Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Getting Inspired by Removing the Obvious

This week, I have finished the first painting of the new series, enabled by the grant that I got from Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the second blog post of this project, see the first one here!

Valon valtakunta - The Empire of Light. An oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Read how she got inspired by removing the obvious.
“Valon valtakunta – The Empire of Light”, oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm

I wanted to combine two different styles for the painting.

Struggling with Differences

First, I wanted to honor Sandro Botticelli, a masterful painter from the Italian Renaissance, and include some of his colors and ornaments. I especially like the pastel colors in his paintings. Yellow ochre and ultramarine blue look beautiful in the mixtures. Botticelli’s painting The Madonna of the Pomegranate was my main inspiration for the color scheme. I also listened to Renaissance choir music and imagined how he felt when he painted and analyzed his work.

An oil painting in progress.
In progress – Still in a background stage

I also had another tutor, Wassili Kandinsky, from the 20th century. I reread his books On the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane and imagined him talking about releasing the inner sound of a shape.

An oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
In progress – too sharp contrasts and shapes

But knowledge and advice and all the left brain stuff can only help to a certain point. When focusing on facts and words, I lost not only Botticelli’s and Kandinsky’s voices but my own too. I ended up making too bold moves and the spirit of the painting was lost.

Indoors – Outdoors

Fortunately, I had to take many sittings because dogs require pauses. It feels that I am constantly moving from indoors to outdoors nowadays!

Two beagles in a field. Taking breaks from creative work.

Then it hit me, that painting, life, and spirituality are not about defining two states like outdoors and indoors. I can bring indoor elements like lamps with outdoor elements like trees. Botticelli broke the division by painting decorative flowers that continued from the grass to clothes.

Removing the Obvious Limitations

And if indoors and outdoors can be one, why not break other obvious limitations too – for example, combine science and beliefs in the same painting.

Painting abstract art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
In progress – the spirit of the painting becomes visible

So I painted a chandelier, Botticelli’s divine rays, a light bulb to honor Thomas Edison, a tiny cross to represent spiritual beliefs. I allowed one association to freely lead to another. My mind was exploding when I thought about light and its all interpretations.

A detail of The Empire of Light - an abstract painting by Paivi Eerola. Read how she suggests removing the obvious to get more spiritual and abstract expression.
Details of the finished painting

Some people collect chandeliers, others search for a proper lightbulb in a supermarket. Sometimes we believe in science, other times we have different beliefs. Some see angels instead of flowers. Sometimes we need darkness to see light, and other times we may need more light to the lightness. Light can be glitter that saves the day or a more permanent feeling of hope. Art and spirituality don’t have to be separate from the rational and mundane, but they can be the glue between the inner and outer world. We can remove the obvious, and express the diverse experience instead of a single thing.

Art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. She creates colored pencil illustrations and abstract oil paintings in intuitive style.
A colored pencil study and the finished painting. See this blog post to read more about the journal spread!

Releasing the Inner Sound

In the light of removing the obvious, Kandinsky’s idea of releasing the inner sound can simply mean this:

Make subtle changes to an element
so that the obvious interpretation becomes vaguer
and a variety of new ideas are raised.

A detail of an abstract painting by Paivi Eerola. Exploring Kandinsky's idea of releasing the inner sound of a shape.
A flower, a veil, a spirit, or what?
A detail of an oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
I almost forgot the signature!

What could “removing the obvious” mean to you? Tell me what you think!

10 thoughts on “Getting Inspired by Removing the Obvious

  1. So many lovely elements to investigate in your work! The spirituality comes through well. How many layers must you create to achieve this sense of mystery and wonder? You believe in your process and it has rewarded you with wonder !! Bravo !!

    1. Thanks, Celeste! I usually work in 3 to 6 sittings, but work with more layers in the central parts. And yes, I love my process, it’s taken some time to make it work, but I think that developing classes has helped with that! I get to watch and explain what I do in the class videos and also question what I do and when.

  2. A lovely painting and your narrative provides much wonderful food for thought; you are so deserving of the grant. Thank you for sharing your gift and insights.

  3. Such interesting thoughts–I always like the way your mind and imagination integrate!
    After all, we live on the Earthly plane and must contend with what we see. I don’t think it is such a stretch to accommodate the material world when we want to move toward the spiritual because, to my way of thinking, they are intimately connected. I believe I’ve written about my deep interest in mysticism on your blog previously. Here are the words of the great medieval mystic Meister Eckhart: “The visible things are out of the oneness of the divine light”, and their existence in the empirical world is due the “actualization of their ‘virtual being’”. Again physical things are, according to the great immaterial philosopher George Berekely, really ‘ideas’–we couldn’t ‘know’ them if we didn’t have an idea of them first. Berekely’s most famous theses in the history of philosophy is: “Esse is percipi”–“To be is to be perceived.” He considered this to be the first principle of human knowledge. Later, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel taught that “Absolute Spirit” is the primary structure of the universe: our thinking is the thinking of the Cosmic Spirit, who is thinking in us. So when the artist shows us his/her perception, these ideas on paper or canvas are a function of his/her mind which has its source in the living active mind of God. Perhaps if we can suspend our empirical thinking for a moment, we can admit that there is an invisible background to ‘reality’, something Quantum physics is very aware of now. We might perceive the visible world being something like the consciousness of the universe, while the hidden part is its unconscious–a very Jungian notion! It seems to me that these concepts are undeniable, even though so many in our postmodern world won’t acknowledge or accept them.
    Päivi, I hope you will always continue to ‘see’ what is hidden within yourself and bring it out with joy in your work!

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