Blog

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.

Pink spell under the midnight sun

It is time to step into the fairy tale world when the midnight sun puts a pink spell on the sketchbook... ­čî×

This magical fantasy world can be entered only during the summer solstice. Awake and watching that pink reality... And wondering if it┬┤s all a midsummer night┬┤s dream.

Wishing you magical Midsummer┬┤s Eve!

May those fairy tale worlds be open and bring you a lot of magical ideas. ­čĺŤ

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 ­čî╝

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!

Christmas gnome in the snowy forest

This time of a year one might see gnomes in the forest! ­čÄů

And today the gnomes are so extremely busy with all the presents that are so needed in our worldÔÇŽ Gifts that are the most precious ones: love, compassion, positive energy - and happiness. ­čÄü

And right now the gnome in picture above gives those gifts to you!
Sending you armful of positive energy ­čĺľ

And in the pictures below there┬┤s mood of the snowy Christmas evening...

Under the pink and purple sky, there┬┤s time for Christmas sketching.
Time for fairy tales.

Wishing Happy and Joyful Holiday Season to you all ­čĺľ

Last days before the snow

Last days before the snow.
A glimpse of green in the dark... That last longing for the verdancy ­čĺÜ

This time the completed floral dress became like a darker continuation to the first floral dress of the spring. For that reason the colors are also in reversed order compared to that spring themed dress. Below one can see the mentioned two works side by side.

The spring and late autumn themed floral dresses above are a bit like mirror images, like light and darker reflections of the verdancy. Or maybe they are the twins that are never able to meet in the mythic land of four seasons. Because what starts with vivid green during the early spring, ends then in the different toned green in the late autumn. There┬┤s something so familiar, yet something so different in those tones of green and brown.

The autumn themed darker floral dress was inspired by the last lingering dark days before the snow. And because the green was such an important element for this floral dress too, I went to the dark forest to look for the last glimpses of green.

In the days before the snow, when all the autumn colors have faded and all the leaves have lost their colors, there┬┤s still sparks of vivid green here and there.The last green leaves are still strongly resisting the winter.

Also the yellower greens as well as the brown tones became a part of the floral dress.

This time the floral dress was completed not only with those last green leaves but also with dark and brown wilted plant and flower parts, that can be found just before the snow. The ones that will stand tall until the snow.

After finding all the plants and elements for the floral dress, the drawn character was then colored to have dark and green upper part to match with the floral dress. The upper part of the dress was this time designed to have that late autumn look with long sleeves, looking a bit like jacket and having also a touch of Victorian style in it. Green and brown tones were then also adjusted to match with the colors of the finished floral dress.

Because the last days before the snow can sometimes be dark, some color choices for this character were obvious. Like the dark hair and those brown eyesÔÇŽ And after that greenish floral dress was completed, the character had green highlights on the hair and also some green tones to her eye lids.

Also the upper part of the dress was in this design completed with the green leaves. Those leaves formed a vivid green real plant scarf to character┬┤s neck area. Maybe that miniature scarf could even bring light and comfort to her dark days before the snow. One can see the small scarf and other details more clearly in the picture below.

And then, one of those dark days...

The first snow finally arrives and covers even those last green leaves.

Wishing happy December moments to you all!

Fairy of the fallen tree

Fairy of the fallen tree ­čĺÜ

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 dreamingÔÇŽ

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

Halloween dresses

Halloween dresses ­čÄâ

Which one is your favorite ? Left or right?
(You can leave a comment on Instagram or on Facebook)

These Halloween styles were created with a bit darker drawn characters that had their dresses built with fallen autumn leaves. Because I wanted the leaf dresses to have flaming red and orange colors together with that darker look, the aspen leaves with autumn colors were perfect for this occasion.

So I began my creative process by going into the forest. Right in the places where those tall aspens grow...

The autumn had colored the aspen leaves with that beautiful yellow tone. But I also saw some of the red and orange leaves high up there.

Autumn wind was my helper, when I waited those beautifully toned red leaves to fall down.

And eventually I found just the right toned orange and red leaves. Some of them were already fallen earlier, but luckily the autumn light was helpfully revealing their hiding places on the ground.

Each and every one of the leaves was unique and some of them had those dark spots that were also matching well to the planned halloween theme and the dark style of the characters.

I had again found my treasures, a collection of those flaming colored fallen leaves. And those beautiful aspen leaves with all the dark little details were already giving many ideas of the drawn style of the characters. So, I hastened to create the halloween themed characters. And in that evening even the autumn trees seeemed to have those halloween colors and that same fascinating darker mood during the autumn sunset.

The autumn sunset with that dark mood and soft backlight was offering extra inspiration for the drawing stage. The memory of that sunset scenery helped me to keep the drawn costumes of the characters dark enough. And like that magical sunset behind the autumn trees, in the same way I wanted the characters to have strong colors combined into their dark look. That way the two characters had their dark style drawn and their leaf dresses built.

I wanted to also emphasize the selected colors already in the drawing stage and that way distinguish the two characters from each other (picture below). That was done by coloring the two characters either with black and deep red (left character) - or instead with a combination of black, grey and strong orange (character on the right).

As a result the left character became more darker and the right one was having more orange style. In addition the orange character on the right was having in her dress also aspen leaves with strong yellow tones.

The orange character had also a bit sketchy style in the sleeves of the dress and in her hair. Those sketchy drawn lines are more visible in the picture below. In the detail picture one can also see more clearly the green eyes of the character. That added green tone was a nice small addition into to the otherwise orange look of the character.
On the other hand the character on the left had her dress built of the darker deep red leaves. Some of the leaves also had those interesting brown tones and gray faded areas that were blending well in the halloween theme.
In addition the more vivid deep red tones of the leaves were repeated on the character┬┤s hair and in the bowtie, but also in the other little details of the upper part of the dress as well as in her lips. In the detail picture below one can see the mentioned details but also spot her brown eyes.

After drawing and building the dresses, I then started to finish that scenery of leaves for my halloween characters. Below are pictures of that world made of leaves. Also the layers of leaves are more visible in the pictures below.

Sometimes the autumn can take one into the world of fallen leaves.

Wishing you all great and magical Halloween!

Fairy of the Autumn Maple

Fairy of the autumn maple...
Please, let those maple leaves keep their colors for a while more ­čŹü­čŹâ

Fairy of the autumn maple tree had her dress created with layers of  fallen autumn leaves. And creating this layered dress style was all about the different colored maple leaves...

And that┬┤s why this creation started with a search for maple leaves. And what a colorful adventure it was! Starting from green tones to yellow ones. And on the way I wondered how marvellously the fall light played on those maple leaves.

And on my search I found so many fallen treasures under the maple trees....

And while my adventure continued, my path finally took me under that amazing multicolored maple tree. And that tree seemed to have all the stages of autumn in it.

And the most precious treasures of the adventure were those fallen red leaves. Those deep red leaves formed then also that bottom part of the fairy┬┤s leaf dress, and that darkest red hem. And those same red and orange colors were then repeated in the top part of the character┬┤s drawn costume.

The finished dress became multicolored like that maple tree, having all those autumn colors in it. Also the other colors of the drawn character and the upper part of her costume were adjusted to match the leaf dress. In the finishing drawn layers also the fairy┬┤s eyes became vivid green.

Flaming fall colors are always inspiring. And this time the bright and colorful maple leaves brought also a bit of that autumn magic to this fairy┬┤s dress.

Wishing colorful and creative autumn to you all!

Under the amanita

In the middle of the autumn forestÔÇŽ she found shelter. ­čŹé­čŹâ
And when you are tiny enough, you might even fit under the amanita.

And in the picture below, there┬┤s that moment just before the fairy flew into the autumn forest.

Wishing happy autumn moments to all blog readers!

Midsummer night┬┤s dream - or dress?

When the escaped character had suddenly returned into my sketchbookÔÇŽ
I could only wonder was it all real - or just a midsummer nightÔÇÖs dream.

And those blooming wildflowers of the character┬┤s floral dress... Could they remember all her midsummer adventures?

The midsummer themed floral dress in the picture above was created with fireweed flowers - and also with both white and red clovers.

And in addition also the upper part of the dress had some more flowers and leaves drawn into it, just in the same style than the ones in the character┬┤s anadem. That way the added drawn flowers became also like a decoration to her dress.

The escaped character had so many dreams of her dress. Could this finished floral dress now describe that magical night under the midsummer sun - and even remind of those sweetest clover fields? All those adventures that the character had during the midsummer.

And because the escaped character had finally returned, maybe her wishes came true in her floral dress after all... Perhaps that dress could now enshrine all the memories of her midsummer adventures forever.

Gone into the clover fields

The escaped character was seen near the clover fields in the soft light of the midsummer night.

She was amazed by that light, but at the same time she stood so still that one could barely spot her there in the middle of the white clovers. The crown and leaves of the anadem, which she had colored herself, seemed to suit her disguise well too. Only her white dress was still like an empty canvas.

Then the midsummer night turned into an early morning. Those mesmerizing sunbeams were already welcoming the Midsummers Day. And suddenly shadows of the clovers were gently dancing on her white dress!

And she dreamed of a magical floral dress that could capture that white nightÔÇŽ as well as those moments of the midsummer morning.

Which of the clover flowers do you think she preferred? Flowers of the white clover - or the red clover? 
(You can leave your comment on Sandcastle.fi Instagram page).

And I wandered in the clover fields, where those sweetest clovers growÔÇŽ 
But I didn┬┤t find her there anymore.

She escaped from the sketchbook

When you daydream way too long, and it seems like you would be almost procrastinating! And little by little the character is getting more frustratedÔÇŽ

And then during the midsummer night it happened! She messed up all those clovers ÔÇô and escaped!

Or maybe she didn┬┤t like my floral designs? I think she also must have used my colored pencils for coloring herself - and then she even tore herself away from the sketchbook!

Well, during the midsummer there can happen so many strange things...

But is there beauty in that chaos?

She left me contemplating a quote by Carl Jung,
"In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order"

Yesterday┬┤s Queen

One, two, three flowers of hydrangeaÔÇŽ
And look, suddenly there┬┤s a path to yesterday!

Could one even time travel through that flower path... and then meet the Queen of yesterday?

The work called ÔÇťYesterday┬┤s QueenÔÇŁ was created many years ago. This drawing was designed to have vintage style that resembles a bit of those old recolored vintage photos from the past. This work became also a combination of both vintage style and flower theme.

In addition this drawing also had a bit of mythology twist in it. And what an inspiring subject it was! Trying to imagine that Queen of Yesterday when drawing...

This drawing was created with pencils and selected colored pencils like the orchid themed vintage drawing from the previous article (mystic glow of the orchids). Also this drawing is presenting grayscale facial features with colored flowers.

It is always so exciting to see what the partial coloring does to the drawing! The balance between grayscale and color is a great way to affect the atmosphere of the drawing and emphasize certain elements. In this case especially the flowers and the crown were really highlighted by coloring only them in the drawing.

After the drawing was completed, I added some real hydrangea flowers on top of the drawing. That gave then a complete new dimension to this work!

I also wanted this vintage drawing to have light blue color combined with the gray, and hydrangea flowers were then selected to complete this drawing. Not only the hydrangea flowers are blue, but they are also associating strongly with flowering - and that way they are also reminding of those past blooming moments that will become vintage memories.

At the same time the hand drawn flowers in this drawing had a bit different style compared to for example the previous orchid themed  drawing. In this work I was aiming instead more for the look of a bit artificial or "fake" flowers. Like the ones one could see in some of the old vintage photos. I wanted the Yesterday┬┤s Queen to have few of those fake flowers that are a bit "unreal" and ageless, so that they would also symbolize the time that seems to have stopped. In some old vintage photos there┬┤s that mystic atmosphere, like looking into the yesterday - and in the same time not being so sure if the flowers in the picture are real or fake.

For that reason the flowers were also left quite more plain comparing for example to the orchid themed drawing. In the detail pictures below that more rough and almost a bit imaginery style is seen in the approach, for example in the lines and shapes of the flowers.

Following that same mentioned rough style I have also drawn few of imaginery decayed leaves into the drawing that are left gray and uncolored... Those yesterday┬┤s decayed leaves were a little detail and addition into the drawing, telling story of those already faded yesterday┬┤s flowers. They are almost like a hidden message from the past. And in this case that┬┤s also a message from the year 2012 when I created this vintage drawing.

Also the yellow and bit darkened golden crown was a symbolic addition to the drawing. Below in the picture there┬┤s detail where one can see the hand drawn crown, parts of those drawn "fake" flowers and gray decayed leaves - as well as those fresh real hydranges flowers on top of the drawing.

Creating this work was like building a collage. And in those moments, when all the elements are finally coming together, it feels like the real and unreal could merge!


Remembering this work today with you was like walking that path of hydrangea flowers...


And that fragile path of flowers was taking me there again. In to the yesterday.

Wishing you all a wonderful and inspiring moments that some day just might be, your most precious vintage memories.
 

Mystic glow of the orchids

Night falls, but that mystic glow of the orchids just keeps one awake!
And it is getting surreal... could those orchids even fly?

Sharing some memories of the moment the vintage drawing was created many years ago. This work became a combination of layers drawn with pencils and with pink and light purple colored pencils. The drawing was designed to have vintage style, resembling a bit of old recolored vintage photos. Since then some commissioned portraits have also followed this kind of style.

For this particular drawing the orchid theme was important, not only with the pink orchids in the foreground, but also with those light ÔÇťflying" orchid flowers in the grey background.

In this vintage styled drawing I combined pencils with colored pencils and played with the limited colors. As a result this drawing is presenting grayscale facial features with light pink and purple orchids.

The comparison between the gray tones and subtle pink colors is making the pink orchids to pop out from the drawing even more. The orchid flowers of the finished drawing were completely hand draw. I have drawn the orchids as if they would have been placed topmost on to the paper.  This resembles almost like creating a 3D work like in some of my illustrations, but this time the flowers were completely hand drawn.

When choosing a realistic style for the drawing, it was important to capture also the orchid flowers by drawing them very precisely, but yet naturally. The aim was to make the flowers look like one could actually touch themÔÇŽ

For this drawing I used real orchids as a reference. I placed the real orchids on to the paper right next to the drawing. And when drawing I was then looking at the real orchid flowers as a reference, and that way the right proportions were easier to achieve.

On the other hand I wanted a bit more variation to the orchids of the drawing, so the drawn orchid flower in the middle was colored with warm pink colors, when instead the other two orchid flowers of the drawing were created with cooler and a bit more purple colors. In this case I also chose to leave the hand drawn orchids more lighter than the real ones, because I wanted the final drawing to have a balance between all the elements.

Keeping the real orchid flowers nearby gave also inspiration for this vintage drawing. And  when I was drawing that mystic glow of the orchid flowers was just captivating... and yes, kept me awake.

I wish inspiring moments to all blog readers!

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.

Life is like a SandcastleÔÇŽ

Life is like a Sandcastle. When traces in the sand are turning into memories, the most important thing is to build again. ÔÇô Sandcastle.fi

We're on Facebook

Blog archive