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.

Päivätär (Sun Maiden)

The Päivätär (Sun Maiden) illustration above was created several years ago as a part of the collection of mythic midummer characters. And now during the midnight sun, it´s time for Päivätär to shine.

The Päivätär was designed together with the Midsummer Dryad, Naiad, Eve and Love Spell. Can you still remember those mythic characters from the previous blog posts? Together they are creating a series of mythic midsummer illustrations.

All these illustrations above were inspired by the Finnish mythology and mythical characters from the Finnish folklore. And of course the amazing Finnish wildflowers and midsummer magic were offering a lot of inspiration on the way.

Already years ago visions of the mythic midsummer characters started to develop in my sketchbook based on the old myths - and those ideas started then to transform into new illustrations. And now during the summer solstice it´s nice to write a bit more about the creative process of the Päivätär-illustration. 

In English ”Päivätär” translates as Sun Maiden or Sun Spirit. The Finnish word Päivätär has a strong connection to Finnish mythology and especially to Kalevala poetry. In that way the Kalevala was influencing this illustration right from the start. And in this illustration, the Kalevala was not only nourishing the visions and imagination...  but it also literally adventured with me in the forests and wandered with me in the meadows, when I was searching for the wildflowers.

The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology. The Kalevala is based always in the same metre (poetry) that is a form of trochaic tetrameter, now known as the Kalevala metre.

More info about the Kalevala you can find for example in here:

Kalevala in wikipedia

About Kalevala in the Finnish Literature Society

Kalevala Society Foundation (currently available in Finnish language)

Since the first sketches, all the mythic characters were designed to have their own styles and selected colors. ”Päivätär” as the Sun Maiden were then chosen to have that strong yellow and sunny style with touches of white. The Sun Maiden character was also designed to have that theme of conveying and radiating light…  and making the plants grow and the flowers to bloom.  In the illustration the darker green lower part of the floral dress is celebrating that verdancy and is also forming a ground and a platform for that radiating yellowness to bloom.

The sunny flower dress of the Päivätär was completed with meadow buttercups, white clovers and daisies – and with that yellow dandelion flower. That charming dandelion became a perfect eye-catcher into the floral dress – and it became also a very special symbol for the sun and for the midsummer day.

From the start it was clear that the Päivätär would have same style with the other midsummer mythic characters. For that reason the Päivätär had only gentle nuances of the Kalevala, so that all the different stories and styles of the other characters would merge consistently.

But the Kalevala was inspiring me all the way when illustrating the mythic midsummer characters and especially the Päivätär. And in the Kalevala poems it´s for example described: ”I heard Moon Spirit weaving, Sun Spirit spinning…”.  And in some of the Kalevala poems the clothes were ” finished off by Sun Spirit”.

And for example one beautiful verse in English has meaning as: ”Open the best chest, fling open the lid of many colors; in it are six gold belts, seven blue dresses: those were woven by Moon Spirit, finished off by Sun Spirit.” 

But how does that verse look like in Finnish with that archaic language… ? The same verse is attached below from Kalevala (and it´s also seen in the picture below):

”Astu aittahan mäelle

- aukaise parahin aitta - !

Siell' on arkku arkun päällä,

lipas lippahan lomassa.

Aukaise parahin arkku,

kansi kirjo kimmahuta:

siin' on kuusi kultavyötä,

seitsemän sinihamoista.

Ne on Kuuttaren kutomat,

Päivättären päättelemät.”

The Finnish word ”Päivätär” and Finnish language brought special features into this illustration, in the same way than the water related words in the previous Naiad illustration.

And for all you intrested about languages I this time linked again also some Päivätär and sun related words for you to listen in Finnish language... The words are pronounced in Forvo and the links open in a new window (in Forvo press the blue play button for listening).

Aurinko (Sun)
Päivätär (Sun Maiden, Sun spirit)
Keskikesä (Midsummer)
Ilta-auringon kajo (the shimmer of the evening sun)
Hopea (silver)

One of the words listed in links above is "hopea" that translates as silver. In the Finnish folklore and in the Kalevala it has special meaning. And also in this context with Päivätär, because in Kalevala poetry people sometimes asked for the Päivätär to give sun´s silver. Like in the picture below where some of the Finnish words translates: " Sun Spirit, give some of your silver ..."

And when reading the Kalevala poems, the mind wandered into those moments when Päivätär were requested to give silver, clothes and jewellery... and especially to those mystic events, when the sun´s silver was then magically given. Those moments described were also taking a symbolic shape in the illustration, but in a very abstract way.

And in the picture below that sun´s silver was finding it´s place beside the sunrays that were drawn with quite abstract style... and eventually that sun´s silver in the illustration became like a part of that radiating sunlight of the Päivätär.

The sun´s silver in the illustration became a special clue to Kalevala and to Finnish folklore. But because the mythic maidens in these illustrations have a certain style, I therefore added the details from Kalevala poetry in a very subtle way. The approach also reminded a bit of the way how the wawy elements were added for the Naiad in a certain way.

It was interesting through the Päivätär illustration to research that abstract style for example when describing the sun´s silver or those sunrays. With that approach also those smallest details referring to Kalevala were adjusted to the bigger picture and merged in the shared story of all the maidens.

But despite that mentioned abstract drawing style... the characters in these illustrations still had that quite glorious crown for every mythic maiden. But even those crowns were drawn with reduced style and in smaller size if compared to bigger and highly detailed drawings. And it was fascinating trying to draw something glorious but in a plain and reduced way!

And like the other maidens, the Päivätär had her own unique crown designed. And as a result her crown has symbolism of the sun, sun´s silver and light. In her crown it was also important to maintain that similar style with the crowns of the other maidens.

Inspired by the Kalevala, the crown of the Päivätär became silvery, like that sun´s silver in the poems. The colors of the character´s crown were drawn and colored to mimic silvery tones. And the white highlights of the crown were reminding of the midnight sun and white light, but they also were matching nicely with the white daisies of the floral dress. Those white tones brought also some freshness and lightness to the style of the Päivätär – and while coloring, those colors were taking me straight into the light and bright summer days.  

The Päivätär also grew to be a symbol of sunlight and energy. And in the creative process it was about trying to visualize those silvery beams of light that the Päivätär could convey. But also the drawn character was designed to have that energetic and sunny style, not only due the yellow color choices, but the theme can also be seen in the character´s pose and expression. And as a result the Päivätär is then having also that gentle and sunny smile.

And along with that smile of Päivätär…

I´m wishing you sunny midsummer days and bright moments under the midnight sun!

Peaceful and Happy Holidays!

Peaceful Christmas & Happy Holidays!

And a big thank you for all the commissions for the season, may your new pictures bring your joy!

And for an extra energy... below a picture of fox that is skiing again into the forests of Finland!

Bye bye ferns and autumn mood

This work in progress picture above is from the moment when I was creating the autumn dress design. This time the style was rustic autumn mood combined with yellow and orange highlights.

This dress was completed with autumn´s dried leaves and ferns. In the picture above I was arranging the elements together. That rustic mood was so nice to play with, especially after the summer´s bright flowers and colors.

I colored the character with several layers. And this time I also added autumn colors more for the background and filled the paper with combination of rustic colors along with misty forest tones. In the autumn forest, there´s that beautiful balance between rustic mood and softer misty tones. I used those same inspiring colors which were captured also during my halloween forest adventure in the previous post. As a result my character in middle of the autumn setting became that bright highlight...  almost like that candle in the picture below.

After drawing the character the leaf and fern dress was then built of treasures that were found from the forest. After the flaming autumn colors were all gone, the forest was hiding those last leaves with fading yellow and orange tones.Those yellow leaves with rusty tones were matching with the character´s colors and were also forming that top layer for her dress.

I added some of the red brown colors of the ferns to my character´s hair. Especially those tones that the ferns still had during the forest adventure (like in the picture below).  The ferns that I collected and dried, became then also so compelling with that new rough texture, like having a completely different life after the forest... 

In the  pictures below is captured a moment when I was getting the fern dress nearly finished.... Below you can also see details of that fern texture and the hem of the rough dress.

In the picture below you can see also the upper body and face of the drawn character more clearly. This time her brownish hazel eyes were having orange tones for eye shadow colors.

Those last autumn days before the snow... there´s magic in the misty forest and so many treasures waiting to be found.

Bye bye ferns, hope we will meet again...

I´m sending you light and strength! Stay strong!

Midsummer´s blooming dress and dancing shadows

This work in progress picture above is from the moment when I was creating the midsummer floral dress design. In that captured moment I was just arranging miniature flowers on the character´s hair.

This floral dress design was completed with Finnish wildflowers. This time the midsummer themed character and her blooming dress was designed to have yellow and green tones.

After drawing the midsummer character the flower dress was then built of the wildflowers that were found from the secret meadow. 

And as a result on the Midsummer´s Eve the character´s dress was then blooming and the shadows of the wildflowers were gently dancing in the midsummer light...

In the "behind the scenes" picture below is captured a moment of that midsummer day when I was waiting for the shadows to come and play... In the pictures you can also see details of the blooming hem.

In the pictures below you can see also that face of the drawn character more clearly. This time the green tones were added as a "make-up" for the eyes and adjusted then to the pale tones and the gentle colors of the facial area.

Looking back and remembering those soft summer shadows... as well as those sunny midsummer days.

And I remember those smallest flowers that can radiate so much light...
And I´m sending you right now light, energy and strength! Stay strong!

Wearing the heather flowers

Wearing the heather flowers. Welcome autumn!

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 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!

Christmas gnome in the snowy forest

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

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

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

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 ?

Last days before the snow

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

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 eyes… 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 ?

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.

Halloween dresses

Halloween dresses ?

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 ??

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!

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!

Fairies of the winter forest

The winter fairy was confused… What was it? Something orange in the snowy forest!
Was it only her reflection or really another fairy?
Or maybe even a twin?!

Do you still remember that hiding winter fairy from the blog post several years ago?

.. Well, this year the bluegreen winter fairy found a friend from her favorite hiding place!

When the coldness is whispering in the forest and everything is covered in snow...
Oh, how lucky it was to find another fairy!

Although every now and then the fairies are both freezing, it is still so much cozier to hide together in the magical forest. And so much more fun, when one can share the adventure! 

... And even search some new hiding places in the winter wonderland!

And there´s so many hiding places to be found in that enchanting winter forest…

So, if you are going into the forest, remember to look a bit closer. Because deep in the snowy fairytale forest you just might find the place, where the fairies hide.

Wishing exciting and creative winter moments to you all ❤️

Diving into snowy forest

Diving into snowy Finnish forest ?

When you just want to disappear into the woods with the sketchbook  – 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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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:

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

? Ode to the Finnish forests ?

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.

Peaceful Christmas & Creative New Year

Peaceful Christmas & Creative New Year <3
May the New Year bring light and joy to you all!

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.

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.

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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