Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

3D Paper Collage of Hand-Drawn Art

This week, let’s play with hand-drawn paper pieces and create 3D collage art.

3D paper collage by Paivi Eerola

My example is eight by eight inches (about 20 x 20 cm), so fairly small, but it has quite a lot of details. I used foam tape to add dimension to it, and the result is lovely. It brings embroidery or applique to my mind.

3D effects with foam tape. A closeup of hand-drawn collage art.

The idea of using foam tape between the layers is familiar to many from card-making, but I think the result is much more original when you use your own hand-drawn art.

Boxes of Joy – Shops Made by You for You

For years, I have been inspired by the idea of creating my own little paper shop. This shop is not about selling stuff for others but creative play where you are both a shop owner and its best customer. This picture is from 2016, when my shops were pretty simple and contained mostly paper sheets.

Playing with paper.
See the blog post from 2016: Painterly Collage in Rut Bryk’s style

But the longer I have been in business, the more demanding my customer has got. I have got requests from myself to draw doodles, embroidery imitations, animals, magical stuff, flowers, dolls, and the little shops that I call boxes of joy have increased year by year and course by course.

Working with hand-drawn paper pieces to create 3D paper collage.

Sometimes the things I have drawn feel too precious to put to use. For example, the roses that I made for Doll World.

Hand-drawn rose for collage art.

But the older the pieces get, the more I try to use them. And if something doesn’t “sell,” I can recolor it or add something to it so that I – my best customer – feel tempted to “buy” it.

Drawing on collage art.

I like this process of adding more to something that’s pretty full already!

Thick Paper Love

One of my favorite papers is thick and smooth watercolor paper. It is suitable for both painting and drawing, but I sometimes avoid it because the collage gets so bulky. But for 3D effects, thick paper is perfect. It’s sturdy and goes very well with foam tape. Another paper that I like is Bristol paper. It’s not so thick but very smooth and sturdy enough for 3D.

Making of a 3D paper collage. Hand-drawn pieces, scissors, foam tape.

The background of this 3D paper collage is hand-painted watercolor paper. The elements are hand-drawn on watercolor paper or Bristol paper mostly.

Colored Pencils for 3D Paper Collage

Back in 2016, I used acrylic paints a lot. But nowadays, they feel less tempting. Not only because they are messier than colored pencils or watercolors but also because they are too similar to oil paints that I use for canvas paintings. I want to separate play from the pieces that I sell.

Collage art in progress.

With play, I also want to grow my drawing skills. Colored pencils are great for that. They also go well together with watercolors. I have had a break with watercolors, but I hope to use them more this year.

3D paper collage of hand-drawn elements.

I like the many tones of green in this piece! I have colored many white parts with green to integrate the pieces better with the background.

Artist’s Life – Upcoming Projects

My playing time will get more limited soon because I will start a new series of oil paintings. I have been invited to a wonderful art history-related group exhibition that begins in August, and there is a smaller fantasy-related show in April. I will tell you more about these in the upcoming posts.

This spring is also full of art in other ways. I enjoy seeing all the lovely dolls from the participants of Doll World and other classes in my Bloom and Fly community. I hope to help you there as much as I can throughout the year. I am also participating in a Finnish artist coaching program to get to know the practices of the fine art world better. You have enabled my growth, and I hope that my growth will also benefit you. I hope that 2023 will be a good year of art for both of us.

Creating a Protector of Good

This week we get inspired by spiritual and ornamental art and create a protector of good.

Protector of Butterflies in Colored Pencils

Protector of Butterflies. Colored pencil art by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Halloween is not an official holiday in Finland, but we have All Saints’ day soon. I started gathering images for this blog post in the spirit of All Saints’ day, but soon realized that this kind of art has a special role in my life in general. There are times when I want to create art to protect all the good things in life.

Colored pencil art in progress. Creating a protector of good.
A careless sketch becomes alive when colored pencils step in.

In the small colored pencil drawing, I was thinking about the beauty of butterflies and created a protector for them.

Colored pencil art in progress. Cutting out a scrap relief. A protector of butterflies.
After cutting the motif out, I do some finishing touches.

At the same time, I created a protector for my sensitivity, and it feels good to have one in my box of joy as I call the collection of hand-drawn paper reliefs.

Protector of Everything Sacred in Collage

Back in 2011, when I wasn’t a full-time artist yet, I made this paper collage from hand-decorated papers.

Madonna paper collage from 2011 by Paivi Eerola. See her ideas for creating a protector of good.
Paper collage from 2011

I wanted to express the atmosphere of a sacred space. My hand-drawn lines were clumsy, but I cut the papers so that they look decorative. I painted icons as a child, so I made the woman’s face in that style. I still like this!

Protector of Flowers and Plants in Oil

In 2018, I was practicing oil painting and explored all kinds of organic shapes. I first painted all kinds of plants and then changed the orientation, and added the madonna. (More about the process in this blog post.)

Madonna of the Heart, oil painting by Paivi Eerola
Madonna of the Heart, oil on canvas, 2018

The frame of the painting has a real silver coating, and I think it fits the image beautifully.

Painting and Drawing Precious Artifacts

We can paint and draw precious things that make us feel protected, like candles and crosses. I found these two gouache paintings from my archives today.

Gouache paintings: a candle and a cross
Small gouache paintings from 2019

Ornaments can also be more imaginative, like these hand-drawn collage pieces.

A paper ornament of hand-drawn collage pieces. By a Finnish artist Päivi Eerola.
Handdrawn collage pieces from 2019

You can compose paper pieces together so that they look like a talisman.

Protector of Light in Watercolor

Now when we are entering dark days in Finland, I feel the need to have a protector of light.

Watercolor angel by Paivi Eerola. From her online art class Magical Forest.
Watercolor Angel – a project from the class Magical Forest

This watercolor angel was painted for the class Magical Forest. I developed a method for it so that you first paint the angel figure freely by splashing colors and then add more definition by painting the dark background.

Protector of the Child in Us

I think one of the most important protectors is the one who protects the child in us. I painted this icon in the early 1980s when I was about 10 years old. It was my second, and as you can see, I wasn’t very good at varnishing back then – too much linseed oil!

Madonna and Child icon.

The teacher of the icon painting group, Irke Petterberg, helped me with the details of the faces. I wasn’t eastern-orthodox; I just happened to live very near the church and love art-making. It was wonderful to be accepted as a part of the group which consisted of adult painters. For me, religion felt like a gate to the world of imagination.

Protector of Butterflies. Colored pencil scrap reliefs by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

No matter the religion, let’s cherish the child in us and protect the good through art-making.

The Electrical Life of Any Artist

This week I have a consolation post for any artist!

Flying Cats illustrated by Paivi Eerola. Read her article about the electrical life of an artist!
Cats and wings made for the class Magical Inkdom

We start from a movie and then let thoughts fly from top to bottom and come back up.

The Movie – The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Just a couple of days ago, I watched an inspiring movie called The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. It’s a story about the illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) who got famous for his cat drawings. Louis Wain’s life was full of misery, he was poor, responsible for five unmarried sisters, lost her wife to breast cancer soon after the marriage, made bad business decisions, and suffered grief and mental illness.

At the Play - an Exciting Moment. A cat illustration by  Louis Wain.
A cat illustration by Louis Wain

And yet, Louis’s cat drawings were fun illustrations full of liveliness and details.

The Two Undertones of Any Day

The movie felt strangely therapeutic. Maybe partly because it expressed so well what I had been thinking lately: how life has both melancholic and uplifting undertones and how important it is to recognize and make room for both of them.

For Louis, life had two separate sides – the harsh reality and the wonderous world of imagination. I think that many of us can relate to that even if in our lives, the melancholic and uplifting undertones would spread more evenly. If I think about my artist life, there have been so many rejections that where I am now is a small miracle. And if I think about the future, more small miracles are needed to move forward.

Here’s a short video about my journey so far.

This video was published on my Instagram account first, so the proportions were optimized for that.

Those Who Believe in You

In the end, you only need to have one person who believes in you as an artist. Many times you can be that person for yourself. Like Louis, the world of imagination has the power to keep the uplifting undertone going.

A detail of the drawing called "Blue". By Paivi Eerola. Read more about her points on the electrical life of any artist!
A detail of the drawing “Blue” from 2019.

But for me, there have been times when a small miracle has been needed – that someone else brings me up. When Louis found supporters in the movie, I thought of mine. They are a part of my electrical life story. Who could be yours?

It wasn’t easy to contact any of them – ask, apply, and reach out just after losing the belief and energy, but doing that has pushed me forward. Sometimes they have been friends, but many times strangers who have given me a chance to connect with their audience. In the art world, and especially in the fine art world, people are hesitant to accept outsiders. But once you get one door open, some others will open up too. The number of your supporters will grow step by step.

Opening Up for Small Miracles

In the beginning, art was something I did in secret. If I didn’t believe in my art, I simply stopped creating for a while. But the more I created, the more I wanted to find connections with other people. First with others who create, and then more publicly. After going public, stopping is much harder because you start to see wider: There must be someone who says yes.

Doll illustrations by Paivi Eerola.

I see that the melancholic and uplifting undertones are wrapped around each other like two plies in a yarn. By expressing both of them, not only a person but also her art becomes stronger – more touching and captivating. It’s then easier to make small miracles happen – have positive electricity as Louis Wain would put it.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie?

P.S. If you want to turn back the clock and learn from 6-years-younger Paivi, here’s your chance! Planet Color, is retiring on Sept 30, at midnight PDT.

Planet Color, a painting class for beginners.

If you are a beginner in painting and want to use acrylic paints more, for example, in your art journals, check this class! Planet Color is now more than 50% OFF before it goes away! >> Buy here!

Extra Post In Memory of Queen Elizabeth

Four Seasons Bouquet - a luxurious black and white drawing by Paivi Eerola

When I was a child, I wanted to be the Queen of England. It was the greatest thing I knew. We lived modestly in a small Finnish town near the Russian border. On Sundays, when we got a thick newspaper and bought a women’s magazine from the local kiosk, we talked about royals in Europe. The greatest of all was Queen Elizabeth, of course. I admired her so much that I got a flower bench under my bedroom window and roses called Queen Elizabeth planted on it.

Queen Elizabeth was my queen back then and still has been. She has been our queen for so long that she has seen more than most of us. With her, a time period that a single human can comprehend and remember vividly now goes away.

We, Finnish people, remember the queen’s visit to Finland in 1976. When my parents saw our politicians taking her to a forest in a walking suit, they were upset and ashamed. I remember my mother sitting on the sofa horrified and even a child understood that our love for forests could have been presented in a more sophisticated manner. But we didn’t get any headlines where the queen would complain about her circumstances, and in fact, we haven’t got much of those during all these years.

So here’s to Queen Elizabeth one more time. She inspired me to dream about jewels and kennels, courts and stables, tartans and silk, and because of her, I looked at forests like they were palaces. It made life so much better then, and it still carries me now when I am an artist.

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