Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Coming Up with Ideas that Make You an Artist

This week’s blog post is about working with ideas that bring more of you together and make you an artist.

Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola
Merkuriuksen lämpötilat – Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Merkuriuksen lämpötilat – Mercury Temperatures. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Neptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

My first intention was to create Mars, not Mercury, so I started with sharp strokes and fiery colors.

Painting in progress. How to come up with ideas that make you an artist?

But it happened that Mars appeared in another painting, so I changed the subject after the first layer. This wasn’t hard. All I needed was to get back to left-brain thinking, which I call my inner engineer.

Fact-Finding for Artistic Inspiration

It has been fun to find out facts about the planets. I have also had great discussions about them with my husband. We both love science and are interested in the bits of information about outer space. The mind-blowing fact about the planet Mercury is that its temperature varies about 650 degrees! Night and day in the same location can have very different temperatures.

Painting in progress. How to come up with ideas that make you an artist?

I try to keep the fact-finding separate from the painting process as possible. I want the facts to be just one of the many inspiration sources and be intuitive and inventive during actual art-making. For example, in this painting, I also thought about pattern designs, interior decorating, wallpapers of William Morris and Designers Guild, fantasy stories with unicorns, gardening … all kinds of inspiration got mixed into one piece.

Hidden Love for Natural Science

Over a couple of years, natural science has got more and more impact on my art. However, I have been pretty quiet about it because it feels weird to talk about science and then show flower paintings. But now, my inner engineer said that Mercury Temperatures is the only appropriate name for the piece, and I noticed how happy she looked, being involved and accepted more than many times before.

A detail of Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

This spring, I have learned a lot about leading myself artistically. I have noticed that if my inner engineer can provide concepts like “temperature changes” rather than direct images, my inner artist can then tie them freely with visual ideas. Together they form an effective pair. My inner engineer can provide exciting ideas based on her background studies, and my inner artist can still get all the creative freedom she needs.

Digging Deeper into the Professional Identity

It has started to feel that there’s a reason why I first studied engineering, then moved to design, and only finally to art. I play with the question that if my career had started as an artist, would I be studying technology now? It feels that my ideas are on several levels, and if I omit the science level, something is missing.

A detail of Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

For years and years, I have been trying to manage what my inner engineer can do and how she should not disturb the inner artist. But now, when I have given the inner engineer a significant role, the inner artist hasn’t complained at all. On the contrary, it feels like the artist praises the engineer and vice versa.

This understanding has also closed the gap between design and art. Some of my work can now be openly more design-oriented than others. My inner designer had a lot of fun participating in this painting.

Merkuriuksen lämpötilat - Mercury Temperatures, 30 x 50 cm, oil on canvas by Paivi Eerola

I feel happy about being able to use my curiosity about natural science in the artistic process. I have even started to think that my background in technology and science can be one factor that makes my art unique, even if it doesn’t get the leading role when marketing my work.

Coming Up With Genuine Ideas

We often think about using the skills from one profession to another very literally. But the identity in one can be used for another when we get to the level of ideas and inspiration. Every field has pieces of information that are super inspiring, especially if you already have the foundational knowledge of the area. With the knowledge, your imagination can build bridges between what is and what could be.

Ideas that make you an artist are not about art.

The artistic identity is more like an umbrella rather than an individual thing. An artist is a connector rather than a lonely one on a closed island.

What do you think?

Painting the Best Work for the Show

This week, I present the main artwork for my solo show in June and talk about the pressure of painting the best work.

Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.
Juhla Neptunuksessa – Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas

This oil painting, “Juhlat Neptunuksessa – Jubilee in Neptune,” is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Pluto here, the Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

Painting the Best Work – Feeling the Pressure!

I have had terrible pressure to create my best work for the show. Especially the two big pieces on the back wall needed to reach the next level, not that I was able to define what that would be. So I couldn’t pre-process and plan the paintings in my mind. I had to trust the brush and the intuition and start painting.

Beginning a new painting and producing your best work. Painting in progress.

This size (about 35,5 x 55 inches) was also new for me, so I felt like being in a new territory. But several smaller paintings of the same series had already been made, so it was a continuum too.

Extrovert

Last week I talked about introverts and extroverts, and this painting definitely was an extrovert. From the beginning, it knew what it wanted and kept talking to me gently but determinedly, and all I had to do was listen to its spirit.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

I felt like the painting gently carried me over a mystery of life and took me through the gates that I would not have dared alone. I don’t usually talk about the painting process in this mysterious way, but this time, it all felt pretty magical.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

One part of me, the inner engineer, was wiping the sweat from the outside pressure, and the other part of me, the inner artist, couldn’t care less. She was only serving the needs of the painting.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola. Quick strokes, but painting the best work.

I am very happy about the brush strokes – many of them have been created fast, but they still look pretty flawless.

Creating a Panoramic View

I wanted the two big paintings to be individual in identity but still share some parts when placed side by side. This way, the overall view of the gallery’s back wall could be panoramic.

Two oil paintings to create a panoramic view. By Paivi Eerola.
At Home in Pluto and Jubilee in Neptune side by side

To achieve this, I needed to finish the pieces so that they were placed side by side.

Whales in a Small Bond

My studio is a small room attached to our home, and the two whales were much too big.

Trying to paint the best work. Paivi Eerola and her big oil paintings.

But I managed anyway. In art, I don’t want to live a life where everything needs to be perfect before I can do something. I want to accomplish paintings like this right now and can’t wait for a better situation. And I love our home and working from home, so I just have to make things work. Fortunately, we have quite a lot of wall space in the other parts of the house so that the paintings can dry elsewhere.

Main Promotion Piece for the Show

The new painting is airy, but there are a lot of details too. I am very fond of this piece and feel relieved.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

This painting is the artwork in all the promo material for the exhibition. See the press release here! Because the show is in Finland, the text is first in Finnish but scroll down the page to read the English translation.

Paivi Eerola and her oil painting for her first solo show.

My first solo show Linnunrata will be June 3-19, 2022 at Gallery K, Vantaa, Finland.

Is Your Painting Introvert or Extrovert?

This week, I talk about the personality of paintings. Some are extroverts, some introverts!

Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto, 90 x 140 cm. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Kotona Plutossa – At Home in Pluto, oil on canvas, 90 x 140 cm

This oil painting, “Kotona Plutossa – At Home in Pluto,” is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: the Earth here, Venus here, and the Sun here!)

Many Inspiration Sources

Earlier this year, I saw a documentary about Pluto, and it felt more familiar than many other planets that I have only read about. In the series, I imagine how the Milky Way could bloom and only take a small dose of the facts about the Planet.

Pluto’s ice volcanoes started the painting, but then I brought in more ideas. The central idea for this painting was home decor. I love mid-century modern houses and furniture, and many of the shapes have a similar feel.

A detail of Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola. An example of an introvert painting. Read more about introverts and extroverts!

Tricia Guild’s fabrics were another inspiration source. I have been her fan for decades and don’t even have to look at her photos to know what kind of florals she would like to bring to the painting.

Introvert or Extrovert? – Changing the Approach

Even if Pluto is a dwarf planet, this is my biggest painting so far. My style is detailed, and there’s a lot of space in 90 x 140 cm (about 35,5 x 55 inches). There were moments when I felt very unsure about how to proceed because when I asked the painting, it stayed quiet. “Can you hear me, Pluto?” I whispered several times. No response.

This painting clearly was an introvert. I felt like I wanted to quit.

I recognize this syndrome – what I call Big Picture Syndrome – by its signs:

  • You feel the need to look at the piece only from the big picture perspective, as a quick stroke here and another there would magically make everything work. In truth, you don’t yet have a clue what the carrying theme for the piece is, and should discover it by making the details more inspiring.
  • You feel negative about your potential as an artist but try to convince yourself that the piece is good enough. That someone will like it. And at the same time, you know it’s only an excuse for quitting. The truth is that some pieces are harder than others. Some paintings are extroverts that begin to speak to you right away. And some are introverts that need more time to open up. No need to blame yourself for that. Just keep working and trying to figure out what the piece wants!

“Can you hear me, Pluto?” I asked after bringing in new ideas and adjusting colors and shapes. I was relieved when she answered shyly “Pluto hears.” And when I finished the painting, it felt like coming home.

A detail of Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola. An example of an introvert painting. Read more about introverts and extroverts in this blog post!

Listening to an introvert painting is always helpful for learning new things about yourself. I became more aware of how much textiles and fabrics inspire me and I want to show that more later too. If you only accept extrovert art, moving forward is more difficult.

Childhood of an Introvert

Another thing that came to my mind was this small crayon piece from about 40 years ago. ( Read more about this one here!)

A childhood crayon drawing by Paivi Eerola.

When I put it here, I am astonished at how similar these two pieces look. No wonder she was so shy, there are a lot of years between us!

A Finnish artist Paivi Eerola and her big painting "Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto." She talks about paintings being introverts or extroverts. How do you know if your painting is introvert or extrovert?

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed over the years, isn’t that so? Introvert or extrovert – try it!

Preparing For the Solo Show

My first solo show Linnunrata will be in June, and it’s keeping me super busy! I still have a couple of paintings that are not finished, and there are lots of edges to paint, hanging wires to attach, and varnishing to do. My current plan is to show 18 paintings, and every single one still has something that I need to do before the show. And there are posters to design, marketing to do, a lot of work!

Linnunrata will be at Gallery K, Tikkurila, Vantaa in June 3-19, 2022.

Expressing Happiness in Art

This week, we look under ice and talk about expressing happiness!

Onnellisten maa - Happy Earth, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Onnellisten maa – Happy Earth, 70 x 120 cm, oil on canvas

What’s in the Name?

Here’s one of my latest paintings called Onnellisten maa. Like so many times before, I had difficulties translating it, but I came to a conclusion that the English name can be a bit different “Happy Earth” instead of “The Land of Happy Ones.” Maa is both earth and land in Finnish.

This painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. The painting represents the planet Earth and Finland, my home country. (See previous paintings: Venus here and the Sun here!)

The name Linnunrata also has a double meaning in Finnish. It’s not only the name of our galaxy but also means bird’s route or track. My paintings often have bird-like shapes and flying objects, so it’s a perfect name for the series and for the upcoming exhibition that will also have some older pieces.

Inspired by Ice

Here’s how the painting started – lots of wild strokes in icy greens.

A beginning of an intuitive painting.

These greens are composed of Titanium White, Raw Umber, and Nicosia Green Earth. The green is a new color that I purchased recently. It’s earthy, not bright at all, but wonderfully suitable for an intuitive painting inspired by our globe.

I also wanted to throw in some blue. At the beginning of April, thin ice covered all the puddles and reflected the sky.

Ice is cracking. Finnish spring.

Here’s how the painting looked after adding some Prussian Blue over the greens.

Painting in progress.

My puppy Saima found ice interesting too!

A beagle puppy on thin ice. Spring in Finland.

We in Finland are known for icy surfaces, not only in nature but in people too. Our most known celebrity must be a winning formula driver Kimi Räikkönen, also known as The Iceman. “Shut up, let me drive” was his regular message to the team when he was in the middle of the race.

But ice is never only ice. It makes us think about what’s under it. How does Räikkönen feel when he turns the wheel and pushes the pedals – pressure, joy, passion? What is the storm inside an icy person?

Expressing Happiness

Despite all the ice, Finland has been selected as the happiest country in the world again. It’s the fifth time in a row! With the painting, I wanted to tell what makes Finland the happiest. At the same time, I wanted to express what makes the planet Earth so special.

So, it was time to break the ice and bring in more colors.

Painting in progress, introducing more colors and expressing happiness.
In progress, now the color palette is wider.

The best feeling when creating art is freedom. We are free to express and discover.

When expressing happiness, seek signs of life. For example:

  • Could that spot move if I poke it with a line?
  • Could those two lines be connected and thus get wings?

And when a creature is born, let him live in peace! Don’t force him to look like a certain species, but let him be unique in his world. I often aim for the impression of an uncharted area where a human, the viewer, enters for the first time.

Expressing happiness. A detail of Onnellisten maa - Happy Earth, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

I also try to express impact so that the painting makes sense. So, make the movement in one corner cause something else to change. And when you introduce a new color, do it gradually so that it doesn’t only flourish. There should be a beginning and an end to its path.

Expressing happiness. A detail of Onnellisten maa - Happy Earth, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

These two needs are not only what a painting or a drawing hopes to have. They are also important for humans. We want to feel independent and free and still impactful and connected so that life moves forward. I think Finland has been successful in both.

A Finnish aritst Paivi Eerola and her oil painting.

Now, most ice has melted, and our spring has started. Some say that Finnish people change when the summer comes. They see us stop to look at the sun and even smile sometimes!

Painting and teaching are my ways to express happiness.
How have you spread happiness through art?

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