Midsummer Naiad, the Finnish “Vedenneito”

A path through the forest is leading to the forgotten pond.
Wildflowers are guardians of the secret way.
Myosotis, tufted vetch, wood cranesbill… Shades of blue and purple.

All the bluish flowers are whispering that in the midsummer night
you might see the Naiad near the pond – or even in the stream whirls of the forest creek.

But what if the Naiad is just a reflection on the water?
A mirage in the midsummer´s night, dancing with the water sparkles... and then diving just before the dawn.

Or could you see that water spirit on a serene lake in a magical land of a thousand lakes?
And would you then follow her steps through the Nordic white night
into the mist of a midsummer morning?

During the midnight sun everything is possible, and the Naiad has been here too…


The Midsummer Naiad (above) was once designed as a sister to the Midsummer Dryad (below). Do you still remember her from last year´s midsummer article?


Initially these mythic fairy-tale styled characters were inspired by the Finnish midsummer mythology and
mythical creatures from the Finnish folklore. Visions of the Finnish Midsummer Dryad and Naiad started then to develop in my sketchbook, based on the old myths and transforming into new ideas and illustrations.

Over the years the beauty of the pure nature in Finland has been a great source of inspiration for my illustrations.  In these midsummer illustrations the Finnish nature, lakes and wildflowers played again an important role.


First I drew the fairy-tale styled characters and then I created the flower dresses by completing them with real Finnish wildflowers. I chose wildflowers that were blooming in Finland right in the summer solstice. The Midsummer Dryad and Naiad had then their unique blooming floral dresses designed into the forest and water themes. Together the shades of blue and green tell a story of the enchanting Midsummer in Finland.

I collected particularly bluish wildflowers when completing the floral dress for the Midsummer Naiad. Tufted vetch became like waves on her dress, and myosotis were giving the fresh light blue touch to the entire flower dress. I wanted to emphasize fresh blues also in the drawing and describe that way the pure clean waters in Finland. Cool shades of blue along with the white reminding of the sky and lakes – was a way to add also the Finnish Lakeland twist to the traditional water nymph theme. The hints of green and purple helped to make the entire illustration more diverse, but at the same time those colors also illustrate the reflections on a serene lake and midsummernight´s shadows. Especially the strong purple from the wood cranesbill created that mystic sense of magical midsummer to the blue dress of the Naiad.

It is interesting to ponder how mental images and ideas are forming. Sometimes it is all about certain feeling or memory, a view that was once forgotten, inspiring color, music - or even a voice. In this case the Finnish language and certain words had just the right magical atmosphere when designing these midsummer illustrations. Some Finnish words seem to create visions by themselves.

I know many of you are reading this in English and usually also my illustrations are named only in English. But in this case some of the words in Finnish just have that mythic poetry in them…  Like for example the Finnish word “vedenneito” that can be translated as a water nymph or naiad, although the Finnish mythology shapes that concept uniquely. The word “vesi” means water and “neito” translates as a maiden.

The entire Finnish word “vedenneito” by itself sounds already like a calmly flowing stream in a forest creek, where syllables are like a chain of small bridges over the water.  You can almost see that mythical water spirit while listening to that softly flowing word “vedenneito” in Finnish. Some words are like music, like mythic whispers... Maybe those same ancient stories that gentle lapping waves are telling on a lake in midsummer evenings.

The official translation for naiad in Finnish is “aallotar” and that word also waves like water. The word “aalto” itself translates as a wave.  Based on that flowing Finnish word also my Midsummer Naiad eventually had waves on her hair.  As a result elements from several mythic words were that way united in one illustration.

If you want to listen how the Finnish words are pronounced, you will find them below linked to Forvo. As a largest online pronunciation dictionary in the world Forvo is a treasure to all you interested in different languages.  Those of you who work or travel abroad – or study new language, may find the site useful.  And of course Forvo inspires all you, who just want to cherish and enjoy the beauty of your own native language.

The Finnish mythic words pronounced in Forvo:
(words below are opening in a new window, in Forvo press the blue play button for listening)
Aallotar (naiad)
Vedenneito (water nymph, naiad)
Metsänneito (dryad)
Keijukainen  (fairy)

Illustration can be a very complex process that can include many different views – from myths to words.  Even certain voice or pronunciation can shape visions and create new ideas.  At best the illustrator can be completely engrossed in that creative process, falling into the world of concepts and ideas.  And the Finnish mythic midsummer is a very inspiring subject to illustrate.

Midsummer in Finland is made of old mythic traditions, tranquil lakes, beautiful wildflowers - and unforgettable moments.  But above all, it is the magical outcome of our own personal visions and experiences… We can all create magic.

I wish magical midsummer moments and miracles to all Sandcastle.fi blog readers!

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