As you may know, as a Finnish person I loooove sauna, hehe. Here in UK it’s been a bit of a struggle to find a nice sauna. For instanc, most of the time saunas in gyms are electric heated and temperature is controlled; steam is always very less and air is too dry, that is, not at all what sauna supposed to be. Of course heat is still there and you get relaxed but if you have ever experienced sauna with a wood-burner there’s no going back to electric ones. Löyly, (=steam) in wood-burner Saunas is so gentle and moist, which gives you totally different feeling as if the whole sauna is giving you a warm and gentle hug.
After introducing Finnish sauna to my hubby during our first trip to Finland we couldn’t stop dreaming of our own one. And, as my husband is super handy and creative he suggested why don’t we build it in our shed. Obviously neither did he or I have built sauna before, but after research and consultation from my family and friends we decided to go for it. We ordered sauna kiuas (=wood burner) and stones from Finland and rest of the materials we purchased in UK.
It took us about six months to complete the work. All the credits goes to my husband, who designed and executed the project. He had always some extra energy to jump into the project in the evening after his actual work. My role was to give my approvals on designs and workmanship, and of course take care of our little one who was at that time veeeeery little <3.
Now, when it is already over one year since we started the project, I couldn’t be happier about the outcome and I’m consider us so lucky that we have this luxury to have our own sauna. It gives such a deep relaxation and revives energy levels. Also, it is amazing remedy for skin as steam opens pores and makes it feel soft. These days we have launched Sunday Day Sauna, which is all about preparing to take sauna together. That is, bringing wood inside the sauna, filling up the water bucket, light the fire in the burner and steer it while sauna is getting warm, let alone enjoying amazing fragrance, which is floating around the sauna room. It is like beautiful ritual one can experience. Then after sauna enjoying aftersauna feeling with some beverages and light food. It is amazing. On top of that, as it is handmade by my husband it has certain energy and feeling when entering to the sauna. It’s like an artwork.
The video above is made by my hubby. Please have a look and enjoy! If you have any questions regarding sauna, please do not hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to have some conversation around it.
Spring is the time when nature wakes up. Sunlight becomes stronger and days are getting longer and warmer. It is a big change for all of us. It is not only time for new beginning but can also be a threat. With my work I am expressing my concern towards fragile nature by composing a Polar Bear laying on ice while strong sun rays are melting his living territories. Evaporating organic shapes of water gives its last shimmer in bright colors. Partially violent outlines of the bear in black and orange create contrast and illustrates distressed state of nature, last moments of Polar Bear.
This animation is the very first, of which I have ever created. It’s already 3 years old but I never publish it, I guess I felt too shy. It is based on my similar painting, which you can view here. My attention was to make the artwork alive, show a little glimpse of Polar Bears last moments. The theme of this artwork is quite sad but unfortunately that is the reality of Polar bears at the moment. You can read more about them here.
I’m sure you all have heard of Captain Tom Moore, who raised money for NHS’ battle against Covid19 by walking in his garden. His aim to raise £1000 is already turned £ 32million, which is absolutely amazing and unbelievable! As he turned to 100 years 30th April, I would like to congratulate him, Happy Birthday Man of Steel!
My inspiration to draw this piece of art derived from, when I first saw a picture of Captain Moore sitting on his motorbike and he poses with trophies in civilian clothing. I noticed his clothes were creased, and a fancy tie gave me an impression of a gentleman with brave and persistence character, which is why I named the work as Man of Steel. This art represents his gentleman soul and achievements he gained with his favourite hobby.
Below work is an order from a client who was atracted to my former artwork piece called Spring. They found fascinating the idea of life under soil. We had some interesting discussion around the work during the creative process; how to plant some seeds of flowers or vegetables in autumn and imagine what is happening underground during the winter season; how seeds would look like, how they would develop and create a network of roots and branches, what kinds of obstacles plants would face, how water would move trough subterranean pathways and how all the activities would connect to each other.
Media: Watercolor, fiber-tip pen on 300g paper, 50×70 cm
Below artwork is part of the I used To Be…-concept (see also Cardigan Bird). As I’m not living in Finland at the moment, I have regognized that when I’m working on the concept my mind tends to fly back to my home country quite often. I think the idea of the concept suits quite well into Finnish environment, both, from nature and from Finnish mindset point of view. Perhaps it is also my way of long for my homeland and make it more nostalgic in my mind; create a fairytale environment where snow is always brighter and shining, and because of kaamos (=the polar night) sky reveals different shades of blue which also change the color of entire nature.
Media: Watercolor and pigment ink on 300g paper, 33×28.5 cm
Below illustration is requested by a parent, he wanted an artwork for his daughter when she turned to 4 years old. Quite often I take inspiration from nature. I love to imagine/illustrate things what we can’t really see but are important part of the different natural processes. So this was also the case in the theme of the work, though with a little sprinkle of fairytale. We all have been taught that rainbows are born when sun rays hit the raindrops and the white light is broke down to color spectrum (raindrop works like prism). But what if that is not the whole truth? The work zooms into this event imaging Raindrop-Girls who are creating the rainbow.
Below you may see different stages of the illustration from the drafts to finalised piece.
Watercolour, gesso and fibertip pen on 300g paper, A3
“Autumn is definitely my favourite season. What I love about it are colors of the nature and the quality of crisp air when the weather gets colder. It makes me feel calm and save. Later, just before the first snow covers the ground, I can sense the stillness of the nature, it tells me that everything is fine and it is ready for winter.”
Watercolour, Gesso and Fibre-tip pen on 200g paper, A3
The first thoughts of making the below piece were to cherish the beauty of nature; point out the beautiful colors and shapes and note that eventually we all are part of it, as unfortunately we tend to forget it. Later, working on the painting further, I noticed that the method I draw lines became equally important theme in the work. This was my first time I was working on with a fiber-tip pen on a heavy structured surface. That is, it was almost impossible to draw straight lines when using black pen. Instead of forcing the lines, this learning made me emphasise the beauty of structured surface and follow the material when forming lines; I wanted that lines can float freely. I found, it also supported the actual theme (cherish beauty of nature) as lines made the painting more lively and nature-like when I couldn’t completely control the outcome.
Work in Progress:
Watercolor, gesso and pen on 300g paper, size 68×98 cm
Recently I have worked on the Concept idea I Used to Be… where I have created a Concept Booklet vol.1 on the Cardigan Bird. Work is still on going, in fact, the Concept Booklet is the first step towards finalized concept, which I am going to develop further. So there will be more blog posts to come on this project in future. Nevertheless, in this post I would like to share some glimpses of work in progress stages of the Cardigan Bird and my way of handling the creative process. I want to stress that process is never linear but it is going several rounds, validating information and ideas, and sometimes ending up at the starting point again. In this post I am concentrating only the character creation and leaving out the process of making the booklet since that is totally another story to share in another time.
Giving a deeper insight about my work, firstly, I want to point out that sustainable values are vital drivers in my work. I am exploring, how can I as an illustrator contribute on and increase awareness of socially and environmentally balanced way of living. Being more specific, my work raises the concern about the big amount of used, but wearable clothes that ends up in landfill every day. Thinking about my former degree in Fashion and clothing, it has given me the understanding of environmental and social impacts of fashion industry. Having mentioned that, I need to point out that not only industry but also consumers have a big role in a garment lifecycle as an end user. In my work I am particularly focusing on the consumer end; My aim is to inspire audience to see the beautiful opportunity in used garments, and encourage the viewer to reshape and produce something new out from so called fabric waste.
While looking at the possibilities, how garments can be reused I have become more and more interested in sustainable way of living. And in particularly I have looked at Slow Movement ideology as converse to fast pace consumer culture. The Slow Movement is a lifestyle, which considers aspects from environmental and social sustainability. The Movement addresses the issue of time poverty, it looks at today’s fast pace lifestyle arguing that it has caused the dis-connection between people, their family, friends, community, place and food (Slow Movement, 2016). In the other words, the Slow Movement is not only concentrating literally on the time has spend in doing things, but how time is spend; It stresses the conception of time allowing to have greater variety of speeds and selective slowness.
As an Illustrator I want to tell stories and evoke feelings with my works. Having mentioned that I started to think how I could reflect on above phenomenas; can I recognise some characteristic in different kinds of clothes, what kind of feelings clothes could evoke in us? I chose couple of different types of garments (such as a cardigan, jeans, a t-shirt..) and analysed in what kind of occasions people are wearing them. Also I was looking at if the chosen clothes have some special features, which are standing out. By doing that I came up with the idea to create a concept I Used To Be… and tell a story of a garment by transforming it to a fairytale animal. In the first Concept Booklet I decided to illustrate the new life of a cardigan and give an insight what slow living would be for the Cardigan Bird. For me the creative process is a lot about asking questions, that is the way I find my directions. So, I started to doodle and alongside asked to myself what happened to a cardigan, what kind of life she had before? How the Cardigan looked like? How she ended up to be a bird, did someone just abandoned her? How the transformed cardigan would look like? What does she do after transformation?
I wanted to get a refresher and understanding where I’m standing when I am talking about a knitted garments so i had a closer look on how a cardigan is made. Even todays knitted clothes are mostly made by machines, there is still rich craftsmanship tradition alive, which, at least for me, is a source of inspiration giving authenticity when thinking the story, material properties and ways to illustrate the material and character.
I kept asking more questions: Is this concept only about the a story of a garment or could this reflect the feelings of a wearer too? If the cardigan was a real person, what kind of person she would be? Should I illustrate the owner of the cardigan as well? How to illustrate the transformation? What media I should choose and which color palette would work the best?
Thinking about the media, in general I am using watercolours and acrylics, which shapes the body of my portfolio quite clearly and that was the media used in this project as well. The Cardigan Bird got it shapes quite quickly and it needed only subtle fine-tuning while the project got further. Above illustrations are screen shots from the Booklet (background of the drawings are created by using Photoshop). I have used acrylics and pen; Cardigan Bird builds up green color blocks and blue outlines, which makes illustrations flat and static . Comparing these illustration to my previous projects, normally I use wider color palette, but here I wanted colors to be more controlled. Creating contrast to static appearance, I depicted the knitted tweed structure using quite freely yellow and pink brushstrokes & white pen on the green color blocked surfaces. If you have had a look on the Booklet, you might have noted that I didn’t illustrate much the world where the Cardigan Bird inhabits. Therefore, the next step is to focus on bringing bird’s living territories in life, which brings the concept to a new dimension and make charachter more real. Also, the transformation theme has become very important to me. Here the bird jumped out from the cardigan leaving behind a visible hole as a shape of bird. I see that this is a good start in illustrating transformation, though, when working on the concept further, I am aiming to explore more deeper the transformation theme.
This Essay is part of my MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music.
I have noticed that motives of using musical aspects in paintings vary. As I described on earlier post, there can be seen the fashion when the impetus of music is based on the perception and structural studies of music as in Klee’s art. Alongside the settled classical music notation structures of counterpoint and polyphonic music that Klee explored in his practice, a new way to depict music developed in the first decades of the 20th century. That is, on the third part of the essay I’m introducing two music scores of which give an idea of ways of depicting music. At first I’m presenting a visual music score December 1952 (1952) from Earle Brown; and secondly a visual listening score (1970) of György Ligeti’s (1923-2006) composition Artikulation (1958) from Rainer Wehinger.
The new approach concentrated on the requirements of musical developments, which was the main reason to abandon the original notation form and develop music notation in a more visual direction in the first decades of the 20th century. Ways of making, hearing and producing music changed gradually and so did the approach to notation. Development of electronic and aleatoric compositions required a new way of depicting music, which brought the visual music scores to light (Thompson 2006). Artists took inspirations from each other, that is the movements in the music world influenced the visual art world and vice versa. For instance, as Dennis (1966:14) has suggested that the way Schönberg constructed his music was inspired by Cubism movement. Having noted that, it is visible that the structure of music started to lose its importance in the sense it had remained in previous decades, which obviously affected visual arts as well as they treated the pictorial space differently. (Dennis 14)
Thinking about notation and visual music scores the relation is very interesting. As earlier described, traditional notation has been a standardized in music for centuries, and one could read it and use it as a language inside the practice. Regarding to visual scores, they don’t work the same way. As Bossis (2006) describe in electroacoustic music, the language is not standardized, which leads to the reason why individuals have their own methods to depict sounds and to the fact that perception is not that standardized either. (Bossis 2006) Sometimes one might not even know where the reading starts or ends. Due to that, visual scores are guidelines for performers and/or audience in order to gain understanding of complex music pieces and to depict subtle harmonies and timbers. In addition they look like pieces of abstract art and I would say, in one level, they are working like art.
Bearing that in mind I suggest that visual music scores are somewhere between notation and art, and in that sense it can be partly studied and explored as an artwork. The notion above might help to understand the relations of visual music scores and art. Now, have a look at December 1952, a visual music score from Earle Brown. At the first sight one may think how do the drawn lines work like music? The score consists of black horizontal and vertical lines with different thicknesses but apart of these facts it might be challenging to understand the message of the visual marking method. Regarding Rawson (1988;40) relations between visual units build a connection system in drawing. As Brown(2008) has mentioned, the score is not composed, rather it suggests the relationships between elements. The purpose of the December 1952 is to help a performer to improvise. In other words, it would help a performer to correspond with the elements and communicate through their own inner poetism, as Brown described.(Brown 2008) Indeed, these lines are not just random separately located black strokes, rather one has decided to construct them at specific places on the surface, leaving some space between the elements.
Brown (2008) has described loosely how to read the particular score. He suggested that top of the page represents the higher register of instrument and with the same logic bottom page stands for the lower register. Left-right scale is suggested to be time, and the size of the lines indicates the volume of the sound. The line thickness is also suggested to indicate cluster sound, which basically means that many closely occurred tones should play at the same time. Brown also suggested imagining the sheet as a three dimensional space where the elements would physically move with different speeds in different directions in front of the performer. That is, the performer would connect to the physical movements and would improvise by perceiving the suggested relationships which are given from the elements movements. (Brown 2008:4-7)
In that light, reflecting to the guidelines and looking at the image, the first description would seem to quite obvious but it is quite challenging to gain the understanding of 3D form just by looking at the Brown’s work. However, whether it is 2D or 3D, it is clear the relations between lines plays the key role. The way the lines are organized is very standardized and reminiscent of small rectangles. Some of the lines are closer to each other and create line groups, and at the same time lines bridge the gap with other line groups and so on. They create a rhythmic body structure. Even the score is for improvisation, and in that sense it would be assumed that the structure is free. I can recognize the same strict and absolute appearance of music structure in the way lines are executed as it is in Klee’s work in the form of colour blocks. The main difference is that the expressive aspects, the poetic part Brown mentioned, are left outside for a performer, as the work is not a painting but a score.
Going further, and analysing another music score Artikulation (please see below video). The main difference between Brown’s score and his is that it is made to support the perception of the music piece. Certainly, it is called a visual listening score. The score illustrates Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s electronical composition Artikulation, which Wehinger created in the 1970’s. The listening score is based on the aural impression of the piece. It is a visualization of the sonic texture and the musical structure, and the purpose of this score is to give the idea and illustrate the music piece for an audience. (Guardian 2013; Thompson 2006; Levy 2006) Wehinger’s score is originally made on paper sheets. On the presented video music is synchronised with the score. The piece lasts almost four minutes, and to follow the score the black vertical bar is added afterwards to indicate the current position of listening (Graig D 2007; Northern 2009) It is vital to mention that Ligeti’s electronic piece is a whole composition when Brown’s was a guide for improvisation.
Rawson (1987;36) mentions that all forms of drawing should be reviewed in two ways. Firstly it is vital to understand that units and systems of the drawing carry emotive and associational contents. Having heard Ligeti’s electronic music piece I agree that shapes corresponds to the heard sounds on one level. I perceive that the round shapes sounds like soft bubbles and the combs create the illusion of sharp undulating movements. However, perception can be argued. Shapes also create other associations, which may not be that direct. To analyse the score, it is relevant to note that Ligeti’s piece was made in the 1950’s, but the score were created two decades after, which is seemingly recognizable of its typical visual language. Different shapes and colours mirror the time, for instance, bright colours and geometrical shapes, but also round organic shapes in the background, depict design from the 70’s. As a reflection to Rawson, this perception of time can evoke feelings, perhaps memories, which one can link to past. It seems to me that in a way the forms and shapes carry the meanings, of which I would argue the particular music piece wouldn’t evoke alone.
The second point of reviewing forms of drawing is connected with the structural function of methods used. Rawson states, structural function enables the work to be related to system. (Rawson 1987:36) Wehinger’s score not only concentrates on depicting the timbers but also illustrating the structure of composed music and it’s progress with the same logic as an original notation, where time is suggested to pass from left to right, and due to that overlapping elements on the surface are indicating sounds playing at the same time. It can be seen that the pictorial space of the surface is framed with a black stroked square, in which all the musical elements are situated. Time is indicated outside of the square with numbers and measure lines. Wehinger created a system for a score, which is divided in four element categories; a music score consists of a mix of geometric, colourful elements. Regarding Northern (2009) dots are indicating impulses, combs illustrate noises and colours are representing values and variations in timbre and pitch.
Adorno and Gillespie (1996: 69) mention that one often thinks that space in paintings is the same as time, nevertheless they don’t share directly the same identity; temporal organization is not simultaneous but successive. When considering the rhythm, Langer (1967) and Adorno and Gillespie (1996: 69) describe, it as something which prepares the future. It is one group of tensions after another. Thus time is an immanent aspect and its embodiment is carried out with rhythmical marks, which constitute the space. Certainly, to support this opinion Rawson (1988: 200) also states that rhythmic marks are signals for audience to read surfaces; they create relations between elements of positive surfaces and ‘empty’ negative voids. To understand this, it is good to have closer look at elements in the score. For instance, the elements in green squares attached with green undulate lines not only suggest sound development, but also give an idea of time. In addition, repetitions of elements create rhythm in pictorial space, and on other level indicate that the same sounds are repeated in the music piece.
The main idea of this essay was to get an insight of the relations between musical aspects and artworks. The approach was to research visual mark making and how they correspond to music. This essay introduced some of the qualities of both art forms by searching for how they are connected and correlated with each other. To understand the fundamental aspects, it was vital to have a look at the territories and get an insight into how both are operating. It may be obvious that the connection is as simple as they both evoke feelings using human senses such as hearing and sight. However, as it mentioned earlier, feeling is an outcome of a complex and subtle language system both practises have. The communication factors differ a lot from each other, which make sense, as they are different art forms. Nevertheless, music and visual arts have interacted for centuries and artist have depicted musical aspects in their works in many ways.
Paul Klee’s work Alter Klang illustrates the outcome of the enquiry he had gone through while finally developing the colour block composition system. Klee used the musical polyphonic structure as a base for his working methods, which he extended and applied to other painting themes. Rich colour tones combined with square grid suggested that the strict music structure could be combined with expressiveness in painting. The un-figurative composition form proposed the method where the music and painting unite the purest way.
As the way of making, hearing and producing music developed in the first decades in 20th century. The impetus of new music developments changed the way of visualising composed music, as normal standardized notation could not meet the requirements of depicting pitches or sounds anymore. Visual music scores replaced partly the original music scores in the new music genres. Even the visual music scores are guidelines for understanding music the elements and shapes are more iconic and thus they share the language with visual arts.
Visual communication rules are more flexible than a normal notation system. When one is aware of the ways a visual communication operates, visual scores are a workable tool for the purpose of depicting and illustrating sounds as well as understanding the structures of musical pieces. Brown’s and Wehinger’s music scores showed how music can be depicted many ways and how pictorial space can work differently. Browns score revealed how simple lines work in order to create relations between each other and shape the whole pictorial space. On the other hand Wehinger’s listening score showed how shapes and colour create rhythm on surface, and how repeated lines can create the sense of time.
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