Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Look Back to See Your Artistic Style!

Organizing old drawings and paintings, looking back to see an artistic style, by Peony and Parakeet

We often search for something new: new art techniques, new ideas, new approaches. When I pulled out a worn-out cardboard box filled with my old drawings and paintings, they all felt very familiar at first. I saw only the obvious: a skill level, a theme or technique. But when I stopped looking at the pieces individually and started grouping them, new insights occurred.

1) Look for Repeating Elements and Themes

Self-Portraits, by Peony and Parakeet

In 1988, when I was 19 years old, I made a watercolor painting called “Self-Portrait as an Artist.” Soon after that, I went to study computer engineering, and art didn’t seem so important anymore. But now, when working full-time in art, I love to compare these two paintings. There are 27 years between them, but they still relate to each other. It is interesting to see how my understanding of being an artist has changed. The importance of ideas, visions, and expression has grown, and the ego and stereotyped appearance have shrunk. I see similarities too: color choices, dynamic lines and dramatic atmosphere, foundational elements of my artistic style.

If you are hoping to find a new style, it is easy to miss that most of the elements are already there, just a little bit of fine-tuning is needed!

2) Combine Past Ideas

Glass inspired art, by Peony and Parakeet

In 2007 I began studying industrial design. One of the courses taught us to draw various materials like glass, wood and plastic. After seven years I realized that I could use that kind of imitations for more expressive art too. I could play with the proportions and compositions. I also understood that I could use the things learned in the past, more widely and more freely. Instead of having only some ideas and simplifying those, I can have hundreds of ideas and combine most of them!

If you don’t know what to create next, combine what you have done before to a single artwork!

3) Embrace Your Roots

A forest by the lake, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, in the age of 16

In 1985 I made this watercolor painting and remembered my family liking it. For me, it was important that this image came out of my imagination, it wasn’t made by following a photo or anything. It was born surprisingly easily, and I felt a bit puzzled: “So quick, and everybody likes it!”

The Forest Speaks, a watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet

In 2014 I worked with a similar theme and again, with watercolors. This painting contained more emotion than the old one. This painting was about leaving back a certain phase in life and entering a new one. However, when I look at both of them now, I think about my country, Finland, and its nature. This country is a land of forests and lakes and for Finnish, it is natural to use them as symbols in self-expression too. I can’t escape my roots and the older I become; I don’t even want to.

When you look back at your work, what kind of themes and changes do you see? Could you create collections showing art that tells your personal stories and your journey to your current artistic style?  See also the post about stretching your artistic style!

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4 thoughts on “Look Back to See Your Artistic Style!

  1. I have always found it to be illuminating to go back and see what I had done before, whether it be in a journal, picture album or art work. To be able to see the progress of where one had been and where one is now puts things in perspective: 1) that there is change, 2) that all things/feelings come and go, 3) that to see where one has been and where one is now opens the way to where one might be in the future. Your philosophy has been helping me in this never-ending revealing process.

  2. I look back and see the same detailed – copy cat way of drawing. I drew and drew and drew, Many details. I find it strange today that I still draw and still include details and yet my favorite art is the kind that lets my imagination fill in lots of details. My first art class in college was drawing and when I turned in my project (to draw something from a magazine) the students all said WOW but the teacher held mine up as an example of NON drawing. He said if he wanted an exact likeness, he would just take a picture. So I have struggled with impressionism ever since. I think that is why I’m drawn to your work so much. You have so many details and yet it is not realistic details. My mind has to fill in the story so I get to play when I view it. And I do love to use my imagination. I can’t wait for your next class as the first one was amazing. You always get me to think and learn.

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