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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.

Pink spell under the midnight sun

It is time to step into the fairy tale world when the midnigh sun puts a pink spell on the sketchbook... 🌞

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. 💛

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 💖

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!

Under the amanita

In the middle of the autumn forest… she found shelter. 🍂🍃
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 sketchbook…
I could only wonder was it all real - or just a midsummer night’s 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.

Yesterday´s Queen

One, two, three flowers of hydrangea…
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 “Yesterday´s Queen” 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.
 

Vintage Memories

At the moment I´m sharing some pictures of the old vintage drawings in the social media.
And vintage memories are taking over the blog too…

In the picture above is a work in progress picture of the old vintage themed drawings that were created several years ago. These drawings were designed to have a vintage style, resembling a bit of those old recolored vintage photos.

These works combined vintage style and flower themes. In addition the drawing on the left had also a bit of mythology theme in it. 

In these drawings I combined pencils with selected colored pencils - and played with the variations when using limited colors. In this case especially the flowers were emphasized by coloring only them with the colored pencils.

Mythical floral dress designs with Finnish wildflowers

Collection of mythical floral dress designs with Finnish wildflowers. Midsummer Dryad, Naiad, Eve or Love Spell... which one is your favourite? 1,2,3 or 4? Join the discussion on social media and comment your favorite... or just stop by and make an adventure into the world of Finnish wildflowers.

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Midsummer Eve

Today she is having wildflowers in her hair. And the golden crown is just like the midnight sun.
She is wandering through the meadow and suddenly all the wildflowers are blooming on her dress.

That mystic sense of midsummer, all those voices like ancient spells.
Is this real - or just a midsummer night’s unbelievable dream?

On the sky there are dreams written in pink shades.
Light blue stays awake when the bonfires light up the sky.
Mesmerizing flames are celebrating the Midsummer Eve
- and warm flaming colors are merging with the cool shades of the nature.
That mystic dance captures all those midsummer colors in one moment.
 
Tonight there is no darkness, only white night.
Joy of existence... It is Midsummer´s Eve.

And just right before the dawn the Nordic night is pure and white.
Tomorrow the day will be already shorter and slowly all those vivid colors
will turn into yesterday´s memories. 

But the sun stays in the sky…  Was it real?

Magical Midsummer Eve to you all <3

Above is the Finnish "Midsummer Eve". She was once designed together with the Midsummer Dryad and Naiad, the two characters from previous post. Stronger colors of yellow and magenta created unique flaming theme for this third character. Together the Midsummer Eve, the Dryad and the Naiad are creating a series of mythic midsummer illustrations. 

All these illustrations were inspired by the Finnish midsummer mythology and mythical creatures from the Finnish folklore.  And of course again the amazing Finnish nature, wildflowers and midsummer magic were giving me a lot of inspiration on the way.

For this Midsummer Eve illustration I collected wildflowers that were blooming in Finland right during the Midnight sun. Midnight sun is celebrated on the weekend after 19th june and the Midsummer Eve is called “juhannusaatto” in Finnish.

In Midsummer Eve the bonfires are lit up to celebrate the midsummer. Midsummer bonfire is called “juhannuskokko” in Finnish. I designed this third fairy-tail styled character to have a more flaming appearance resembling that way also those bonfires in Finland during the Midsummer Eve celebrations.

Bonfires are very common in the Midsummer Eve celebrations and the bonfires are usually burned at lakesides and by the sea. For that reason there´s also hints of light blue in the illustration, bringing that Finnish Lakeland feeling next to the burning vivid colors.

Close to midnight on Midsummer Eve the bonfires are ceremoniously lit all over Finland...

And that magical dance of the flames in the bonfire is mesmerizing…


Also in the drawing the strong yellows and orange colors emphasize that atmosphere near the midsummer bonfires. For that same reason I also chose wildflowers in vivid colors of yellow and magenta when completing the floral dress. The magenta color from fireweed and red campion (silene dioica) was also a way to unite the magenta colored wildflowers to the drawing character´s lighter pink skin tones. Those pink shades also describe the midsummer sunsets and midsummer evenings in Finland.

In this illustration I wanted to capture all the flaming and vivid colors of the Midsummer Eve…   but at the same time so that they would be in a harmony with the more subtle and cooler colors from the Finnish nature and Lakeland. As a result the illustration became a celebration for the Finnish Midsummer Eve.

There is something mystic in the Nordic white night. Being surrounded of that magical glow is like experiencing the fairy-tail dream world, but fully awake.  In this third midsummer illustration that dreamy and magical midsummer glow influenced also the color choices. The white added to the otherwise strong warm colors was a way to describe that magical moment in Finland when night and day is merging during the Midsummer Eve… That enchanted moment when the night is white. Therefore also in the drawing there is that pure white in the center and in the highlights.  Just like the Nordic white night would give that finishing touch to the entire illustration.

Midsummer decorations are a way to celebrate the beginning of the summer. An old tradition during Midsummer is also to decorate houses and doorways with young birch trees and flowers. That old belief also found a way to the illustration, not only through all the wildflowers in the flower dress, but also when some birch leaves were added to the floral dress design. The birch leaves in the bottom of the character´s floral dress brought that extra Finnish twist into this illustration.

Also the nature revealed few amazing miracles when creating this dress. Below is one detail of a small miracle during the creative process. Nature is a great artist - and we are surrounded of all those miracles and artworks. Even when the small Finnish birch leaf couldn´t decide whether to grow separately - or stay united, the result is simply beautiful…

Over time those leaves grown together became also a symbol of these midsummer illustrations. A serie of illustrations, that eventually grows from individual pieces into one story.

Old traditions about birch leaves and midsummer decorations were added to this illustration also in the form of the miniature green leaves and flowers drawn to the character´s hair. The impression of flowers in the hair reminds of all those verdant and flower-rich Midsummer Eve decorations.

Overall wildflowers have a fascinating role especially in Finnish Midsummer celebrations. The traditions of Midsummer Eve go way back to olden times. Old beliefs have included traditions of midsummer spells, like for example collecting different wildflowers and placing them under a pillow for a night.  Those wildflowers had then a special meaning and for example consequences to dreams.

If you want to read more about the midsummer love spells, check out the link below to the fascinating article and video that tells more about different love spells from Finnish folklore. And of course the amazing site is visual experience for everyone interested of Finland.

So, what does it mean to collect those different Finnish wildflowers – or even roll in dew…?  

visitfinland.com/white-night-magic/

 

Midsummer Naiad, the Finnish “Vedenneito”

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enchanted by the midsummer in Finland

I´m enchanted by the magical midsummer in Finland.
Trying to capture those fleeting moments when miracles can happen.

Was it a dryad...? Midnight sun even decorated her dress with the wildflowers.

Magical Midsummer Eve to all you readers!
May the midnight sun bring you light and joy <3

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.

Techniques of the Old Masters

Over the years I´ve also studied the techniques of the old masters. Here´s work in progress picture from my unfinished paintings - reminding that learning from the great old masters is an eternity project.

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