I made this painting just before Christmas but as it has a special story, I wanted to blog about it later when I had more time to write. Actually, I didn’t even plan for creating anything in the middle of holiday cleaning and cooking. But I just had to.
Finnish Art Rugs
Namely, my husband bought a wall art rug (“ryijy” in Finnish) from an online auction and it happened to arrive just before Christmas eve. We had been searching for one for some time. It had to suit with the colors and style of our living room and not be enormous (as many of them often are). We had a designer in mind too – Ritva Puotila, a Finnish woman who has recently designed carpets for her own company Woodnotes. In 1950-60s, she used to design beautiful, painterly Finnish art rugs. The rug that my husband found was her design called “Fireside Evening” and I think it looks wonderful in our mid-century modern living room (which has a fireplace in the opposite wall).
As you can see from the close-up photo, the rug is not only black and red but has many colors to create the painterly effect. At those times, in 1950-60s, wall rugs were fashionable in Finland and especially these kind of rugs that are as much modern art as home textiles. Many women bought the patterns and sewed or weaved their rugs by themselves. My mother was one of them. She chose a rug design called “Ruutrikki” (a made-up word that resembles “broken squares”) and the designer might have been Päikki Briha, if I remember correctly. Here’s an old photo of me and my father showing the rug in the background. That rug also has a lots of colors. It was difficult to zoom in, but hopefully you get the idea.
While touching and admiring our new red rug, I got very emotional. My mind was filled with mixed emotions. I was happy about the new art textile that would bring a warm atmosphere to our living room. On the other hand, while browsing the old photos, I saw people that have passed a way, photographed in front of my mother’s rug. When I remembered that many of those art rugs were sketched with watercolors and then transformed to a grid pattern, I just couldn’t help it. I had to take out my watercolor set and start a new painting even if it was getting late and I felt pretty tired.
Creating a Mixed Media Painting
While painting, I didn’t think about anything particular, but of course, the rugs found their way to the end result …
The painting turned out to be some kind of still life with a dark vase and few sad-looking carnations. Carnations were my mother’s favorite flowers and my father used to buy them for her every year, at their wedding anniversary.
If you look at Finnish art rugs at my Pinterest board, many of them have some kind of melancholy in them. Maybe it’s caused by a combination of muted colors, high contrasts and simplified, abstract approach. These were the elements that used in my painting too.
I finished the painting with colored pencils and named it as “Ryijyneilikat” – “Rug Carnations”. They are imaginary flowers that grow downwards, that are not used to be centerpieces, that blend in the background. They enforce other elements of the still life to step up and go forward. Just like my modest mother did for her children.
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