Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Green Flowers in Colored Pencils

This week is about embracing green flowers and making your art stand out.

Green flowers in colored pencils by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Last month, my husband let me choose flowers for my birthday. I picked green roses that had a hint of pink on their petals. Of course, there were plenty of colors available, but green ones touched my heart. I have always liked old romance novels where the emotions are kept under the surface, and I see a similar kind of suffocation in this bunch.

A rose dreams about becoming pink but sadly realizes that her petals are not much different from her leaves.

I feel a strong bond with green flowers because my art is very similar to their petals, only a slightly improved reflection of the ordinary self. My art goes only as far as I can imagine, and the imagination is often limited.

Green roses

But green flowers can be enough. So, grand innovations can be replaced by many small tweaks.

Traditional or Not – Let’s Look at Jacob Marrel’s Flowers

Last week, I went to see old floral still lives at Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Still lives from the 17th century, like this one from Jacob Marrel, were my favorites. The subject is not creative: flowers in a glass vase, but small additions to a stereotypical interpretation make the painting stand out: butterflies and dragonflies, drops of water, red currants on the tabletop, black leaves that are easy to miss because they express the lighting so naturally, and the roses that sadly hang down, ready for withering.

A floral still life by Jacob Marrel from 1640
Jacob Marrel – Flowers in a Glass Wase, 1640-1645

The best floral still lives from the 17th century are often Dutch, but Jacob Marrel (1613-1681) was German. He was a teacher, too, running a school for floral painters. I would love to turn back time and participate in his lessons! I would also have a question:

“Do you, Herr Marrel, think about the plant’s personality when you are painting it?”

Flowers Are Free Souls

Colored pencil art in progress

When I started this spread in my colored pencil journal, I felt that I just needed to let the flowers dance the way they wanted. So I didn’t sketch the big picture but worked little by little and endured the chaos, trusting that the flowers and leaves would find their natural gestures.

Drawing freely with colored pencils

I want to let my art express itself as freely as possible.

How to Free the Flowers – 5 Tips

  • Don’t make every flower similar, but let the diversity capture the viewer.
  • Don’t differentiate flowers only with color but with shapes and lines too.
  • Color a spot and ask what it wants, and allow green flowers – so, odd variations!
  • Get inspired by the imperfection of reality! It’s natural to grow curvy, wither, have texture on the leaves, and get really dark or bright.
  • Allow shapes and colors to breathe. You don’t have to know what every element in your drawing represents.

From Drawing to Painting

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio in Finland

The first quarter of the year has been full of drawing and building the new class Fun Botanicum. But now a new series of paintings have started, and I have lots of big canvases to paint before the solo show in June. In the photo above, you see the first painting still in progress. My journal pages and my paintings live separate lives, but still, they inspire each other. It’s exciting to translate illustrative journal pages to more abstract paintings, and vice versa. I like this way of working a lot.

Green flowers in colored pencils by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Now, when Fun Botanicum has started, I am also looking forward to seeing art from the participants: flowers, hays, fruits, berries, mushrooms … in all colors!

Fun Botanicum - an online class for colored pencils art journals

The new class Fun Botanicum has just started. You can still hop in and sign up!

12 thoughts on “Green Flowers in Colored Pencils

  1. This is enchanting! I love the playfulness and joy in your art. This new class looks wonderful!

  2. I love green and white flowers although I can’t think of many green flowers. Maybe in hellebores and your roses are so lovely. We have a tiny native green orchid in Aotearoa and at some stages in my hydrangea collection the little florets are green. Looking at your painting I remember, as a girl, lying in the long grass, looking at all the shapes and shadows and variety of green and breathing in the fresh ,earthy, fragrance. I imagined then being as small as Arietty in the Borrowers running through this magical jungle.

    1. Thank you, Jan! I can imagine that in New Zealand the green colors are exquisite! I love green orchids and have one that I hope to get to bloom someday. I hadn’t heard about The Borrowers before!

  3. Thank you for the wonderful 5 tips on how to free the flowers! Even when we have so few flowers that are green, we often have green little buds before they become bolder – just as trees and shrubs briefly disguise their potential for awhile in Spring. I love your example from Jacob Marrel, too: the distribution of the reds is particularly exciting, and the red currants are begging to be eaten. I’m sure you would be pleased with his response to your question, Päivi: his is living art, and we who appreciate life so much have no hesitation in talking with plants themselves – so why not a dialogue between him, his “still” life display and his painting in progress? You do that, you teach us to do that, and surely he did it, too!

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