I was lucky enough to spend June of this year in Kristinestad, Finland, as an artist in residence. It was an incredible, special place. Kristinestad is the only town in Finland to have never burned down, and so it’s full of cute wooden houses from as far back as the 1700s, all more or less intact, on the shores of the Bothnian sea, with the forest a short walking distance away.
I had an absolutely wonderful time going about the town and photographing all the beautiful old buildings in the never-ending summer light. The locals were also very welcoming, and were very excited to show me and the other artists their houses, the forests and the surrounding towns.
The first design I did in Finland was a design of tiled stoves in a little rainbow forest, drawing on the ubiquity of the masonry stove in rural Finland, and the wonderful varied forest landscape that fuels the stoves.
Inspired further by the forests, and the light, I did a few smaller drawings, experimenting with technique. The first little landscape was drawn entirely with six different colours of pencil; the second, with six colours of pen.
While it can be hard work, I like the effect created by the layering of different simple colours to create a complex range of hues and tones. On my return, I drew a picture of the river Aura in Turku, using five colours of ink and a nib pen, and I love the richness of the result.
I’m often very frightened to do small drawings in my sketchbook. As a perfectionist, I wonder whether what I’m drawing will be any good, and I feel that people will leaf through, expecting finished masterpieces. When creating art it can be extremely stifling to be constantly worried about whether or not you’re creating a great work whenever you put pencil, pen or brush to paper. I need to remind myself that it’s more important to keep creating than to worry about the worthiness of my work before I’ve even made it. I put these most recent works on my Redbubble because I’m proud of them.
Finally, I created another textile design – jackdaws, in a field of flowers!
Kristinestad has two things. First, a lot of jackdaws. These small squeaking birds are called Naakka in Finnish and I found them extremely endearing. Second, Kristinestad has a lot of flowers – not only in the kukkakaupat (flower shops), but also growing wild in the forest, in thick carpets of the most thrilling and vibrant purples, pinks and blues.
I loved the kukat, and I loved the naakat. Therefore, I felt I needed to combine the two of them into a repeat pattern.
Sadly, my kukkanaakat are not yet available as fabric, owing to the Spoonflower upload process – but I’ll update this post when they are! I had a wonderful time in Kristinestad, and I hope everyone reading this can go to this beautiful town one day too.