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Join the adventure into the world of midsummer magic, wildflowers and fantasy cats. Sandcastle.fi blog follows the path to fascinating art, where dreamy elements are playing with the reality - and illustrations are completed with Finnish wildflowers. Artist Sanna of the Sandcastle takes you into a journey to creativity, art and illustrations.

Choosing boots

Which one is your favorite, romantic or more dramatic style? 1or 2?
(You can leave a comment on Sandcastle.fi Instagram or on Facebook pages)

Below there´s a picture of the romantic boots that were decorated with the heather flowers...

... And also close-up from the more dramatic boots that were designed for upcoming Halloween.

Wearing the heather flowers

Wearing the heather flowers. Welcome autumn! đź’šđź’ś

This floral dress above was completed with heather flowers. For a change I wanted to create a shorter floral dress design with early autumn mood, and complete the style then with romantic floral boots.

The colors to the drawn character were selected based on the heather flowers, emphasizing the flower colors along with the green tones. In the picture below there´s a close-up of the character.  

At this stage above I was adding those small flower decorations on her hair and also on the upper part of the dress.

This time the drawn character was designed to have dark brown eyes that were emphasized with vivid green and dark purple color layers in the eyelid area. The eyes can be seen more clearly in the picture below.

A special detail in this floral dress design were those romantic boots that were also decorated with small heather flowers. Below is the work in progress picture. Drawing the miniature boots and then completing them with small heather flowers were probably one of my favorite moments when creating this illustration.

Wishing happy and creative autumn moments to Sandcastle.fi blog readers!

Blooming dress under the midnight sun

On the Midsummer's Eve she walked along the lake shore in Finland. And during that nightless night, under the midnight sun, her dress was made of blooming wildflowers 🌼

This floral dress above was designed for the Midsummer´s Eve and was especially inspired by the magical colors and moments under the midnight sun.

The floral trail of the blooming dress was designed to resemble a path along the Finnish lake shore. A path, where white wildflowers shine like the white night and where those purple blue flowers of the tufted vetch resemble the mystic lake that the midnight sun has colored with purple blue tones. Below is a close up from that blooming trail of the floral dress.

Under the midnight sun I was fascinated by that beautiful light purple color of the lake and therefore also the shadow colors of the drawn character were designed to embrace that same magical color.

The character was designed to have a traditional midsummer style and the drawn upper part of the dress was then also completed with small flowers as a decoration. A special detail was to find also light purple wildflowers for those small flower decorations in the upper part of the character. In this case the heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis) was a perfect color match to the magical light purple lake as well as to the violet shadow colors of the character.

The small and delicate flowers of the heath speedwell were like a hidden treasure waiting to be found under the other midsummer flowers and plants.

In the creative process those small flowers were then magical... Below you can also see the flowers compared to the size of a colored pencil. Fitting those small flowers together into the character´s decorations seemed like building a miniature flower arrangement.

For the small flower decorations in the upper part of the design I also used a few of those light blue flowers of myosotis. The clear light blue colored flowers were matching nicely with the character´s eye color. And as a result her eyes were then celebrating the midsummer night´s tones - eyes more like the light blue flowers of myosotis and shadow colors of the eyelids based on heath speedwell like that light purple lake.

During the Midsummer´s Eve there´s that magical moment under the midnight sun, when the sunrays highlight the white night with orange tones. That is why this floral dress design required also those stronger orange and yellow touches to lighten up the whole character and floral design. For that reason the floral dress has yellow flowers of the meadow vetchling and buttercup included in it.

In addition also in the drawn character those yellow and orange colored layers are reminding those warm rays of the midnight sun. In the detail pictures the orange sketchy lines as well as the warm tones in the character´s facial area can be seen more clearly.

During the Midsummer´s Eve enchanting things can happen. Under the midnight sun the colors may have magical tones, and even the lake seem to be light purple.

Wishing magical midsummer moments to you all!

Fairy of the fallen tree

Fairy of the fallen tree đź’š

One might see her wandering there on the fallen tree, on that softest green moss.

Sometimes in the primeval forest one can almost hear echoes of those past moments, when the old trees fell years ago. But now the soft moss is gently embracing those fallen giants. And in November, when all the autumn colors have already faded, the forest is still unbelievably green. Colored by that green moss carpet.

Those ancient forests are just enchanting. And exactly there, one can also find that perfect place for sketching and dreaming…

And in there, if you just squint your eyes... the fairies can come alive.

And through decayed leaves the spring arrived

And through decayed leaves the spring arrived… 💚

Farewell faded leaves and yesterday´s memories, because the wood anemones are already blooming!

With this floral dress I was trying to capture that moment when the spring finally arrives through last year´s faded leaves... The spring themed dress was created with layers of decayed leaves that were then combined with fresh blooming wood anemones and wood sorrel flowers. Those faded gray and brownish leaves gave that extra sense of layering to this floral dress.

Creating this floral dress took me into the Finnish forests and right into those moments when the spring wins. For this flower dress I picked up those very first nordic wildflowers of the spring. Especially the wood anemones are that special sign of the spring and upcoming summer. For this floral dress the beautiful white flowers of the wood anemones were important, but also the green leaves of the anemones were giving that sense of spring and powerful growth.

Another special choice for this spring themed dress were those fragile wood sorrel flowers.

There´s that enchanting moment in the Finnish forests, when the wood sorrel flowers are blooming for a short period of time before the another plants are taking over the forest. For that brief moment the forest treasures that beautiful carpet of wood sorrels.

And it feels every time so magical, searching for the first wood sorrel flowers and walking around in that fairy tale forest. Being surrounded of that spring light and witnessing how the nature wakes up. 

And that change happens so suddenly... When the bilberry plants are starting to flourish and begin to winn the forest over with a different shade of green. 

Those Finnish bilberry plants with that vibrant green color are so strongly reminding of that special spring moment, when there´s new beginnings everywhere. And for that reason I wanted to add also few of those bilberry plants and unripe bilberries to the spring themed floral dress.

So I searched for some bilberry braches from the fairy tale forest...

And on the way one more certain sign of the spring and summer was those Finnish mosquitoes... They sure were keeping my company in the forest... Telling (anxiously) of the secret places where the bilberries grow.

After picking from the forest all the right flowers and elements for the dress, the drawn character had then her spring dress built.

Below are few moments from the creative process.

Especially the unripe berries and beautiful green leaves gave a nice contrast to the floral dress, when they were combined with the white wood anemone and wood sorrel flowers (below).

Also the colors of the drawing were adjusted to match the floral dress. For example green eyes for the character was an obvious choice in this drawing. But also the character´s hair with green shading was designed to match with the green elements of the floral dress.

In color choices also the white highlights of the character´s hair along with that pale skin was styled to go together with the white flowers of the floral dress. Even  the color of the character´s  lips was chosen based on the color of those gentle pink stripes in the wood sorrel flowers.

One more small detail was to include a touch of yellow to this work. That was reminding of the first sunbeams of the spring, when the sunlight feels warm and promises already about the upcoming summer. Also in the center of both of  the anemone flowers is seen that refreshing bright yellow. In the drawing I used few yellow color layers here and there to make those small touches of yellow to appear in the character.

Also that another special shade of  color can be found in the fragile stem of the wood sorrel. That color mixture was an inspiration, especially for parts of the character´s hair color. Below in the pictures there´s few details where one can see also that more yellow toned green layering in the character´s hair and also the parts where the small stem was a color reference for drawing.

As a result the spring themed floral dress was built of all those small little pieces of spring.

This character with the spring themed floral dress stays now in that moment that otherwise goes by so fast. That special moment when the nature awakens after winter.

Wishing you all joyful moments and breezes of spring!

Diving into snowy forest

Diving into snowy Finnish forest đź’™

When you just want to disappear into the woods with the sketchbook  â€“ and with some warm winter drinks...

There is something so enchanting and inspiring in Finnish snowy forests. It feels like entering another magical reality.

And those snowy trees, could they tell stories?

I´m getting lost in that snowy story. Finding comfort in the soft white blanket that covers the whole forest. And the atmosphere is like in a fairy tale.

The magical snowy forest.
And the sketchbook that is fulfilled of ideas - and snow!

In the snowy forest one can find all those hidden stories or even create new fairy tales. Or then just be mesmerized by the silence and amazed by that incredible beauty of the nature...

And enjoy all those captivating details and that pure white snow.

With my sketchbook I could wander around the winter wonderland for eternity ...

But eventually the snowy trees are gently guiding the way home, and welcoming me to visit again.


Wishing you all wonderful winter days and inspiring moments!

Lusto - Finnish Forest Museum and Upmks exhibition

Finland has been celebrating 100 years of independence and it has been nice to emphasize Finnish themes also in the blog. One of those themes has been the Finnish forests as a source of inspiration. For that reason I wanted to tell you also about Lusto, the Finnish Forest Museum.

Lusto is a national museum and science centre focusing on Finnish forest culture and illustrating the interaction between man and the forest from the past to the future. Lusto’s exhibitions, events, work demonstrations and theme days provide a diverse and illustrative insight into the significance of forests in the life of Finns.

Lusto also has an interesting website with a lot of information about the museum and all the events: www.lusto.fi

The Finnish Forest Museum is located in the beautiful area of Punkaharju in Savonlinna. Punkaharju lies 340 kilometres from Helsinki. Punkaharju can be reached by train and bus, and Savonlinna also has an airport.  

More info about the beautiful area of Punkaharju can be found for example in here:
http://www.visitpunkaharju.fi/en/

The Finnish Forest Museum is like a treasure in a forest. The beautiful surroundings are shaping the whole museum visit and are transforming it to an unforgettable experience. The whole scenery and museum area is telling a story of Finnish forests.

Lusto also organizes guided tours to the nearby attractions of Punkaharju ridge area and Finnish Natural resources Institute´s (LUKE) research forest and arboretum. The guided tours to the Arboretum of the Finnish Natural Resources Institute for example give the visitors a change to familiarize themselves with different tree species. There are 54 coniferous and 48 broad-leaved species in the area. The tour will also take the visitors to see the tallest tree in the whole of Finland.

More info can be found also in here:
Guided tours of Lusto
Punkaharju research forest (LUKE)
Punkaharju Nature Reserve

But already from the outdoor area of the Lusto opens a beautiful postcard view. What an incredible scenery for all the outdoor events that are held in the Forest Museum. The museum is an interesting place to visit every season and the time of the year colors that surrounding postcard view differently... Fall with colorful tress have been one of my favorite times for the museum visit.

Remember to check the opening hours and season information when planning your visit. Especially during the summer there is a lot of outdoor events and guided tours available.

In the landscape the Lusto building itself appears to be like an exciting forest adventure, inviting to visit. It gives the visitor feeling like one would be entering a fascinating hidden forest - inside a forest. Visiting the museum is like a journey into that another reality built of information and forest stories. And at the same time it is a time travel into the decades of the Finnish forestry and its developmental phases. But above all Lusto cherishes that beautiful bond that the Finns have with their forests. 

When wandering inside the beautiful museum, one can easily lose track of the time. There´s so much to see, and as a one of the largest special museums in Finland, it is wise to have enough time to really enjoy and get the most of the experience.

The Finnish Forest Museum really has something to offer to everyone. The exhibitions have been built beautifully - with a lot of knowledge and style. And even the smallest details seem to merge beautifully into the entirety. As a result the visit to forest museum is fulfilled with many visual experiences. When looking into those worlds that the vitrines and showcases are telling about, you almost feel like becoming a part of those sceneries yourself.

And what about the incredible miniatures in the exhibitions!  Well, they just are a story of their own.

The miniatures are skillfully created and they are carrying the forest story throughout the whole museum. All the information behind the themes is really coming alive when the different miniatures are illustrating the events and details. One could spend hours only by exploring those miniature worlds and their amazing details.

The miniatures are also creating an interesting contrast with the bigger elements of the museum. As a result there is a beautiful balance and harmony in the whole museum, that is appearing in the interaction between the smallest miniature characters and the massive forest machines. The unforgettable visit is an outcome of that rich variety.

The big and massive elements in the Forest Museum are impressive. The massive forestry machines and different simulators in the Machine Age - exhibition are forming one collection inside the museum. Exhibition explores the mechanization of timber harvesting, as well as the development of forestry and the forest industry.

There is a lot of things to see in the museum. Lusto also has several artifacts and locations where you can touch and experiment with things yourself.

Lusto is also a fun place to visit with children. The miniatures and machines in the exhibitions may be fun, or then trying to identify trees. But there is also a lot more...  like the Children’s Tree and the bear’s den. Read more about how to encourage the smallest museum visitors to discover the exciting adventures within:
www.lusto.fi/en/exhibition/lusto-for-children

In the Lusto behind every corner there is always something more to be found... The museum is a great experience giving a lot new information and experiences.

I also enjoyed how the Finnish art and illustrations were integrated into the exhibitions of the museum. The nationally well-known artworks were telling their own stories throughout the whole museum.

For example concerning the swidden cultivation the best-know illustration of the technique is the painting created by national artist professor Eero Järnefelt. The painting was painted partly outdoors at a burn-beating site in Savo, with local people as models. The original painting belongs to the national Gallery of Finland. In Lusto the historical view about the forestry together with the picture of the painting was telling a deep and touching story about the swidden cultivation.

Nationally known illustrations were combined to forest themes also when entering the space called  "Mythic Forest" (”Myyttinen metsä” in finnish). The room is a part of the permanent exhibition called “ The Forests of the Finns”.

For Finns, the forest has always been – and still is – not only a source of income and a treasure trove of the offerings of the forest, but also a place for recreation and retreat. The exhibition also unveils new paths deep into the forest of folklore, the world of forest myths, stories and beliefs – the world where you could vanish in the forest in a supernatural way.

Especially the forest myths were appealing to me when I first heard about the Lusto. After wandering in Finnish forests and drawing dryads and forest creatures all my life, it was impossible to resist the Finnish Forest Museum. And for that reason one of my favorite rooms was the "Mythic Forest".

The "Mythic Forest" had just the same feeling that one would get in Finnish forests -  like one would step straight into a fairy tale storybook! Visual elements and lights in the room were creating that mythic atmosphere to the whole space. The whole room whispers gently of that ancient forest magic.

On the walls of the room there is a beautiful collection of pictures from Rudolf Koivu´s illustrations.

Rudolf Koivu was a significant Finnish illustrator. The topics in his illustrations vary, but there is one recurrent setting – the Finnish forest. You can see some more pictures of  his amazing illustrations for example in here:
http://www.rudolfkoivu.fi/teokset.html

In the "Mythic Forest" room one can step into that fairytale forest of Rudolf Koivu. But visitor can also read fascinating stories about Finnish folklore and mythic traditions.

The space continues into The Room of Silence, that is a virtual experience. The Room of Silence exhibition has been a favourite experience among visitors to Lusto. Initially designed to run for just six months at Finland’s pavilion at the EXPO 2000 World Fair in Hannover, Germany, this unique exhibition have been enjoyed by a total of more than two million visitors in Hannover and at Lusto. The Room of Silence will remain open until 7th January 2018. www.lusto.fi/en/exhibition/the-room-of-silence-a-virtual-nature-experience

After leaving the Room of Silence I had the museum broschures and map with me when heading into the next sight. Navigating with the map felt like actually reading a forest map, and find all those places with different moods inside a forest. In a way Lusto reminded me of a big forest that has many smaller parts with an unique atmosphere of their own.

The next place I navigated into was a special art exhibition called "Building up a national identity". The exhibition is organized by the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation. More information of the foundation can be found here: www.upmks.fi

The exhibition looks at how art that has been inspired by the forest has been important with regards to the construction of the Finnish national identity. Exhibition is comprised of 28 works by artists including Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Berndt Lindholm, Eero Järnefelt, Gösta Diehl, Hugo Simberg, Jalmari Ruokokoski, Jussi Mäntynen, Pekka Halonen, Santeri Salokivi, Tuulikki Pietilä, Victor Westerholm and Yngve Bäck. The exhibition is curated by the director of the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation and Dr. Anna-Maria Wiljanen.

The overview of the exhibiton invited the visitor to explore the art and enjoy the various forest stories that the artworks were conveying. The great bronze sculptures of Jussi Mäntynen were giving a rythm to the space.

Exploring the artworks and watching the exhibition from different angles offered fascinating views.

One of the highlights in the Upmks "Building up a National Identity" exhibition was the painting that was also in the brochures of the exhibition. That is the painting of Pekka Halonen, Autumnal Aspens, that is on the right in the picture above.

On the left there´s Eero Järnefelt´s qouche work, Landscape from Koli.

Especially the landscape paintings were like windows into the national identity of Finns...

These incredible paintings (above) were taking the visitor straight into the Finnish national sceneries.

Works in the picture from the left:
Axel Gallén, View of the River Oulankajoki at Paanajärvi
Berndt Lindholm, Cliff landscape
Eero Järnefelt, Island of Happiness and Love

The exhibition offered many unforgettable moments...
Moments, when seeing the Hugo Simber´s etchings (below).

... or seeing the Forest Maiden bronze sculpture from 1950 from artist Matti Haupt (on the right in the picture below).

In the exhibition it was also interesting to read about the complex of networks between industry and the arts. In the exhibition there was also additional information describing Hugo Simberg´s design process of the trademark symbol - the griffin design. The Griffin etching is on left in the picture above.

One special detail presented was the Hugo Simberg´s design for the Kymi Company´s 2th anniversary scroll iIn 1899 (below).

The exhibition "Building up a national identity" will be at Lusto till 7.1.2018.

The exhibition was a great part of the Lusto visit. The special exhibition was emphasizing the themes of Finnish forests  - and one couldn´t imagine a better place for the exhibition than the Lusto. The beautiful collection of artworks was giving an extra touch to the whole museum visit.

The forest museum together with the amazing artworks were completing each other´s stories, creating a joined visual language. Eventually the experiences both from the forest museum and from the art exhibiton are forming one beautiful story in visitors mind - that story of Finn´s forest relationship.
 

Ode to the Finnish forests

đź’š Ode to the Finnish forests đź’š

Every season you can walk into the fairytale storybook - and maybe even see some fairies...

I have had so many adventures in the magical Finnish forests. And in those forests I have been inspired every time... Inspired by the incredible nature and animals - and of course about the forest myths and mythology.

And several years ago, mesmerized by the magical midsummer in Finland, the Dryad (below) was created. That forest maiden iIllustration, which was then completed with Finnish wildflowers.

Could those sweetest summer memories bloom forever?

Thank you Finland for the great forests and for the wonderful wildflowers - and for all the inspiration.

Where do all the fairies hide during the winter?

Snowy forest treasures all the frozen memories.
But under the snow there´s already a silent promise of the spring.

But have you ever wondered where all the fairies hide during the winter…?

Look a bit closer…

Because deep in the snowy fairytale forest
you just might find the place,
where the fairies hide.

Il dolce far niente - the sweetness of doing nothing

Il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing.
In this hectic world those precious moments for the inner peace... My Italian cat shows how to :)

Wishing you all a great and happy weekend <3

Travelling with the fairies in Italy

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. ” - Oscar Wilde

Sketchbook tells stories about life and can become almost like a diary... Travelling with the fairies somewhere in Italy.


Close-up from the sketchbook.

Pinacoteca di Brera

I finally got the chance to visit the Pinacoteca Brera in Milano.
The Pinoteca di Brera website (also virtual gallery in there): http://www.brera.beniculturali.it/

I´ve waited the possibility to go through this entrance for a long time...



For me the highlight of the visit was to see the amazing paintings of Francesco Hayez.


Especially to see the "Il Bacio" in real life. More info about the painting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kiss_Hayez

 

And the "Odalisca" from Hayez too.

 

But this room became my favourite for other reasons too.

 

Because the same room had also other treasures: the beautiful landscape painting called "Paesaggio lagunare" from Guglielmo Ciardi and from Girolamo Induno the painting called "Triste Presentimento". And also paintings from Giovanni Fattori.


Below is photo of very effective work from Pellizza da Volpedo (Giuseppe Pellizza) called " Human flood".
 

Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya in Barcelona

MUSEU NACIONAL D´ART DE CATALUNYA

I visited the Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya in Barcelona. I´ve climbed the hill once before some years ago, but the place affected me again by its beauty and all the fountains.


From the Museum entrance there´s a great view to Tibidabo.

 

IN THE MUSEUM: WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS OF JOSEP TAPIRO

In the Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya there´s currently two exhibitions that i was interested of: works of the modern art collection and the Josep TapirĂł (Painter of Tangier) paintings.  The Museum´s website is: http://museunacional.cat/en and there´s a lot of info about the collection and exhibitions.

Especially the TapirĂł watercolor paintings were truly amazing - so extremely detailed and beautiful. It´s unbelievable that the paintings are painted by watercolors. The exhibition is open till 14th of September 2014. In the website there´s good pictures of the paintings:  http://museunacional.cat/en/josep-tapiro-painter-tangier.

 

IN THE MUSEUM: WORKS OF THE MODERN ART COLLECTION

Due to the refurbishment of the modern art rooms, which will be reopening next September with a new presentation, a selection of works from the collection has been put together in temporary exhibition. More info in here: http://museunacional.cat/en/works-modern-art-collection.

In the exhibition there was also few paintings from Joan Ferrer MirĂł. You can find picture of one the painting in here: Joan Ferrer Miro.

My favourites were the paintings from Francesc Masriera, Mariá Fortuny and Ramon Casas. The picture below is from few of their paintings.

On the left: Francesc Masriera - Winter 1882
Up on the right: Ramon Casas - Plein Air
Down on the right detail from: Mariá Fortuny - The Spanish Wedding

In Palazzo Pitti in Florence

GALLERIA D´ARTE MODERNA

One of my favourite places in Florence is Galleria D'Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitti. Great portraits every time! More about the paintings in http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/.

 

PALATINE GALLERY


This photo below is from the Palatine Gallery (also in Palazzo Pitti). Located on the left wing of the Palazzo, the Palatine Gallery includes works of art by Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

In the Palatine Gallery all the details, paintings and sculptures are creating a new bigger picture – like a dreamlike reality, where all the elements are melting together. And it´s never enough to stare at all the details. The Palatine Gallery and rooms are one of the places where you just would like to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling - and it´s almost what I did when taking this photo.


BOBOLI GARDENS

And behind the Palazzo Pitti there´s also the beautiful Boboli Gardens.

Magical Midsummer in Finland

Magical Midsummer Eve to all of you! May the midnight sun bring you light and joy <3 Spending the fairy-tale Midsummer in Finland… and collecting all the summer colors to my sketchbook as a memory.

And below close-ups from the fairy drawing (straight from the sketchbook).

My Work was selected to RWS Exhibition in Bankside Gallery in London

Watercolour work "Forest life in Finland" was selected for RWS Contemporary Watercolour Exhibition in the Bankside Gallery in London (situated on the Thames Path just along from Tate Modern. http://www.banksidegallery.com

Here´s picture from the exhibition and detail from the selected work “Forest Life in Finland”. Check out the miniature mushrooms and the scale for millimeters below.

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