December 7, 2013
Art, Drawing, Nature
landscape, skecth book, art, sea, ice, nature, seasons, clouds, drawing, skecthing, ice age, post-glacial rebound, Finnish landscape, autumn
I’m a bottom crawler. I live on the bottom of the sea. Ach, well, I don’t live in the sea but on land that used to be sea some thousands of years ago. You see, we all are still living in an ice age. The Querternary glaciation, that started about 2,58 million years ago, is still on. We’re just living in a interglacial period, the time between glacial periods when the continental glaciers are at their maximum. So, ice age was not something that happened a long time ago.
The last glacial maximum ended about 11 000 years ago and that’s how long the Finnish landscape has been free of the contenental ice sheet even 3 to 4 kilometres thick. And that is the reason why I am living on an ancient sea floor. All that ice pushed the Earth’s crust down creating a kind of a dent on the crust. When the ice slowly melted away and the ice sheet retreated back towards the north pole, water filled that dent creating a sea. Once free of the weight of the ice, the crust begun to rebound. Post-glacial rebound it is called. That means that every year the land here rises from the sea a little and the actual landmass of the country increases. It’s not much, approx. 5 mm per year, but give it enough time and it will change the face of the earth around here.
So where I now live it used to be sea about 3000 years ago and you can still see it in the landscape. It’s pretty open and level up here. There are small ridges left over by the retreating ice but between them it is rather flat. If you know what to look for, you can see where the ancient beaches have been, and here and there you can see how the now gone see has arranged the sand that once was at the bottom of it into wave like dunes.
I love the openness. The sky is vast, almost limitless. Clouds are the main feature of the landscape and since we are still pretty close to the sea (a bit over 20 km) we get a great variety of clouds here. There are types that you see only during summer and those that herald snow in the late autumn. Even the slightest change in the cloud coverage changes the light, and suddenly you have a completely different mood over the landscape.
The two sketches were made of the roughly same view along our daily dog walk. Nothing much in landscape changed in between except for the sky. The white things in the picture below are huge round hay bales wrapped in white plastic to preserve them for winter feeding. We call them dinosaur eggs – not quite lovingly.
November 3, 2013
Art, Drawing, Nature
art, beach, landscape, nature, Ohtakari, sea, seaside, seasons, skecth book, skecthing
Well, not quite. The sea is still quite chilly in June up here but when the wind is right – blowing from the sea and pushing warm surface waters landward – and the sun heats up the shallow waters in the small bay in Ohtakari, it can be quite enjoyable. We didn’t swim there when I drew this. We just had an extempore picnic on the beach with our dog Kili (a white miniature Schnauzer and named after the dwarf Kili from The Hobbit since he is a dwarf Schnauzer he needed to a dwarf name, right?) for the first time. He did have a blast. Lots of sand to dig and room run about. He wasn’t that keen on swimming at first back then but these days he is happy to jump in.
The beach in Ohtakari is a proper sandy beach. It’s usually rather quiet there since most tourists go a bit further north to Kalajoki where they have the longest beach in the country. This was drawn at the south end of the beach where the bay ends with a small stony point with a birdwatching tower on it. Right behind the path leading to the tower begins the Finnish defensive forces’ artillery practice range. We live good 25 kilometres away from Ohtakari but we still can hear the pounding when they practice.
It was a perfect day, sunny and warm. Now, at the beginning of November, it’s not that warm anymore. I stumbled upon this video about a winter storm in Ohtakari two years ago. Not so warm and cozy. Our picnic beach is entirely taken over by the waves but you can see the tower in my sketch around 0:25 (‘Afternoon’).
October 19, 2013
Art, Drawing, Heroes
art, Creative Heroes, drawing, kawaii, postcards, skecth book, skecthing, stamps
One of my creative heroes is Leena, my partner’s cousin. Not only is she one of the kindest persons I know, she has her own style of everything pink and cute (or kawaii, as they say in Japanese). It makes finding presents for her rather easy and fun! One Christmas we got her this über cute, pink bling-bling ornament for the tree. Sadly I can’t remember what kind of a figure it was but it was pink with lots of sparkle. To keep things in balance and to prevent her pink Christmas tree (surprised, you shouldn’t be) from becoming overly pink, we gave her partner a glass squirrel. A very cute too but brown. But don’t be fooled by all her pinky, fluffy stuff. She’ll kick your butt in action games on Wii.
Leena makes these awesome, creative and happy cards for every occasion she can think of. It’s so much fun to wait for her card to arrive when it gets close to my or my partner’s birthday to see what she has come up with this time. Her cards always bright up my day! Thanks Leena!
But what I admire in her even more is her courage to be true to herself and her style. It’s a rare thing in this world.
I did the page last summer on the Saturday of our traditional summer family reunion at her dad’s place at the seaside. Lots of sun every years and lots of loitering on the beach. The others were playing a board game called Carcassonne but I had had my fair share of the game for that day. A great game, don’t get me wrong, but I decided to go through Leena’s amazing stash of arts and crafts stuff. There I found these stamps. I really liked the ones with cartoon-style Japanese motifs – especially the lanterns – so I printed some images on the right-hand page. On the left I freehanded one stamp of a series of birds that were really pretty and poetic. The spread felt a little empty or too still so I added the ‘stains’ to spark it up. Really enjoyed doing this and leafing through Leena’s stamps. There were so many beautiful ones I would have liked to include!
October 11, 2013
Art, Drawing, Heroes
23thorns, aardwark, art, Creative Heroes, drawing, nature, skecth book, skecthing, Tommy Kane
I happen to think that aardvark is possibly the funniest word of the English language. Yeah, yeah, strictly speaking it is not English but borrowed from Afrikaans ‘erdwark’. In Finnish it was know as maasika, ‘earth pig’ which happens to be a direct translation from Afrikaans, until the Committee for Mammal Names decided that it was misleading since the animal is not related to pigs at all. In stead, they suggested, it should be called termiitiikaivaja, the termite digger, which certainly does make sense except that aren’t there other animals, absolutely unrelated to aardvarks, that dig for termites too? I don’t know what Spock would say about this, but it doesn’t sound only logical to me.
I drew the aardvark after a picture in 23thorns’s amazingly funny and informative blog about life in South Africa. Now, of course, I can’t find the exact post about the critter, but he shared some really interesting information on the matter. You would guess right from looks of the critter that aardvarks are not runners but did you know that they can dig like no other? Even 2 feet in 15 seconds! Thanks to you, 23thorns, I have learned a lot about South African (wild) life that I previously had absolutely no knowledge about! I need to buy you that beer some day.
The other creative hero inspiring my drawings in this style is Tommy Kane, an artist (yes, you are!) from New York. I love his free flowing, quirky drawings. And the little stories he tells! Hihii! I also like the fact that Tommy is not afraid to take stand but posts drawings with political and other opinions. Check out his Vimeo account too. I like especially this one about his trip to Vietnam. So thank you, Tommy, for helping to loosen up my expression. Seeing your stuff always lightens up my day. Would by you a beer too but you don’t seem to have a button for it on your blog.
October 2, 2013
Art, Drawing, Museums, Travel, Weird or what?
bizarre, drawing, expeditions, explorations, Kon-Tiki, museums, Oslo, Ra II, sea, skecth book, skecthing, Thor Heyerdahl, travel, travel sketch
… this scull with a picture of a fish carved into its forehead. It’s from the Easter Islands and they suspect that it probably is the scull of a shaman or a tribal leader. Why else would you carve a fish into it? Of course it must be some how special but maybe it was made special by carving the fish into it and not the other way round. But who knows. This is the handicap of archeology: there are seldom eyewitnesses around to tell us what the heck it is that we just unearthed.
I mentioned the Kon-Tiki Museum in the previous post but it’s such a special museum that it deserves to get a post of its own. Kon-Tiki is the name of the balsa raft the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his crew used to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1947 just to prove that the South American cultures could have sailed all the way to the west across the ocean. Heyerdahl did a similar trip a cross the Atlantic on the Ra II made out of papyrus reeds to prove that you could do that with ancient Egyptian technology. The first Ra didn’t make it. The second proved the point. Heyerdahl had other adventures too but these are the famous ones. Not only did he prove that you could manage such journeys using ancient technology but his crew collected a lot of data about the state of the oceans during their travels. The dark, stone-looking lumps of oil on display in the museum are –. Well, let’s just say that they do make you think. Anyhow, the rafts are pretty awesome too and the exhibitions are breath taking.
But I have to admit, sculls and skeletons and any human remains in museums make me wonder if they really should be there. After all, they once used to be living persons. This scull, though, might be a slightly different thing since it used to be some kind of a ritual object so you could argue that it didn’t come from a burial. I don’t think its exactly okay to put on display human remains without the exact permission from the deceased or her/his relatives. But what about the mummies and other burials of ancient, long gone cultures? Burials are often the only thing or at least the most informative thing left of their lives.
The drawing is from my notes for my dissertation on museum exhibition architecture. You can’t always draw spaces and display structures. You gotta have your occasional scull there too.
October 1, 2013
Art, Drawing, Weird or what?
drawing, explorations, Fram Museum, Fridtjof Nansen, Oslo, Otto Sverdrup, polar expedition, polar exploration, polar ship Fram, skecthing, The Fram Museum, travel sketch
The last day of the Aesthetics conference in Oslo was a full working day followed by the conference dinner later in the evening so I saw an opportunity to stay in Oslo for an extra day. There may be no late, late night flights from Oslo to Helsinki but that’s besides the point. Who would want to drag their well nourished mind and body over to the airport in the middle of the night? So I had the Sunday to see what I had not yet seen in the Norwegian capital.
I had intended to revisit the Kon-tiki Museum – and it is a Great Place for Drawing you should go – but the last minute I decided against it and turned left to the Fram Museum. All I knew about the place was that it was a maritime museum that had won some big prize for its exhibition design. That’s it. The name sounded vaguely familiar but that was it. It doesn’t look like much from the outside (see the link, it really doesn’t) but I already had dragged myself to the Bygdøy peninsula (all the maritime museums of Oslo are there) so I went in. Was I in for a surprise!
The museum is practically built around the polar exploration ship Fram, launched in 1892 and the first ship built especially for polar explorations and to withstand getting stuck into the pack ice without getting crushed. It’s not a big ship, its one of the points of building an ship that can can withstand the contact with polar ice, but it is formidable. It is massive. Its hull bulks out in a different curvature than any other ship I have seen so far. It smells of wood tar like a proper ship ought to, and you can board it. You can walk on the deck, go bellow, all the way down to the engine room where it still reeks of diesel and oil and tar. The explorers – Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup – planned out their three year expedition very, very carefully. So carefully, in fact, that the crew actually gained much weight during the voyage, not something that usually happens when its freezing outside and you’re drifting with the pack ice across the arctic sea. Somehow it felt like all that planning and care and the voyages themselves had got imprinted into ship itself. As if you could feel the enthusiasm and excitement of the crew, the arctic weather, the force of the ice when you’re below deck, the swell of the ocean under the ship when you are on the deck. Literally, I felt really weird when I first boarded the Fram and it took me some time to realise that my body thought that the ship was moving.
They have a pretty cool multimedia show running in the exhibition hall with enticing sounds and changing lights, but I don’t know. The ship felt like alive somehow. As if it had got stuck into two timelines: still partly out there in the polar seas, partly here and now in the museum.
You should go there, really. My only warning is that you might want to go early in the day especially if you want to draw. It’s a fairly tightly packed museum and one of the regular tour sites, so when the tour buses arrive it can get congested. But if you are ever in Oslo, go. I mean it.
Oh, BTW, while Photoshopping the scan I pressed the wrong buttons at one point and accidentally turned the picture into a negative. Look’s fun and interesting, or what?
September 9, 2013
Riding, Tai chi
goals, horse back riding, horses, kung fu, moments of clarity, motor skills, persistance, practice, riding, Yoda
I recently wrote about how while riding I felt the hind legs of the horse move under me as if they were my own. A great experience, like I said but, alas, a fleeting one like these things usually are. I have ridden several times since then but without a similar connection with the horse. The first time on horse back after the glimpse of enlightenment (Sounds like a grand word for it it but it was grand!) was in fact rubbish. I was stiff and my lower legs were all over the place as you can see from the photo. They should be hugging the horse gently, maintaining a constant contact with the horse. But not that time, no sir. That has been my Achilles’ heel (pun intended) for a long time now but that day was particularly difficult. In addition to that, Allu, the horse I’ve been riding recently, had just been shod and that almost always affects the horse and the way it moves. So Allu too was feeling a bit stiff and was even more headstrong than usually. Not that he would be a particularly difficult character to get along with, he just has his moments like every thinking being does. Look at his tail in the photo: he may seem concentrated and all that, but the whipping tail tells that he is not. Instead he is thinking ways of avoiding me (which I’m making easier for him with my loose legs). Ach well, never mind, it was rubbish riding but a great day.
This is how it goes when you are leaning to do stuff that pushes your motor skills to their limits. You have these moments of clarity and insight, glimpses of how things will feel when you finally manage to do them right. You catch that tiny glimpse and then it’s gone again, and for awhile after it feels like you have just taken two steps ahead only to be flung back a dozen. Easily disheartening. Frustrating, heck yeah. But what do you do? You keep at it. Never give up, never surrender, because if you have felt it once, if you have managed to get it right even for that one tiny moment, you can do it again. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, nor this month, but maybe next Christmas or the year after that. It’ll come – if you just keep at it.
Yep, they’re still there, I just can’t feel them right now.
So I now know how it feels to really connect with the horse and to truly ride. I know that it can be done and I even have an idea about how it’s done. Now I just need to let myself do it. Like Yoda said, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ I needed someone to show me how it’s done (Thanks, Sully, I owe you one, really.) but the only one who can implement it is me. Like another great and wise fictional character, Groo the Wanderer, once said: ‘Wisdom cannot be bought, but it can be borrowed until you find your own.’ It’s all there, somewhere, waiting for me to get there too.