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A Fairy Called Shyeling – Finding Your Silence Instead of Your Voice

"Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. A watercolor painting on Arches cold press watercolor paper.

I call this watercolor painting “Ujokki” which is not a real word at all. “Ujo” means shy in Finnish. Maybe it could be something like “Shyeling” in English, expressing a timid and sensitive fantasy figure.

What Is The Shyeling?

The shyeling sees the little miracles of nature, the growth of the plants and how the light hits on the petals. She smells the soil, walks barefoot on the moss and listens to dewdrops falling on the ground. The shyeling is the most delicate and vulnerable part of us that we wish to connect and show through our art. It’s a silent power that originates from the memories and nuances rather than a loud voice demanding the ownership of the stage.

A detail of a watercolor painting called "Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

In my painting, the shyeling is pictured as a little flower fairy with big wings of imagination.

Why the Shyeling Is So Difficult to Find?

When I led IT projects and solved problems that involved different parties, personalities, and systems, the strength that I needed to possess was very different from what the shyeling has. Dealing with crises and interruptions echoed hard in my mind, and it scared my shyeling away.

A watercolor painting in progress. Expressing with light and shadows. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have also mistakenly thought that shyelings are everywhere and for anyone. All my life, I have created art so that it pleases other people’s outer expectations. I haven’t even always noticed that. It’s been partly a subconscious and partly a practical thing. Shyelings don’t understand money, time, or numbers. They are weak and meaningless creatures in today’s busy world. But still, if we find ours, we don’t want to let go. We often talk about finding a visual voice, but I believe it’s more about finding our silent power.

Taming Your Shyeling

A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola, a Finnish watercolor artist. See the blog post to see this one finished!

I have many paintings and drawings, where I have started to walk towards my shyeling but my impatience has taken over. The fact is that the less you have created, the longer the journey feels. But when you keep going, the destination will feel closer, and you will enter the zone where your shyeling skulks.

Painting a detail with watercolors. Focusing on a small spot to get deeper into the painting process. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Also, remember that shyelings are like wild animals that need to be tamed. Taming needs skills, and skills need practicing. So be open to learning from other people’s shyelings. Yours might not be ready to appear from the bushes yet, but she’s been watching you, feeling more comfortable day by day.

Watercolor painting session in a studio. A studio dog is watching.

Get Closer to Your Sheyeling!

Recently, four things have taken me closer to my shyeling. First, I have stopped questioning my love for painting plants and flowers. If I like to do that, so be it. It’s not really about replicating the plants that I see anyway, but to use their shapes for creating new organic systems.

Do this: Create a piece about things that feel too familiar to you. Keep the idea process short, almost non-existent, create what you find the easiest. But, at the same time, lengthen the time that you usually take to create a piece like that. What do you discover during that extra time?

A detail of a watercolor painting called "Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Second, I questioned why many landscape paintings look so empty to me. I found the answer from a childhood memory, always imagining nature as a luxurious place. I wrote more about this in the previous blog post.

Do this: Look at the old photos or dig our old things that reconnect you to the age when you were less than ten years old. What can’t be seen in the photos? What did you do when you were alone and nobody took pictures?

A detail of a watercolor painting called "Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Third, I have challenged myself to become more skillful in expressing the atmosphere and space with light and shadows.

Do this: Evaluate your recent pieces so that you list things that lack there. Collect a list of things that you want to be present in your art. Then pick one thing that you start practicing more.

A detail of a watercolor painting called "Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Fourth, I have practiced drawing and painting human figures without references. When I paint without references, I feel free and peacefully silent. Then there’s always a chance for my shyeling to appear.

"Ujokki / Shyeling" by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. A watercolor painting on Arches cold press watercolor paper.

What do you need to practice next to get closer to your shyeling?

12 thoughts on “A Fairy Called Shyeling – Finding Your Silence Instead of Your Voice

  1. Thank you, this helped me so much. Not just in my art but also in finding the inner me that has calmness and peace. I will learn more about, and see if I can paint my Sheyeling!
    Your painting is SO beautiful. It really is x
    Sue x

  2. This is an intriguing post Paavi I love the idea of exploring the nature I experienced in my childhood and trying to paint what wasn’t in the photos.
    Thankyou x

  3. What a wonderful word you have made up! It is amazing how one little Finnish word that evokes such emotions can be translated into another made-up word but this time in English which conjures up the same magic!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your picture – it is charming!

    1. Thank you, Jakki! It’s a bit risky for me to invent new words in English because I don’t fully master the language, but I got the idea from Changeling and Jasmine Beckett-Griffith’s Strangeling. I think there’s also the word “tenderling”.

  4. I feel like every word of this post was written directly to me. It’s as if you felt who I am and what I needed to hear from the other side of the world and answered all my questions and concerns. Thank you so much for posting this.

    1. Thanks so much, Cheryl! Your comment brightened my day!

      Blog posts are also a writing practice to me, and I often define the goals for the post first, so that I don’t ramble too much. This time, I wanted to both inspire to create and connect with all who want their art to develop to a deeper direction as naturally as possible. Natural is very important to me, I don’t believe in forcing the creativity, and I also think that creating feels best when we can find the most natural ways to do it.

  5. Brilliant and inspirational piece, Paivi. I write poetry and am American, so English is my home language (although my mom and grandma spoke Finnish also). Shyeling is an evocative word that captures your thoughts perfectly, although it would be wrong to say a Shyeling captures anything, as they are subtle and sensitive, and walk quietly, like cats, choosing to appear only when the space is comfortable.
    Your posts always lift me up and provide so much food for thought. Love them!

    1. Thanks so much, Kay! You really assured me about the word! I also love poetry and used to write poems when I was a teenager and I still do it occasionally.

      I love your description on Shyeling, and of course, she is concerned when writing poetry too!

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