Join the adventure into the world of midsummer magic, wildflowers and fantasy cats. 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.

Something old, something new... or maybe after all something surreal?

In the beginning of the New Year it´s nice to look back by sorting out old images and files. And after doing that I can now share with you also some pictures of the old drawings from the past years. So, let´s start with this fairy tale themed fantasy portrait of a cat.

Into this portrait the aim was to combine a fairy tale feeling and illustrative approach with a bit (pop) surreal twist.  As a result this drawing could then be seen as a fantasy portrait of a cat or as a fairy tale illustration - or both.

It was interesting to explore the fading boundary between portrait and illustration. Playing with the style and level of realism is always extremely fascinating! In this case the drawing process was like a journey to fantasy and flower world.  Being surrounded by flowers you can easily get carried away and even lose the sense of time.

The composition to this portrait was designed to be very symmetrical. Along with the symmetry it was important to keep all the elements in balance, and therefore for example all the flowers were drawn as unique variations.  The symmetrical approach was also an effective way to emphasize the stillness, but also highlight the illustrated viewpoint. The imaginary posture of the cat along with a bit styled whiskers were also leading the way to more fairy tale feeling. The fantasy theme with flowers had also a special meaning referring to the portrayed cat. And by drawing a layer after layer all those stories from this cat were captured too. Almost like this one portrait could tell the whole fairy tale story.

I wanted this drawing also to resemble the style of the old portrait paintings with vivid colors, especially in the red dress - although in this case I drew the portrait with colored pencils. The finished drawing was commissioned to be a part of a playful and pop surreal interior design. And for that reason the chosen colors were strong and bright.

I designed the historical dress style from imagination. The aim was to convey the feel of different fabrics and lace in the dress, but also the sense of fragile flowers. Like that the portrait would present not only the grandeur, but also the fragile sensitivity at the same time - describing that way also the different sides of the portrayed cat.

Dog portrait of tibetan terrier called "Väinö"

Dog portrait of tibetan terrier called "Väinö".
Here´s a work in progress photo of the colored pencil drawing.

In this stage I´ve also started to add the smallest details of the white fur.
Detail from the portrait of Väinö.

And then look what happened to my white colored pencil…
after layers and layers of white fur.

I´m always delighted to see photos from my clients with their commissioned portraits. The owner of Väinö kindly sent me this photo (below) and wrote a lovely email about the moment when the portrait arrived home.  She wrote that Väinö was looking his portrait drawing and then went in front of the mirror to check his own reflection -  over and over again. Oh, what a cute and discerning art critic ;)

In the photo the portrait has just been picked up from the post office, and there´s also still the plastic wrap protecting the drawing. In the drawing you can also see the bit “groomed” style of the fur compared to the natural fur style that Väinö is having when the photo was taken.

The portrait drawing was created based on several reference photos. One photo was taken straight ahead and was offering the most important reference for the likeness and proportions. I also used many other reference pictures, also few close-ups from the eyes.

Lady Fortuna randomly picked up the winner of the giveaway contest

Lady Fortuna can color the grey life with a touch of magic just like in my sketchbook… Look what happened! After some serious lottery preparations I can now announce that Lady Fortuna has also randomly picked up the lucky winner for the giveaway... And the Pet Portrait GIVEAWAY winner is Katie F! Congratulations!!

Without Lady Fortuna it would have been impossible for me to select only one winner from all your wonderful photos and comments. That´s why the lucky winner was randomly selected! A special thank you to all you who participated! Although there´s only one winner – all your comments and photos have touched me, you have amazing pets <3

Giveaway contest has ended in the Facebook - Guess I need help from the Lady Fortuna? PET PORTRAIT GIVEAWAY contest in Facebook has now ended. A big thank you to all you who made the effort and participated by leaving a comment or sharing your pet photo!

During this competition your comments and photos have touched me and brought tears to my eyes, but also made me smile. I appreciate every one of your comments and love the way they highlight all the different aspects that pets are bringing to our lives. <3

I have now a very difficult task to select the lucky winner. Actually it seems too impossible to put your comments or photos in any order because every single one of them is equally important. And I know that to every contestant their own pet is the most important and precious.

I guess that´s why the Lady Fortuna occurred to my sketchbook today and she will have an influence on the choosing process. So, let´s see who the Lady Fortuna will favor then... I´ll announce the winner officially in Facebook on Friday 14th of November.

Thank you for all the photos, comments and likes <3
And welcome to all new fans who have just recently found their way to my Sandcastle :)

There´s still time to participate in the competition - one lucky winner will win a free pet portrait drawing! reached the magical 10 000 likes in Facebook! During the celebration one lucky winner WINS FREE PET PORTRAIT drawing including also postage worldwide. Participate in Facebook and you might win a free drawing from your own pet photo! Just leave a COMMENT or POST your PET PHOTO in Facebook page. The time to participate is 10.10.2014–11.11.2014  and the winner will be announced on 14.11.2014.

GOOD LUCK to the competition! And a big thank you to all fans for all the likes and support <3

Fantasy cat portrait with pencils

The pet portrait can be also a bit different and fantasy themed!

Fantasy pet portrait with pencils. This is an older work in progress picture from my personal project. After sketching all the symbolic elements are here starting to find their own places in the portrait.

Close up from the fantasy pencil pet portrait. It felt almost like I would have been sewing the fantasy clothes, when I was drawing the details in to this pencil drawing :) has reached 10 000 likes in Facebook - Join the celebration and participate in the competition! has reached the magical 10 000 likes in Facebook! Feeling grateful and it´s now my turn to thank all the fans! So, it´s time for exciting giveaway, where the lucky winner WINS FREE PET PORTRAIT drawing including also postage worldwide.

Participate in Facebook and you just might win a free drawing from your own pet photo! Leave a COMMENT or POST your PET PHOTO in in Sandcastle Facebook page. The time to participate is 10.10.2014–11.11.2014  and the winner will be announced on 14.11.2014.

GOOD LUCK to the competition! And a big thank you to all fans for all the likes and support <3

Kitten for monday

What a soft and cute start for the week with a kitten portrait!
Work in progress pictures from the pencil drawing.

Portrait of Odie

The portrait of Odie has reached home USA! Here´s the model, the finished drawing and on the right few of the original reference photos. Likeness was drawn from the photo up on the right. The color and the lightness of the hair were adjusted from the another small photo below that.

Several other photos were also used to achieve Odie´s style with longer hair, for example on the tips of the ears and cheek area. You can see the difference when comparing the current look on the left and the reference photos style with the white hair in the ears (covering almost completely the dark brown areas of the ears). All these little details were considered into the portrait.

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