Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Getting More into Drawing and Coloring

This week, I share a method that is helpful when you want to get more into drawing and find your style. It is called “topic-spirit-story-abstract.” With this method, art can open to you step by step!

Venus slipper orchid. An illustration by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

For me, everyday life experiences, illustrations, creative writing, and abstract art are all connected. If I take something away, the chain breaks and my expression stiffens. Most of my creative work follows this “topic-spirit-story-abstract” method. I don’t always have to draw a spirit, but recently I’ve spent time in such abstract dimensions when creating computer art that I have wanted to play with the spirits with colored pencils.

Start with Template!

When you want to practice the method, start by making a template! Divide the paper so that you have a part for the spirit and another part for more abstract coloring. You can just draw a line or be more creative and make a circle for the most figurative part, and several other divisions for more abstract ideas.

Topic-Spirit-Story-Abstract method for getting more into drawing and coloring. By Paivi Eerola.

Do some intuitive coloring with a light touch as a warmup before proceeding.

Method: Topic-Spirit-Story-Abstract

After the warmup, find a simple topic that you want to explore.

Think about your recent experiences and find something small and concrete there.

Garden center

In the example, my topic was a recent visit to a garden center. My husband bought me a beautiful venus slipper orchid there.

Second, imagine a spirit that symbolizes the topic.

Use your imagination – anything contains a spirit!

Drawing a spirit for a flower. Using imagination with colored pencils.

In the example, I was thinking about the venus slipper and how mysterious and exotic it looks for a Finn.

Third, let the spirit tell a larger story.

What other associations come to your mind when you think about the spirit? Think about literature, music, food, movies, places – what comes to your mind that enlarges the original topic. What is the world that the spirit can open?

Getting more into drawing and coloring. Illustration in progress.

In the example, I started thinking about the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and Asian culture: sushi and rice bowls. I also had just browsed Kaffe Fassett‘s quilting books and thought about the richness that can be achieved with colors and simple shapes. I slowly enlarged the mixed yet curated world that I was able to reach through the spirit.

Fourth, explore more the abstract side of the discoveries through the story.

Play with the basic shapes and make decorative borders, ribbons, and patterns.

Getting more into drawing and coloring: combining organic and geometric shapes.

I find it easier to draw abstract motifs, ornaments, and patterns after finding the spirit than if I start from a blank paper.

Optional: Write the Story!

After making the image, I like to put stories to words. This helps me to get even more into drawing and makes my work as an artist more meaningful.

Venus Slipper Orchid, the spirit of a plant, illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Art is like a venus slipper. It’s like a plant in the back corner of a garden center. Those who only look at traditional roses won’t even notice it. But whoever dares to bend over the shy plant and curiously fit her mind to the shoe, becomes a master in a game where basic shapes break everything and then build a new whole. This way, the beauty of art is limitless, and not only on the surface.

Here’s another example that I made last week. Here, the center is reserved for the quote from the story, and the spirit and the motifs are in the frame.

Art is a spirit in a pencil. Quote and illustration by Paivi Eerola.

Art is a spirit in a pencil. A single pencil is nothing. It doesn’t cost much, takes up very little space, and you don’t even notice it if it’s at the bottom of your bag. But still, a pencil can connect us to art. When I was a child, I played with pencils while my big sister was coloring. Every pencil had a personality and while I was watching my sister draw, my herbs grow, and my teddy bear rest, I had no idea that those little moments would dictate my future. Art back then was only a spirit in a pencil. When art is a spirit in a pencil, we say yes to a journey that takes us closer to who we are. We say yes to expression that has no limits. This freedom is why I want to support creating.

Getting More Into Drawing Frames and Borders

Decorative art is a bridge between illustration and abstract expression.

Decorative stripes with colored pencils

Reality consists of both organic and geometric shapes. The question is: how can you bring both of these worlds into your art and use them in a creative way?

Making an illustration. Space for a quote.

I hope you find all this inspiring and helpful to get more into drawing and coloring.

14 thoughts on “Getting More into Drawing and Coloring

  1. Paivi, this is wonderful! How inspiring! I love the effect and colors, thank you for sharing!

  2. Päivi,
    Thank you so much this tutorial is a blessing and it’s wonderful❤️❤️❤️

  3. I really love this post! So inspiring. This method reminds me of how my mother taught us how to draw and to love art: She would take a piece of paper and draw three lines on it, then give it to us to complete the drawing. She would put a random circle or wavy line or straight line or triangle on the paper. We had to use our imaginations to make a drawing out of what she started. She was always delighted when she saw what we made. I like the idea of a ‘spirit’ in a pencil, too! Such potential in just a pencil…or a small piece of paper. I will try out your method and see what I come up with!

  4. I’ve certainly enjoyed using my colored pencils recently. When I’m coloring with them, I go back to when I was little, after school, sitting in my kitchen while my mother made dinner. Many, many years ago, but I can reach back and get the same feeling of satisfaction making a picture of abstract shapes. Thank you for bringing the pencils back to my artist’s world.

    1. Thank you, Adrienne! Establishing that connection to the childhood is so important when we want to get creative. Thank you for bringing that up through your story!

  5. Päivi, thanks so much for writing such a powerful and inspirational message. It makes me want to get out my coloured pencils again, and have a go. My quote would be the following: ‘Art is the spirit OF a pencil.’ Do you agree?

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