My name is Terhi Kalliola and I grew up in Finland, but spent half of my life in Italy where I studied art conservation and worked as a decorator and restorer of oil paintings, frescos and stone artwork, e.g. old roman marble statues.
How did this all happen?
I made a lot of commissioned artworks like decorated interiors, ceilings, walls and furniture or oil paintings on canvas. I did this for many years but I did not have the courage to try to paint much of my own and call myself an artist, a painter.
I returned back to Finland, and after some difficult moments in my personal life, I started studying art therapy and finally found space and courage to start painting mostly my own stuff, not making art copies for friends. In the last 2 years, I have kept 6 exhibitions and there will be many others to come, I believe. I am also an artist currently.
I discovered watercolours a few years ago, and it was love at first sight. It was so challenging and different from the techniques I was used to. I had to struggle a lot and it was like I was learning to paint for the first time. Watercolours are currently part of my daily routine, and I paint for many hours every day.
I have tried many different watercolour brands but I prefer Daniel Smith. Sometimes I also make my own colours using pigments and gum arabic solution. The paper quality is also essential. My absolute preference is Arches hot pressed 100% cotton paper. One can also never have too many brushes and I have a big collection of them, though also, I tend to use regularly only 2 or 3 of them.
Pure Kolinsky hair pointed brush numbers 6 or 8, rigger brush in Kolinsky hair and a goat hair hake brush are my absolute favourites. My palette of colours varies from many colours to the six split colours that I’ve grown to like most. It consists of yellow, blue and red in both their cool and warm versions. I am also a big fan of masking fluid and could not live without it anymore after a very difficult beginning with it.
My creative process
After I have chosen my subject to paint, I do some sketches either with charcoal or pencil and watercolours. I normally use reference photos for my paintings. They are mostly my own photos.
My artwork is inspired by nature as well as human nature. I am fascinated by light and atmosphere and the presence of a pair of eyes in a face, animal or human. It is the most interesting element in the painting for me.
I struggled a lot trying to find inspiration in the past. Today, I just think there is no such thing as inspiration, or at least it does not arrive while you are waiting for it. You could do that for a decade. Working a lot and every day is the key for me to achieve results and to fulfill one’s top potential. Also, I’m not chasing for a masterpiece. When I let go, the best results arrive like magic.