I visited Røros, an old Norwegian mining town, a long time ago, but in my mind I sometimes return to the special atmosphere and unusual colors of the place. Of course, interesting motifs can be found anywhere, but some locations do seem more inspirational than others. However, having said that, I think I should give my hometown a chance, so much to discover even here. For the moment it's a question of having enough time, though, which I don't...
It's not unusual to find quite bold color schemes like this in old houses (often the typical post war standard houses), a striking contrast to the modern monochromatic nordic interiors. There must be an explanation to the from our point of view rather exotic choices of color but whether the reasons have been practical (usage of leftover paint) or artistic preferences I don't know, and I have never dared to ask the owners. It looks kind of sympathetic in my mind. Definitely not boring.
Well, here's my special painting for today. Actually for yesterday too, the garlic clove to the right being yesterdays production. To be honest, in general, I find still life painting a bit pointless. Not that I couldn't admire other people's skill in such work, it's probably just that I'm so used to do stuff with some sort of informational purpose. However, for me too, it's easy to get carried away studying the light and shadows, noticing the details and trying to capture them in a painting. And garlic especially, give's a chance to paint nice and smooth passages, my favorite thing. I started this one by painting it in acrylics from (still :)) life, then switched to digital to finish it. I'm not sure if it gives the best quality technically - I have always problems with the reproduction of my traditional paintings - but it's quite fun mixing the two medias. Color blending isn't the easiest thing to do in acrylics, it's like against its nature even when using retarder, and digital painting is pretty much the same, in my mind. Of course, I could use the airbrush tool, but I prefer the oil brush - I think it has more personality just like in traditional techniques. So, if I want a gentle passage from light to dark, changing color at the same time, I have to use very thin layers so that the eye can't separate the individual brushstrokes more than what is my intention.
I'm painting almost every day. In fact whenever it's possible. But most of my work require quite some time, normally several days, to accomplish, so by the end of a day I often get the feeling I haven't done much, couldn't finish anything anyway. Thus, I have been cherishing the idea of making a daily painting, a small piece of art for each day, that wouldn't take too much of my time. Many daily painters put their (daily) art on sale, and that certainly could be a good idea, but I was thinking more of an opportunity to make something without the pressure that comes with commercial work. Just painting for fun, or to try something different, new media, technique or style. My problem is that most of the time I can't afford to waste even a minute (or at least I feel like it) on anything else than my routine work. But now, the great thing with digital painting is that I can reuse my paintings; a small painting can later be incorporated in a bigger composition. If I have a plan for a more complicated painting (and there's no rush to get it ready) I can paint parts of it "alla prima" and save them as individual small paintings, and put them together later when I have more time. I made the little snow-covered pine tree with this in mind. It's a fairly modest painting, documenting a day this winter, a moment we actually had some snow. Now I have it stored on my computer, and if I happened to need an image like this as background in an other painting, I can make a copy, and continue painting on it (after expanding the canvas if I need more space). This is a nice, practical solution, but not exactly painting "just for fun" and there's still not much room for experimenting. Simply playing with paint is always fun, even my kids like it a lot, and it can be quite refreshing. However, to add a little seriousness to it I might include small amounts of Goethe's color theory in my doodles every now and then. Or I can do whatever falls into my mind as long as it's not the usual.
Here's a small example of how I use the ArtRage program for my illustrations. My style is quite straight forward, I'm mostly using the oil brush tool and not much else; the eraser and palette knife, and sometimes, like in this particular case, the air brush. Typical for many digital illustrators (or any other media) I start with a drawing. It's not necessary, though, especially if you are using a tracing image (it can be a "real life" drawing too, of course). At first stages, when I start painting, I'm painting on a layer below the layer with the drawing, keeping it intact. I don't mind color going outside the lines, it can be erased later. And that's about it, I guess, just adding more paint and details, making changes required (like the reflections in this painting, which were a bit disturbing on the axe in reality) and finally cleaning up to finish. I will try to explain more abut my painting techniques, and give some practical hints on how to get started, in upcoming posts.
I actually posted this one on my Facebook page last winter, but picked up the paintings again now in order to complete them. The original sketches were made almost twenty years ago during an unusually impressive waxwing invasion. The largest flock reported was one of approximately 14 000 birds, and throughout the winter (which too is exceptional - they normally leave before Christmas) there seemed to be waxwings everywhere. I was then living in Liljendal, a Swedish speaking rural community east of Helsinki and made occasional birding and sketching trips in the surrounding countryside. This time I was heading to a small stream (called Ålhusbäcken) where my intention was to find and draw dippers (which I did too). On my way there I spotted a flock of waxwings resting in a bushy spruce and just had to try to sketch them. The temperature was about -26 (-14,8 F), not extreme but my hands freeze easily so I could draw only a few seconds at a time. After 18 years, I decided to do something of the sketches. By the end of the winter the waxwings had emptied all the rowans and ate whatever looked like berries or fruits. I got a bag full of old apples from the grocery and hang them in a lilac bush in my garden, and could thus draw the birds comfortably sitting at my kitchen table.
Here's a set of three landscapes (very much in progress) depicting different kinds of landscapes: the Nunatak is describing the isolated mountaintops sticking up from the continental ice sheet during the Ice Age; the Araucaria forest in turn representing a possible type of scenery from the Mesozoic era, although such forests still exists in some parts of the world (like in South America and New Caledonia); also from the Mesozoic era are the big sea reptiles, swimming in their watery world. These are going to be a part of our collection of illustrations for educational purposes. They will be available through our new website, which will be launched soon. Meaning sometime next year, maybe...
A quick flying squirrel drawing using ArtRage oil brush tool.
Of course I can't know exactly how the hairstyles looked for ten thousand years ago, but my point is that people most certainly did use their hair to show status or group membership, or just for showing of.
In birdwatchers' mythology (yes, there is such a thing) the sender (or "sendari" in Finnish' birders' jargon) is the spirit that sends rare birds to birdwatchers to twitch. I would like to think it's a joke, but I'm not always so sure about that. On a small remote island (legendary for its many rarities) in the Alandian archipelago, there actually is a place, an old dead tree stump like the one in my painting, where dedicated "believers" bring gifts to the spirit in order to make it send the most exceptional birds to them, a country first, or other megaticks. It may be a joke, but it's also an echo from the (not necessarily so distant) past. For our ancestors it certainly was crucial that the "sender" was generous, and sent animals to to the hunting tribes to feed them. Experienced hunters new the routes of the reindeers, horses, and other big game animals, new when to expect the fish to swim up the rivers and creeks, and the migrating birds to return. But they could never be quite sure. If something went wrong - weather patterns shifted, and the animals didn't arrive in time - the clans dependent on hunting, could face severe starvation. So, while their skills and knowledge were not always enough to secure their food supplies and future prosperity, they turned to the unknown, and appealed to the mysterious forces that seemed to rule all life and decide the fate of people. A digital painting using ArtRage. Normally, I paint in a very traditional way, without using any "tricks", and even the blurred effects are achieved with basic tools, thin layers and light touch. But lately I have tried the special ArtRage features, like in this painting, to get a feeling of depth, by using the palette knife ("instant blur") or blurring a whole layer. Quite fun really, so much so that I must be careful not to use it too often.