Saturday, 31 May 2014

Art journal

It has been a while since I last posted anything from my art journal. Now I have some good news to share. I participated in a competition for a new book by North Light Books about art journals, and when I was in Seoul I got the good news that 4 of my entries were chosen to be included in the book. The competition was Art Journal Kickstarter, and the book with all the winning entries will be published around christmas time. I am so happy, and so excited!

Here are the 4 pages from my art journal that will be included in the book:

Barn owl. Book pages, acrylic, watercolour and gouache.

Eurasian Tree sparrow. Acrylic, watercolour and gouache.

Eurasian Tree sparrow. Different papers and watercolour.

Light-vented Bulbul. Different paper, marker and watercolour.

Then on to some other pages from my art journal that I haven't shared here yet. This square journal is 19x19cm with quite heavy paper, and it is very nice to work in. It is an old journal with material I can't use anymore, so I am reusing it now for planning paintings!

A little funny Long-tailed tit. Watercolour.

Chickadee. Here I did not cut out the bird more precise than this, I thought it could be nice for a change to glue it straight on with the white background paper showing. Watercolour.

Chaffinch and Eurasian Tree sparrow. Watercolour and acrylic on different papers.

European Serin. The serin sounded very funny and loud when I saw it, but was almost impossible to find because they blended in so well with the green in the trees.

Common Chiffchaff. Watercolour.

Little Grebe in it's winter coat. Watercolour and acrylic. 

Some of these will become paintings one day. 
Now I am off to Beijing for a few days to attend to a wedding, so see you when I come back!

Monday, 26 May 2014

The beautiful city Seoul

Last week I visited Seoul in South Korea for a few days together with my friend Rain Slingerland. I was suppose to post some pictures from the trip right away when I came home, but I had some work to do first. As I told you briefly before I have been asked to write an article for an art magazine's e-news letter, and I started on a new painting to document and write a step-by-step article. I got the painting and text finished on Saturday, so yesterday I send it in. The article will be published online on June 5th, and I will give you all the details then. I am so excited about it, next step is to try and get an article published in an art magazine… Below is the painting I made for the article.

You are beautiful. Oil, acrylic and collage on canvas, 30x30cm. Light-vented bulbul. Reference picture my own.

So, then on to Seoul! Seoul is a beautiful and interesting city, a nice combination of old and new. The feel of the city and the people was much more western and less asian than China. It is a big city, but it felt small and cozy. The Korean people must love coffee, because there was a cafe in every single corner! There were also a lot of pubs, and I actually found one that sold cold cider. So good! ;-)
The first evening we only had time for a quick stroll in the night market and ended the evening in a small local barbecue restaurant. The food was amazing, and our waiter really tried his best to make us feel welcomed.
The two following days we just ran about the city like crazy, trying to see as much as possible. We went to the music market to find Rain's husband a 12 stringed guitar and succeeded, we visited the pearl and fabric market, we tried out a huge art museum, we found a beautifully stocked art shop where I bought some art supplies, we walked around just looking, we took the bus around the city, we tried the subway and we took the cab when we got lost ;-) And we ate delicious food! We have a few very good Korean restaurants here in Rizhao we visit regularly, but it always better when you are in the country itself. Not just the food, but then you get the whole experience as well… I really love to travel, and trying out the different foods are one of the best things about traveling!!

Seoul station. We lived in a hostel just a 5 minutes walk from the station, and from it we had a direct 45-minute train to and from the airport. Nice and easy!

Dongdaemun market. 10 min walk from Seoul station. 

Traditional and modern icons side by side.

Colour feast for the eyes.

Shoes. A lot of them.

Our waiter our first night in Seoul in a traditional bbq restaurant. The food was amazing.

A bicycle repair shop. That is what I call a shop in whole in the wall...

Old and new.

Street art and a huge happy smiley face on the wall. That is pretty much how we felt the whole trip!

Dongdaemun market during the day.

Kids play store.

Pearl market.

The 'restaurant street', where you could find everything from Mexican, English, Thai and whats not food to eat. I rather liked this restaurant's roof terrace.

Korean bbq. Doesn't it look beautiful?

Rain demonstrating a very narrow house on one street.

Nice copper pots.

You could find these kind of parkings everywhere in the city. Elevator parking. Genius!

Art museum. It was a huge complex with concert houses, museums, restaurants and more. We only saw the traditional exhibition, because the rest of art shown there at the moment was this ultra modern art that neither Rain or me was interested in.

And our meal the last evening. Korean bbq again! Before and after…

As you can see I have had a small makeover of my blog. I played around with photoshop a little yesterday to make a new banner, and I must say that I am quite happy with the result. Now I have to decide if I shall do a similar make over for my website.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Why birds?

I have got the question "why do you paint birds?" quite a few times over the past few years, and my usual answer is; because I like birds and I have so many ideas I still want to try out. This is of course a short answer and not very informative. For those of you who have followed my blog know that I tell my stories more through a lot of pictures than with a lot of words.

Now however I thought it was time for me to elaborate a little bit more on the topic, and I am writing this post as much for my self as for you!

I have never been able to speak insightful or 'intelligently' about my work, the reasons for why, or my passions behind it all. Maybe because I have always been afraid that my reasons would be found lame, that I would sound naive and not be met as an serious artist. Well, I guess I don't care any more. I have to believe in myself as an artist if I want others to see me as an artist. And then it should not matter   how naive or corny I sound, because there will always be people who like my work, and people who won't. Art is and always will be a matter of taste anyway!

So, why do I paint birds?

My fascination for birds started early in my life at my grandmothers kitchen table. We would sit looking out the window watching the birds at the bird feeder while drinking tea, discussing the different birds and I would get a full rapport on who had visited the feeder that morning. It was such a simple and pure joy.

There were not that many different species that came to my grandmothers feeder, but we got to know those who came quite well. If the food was gone some birds even came to the window looking in and picking on it like they were saying 'hey there, where's the food?'
It was fascinating how they all had their different personalities and behavior. The Great tit and the Blue tit who just took one seed at a time, flying higher up in the tree eating it, and then returning for another. Up and down, up and down. Fast and a little 'nervous'. Then you had the Green and Yellow finch who chased everyone else away when they came, sat at the bird feeder like in a big comfy chair and ate until they were finished without any hurry at all. The woodpecker and even occasionally the Eurasian jay who came only when there were no car traffic at all on the road before the house. The graceful Common Pheasant who came and ate what the smaller birds dropped on the ground, and the squirrel who treated the bird feeder as his own personal buffet.
I started painting birds and wildlife since that time.

I did have a period when I only painted forest scenes and landscapes, but for 6 years now I have almost exclusively been painting birds.
Below are two examples of landscapes: the first is one of my own favorites: 'Silence', 2006 Oil on canvas, 60x100cm if I remember it correctly. The second is the Finnish archipelago, oil on canvas and only 20x20cm.

That was pretty much the reason behind 'why', then we have the 'how' left…

When I first started painting birds I painted them with a 'normal' background, the animal in its real surrounding. I was never happy with the result, and I never liked how my backgrounds turned out. For some reason the background distracted from the bird, and I wanted the focus to be on the beauty and personality of the bird only. It was in 2008 during my masters studies that I found a solution to this. I started experimenting with different backgrounds, and ended up turning to mixed media and painting totally abstract paintings as background for my birds. I even painted birds straight on fabric with a nice pattern, leaving the fabric as the background.

'Raven' 2008 Book pages, acrylic and oil on canvas, 150x150cm. My first ever painting where I covered the canvas in book pages before starting painting. I loved it, and have never looked back.

'Flight of the hawk' 2008 Oil on fabric, 88x120cm. Here I stretched my old bed sheet over a canvas and had an instant background that I loved, and then proceeded with just painting the buzzard in oil on top of it. And yes, I named it wrong, but I was unsure at the time what kind of bird of pray it was.

As time has gone by I have continued to experiment with my backgrounds. For the moment I use a lot of collage with music, poems and my own writing, as you know. I only use material that is relevant to me in some way or another, so I fill the backgrounds with my favorite poems, swedish songs, pages from the books I have read, old family letters, and so on. Living in China has given me the opportunity to buy Chinese books and poems to use in my collage, and that will change to other languages in time as we move to other countries for my husbands work.

Below is the latest painting that I finished. 'Summer sunday' The sparrow is as usual painted in oil on top of a collage. Reference photo my own!

Birds are amazing and fascinating, and I like painting beautiful things. It really is as simple as that! 
*big smile*

Monday, 5 May 2014

Around here lately.

Now is the best time here in Rizhao. The weather is nice and warm (not yet hot! ), it has been sunny and everything is green and feels fresh.

Today we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the beautiful botanical garden of Rizhao and went for a picnic. I had made the finnish traditional 1 of may mead drink and crispy cookies, so we celebrated Valborg a few days late this year. Of course I forgot to take a picture when we started while there still would have been some light, so I only have this dark picture from just before we left back for home.

From the left is my friend Citte, her mother Helena, my husband's boss John and my husband.

Studio update:

I have so many paintings almost finished, that I did not know where to begin after my holiday in Spain. My solution? Start a new one. Or two, or three… =D  It is always the beginning of a new painting that is the most fun, deciding what kind of bird and what kind of atmosphere I want for the backgrounds… 

To be honest the first new painting that I started was because I got asked to write a step-by-step article for an art magazine's e-newsletter! (While I was going through my bird photos to decide what to paint for the article, I found the perfect matches for two other backgrounds that I had already done earlier.) I decided to paint a Light-vented bulbul for the article, and yesterday I finished the background. Today I started to block in the bird with oil colors. I will not post any pictures of that painting here yet or give any more details, but wait until the article is 'published' and give you a link to it! I'm so exited! It will give me some nice new exposure, and hopefully get many new people to find me and my art!

The two new paintings in progress:

 This is an Azure-winged magpie with the first blocking in of colors. This will be much less detailed than my previous birds, as it is suppose to be late evening light when all colors becomes warmer and the details disappears. I think I will call it 'Evening lookout' or something alike.

Light-vented bulbul. This one has two layers of colors, and will probably get 2 or 3 more before it is finished. I am also trying to decide if the background is a little too light, and if it would need a little more blue or something to get the bird to 'pop' more. The Light-vented bulbul is 3 times bigger than our Great tit back home in Finland, but it reminds me very much of it regarding behavior and character. The male and female also looks the same. In singing it sounds somewhere in between a Chaffinch and a Common blackbird. 

I have already started writing the next blogpost; it will be about my inspirations and why I paint birds. So 'stay tuned' as they often say on the tv!