Tuesday, 27 January 2015


So. Barn owls. I have two going for the moment, one flying and one sleeping.

I don't have that much new to share, since it has been a really slow week in the studio. I have been running around the city looking at apartments, and trying to cure a nasty flue at the same time… We are now living in a service apartment, which is like living in a hotel, only difference is that we have a small kitchen too… But as it looks now we will probably stay here in Shanghai for 2 years, so we need a 'real' apartment. And finding something that suits us within the budget is not easy. Shanghai is expensive!! But I will give you a full tour when we have found what we need, and have moved in. I am really looking forward to be able to paint in a room without wallpaper, so that I don't have to be so careful all the time. I feel really hampered (is hampered the right word? I feel like I have to be so careful as not to make a mess or get paint on the floor or on the walls or table or chair or….you get the meaning) here. I need a room where I can be messy, and where it doesn't matter if I get paint-splatters on the wall… =D

Anyway, I was suppose to talk about owls before I got sidetracked. As I don't have anything new to show you, I thought I would post photos of my two barn owls how they have progressed and changed.

First up is the flying Barn owl. I do not have a name for her yet.

First Layers down. The texture is build up by modeling paste, and then I added some thin glacings of acrylic colours. 

I added some blues, and white splatters. I think that I in this stage was planning to paint a sea gull on this canvas. I started it almost a year ago, so I can't really tell...

Then I decided to paint a flying owl on it instead. Here is the first acrylic layer with just white and some paynes grey.

First layer of oil colour. It sat like this for quite a while in my studio, and I did not know what to do with it next. I had no inspiration of finishing it, as I wasn't happy with how it looked. It looked like a lost owl.

Then 2 weeks ago I go an idea of how to proceed with the owl. I added some ornament to the background, and started to change the colour-sceme to brown instead of blue.

First layer of brown that I let dry just a little before going back in and wiped some of it of to show the underlying texture, and started painting on the owl itself as well.

I added some more brown, went back in and touched up the ornament with some white, and I think that the background is finished like that. Now I just have to paint the last layer of the owl and give her some feathers and claws. Or him. For some reason I think of this owl as a 'her'.

 Next is Barnie, the sleeping owl;

I had made this background that I liked really much. Then I had to decide what to paint on it. With some helpful suggestions from my Facebook friends, I decided on an owl.

First blocking in of the owl in acrylic color.

Then I changed to oil colors.

Next step was to start and put in the shadows and feathers. This picture was taken in the evening in the lamplight, so it became green.

After painting in more of the feathers, I thought that the owl started to 'disappear' into the background. But, as I had liked my treatment of the other owl so much, I decided to go all brown!

And here it is how it looks now. I have to see if I will tweak the background a little more, and then I need to go back to the owl and paint the final feathers and of course, the claws! I am very happy in what direction this is going, so I will go with the flow… ;)

I will be away for a week back to Rizhao, so my studio will have to wait for me some more. I actually saw the first spring blossoms today! Can you believe that? The winter has been so warm here in Shanghai this year, that the trees are starting to blossom already… I don't mind!! ;) 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Published in ArtJournal Kickstarter!

*Love* *love* *love*
I have been waiting for this book!

I was one of the finalist in an art competition last year, and the prize was to be published in an art book about art journals. 4 of my pages was chosen to be included in the book. I really enjoyed the book, and there are 99 artists that share pages with art and stories from their journals to be inspired by. 
I'm proud to present: Art Journal Kickstarter, edited by Kristy Conlin and published by North Light Books:

The colorful cover.

Page 10.

Page 11.

You can find the book at North Light Books and on Amazon.com

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tea and painting

I was sitting here wondering about what it was that I was missing. I was admiring and trying out some newly bought art supplies, and that usually always makes me very happy. You know, like a child with a new toy. What can it do? How does it react to other mediums? What all can I use it for? And: How will it finally look when painted?
And then it dawn on me, I have not yet had my cup of tea today… How could I forget? That is usually the first thing I do in the morning, brew a nice hot cuppa tea! But now when that is rectified everything is well with my world again ;)

Selecting the pictures to go with this blog, my tea, and a old schoolbook I decided to start reading again. One of the opening sentences really drew me in, I had forgot how nice Mr Ernst Gombricht speaks about art. (original title: The story of art)  'Eigenlijk is er geen kunst. Er zijn alleen kunstenaars.' = in my translation: 'Truth be told there is no art. There are only artists.' I like that. You do not have to like everything that is being made and that is called 'art'. I many times refuse to call certain things 'art', but I never deny the makers right to call himself an artist. Take Duchamp for example: I will never call his Fountain urinal a piece of art just because he signed it. I mean, he didn't even make it! But I don't think anyone would refuse to call him an artist. Oh, well. Art is fun!

Some new brushes, and some new mediums I never tried before: Super heavy gesso, clear gesso and glazing medium. I already tried out the heavy gesso on the book spread you can see under the brushes. Now I'm waiting for it to dry before thinning some acrylic with the glazing medium and see what it does to the page. *happy*

A background I don't think I have shared yet. I used modeling paste with a stencil to create the word hope, and I quite like the 3-d effect. The paint sticks to it nicely. I think this will become a Robin. The orange breast should be a nice contrast to all the blue.

The day before yesterday I finally figured out with some help with my Facebook followers as to what to paint on this background that has been waiting for a couple of months. A cute sleeping barn owl I got a photo from in Wales a few years back. Here the first layer of the bird is painted with acrylics. It is a 30x30cm canvas.

Yesterday the first layer of oil followed. I adjusted some minor faults, and next up will be to paint all the dark colors. Usually I never paint my subject in the middle of a canvas, but here it just felt right to me. 

I liked the ornament stencil I used so much that I think that I will use it to make a series of paintings. Here is the next one in another colour, and I think it also will become an owl. Lets see what I have in my reference library! (30x30cm)

This is a small 20x20cm canvas I wasn't happy with. The background was too dark for the bird. I added the stencil and I think I will add a orange glaze to it before painting the bird back in.

This thrush is still waiting for some more layers in oil, but I thought it needed some more branches before I continue with more details on the bird itself. I'm debating now if I need to add even more branches. But I am a little reluctant to do it as the background is quite busy, so I don't want to add too much to it.

This is a small long tailed tit painting that has been put aside for quite some time now. It felt 'off' even if I liked it otherwise. I played with it yesterday a little and decided to add some branches. It was exactly what was needed I think.

So, after 2 cups of tea and this finished, a good long talk with mom over Skype, some painting and internet-surfing the day is almost over. Now I have to go change out of my painting clothes and get ready for girls night out. The best Italian food of Shanghai! See ya! =D

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


So. Living in Shanghai.
So far it has been fun, a lot to see and do, great food and drinks, but also very distracting. I have not got as much work done as I thought I would. Or should have by this time. But in the few months I have been here I have had time to travel back to Rizhao a couple of times, showed visitors around the city, been on many lunches with my good friends Pim and Kim, having a lot of dinners, visited the Shanghai aquarium, walked around a lot, been to the fake market, ordered some clothes from the fabric market, celebrated Finish independence party with ca 400 other finns, celebrated Christmas with our good friends John and Kim, celebrated New Year with great friends, food and drinks here at our place, and…. You see? There is just so much to DO here!! Especially around christmas and new year. Now I hope it will calm down a bit so that I can get some undisturbed days in the studio.
Oh, wait, we still have the Chinese new year coming up, with a planned trip to Harbin and the ice festival there, and I have to find a new apartment…

*big smile*

A very late studio update:

I did get a commissioned painting finished, so thats good, and I have started on the next one. I have 2 other new paintings on the go and a few new pages in my art journal. In this case pictures tells the story better than words, so here they are:

A Barnowl, commissioned by my good friend Rain.

Blue tits from my own photos. Only two layers on the birds, waiting for more!

Naumanns thrush with some interbreeding by dusky thrush. More layers to come soon.

Page from my art journal, mixed media. White wagtail.

Same here.

Studio.My small painting corner.

My desk.

Another angle.

Night view from my window.

Same view during the day.

Sunrise early one morning.