile: I can tell your summer is behaving wonderfully, that you’re loving the swirls and compact-sized pages, and that you’re feeling ‘in clover’! That’s an old simile for being very happy and prosperous, enjoying the abundance surrounding you: like you’re rolling (or lying) in clover. Wishing you more clover, Päivi!

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