Color the Emotion

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Kaunosielu – Painting and Drawing Sensitivity

Kaunosielu is a Finnish word for which I don’t know an English equivalent. It means a dreamer who loves beauty, but the word has an ironic undertone. This romantic soul, alienated from everyday life, cares little about taking care of practical matters and frequently stops to admire the beauty around her.

Kaunosielu, oil on canvas, 70 x 60 cm

I’ve been thinking about people’s yards in my neighborhood a lot lately. The new houses have a small lawn area, a wooden patio, and a row of white cedars. These homes are advertised as “easy-to-maintain yards” in real estate ads. And yet, it often happens that when time passes, a few violets or a peony bush appear. It makes me believe that we all are “kaunosielu people” who have a sensitive heart and eye for beauty.

Analyzing a painting.

So my Kaunosielu painting is dedicated to that part of you who stops after seeing something beautiful. This topic was challenging for me because I usually express movement. Here, however, it’s all about staying rather than leaving and looking rather than running away.

Inspiration from Pastel Drawings

I am making a series of paintings for an exhibition called “In the Mood of Albert Edelfelt” and I have browsed a lot of Albert Edelfelt’s (1854-1905) works. Surprisingly, his pastel drawings fascinate me the most. Look at this woman, for example – or rather – her dress!

Albert Edelfelt, Dalinin kevätlaulu. Pastels on paper.
Dalinin kevätlaulu – Dalin’s Spring Song by Albert Edelfelt

I see a similarity with flowers in old portraits. The outfits are pleated like the petals of ​​flowers and the lines form interesting patterns.

I also started using chalk brushes in the ProCreate app. Here is a digital pastel drawing: peonies and strawberries.

A digital pastel drawing created in ProCreate. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I have done oil pastel work for the course Innovative Portraits, but now I dug out the soft pastels.

Drawing with soft pastels.

Soft pastels are more chalky than oil pastels and maybe a bit more difficult too because, unlike oil pastels, soft pastels also need fixative.

A pastel drawing in a sketchbook. Floral abstract by Paivi Eerola.

This is just a small notebook and a small piece but I like to practice between bigger paintings.

Kaunosielu on Canvas

My painting Kaunosielu is painted in oil, but it is close to pastel artworks in terms of color scheme and the use of lines.

Päivi Eerola and her painting Kaunosielu

The painting is inspired by a lovely pastel drawing by Albert Edelfelt called “At the Window.” I was lucky enough to see this work authentically in the Albert Edelt exhibition of the Ateneum Art Museum. This piece is 68 x 62 cm, so it’s quite large for a work drawn on paper. And look at that frame!

Albert Edelfelt, At the Window, pastel on paper.

I was especially fascinated by the composition, and as soon as I started my painting, I felt that now it was coming: Kaunosielu! I had been planning to do a piece called that for a long time.

Abstract oil painting in progress.

I wanted to incorporate haziness and vagueness into this painting, but at the same time use strong variations in darkness. With the big differences in color value, I wanted to create a sense of presence similar to Albert Edelfelt’s paintings.

Abstract floral oil painting called Kaunosielu in progress.

When I took this photo in the morning sun, it felt like the moment stopped and two Kaunosielus came into the picture.

Paivi Eerola and her painting Kaunosielu.

This photo shows so well how darkness and light go hand in hand.

This Week’s Challenges for Your Art-Making

  • Empathize with the kaunosielu personality: Examine what it means to be an impractical but sensitive sielu – soul!
  • Examine old portrait paintings. Dind the similarities between flowers and luxurious dresses.
  • Be bolder with contrasts. Enhance your expression by combining pastel colors with really dark blues and browns.
  • Experiment with soft pastels or oil pastels or mimic their effects with other art supplies.

I hope all these tips inspire you to start creating!

12 thoughts on “Kaunosielu – Painting and Drawing Sensitivity

  1. Wonderful thoughts shared in your post.
    Your painting is beautiful and for me since you centered the main shapes, that fulfilled: it’s all about staying rather than leaving and looking rather than running away. I still feel a lot of movement in your painting and yet it is contained. I enjoyed seeing your pastel drawing too.

    I would have never guessed your computer piece was not a painting.
    I just learned that peonies are edible.

  2. Peonys are edible?? – that’s why mine didnt appear this year??
    As usual – love all of your kaunosielu paintings and chalk work. Oh to be young again so I could start all over. So much to do – so little time…..
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Funny, that must be your time in Finland – it’s 10:11 am here in Arkansas, USA 8)

  4. The dark area is like the shadow of a person who has stopped to take in the beauty.

    Thank you for sharing the origins of this piece. By comparing your words to Albert Edelfelt’s picture, I could see how it inspired you. Seeing the stages your painting went through really illuminated the process for me.

    It is a beautiful painting that fills me with delight.

    Thank you for sharing.


  5. It is your brushwork that is like Albert Edelt’s (or his is like yours). I love your brushwork and that you can make an abstract painting that is as interesting to look at as a realistic one.

    1. Thank you, Jane! Fortunately, my style is very versatile and easily adaptable with many other painting styles. I also love to use Paul Klee’s idea of a line communicating with another line and interpret that to all elements when painting “with” an old master like Albert Edelfelt.

  6. This is a perfect description of me: “a dreamer who loves beauty, but the word has an ironic undertone. This romantic soul, alienated from everyday life, cares little about taking care of practical matters and frequently stops to admire the beauty around her.” I didn’t know there was a word for it. Love this post and the painting.

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