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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. 💛

Gnome of the poinsettia

This time of the year one could find a gnome hiding in the poinsettia 🎄🎅

Merry Christmas to all blog readers!
Wishing you magical and happy holiday season! ❤️

Happy Independence Day Finland!

Happy Independence Day Finland đŸ’™

Looking this older picture above and remembering thoughts from earlier years. And feeling grateful when writing these words again: Thank you Finland. Thank you Finnish Veterans, thank you grandparents.

And Finland, thank you for all the inspiration: snowy winters and midsummer wildflowers... For all the ideas and dreams.

Above the Finnish Maiden is celebrating Independence Day.
You can read about more about the Finnish Maiden and her floral dress in here.

Happy Independence Day 💙

Awakened for the Halloween!

She awakened for the Halloween! 🎃

This Halloween dress above was completed with autumn leaves. The beautiful orange and red colored maple leaves were perfect for this illustration when aiming for a Halloween mood with strong colors.

I designed this shorter Halloween dress also into a bit more sassy style… For example when compared into the style of the longer leaf dresses from previous Halloween that are seen in the picture below (more about the previous Halloween dresses in here).

In addition to a bit different style choice, in this year´s dress I completed it with maple leaves instead of aspen leaves. And for a while also the sketchbook was surrounded by maple leaves. In the short dress design I wanted to maintain that lively feeling of falling maple leaves but also include that layered look of the leaves.

Also the colors of the drawn character were adjusted to maple leaves, emphasizing those flaming orange colors also in the drawing. The yellow layers in the collar were designed to match with some of the maple leaves that had that bright yellow in them. The drawn layers and details can be seen more clearly in the picture below.

At this stage above I was already adding those small dark flowers as a decoration on to the upper part of the dress. Those withered dark flowers were just captivating and perfect for the Halloween mood! Those smallest parts of the withered flowers formed also those miniature earrings for the character.

The drawn character was designed to have green eyes that were emphasized with vivid green color also under the eyes. I aimed to draw those green layers under the character´s eyes like I would be adding green color from some kind of an imaginary miniture eyeliner.

The emphasized vivid green eyes were giving that finishing touch to the otherwise so red and orange Halloween style. The eyes can be seen more clearly again in the picture below.

A special detail in this Halloween dress design were orange sassy boots that were also decorated with small withered flowers. Below is the work in progress picture from the stage when I was completing the orange boots with the dark flower parts.

In the previous blog post I was wondering if the character would be awaken during the Halloween. Well, I think she did! And who knows, maybe today the character in her autumn leaf dress even takes part in a magical Halloween party…?

Wishing magical and happy Halloween to you all!

Choosing boots

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

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

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

Wearing the heather flowers

Wearing the heather flowers. Welcome autumn! 💚💜

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blooming dress under the midnight sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing magical midsummer moments to you all!

Surrounded by tulips

Surrounded by tulips... and waiting for the spring! 💜💚

This floral dress above was completed with pink and purple tulips. And the style included also that strong pink hair color for the character.

On the other hand the colored layers in the drawn dress were instead kept quite light and subtle when aiming for a special early spring mood. The upper part of the dress was designed to have that light purple look also with some drawn lace-like patterns that can be seen more clearly in the detail pictures below.

And while drawing it felt like creating a miniature make-up for the character! Especially when adding that purple color into the character´s eyelids. Also her greenish eyes were after coloring eventually matching with the green color of the tulip leaves.

💜 Wishing happy spring moments to you all! 💚

New Year´s dress 2019

Happy New Year dear blog readers! 🎉💙

Do you know the moment, when the holiday season and those red and green colors of poinsettia are turning into New Year´s mood? Just then those New Year´s pink and light blue ideas will arise...💙

This floral dress above was designed to combine the mood of the holiday season with that special light atmosphere, when the first New Year´s ideas will arise.

The drawn character is maybe still holding on to the relaxed days of the holiday season... Enjoying of the deep red and green colors of the Christmas poinsettias, but also the atmosphere of those pink and purple winter sunsets (like in the previous christmas blog post).

But at the same time the light blue and pink colors are already showing way into the New Year´s arising ideas. Those smallest light blue details in the character´s drawn clothing as well as the fresh pink gerbera in her floral dress are inviting her to look forward, into the New Year.

Once again the character was designed to have colors that were the matching with her floral dress. Below in the detail picture one can see the details of the facial area even more closely. Like for example the characters lips that are having the same color than those deep red poinsettias. Or the dark bluish color in her eye lids that is reminding of those winter evenings.

Creating this drawing and floral dress was like a path from holiday season into the New Year´s plans. A transition from the deep red poinsettias towards into the more light and pink flowers.

Wishing a happy and creative New Year 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!

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.

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 night… 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 grow… 
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 frustrated…

And then during the midsummer night it happened! She messed up all those clovers – 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"

First sunny summer days - and hazel eyes

First sunny summer days and hazel eyes...

Summer dress made of blooming buttercups and closed dandelions,
and suddenly those faded leaves are nothing but layers of memories.

This floral dress was made of blooming buttercups and closed dandelion flowers. Also decayed gray leaves as well as the fresh green leaves found their places in this illustration.

This floral dress was designed to have a same kind of style than the spring themed dress from the previous article. But this time the theme was instead early sunny summer with strong yellow color along with shades of green and brown.

Also this floral dress had faded leaves in it, bringing that extra sense of layering to this work. And this time the faded leaves were combined with blooming flowers and some vivid green leaves of the buttercups and dandelions.

This work was designed as a continuation to the spring themed floral dress, like it would be the next step after the spring. Just like in the Finnish nature, when the wood anemones and wood sorrels are fading and the spring turns into summer, but the dandelions and buttercups are then already starting to bloom.

It is always interesting to follow that magical cycle of the nature, and follow how the wildflowers have their different times to bloom. And it is also very fascinating, trying then to capture those brief moments and transform them into the floral dresses.

When I searched the wildflowers for this floral dress, the sunny day was changing already into early evening. The strong yellow color of the buttercups was beautiful in the evening light. And when I was picking up the last flowers for the dress, the dandelions were already starting to close up for the night. I wanted to add also a bit of the atmosphere from that moment to this illustration.

And for that reason in this floral dress the dandelion flowers are also closed and allow that way the buttercups to be more in the centre point. That was also a way to keep the amount of yellowness in balance, because the bright yellow of the buttercups was such a strong element in this work.

The closed dandelions were also having those nice darker color that are seen only when the dandelion flowers are closed. That particularly shade of color also matched with the faded gray and brownish leaves, and the same color was also repeated when I was coloring the character´s hair.

In those closed dandelion flowers there is also that a bit of striped look, like the yellow and dark brown would be playing together. I also aimed for that same striped look in the character´s hair. In addition the hair is also having very light highlights, like the parts would be sun lightened. Also the softer light brown tones were important when coloring and finishing the hair of the character.

In addition I designed this character to have a special colroed skin tone, not only pale like in the first sunny summer days… but already starting to have a bit of  those golden tones from the sunlight. That was also a one way to emphasize that mood of first sunny summer days in this illustration. In the end also the other colors of the character were adjusted to match the floral dress.

This time the character was designed to have hazel eyes, following that warmer summer theme and at the same time matching also with the colors of the floral dress.

The aim was also to capture a bit of that mystery of hazel eyes… When one can´t really tell whether the eyes are brown, greenish brown or even a bit golden? In this drawing I was aiming to color the character´s eyes with that special tone that one might see when the summer sunlight reaches those hazel eyes.

And in the end the whole character with her floral dress was having that same impression than her hazel eyes…  That burst of warm golden colors in middle of the greenish brown colors.

Wishing warm and sunny summer days 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  â€“ and with some warm winter drinks...

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

And those snowy trees, could they tell stories?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wishing you all wonderful winter days and inspiring moments!

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Finnish fox is skiing into the forests of Finland 💙

Lusto - Finnish Forest Museum and Upmks exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exhibition looks at how art that has been inspired by the forest has been important with regards to the construction of the Finnish national identity. Exhibition is comprised of 28 works by artists including Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Berndt Lindholm, Eero Järnefelt, GÜsta 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 GallÊn, 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.

Maiden of Finland and the dress for the Finland 100 - celebrations

💙 Today Finland celebrates 100 years of independence 💙

What would the Maiden of Finland wear for the most important celebration?
Definitely something blue and something white for the Independence Day celebrations.

Which flowers would she choose for the most beautiful dress?
Maybe some chrysanthemums?

And there she was, almost ready for the celebrations...

Finnish Maiden… that fascinating symbol and the national personification of Finland.

The Maiden of Finland can also refer to the shape of Finland on the map. And for that reason I designed my character´s outlines to follow precisely that shape on the map. As a result my maiden became a combination of the one I see on the map - and of the one I see in my imagination.

You will find more info about the story behind the symbol for example in here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Maiden

The drawing was created with gentle color layers, where the shades of blue and white were playing together.

The dress was completed with real flowers - this time with seasonal cut flowers.

Festive flowers in the floral dress was also a way to emphasize that sense of Independence Day celebrations. During the celebrations one might see beautiful flower arrangements everywhere, but also in the flower shops around the country all those blue and white flowers are creating that extra magical atmosphere.

Because the Maiden´s chrysanthemum dress was such a strong element, I wanted to add something to balance also the top of the dress.

For that reason the smaller blue flower found its place on the top. That flower in the illustration is blooming right in the area of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. For that reason the small flower was also a special way to emphasize and honour the Finnish unique nature - and the amazing national parks of Finland. And today when Finland celebrates 100 years of independence, the pure and beautiful nature feels so precious.
It´s always nice to share information about inspiring places and below are links and more info of those beautiful places in Lapland. Those places, where that small blue flower blooms in the illustration. Especially now in December those places are extra magical.

The small flower is blooming in the illustration in the area of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park:
http://www.nationalparks.fi/en/pallas-yllastunturinp

And in the region of Levi:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi,_Finland
http://www.levi.fi/en

And also in the Pulju wilderness area:
http://www.nationalparks.fi/en/pulju

In the illustration the Maiden tries to fit that smaller flower together with her dress. Maybe she is longing to put that final touch to her outfit just before the great celebration starts?

On the Finland´s 100 year celebration even the most beautiful dresses don´t feel fabulous enough. Almost like that final touch would always ask to be completed a bit more. For me that incompleteness represents the whole process of illustration - and that endless series of those final touches when building a drawing or illustration.

But on the Independence Day that incompleteness expresses also the stream of life itself. This constantly changing world and open story we live in. But above anything, it represents the future - and the continuation of the Finnish Maiden´s story.

And today on Finland's Independence Day, there´s also silence near the great words:
independence, freedom and gratefulness…

When the words are not enough.
Thank you Finland.

Congratulations Finland 100 years!

Finland became an independent state on 6th of December 1917.
Freedom and independence… Those great words, and today wordless in front of them.

Thank you Finland. 
Thank you Finnish Veterans, thank you grandparents.

And in your great day, Finland, thank you also for all the inspiration.
Snowy winters - and the midsummer wildflowers...
All the ideas and dreams.

Where the wild strawberries grew


Only she knew where the wild strawberries grew….


Cherishing the last wild strawberry flowers of the passing summer. Could those flowers bloom forever on her hat...?

The character´s clothing was a combination of Victorian style and a fairy tale atmosphere. The illustration was completed with Finnish wild strawberry flowers and the floral dress was created with strawberry leaves. Some of the leaves were vivid green and some instead in deep red autumn colors.

There´s always magical things to explore in the nature. When collecting the material to this floral dress design, the wild strawberry flowers were still blooming - and even fragile new berries were trying to resist the autumn. There were green leaves, but at the same time red and rusty autumn colors were already slowly winning over. Beginnings and endings, or just circles?

But what can you do when the autumn leaves are fading away? Before the deep reds turn into rusty colors, collect memories. Place the most beautiful leaves between the pages of your favorite book and treasure your sweetest memories.

Or then you could just dance with those autumn leaves. Just like she did, in her tiny Victorian boots...

But where were then all the wild strawberries? Well, she must have eaten them all... After all she might be the only one who knew where those wild strawberries grew.

Happy and creative autumn moments to you all!
 

Victorian dreams


When you just want to stay in your Victorian dreams…

Quick sketch of Victorian dress. The dreamy pink colors were created with colored pencils.

Finnish wildflowers were again giving a lot of inspiration.
Those last wildflowers of the passing summer - and a sketchbook that will hold all the summer secrets...

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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www.instagram.com/sandcastle.fi

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Midsummer Love Spell

Today the fourth mystic maiden is joining the Midsummer Eve celebrations…

She is whispering midsummer love spells. Those ancient magic words.
It is the Midsummer again.

Pink dreams, heart-shaped clouds.
Secrets of the midnight sun and the magic of the wildflowers
- Hmm, maybe also a touch of purple…?

But could that Midsummer spell, indeed,
even make those centaurea flowers to bloom?

Magical Midsummer Eve to you all <3

Above is the sketch of the Finnish "Midsummer Love Spell". This illustration  was once designed together with the Midsummer Dryad, Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Naiad. 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 were inspired by the Finnish midsummer mythology and mythical creatures from the Finnish folklore. And of course the amazing Finnish nature, wildflowers and midsummer magic were giving me a lot of inspiration on the way.

For the fourth “Midsummer Love spell” character especially the pink, magenta and purple colors helped to create a unique theme. And also for this illustration I collected the wonderful Finnish wildflowers to match the selected theme colors. Stunning pink and magenta colors were guiding the way when searching the right flowers for the floral dress. Especially the red campion just had that right mood for the midsummer love spell theme...

Red campion flowers were a lovely source of inspiration when creating this illustration with the midsummer love spell theme.

And how magical,  suddenly everywhere seemed to be heart-shaped reminders of the romantic theme.

In this illustration I wanted to emphasize the mystic sense of the midsummer and love spells. For that reason the chosen flowers for this illustration were red campion, red clover and fireweed. The selected wildflowers had romantic pink tones, but especially the purple hues gave that needed strength, saturation and mystic sense to the illustration.

The flowers of the fireweed even looked like small magical spells themselves...

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 illustration that dreamy and magical midsummer glow influenced again the color choices. I emphasized the cooler pink shades in characters skin color. And also the white color in the highlights was a way to describe that magical moment in Finland when night and day is merging together during the Midsummer Eve and the night is white.

In this illustration the aim was to combine that sense of Nordic white night, the pink romantic nuance and on the other hand the strong and colorful vision of the Midsummer love spells.

Those purple colors in the wildflowers emphasized the theme of Midsummer love spells. The color balance was adjusted with some violet tones from the Centaurea flowers (knapweed).

And how the Centaurea flowers were already blooming right during the summer solstice...? Well, that must be midsummer magic! The myths and stories about a spell that could make the flowers grow faster also gave an extra twist to this midsummer love spell themed illustration.

When creating the illustration the green leaves of the red clover were reminding of the growth and midsummer verdancy, and eventually helped to unite all the ideas into a one blooming floral dress.

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 Visit Finland link below to the fascinating article and the beautiful 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  roll in dew…?  

visitfinland.com/white-night-magic/

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!

Peaceful Christmas & Creative New Year

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

Finnish foxes are skiing into their new homes

Finnish foxes are already skiing into their new homes...
Below Christmas cards and season´s greetings with the fox illustration.

Vintage skis and snowy dreams

Vintage skis and snowy dreams…
Inspiration for (skiing Finnish fox) illustration.

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

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. http://www.banksidegallery.com

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

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