Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Joyful Flowers and Exploring Joy with Colored Pencils

Let’s draw joyful flowers together, step by step! This post is enabled by the grant that I got from Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the fourth blog post of the project, see the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here!

Here’s what we will create: flowers that have joyfully gathered together and reach towards the light. No references, imagination only!

Joyful flowers - a spread in a colored pencil journal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I made the drawing in my colored pencil journal and used colored pencils only. But these instructions can be easily applied to other mediums too.

Step 1 – Flowery Blobs

Pick a pencil of any color and draw blobs.

Starting an art journal page.

More than perfecting each flowery blob, make sure that the blobs are:
a) not similar in size – draw small, medium, and big blobs!
b) not separate – draw some only partly so that they go on the back of others!
c) not fully on the paper – draw some near the edges so that they are only partly visible!
d) not spread too evenly – leave some space too, but don’t place it in the middle!

This way, you set the foundation for joyful flowers so that you express diversity (a), togetherness (b), continuity (c), and freedom (d).

Step 2 – From a Blob to a Flower or a Leaf

Pick flowery colors and a black pencil for the background. Focus on the area in the low middle and work towards either side of the paper.

With black, color notches on the blobs so that they begin to look like flowers.
With bright and flowery colors, color some random shapes on the blobs.
Color a center for the blob to make it look more like a flower.

Drawing joyful flowers - coloring freely with colored pencils. No references, only imagination.

All the blobs don’t need the center; they can be leaves. You can also draw veins on them.
Add many colors so that the leaves and flowers look lively. Layer colors to get a variety of tones.

Step 3 – Background

Start with the black background, but gradually change to lighter tones. Leave a pitch-black area small, and add layers of other colors, like blue, on the top of the black, then gradually let the different colors take over. Leave a blank area too. Color softly and gently so that every layer adds intensity to the drawing.

Coloring gradual changes. Colored pencil techniques by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

One of the joys of coloring is to relax and not rush at all. Stay in a small area and work with a few flowers only (Step 1) before feeling confident enough to expand the working area and focus more on the background.

Step 3 – Setting the Colors for Joyful Flowers

You can mark the colors for each flower and leaf by coloring them carelessly first.

Coloring freely with colored pencils. From blobs to joyful flowers.

When some parts are more finished than others, there’s both joy of looking and joy of coloring!

Step 4 – Changing Most Whites to Pastels

I assume that you now have white everywhere: between the strokes, near the edges, in the flowers, and in many places on the background. But let’s change that! Leave only one area in the background that’s pure white and color over other blank parts.

Coloring on an art journal. Joyful flowers in colored pencils.

Add more color on the areas where careless coloring has left white stripes, and change the larger white areas to pastel colors. All this makes the image more joyful because the joy is in the nuances, not in the big changes.

Step 5 – The Joy of Cohesion

One of the greatest joys in art-making is to feel togetherness. So more than trying to achieve a particular style, I make changes to the image so that it feels like a place where I belong. I also want my flowers and leaves to look happy, but not so that I force them to smile by throwing “happy colors” but imagining that everyone has a friend in the scenery: someone to trust and lean on.

Artist Paivi Eerola and her love for colored pencils.

I also make some flowers look like me: who need to feel free to bloom. So they are less defined and almost disappear into the light, but their spirit still looks strong. So, the less realistic a flower is, the more room there’s for the expression.

Drawing joyful flowers with colored pencils.

At some point in art-making, I begin to question if other people will like the image. It’s comforting to know that if we manage to create the feeling of effortless belonging, the image will naturally resonate more widely. The joy of cohesion also allows something to go wrong and become different than we expected. If we make every element feel accepted and welcomed, joy will naturally appear.

Drawing a stem for a flower by erasing. Colored pencil techniques by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I a flower or a leaf looks lonely, add a stem that connects it with others. Long lines can look commanding and stiffen the image, so erase a glimpse of a stem only. Stems also look more natural if they don’t start right from the flower but appear and disappear as softly as possible. Stems can also go across each other and form a connecting mesh.

Joyful flowers in an Archer and olive blank notebook. Drawn with colored pencils. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When one flower leads to another, and the eye always finds a clue about where to look next, cohesion is present.

More Inspiration for Joyful Flowers

I have got so many ideas from flowers that even when I don’t create them, my visual language is very flowery.

Flower paintings and abstract art. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Some of my oil paintings

This week, I started two big oil paintings. These are 120 x 100 cm – it’s the biggest size that I have ever painted!

Huge canvases in a little artist studio.

My first inspiration source for these is floral still lives from the 17th century. But these are just beginnings, and let’s see how they will progress in the upcoming weeks.

Big oil paintings in progress.

My little studio has been full of projects this week and will continue to be so!

Artist studio by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Colored pencil art and oil paintings.

I hope this blog post inspires you to create joyful flowers – big or small, pencils or paints!

14 thoughts on “Joyful Flowers and Exploring Joy with Colored Pencils

  1. This is wonderful Paivi! And it arrived just when I am painting loose flowers in a coloured pencil landscape. It is very helpful and I appreciate all that you do to help artists. Thank you!

    Linda Thompson

  2. Es la primera vez que veo esta pagina, ¡y me emcanta!, me senti muy a gusto. ¡Por favor no pare de compartir sus obras de arte!

    1. Google translated: “It is the first time I see this page, and I love it! I felt very comfortable. Please don’t stop sharing your artwork!”

      Gracias, Tirzah, thank you!

  3. Love all your work, and learning more about how to work with colored pencil is always a plus! Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

  4. I’m a little late but wanted to thank you for this beautiful, fun post! The piece starts out simply, but you give it such subtlety and depth. That process is fun to watch!

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