Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

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.

Draw a Coloring Page and Color It Creatively!

This week, we draw a coloring page and color it creatively.

Fall Is Coming - an illustration by Paivi Eerola. See how this was first drawn as a coloring page!
Fall is Coming!

Inspiration from an Artist Friend Eeva Nikunen

This blog post is inspired by my artist friend Eeva Nikunen. She is a master at drawing coloring pages. She has many self-published books, and just recently, she drew the Alice in Wonderland coloring book for a famous British company Colouring Heaven. I especially love Eeva’s illustrations of men, and her drawing skills are superior, much further than mine. Of the two of us, she is more of an illustrator while I am a painter, but we both alternate with drawing and painting.

Inspiration from Historical Styles

The Victorian era inspires Eeva, and I love it too. In 2020, I illustrated a book called Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers. It had over 60 Victorian-style line drawings and one simple coloring page as well. I have used a similar drawing style in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom.

Animal Inkdom by Paivi Eerola. A victorian-style line drawing.
One of the projects from the class Animal Inkdom, before coloring.

I also like Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha‘s illustrations. See this old blog post from 2015 where I draw in Art Nouveau style!

Art Nouveau style drawing.

The blog post has a short drawing video too.

Art Nouveau has inspired me to create a set of coloring pages for the e-book Coloring Freely. Here are some samples of them.

Line drawings for coloring pages. From the book Coloring Freely by Paivi Eerola.
Illustrations from the e-book Coloring Freely.

Let’s Draw a Coloring Page!

There are great programs for drawing coloring pages like ProCreate and Adobe Illustrator. I like these programs, but I like to keep drawing with pens and pencils too. So let’s look at how to draw a coloring page by hand!

I started with a pencil, and the focus was first on the pose. When I had a rough idea of a woman romantically entering a scenery, I drew over the pencil lines with a black drawing pen. I like to use ink pens because I draw better when I can’t erase the lines. It makes me concentrate more, and my hand becomes steadier.

The sketch for the pose is number 1 in the photo. I think many of you would just throw it in the trash and think that the project is a disaster, but the secret is to keep going by tracing the sketch to another paper.

Many versions of the same coloring page: sketches, final version and a print on unbleached paper.
Many versions of the same coloring page: 1-3) sketches, 4) the final page, and 5) the print of the final page. Click to see a bigger image!

When tracing the old lines, you will get more ideas and new energy for adjusting the drawing. My second sketch had more elements, and I also started thinking about the facial expression of the character. When I ran out of ideas, I just drew hearts. Then I colored the sketch a bit to think about what the general idea of the image could be.

I like to develop ideas by drawing and coloring, not by thinking only. Many say they have images in their head, but mine are often too vague or too traditional. Drawing makes me more inventive and detailed. So, in the third sketch, the hearts were gone, and the lady had a bag, a leaf skirt, and a circle behind her. As you can see from the picture above, I threw the sketch away, but then when I thought about the blog post, I dug it out from the bin for the photo!

Here’s the third sketch without colors and the final version that I drew after coloring the third one for some time.

A sketch for the coloring page and the final version. See how to draw a coloring page!
A sketch and the final version of the coloring page.

The final drawing is about saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall. The bag symbolizes summer and the circle became a giant pumpkin. If you compare my lines between the sketches, they become more delicate and detailed towards the end. The first sketch is a clumsy thing, but by redrawing the lady several times, I was able to make the design more flowing. Straight lines became curvier and curves got more notches, making the shapes more interesting. By leaving some of the elements visible only partly, the image looks more coherent and less floating.

Choosing Paper for Drawing and Coloring

The thin and smooth marker paper makes tracing easy. I got to know it when I was studying as an industrial designer. Art supply stores sell it. For coloring, I prefer thicker paper, so I scanned the image and printed it on a brown drawing paper.

Making a coloring page. Papers for sketching a coloring.
Translucent marker paper for the drawing and thicker paper for the printed page.

Unbleached paper allows me to color a bit more carelessly and playing with pastels and whites is more fun.

Creative Coloring

An inspiring coloring page is not too detailed. I like pages that have some detailed elements, like the bag in mine, but that also have plenty of space for additional ideas. Then the coloring page can be treated as a foundation for creative coloring. For example, my page has pretty empty hem, and I can have fun by coloring freely – creating color changes and motifs that make the design more rich and stylish.

Coloring a hand-drawn coloring page.

I also like to color over the lines so that coloring extends the original design.

Creative coloring of a coloring page with colored pencils.

Compare the coloring page and the colored version below to see the additions made with colored pencils only!

A coloring page and the colored version.

With colors, you can also change the style of the drawing. I think mine looks quite Alphonse Mucha without colors, but after coloring, less so. I like coloring shadows and making the design less flat than what Art Nouveau had.

The Intuitive Part of Intentional Art

After finishing a drawing that was born pretty intentionally, I like to ponder what had initiated it. I found this photo on my phone, taken a couple of days ago. The two-colored leaves looked so beautiful and bittersweet to me that I had snapped a picture of them.

Fall leaves.

I am sad that summer is over but also acknowledge that summers and falls are not separate. One carries the other. It’s not fall’s fault that the summer is gone, and the present that the summer gave is dear to her.

A detail of an illustration, drawn and colored by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I hope this post inspires you to draw a coloring page through multiple sketches and then creatively color it!

Let’s Get Inspired by Tassels!

This week, we dive deep into the soul of tassels and get the most out of our creativity.

Saturnuksen kirkko - Church of Saturn, an oil painting on canvas by Paivi Eerola.
Saturnuksen kirkko – Church of Saturn, 50 x 30 cm, oil on canvas

Here’s one of my newest paintings called Church of Saturn. This oil painting is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Jupiter here, Uranus herethe Moon hereMercury hereNeptune here, Pluto herethe Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!) When I painted it, I thought about the rings of Saturn, the god of agriculture, branches and twigs, an old wooden church from my childhood, wabi-sabi, and the beauty of – tassels!

Tassel Dolls

When I was living in Eastern Karelia in the 1970s, the simplest doll we could make was a tassel doll. I painted it in watercolors so that you can check if it’s something that you had too!

Watercolor painting of a tassel doll.

The doll was made of wool yarn and so simple that even a 5-year-old could make it. It’s a good example of a thing that is not valued by our adult self, but that brings up our inner child: “Hey, Miss Tassel, where do you want to go?”

Tassels as Extra Decorations

"Double" from Inktober 2018. An ink drawing by Paivi Eerola. Horses with tassels.

I rediscovered my love for tassels in 2018 when I participated in the Inktober challenge. Back then, I thought of tassels being a fun accessory and I have enjoyed using them as extra decorations in my drawings.

This week, I drew a new tassel for my boxes of joy and had a lot of fun making it.

Drawing a decorative tassel.

First I drew some circles and lines with a black drawing pen, then added textures and shadows in the style I each in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom.

Coloring a tassel with colored pencils.

After colored pencils, I picked some other hand-drawn pieces from my boxes and admired the luxurious collection.

A collection of decorative handdrawn elements.

Who needs shopping when you can have your own personal store and draw all the good stuff for it!

Blowing Life to a Tassel

A tassel drawing can be more than a decoration only. You can have more fun by playing with it so that it will get a personality. Imagine a tassel as a person or an animal – a living thing. Here I see two tassel ladies on a stroll!

Small tassel drawings.

Now, the tassel has a mind of its own. An artist can see any simple object as an element of expression.

In the painting “Church of Saturn,” the tassels have a spirit that makes them an integral part of nature.

Oil painting in progress, painting tassels.

These tassels are organic, and the style is abstract rather than illustrative.

A detail of Saturnuksen kirkko - Church of Saturn, an oil painting on canvas by Paivi Eerola.

As artists we need to do this – go beyond what’s expected and commonly seen.

Ornamental Figure with Tassels

In the class Magical Inkdom, I draw a funny bunny with a tassel on her head and now I got the idea of making an ornamental figure so that the tassels form the body.

Small drawings inspired by antique tassels.

To make a symmetrical ornament, I traced the tassel three times on the right side marker paper. Marker paper is thin so it’s easy to see through it.

Making an ornamental drawing that has tassels.

Then I taped the paper to the window and traced the three tassels on the left side of the paper. I added additional elements to the center and some facial features too. My tassel doll!

Drawing an ornament on marker paper. Ornamental figure with tassels.

But when I continued the drawing, I got a crazy idea of a knitting hamster. Tens of years ago, I was a hamster breeder, attending shows and everything. I know those little animals well! Knitting is one of my favorite hobbies and the thought of a hamster collecting all the yarn and trying to knit it made me smile.

An ink drawing in progress. Shadowing and adding details to tassels.

Then the word “Knitwork Orange” came to my mind, and I included the orange as well!

Knitwork Orange - an ink drawing by Paivi Eerola.

Here’s me, in the middle of the night, knitting away!

Tassel Dolls on Mars

Last spring, I had a small canvas that was first just a mess. I like to start my paintings in this intuitive way and without a plan. I had some leftover paint so nothing was wasted.

Starting a small canvas painting intuitively.

The first ideas are terribly traditional and mine was to make a vase with flowers.

A small floral painting in progress.

But after this, I was taken to another planet, to Mars! There, tassel dolls met art deco, and I had a lot of fun finishing the painting with all the decorative details.

Painting decorative details in oil. Getting creative in painting.

I love the Great Gatsby movie from 2013. It has the best party scenes and good music. I had a lot of fun creating a tassel doll party that took place on another planet.

"Kultahatut Marsissa - Gatsbies on Mars", a small oil painting by Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Kultahatut Marsissa – Gatsbies on Mars, 22 x 27 cm, oil on canvas

This small piece ends the Milky Way series – 11 oil paintings from March to May. I have taken a break from creating art, but feel like I am recovering now. Thanks to making the tassel drawings for this post! I hope they work for you too!

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