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The Electrical Life of Any Artist

This week I have a consolation post for any artist!

Flying Cats illustrated by Paivi Eerola. Read her article about the electrical life of an artist!
Cats and wings made for the class Magical Inkdom

We start from a movie and then let thoughts fly from top to bottom and come back up.

The Movie – The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Just a couple of days ago, I watched an inspiring movie called The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. It’s a story about the illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) who got famous for his cat drawings. Louis Wain’s life was full of misery, he was poor, responsible for five unmarried sisters, lost her wife to breast cancer soon after the marriage, made bad business decisions, and suffered grief and mental illness.

At the Play - an Exciting Moment. A cat illustration by  Louis Wain.
A cat illustration by Louis Wain

And yet, Louis’s cat drawings were fun illustrations full of liveliness and details.

The Two Undertones of Any Day

The movie felt strangely therapeutic. Maybe partly because it expressed so well what I had been thinking lately: how life has both melancholic and uplifting undertones and how important it is to recognize and make room for both of them.

For Louis, life had two separate sides – the harsh reality and the wonderous world of imagination. I think that many of us can relate to that even if in our lives, the melancholic and uplifting undertones would spread more evenly. If I think about my artist life, there have been so many rejections that where I am now is a small miracle. And if I think about the future, more small miracles are needed to move forward.

Here’s a short video about my journey so far.

This video was published on my Instagram account first, so the proportions were optimized for that.

Those Who Believe in You

In the end, you only need to have one person who believes in you as an artist. Many times you can be that person for yourself. Like Louis, the world of imagination has the power to keep the uplifting undertone going.

A detail of the drawing called "Blue". By Paivi Eerola. Read more about her points on the electrical life of any artist!
A detail of the drawing “Blue” from 2019.

But for me, there have been times when a small miracle has been needed – that someone else brings me up. When Louis found supporters in the movie, I thought of mine. They are a part of my electrical life story. Who could be yours?

It wasn’t easy to contact any of them – ask, apply, and reach out just after losing the belief and energy, but doing that has pushed me forward. Sometimes they have been friends, but many times strangers who have given me a chance to connect with their audience. In the art world, and especially in the fine art world, people are hesitant to accept outsiders. But once you get one door open, some others will open up too. The number of your supporters will grow step by step.

Opening Up for Small Miracles

In the beginning, art was something I did in secret. If I didn’t believe in my art, I simply stopped creating for a while. But the more I created, the more I wanted to find connections with other people. First with others who create, and then more publicly. After going public, stopping is much harder because you start to see wider: There must be someone who says yes.

Doll illustrations by Paivi Eerola.

I see that the melancholic and uplifting undertones are wrapped around each other like two plies in a yarn. By expressing both of them, not only a person but also her art becomes stronger – more touching and captivating. It’s then easier to make small miracles happen – have positive electricity as Louis Wain would put it.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie?

P.S. If you want to turn back the clock and learn from 6-years-younger Paivi, here’s your chance! Planet Color, is retiring on Sept 30, at midnight PDT.

Planet Color, a painting class for beginners.

If you are a beginner in painting and want to use acrylic paints more, for example, in your art journals, check this class! Planet Color is now more than 50% OFF before it goes away! >> Buy here!

14 thoughts on “The Electrical Life of Any Artist

  1. I was inspired by that movie also because it felt so familiar to me, the struggle between an artist’s heart and the reality of life’s demands. My husband was also an artist and art teacher, and I was working in creative marketing and writing. So, this struggle was double for us. Your post is a good reflection not just for artists, but life in general. We all need someone to believe in us and encourage us on our journey, so we can continue to be open to possibilities. I think you are a great teacher and you have been that person for many others.

  2. I can relate to all you say, and I will try to search out the movie. I have not seen it here in the U.S. I consider myself to be a hobby artist. Even so it has pulled me through some of life’s darkest moments. I call it my art therapy.
    May I add that if you ever want to showcase more of your talents, writing should be part of it.

  3. We watched it on Netflix–I actually didn’t realize he was a real person until I started doing some research about him. I so totally enjoyed the movie–I think I do need to watch it again though. I did post about it on my Facebook page; I used my page as a place to journal—but I don’t write as frequently as I did when I started in the first place.
    I just watched your video that you have here showing your growth as an artist–all I can say is “wow”; thank you for all of your sharing
    Keep on Keeping on

  4. Is it really six years ago I first tried acrylic paints and took my first ever online course…? How time flies and how much we have learned!

  5. I have seen the movie too. His mental illness broke my heart and the profound loss of his wife resonated with me as I suddenly lost my husband 3 months ago. I have not been able to do anything creative since. I have thrown myself into my job as an engineer because the logical and analytical left brain does not need emotions to perform. I cannot imagine how he could draw such happy cats but then the need for income often drives ones path too. What is most heartbreaking is how cruel the world was to such a tender soul. He was abused and exploited by everyone except his wife.

    1. I am sorry for your loss, no wonder your creativity has taken a break. I agree that the story was heartbreaking even if the movie was really beautiful too.

  6. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve found it online and have planned a movie-night for this evening. I’m looking forward to it! So thanks for the tip. Going on your blog post I have to say that sometimes it is indeed hard to keep going, to keep believing. Especially when hardships in life intervene. We’ve had a few rough years in our family that kept bringing my work down. Then it can be so hard to get back up and get back to being an artist, to believe in that path. It takes so unbelievably much energy… As an artist sometimes a super loyal and sweet community grows around you. But sometimes those people move away when you’re not pushing forth much new work. Then to get back work, asking yourself for what audience.. And yet, it’s my experience that when you give it your all and stick your nose out of your studio some time, an audience grows again. Which is fascinating and reassuring, although I believe it’s indeed the belief in ourselves and that from the ones who love us that are key in our work. It is that which makes us get up time and time again and put in the effort when nobody seems to be watching.

    1. Nice to hear from you again, Mandy! And thanks so much for telling your experiences about the topic. So true that it’s hard work to keep showing up even if it’s also an essential part of being an artist.

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