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Wonderland Art – Inspiration from Alice in Wonderland

Last fall, I was asked to participate in a small gallery exhibition called Kaninkolo (Rabbit Hole). I thought that the name was a funny reference to the Alice in Wonderland book and an opportunity to create fantastic wonderland art. I had previously covered the wonderland theme by drawing for the Magical Inkdom course. It was fun to see how the theme would lend itself to my painting style, which is much more abstract.

Wonderland Rises From the Dark

Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Älä pelkää ihmemaassa – Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas

For me, wonderland art calls for dark colors. I’ve seen Tim Burton’s movie Alice in Wonderland and I think it has some wonderfully gloomy scenes. I would really like to paint dark paintings because exciting things can happen in the dark. However, I try to curb this desire, because Finnish homes are light and light paintings sell better!

Starting a new painting. Creating wonderland art. Paivi Eerola in her studio.

But now I got permission from myself to paint one dark painting, in which I also rejoiced with colors.

New is a Wonderland

I started with confidence, but at some point in the frenzy of painting, I stopped: “Could I paint so boldly? Should I tone down a bit?” But then the painting replied: “Päivi, don’t be afraid in wonderland!”

A fantasy-themed painting in progress. Creating abstract wonderland art - art inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

And yes, whenever we are on the verge of something new, we are a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Then you just have to keep experimenting and painting. I admire brave people and I would like to paint with courage. It’s not always possible to do that, but I’m going to continue to let loose from time to time!

Wonderland Art – Queen, Alice, and Others

This “Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland” piece was really fun to paint. Among the characters in the book, my favorite is the Queen of Hearts. Of course, Mad Hatter also had to be painted.

A detail of Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, oil on canvas. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.
Queen of Hearts (center) and Mad Hatter (top left corner).

I also included Cheshire Cat, as well as the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

A detail of Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, oil on canvas. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Alice (bottom), the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (left, above Alice), and Cheshire Cat (all over the place!)

In this painting, Alice is a flying flower!

Wonderland Art – Wheel of Fortune

When I started building the Magical Inkdom course in 2019, one of my first drawings was this Wheel of Fortune.

Wheel of Fortune, a gameboard drawing with a separate center wheel. Wonderland art by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

When drawing all the details, I thought about how I would divide the lessons. I got the idea to make a separate central circle for the drawing, which can be rotated and thus change the heads and outfits of the characters. You can see the wheel at the end of this video:

Magical Inkdom – Buy here!

Drawing a gameboard with a wheel helped me to come out with the idea of playing cards and a bag for storing them.

Wonderland art. Art inspired by Alice in Wonderland. From the course Magical Inkdom by Paivi Eerola.

So when I went more abstract and thought about the concept of the wonderland, it fed ideas for several lessons.

Moving from Wonderland Characters to Wonderland Mood

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between representational and abstract and what can be expressed with abstract imagery. For example, could I paint an abstract outdoor tea party?

A magical bunny and a teacup. By Paivi Eerola, Check out her online drawing course Magical Inkdom!
A rabbit and a teacup for the course Magical Inkdom

I saw the arbor and the delicate porcelain cups in my mind, but could I detach the motifs from the cups and fly to the place as a magician who removes the excess realism?

Starting an oil painting.
Starting point: just a few colors first.

When painting abstract, I try to change the original idea to a mood, and then paint the mood. My mind is then in a 3-dimensional dynamic space rather than trying to maintain a 2-dimensional static image.

Creating wonderland art. Paivi Eerola painting a small piece inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

I think this tea party themed little painting turned out pretty well!

Taikurin teekutsut - Magician's Tea Party, 40 x 32 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Taikurin teekutsut – Magician’s Tea Party, 40 x 32 cm, oil on canvas

Art is a wonderland where you can do anything!

The Finnish artist Päivi Eerola and her painting Taikurin teekutsut - Magician's Tea Party.

Here you can see the size of the painting better: 40 x 32 cm, about 15 3/4 and 12 1/2 inches.

Does Drawing Help for Loosening Up in Expression?

Oil paintings in Paivi Eerola's studio.
Paintings in my studio.

I have wondered if my abstract painting style would ever have been found without drawing figuratively. But I don’t think that would have happened. To become looser, it has been important to learn how reality works and how to express it with shapes.

Playing with hand-drawn collage pieces and art journaling. See the courses Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom to create your own wonderland art.
Playing with hand-drawn collage pieces.

That’s why I’m really happy that my way to wonderland has been through a bend. And even that kind of a bend that I can share with the rest of you through the Magical Inkdom course among others.

Paivi Eerola and her painting Älä pelkää ihmemaassa - Don't Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, oil on canvas.
Älä pelkää ihmemaassa – Don’t Be Afraid in Wonderland, 60 x 60 cm, about 23 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches.

April 8-27, 2023, Kaninkolo group exhibition at Gallery Art Frida, Korkeavuorenkatu 25, Helsinki

Does Alice in Wonderland inspire you?

6 thoughts on “Wonderland Art – Inspiration from Alice in Wonderland

  1. Paivi you inspire me. I loved this blog and your wonderful imaginings and creations lots of love from me in Aotearoa New Zealand. Xx

  2. Beautiful work, and these definitely have that wonderland feel of of Alice! Also, I’m super excited about having bought Inspirational Drawing 2.0 last week. I’d wanted it for a long time, and it’s even better than I’d imagined. Thank you for all the inspiration you share, Paivi!

  3. I love Alice in Wonderland. It was my favourite story when I was little, and has stayed with me into adulthood. Your writing and paintings were so inspirational, now I want to draw whimsical Wonderland characters too! 😀

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