Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Picture books and portraits

I had a wonderful opportunity to teach a short family course for adults and children (age 5-8 years) at The Finnish Adult Education Institute. Our theme was animal stories and we explored this through art, dance, storytelling and illustration. First session was about painting portraits of animals, reading stories and getting to know each other.

Here are some of the cool animal portraits!



Our second session was about movement and dance improvisation. We also started storycrafting, a method for the children to invent their own stories. Based on these stories we would then illustrate our own picture books.

The children were in charge of the picture book process. Adults were helping them out by writing the text or illustrating the book with the child. The story was divided in three double spreads.

Here are the wonderfully inventive books the children made with their parents. I was given the permission to publish the books here. The stories were fun to read aloud at the end of the course and the children were very impressed (as were the adults, especially me!) by everybody's creations.

"The Little Cat" by Hertta (8 years)
The back cover text: "The little black cat finds a friend and and a home where she is loved. During the night the northern lights turn her fur into rainbow colours."

"Heavy Rocks" by Alvari (5 years) and his mother Virva
A story about how Hevisaurus (a very popular children's music band) got started. The humorous tale involves two boys, a pig, a rabbit and a "band mobile phone", a farm and a rock concert.

"The Lost Rabbits" by Saga (6 years) and her mother Sari
The book tells a story of three rabbits that get lost in the grass, but eventually find their way home to their mother. Happy ending involves eating delicious porridge and gingerbread biscuits.

A Christmas Story by Tuukka (5 years) and his mother Tarja
A happy story about the little boy Tuukka and his family. The illustrations had lots of details about electricity, switchboards and ita had also a Christmas Tree and Santa Claus.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Painting summer!

It's gloomingly dark time of the year, but at least it's bright and colourful in the studio! I'm working on the historical characters for next summer's Suomenlinna children's adventure tour. This time the story will be about King Gustav III of Sweden and his missing crown. Lots of research for the costumes again, which I enjoy.
The fourth book in Elsa and Lauri series is "work in progress" on my desk too. Here is the cover design. So not too many holidays for me this Christmas, but plenty of good chocolate! And books!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Multitasking before holidays

My friend and author of Elsa picture books Kerttu Ruuska created a children's book blog and I made the illustration above for her home page. It's her flying on a story rug, as the blog is called "Lentävä tarinamatto" in Finnish, Flying Story Rug as my homemade translation.

My greeting cards arrived from the printer yesterday! Really nice quality, 300 g Munken Lynx paper and a small edition with digital printing. And a very good local printer as well, one I have used many times. Though we have a postal strike that can last for ages. Hopefully not...

Just to finish this post with a something new, here is a teeny tiny glimpse of something on my desk at the moment!

Monday, 16 November 2015

More snowy card designs in the hope of SNOW

Here are two more of my Christmas card designs. I thought that maybe if I post them here now, we just might get the first snow soon. It's this hideously dark and chilly, damp month of November, my least favourite of all...The rest of my family thinks that November is great! For me, sleeping through the whole month is very attempting.

Below are some character drawings of my Santa Owls. Actually they have another name too. Someone from our Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course thought, that these fellows look like the Tribbles from a famous episode in Star Trek!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Designing Christmas cards

I've been practising my new computer skills and worked on some Christmas card designs for this year. I usually make just one illustration, and paint it in gouache. Now I decided to go along with my new passion, surface pattern design, and combine some of that in the cards as well.
When you are so used to mixing your colours on a plastic palette instead of millions of options on computer screen, the possibilities can become a bit overwhelming. So I couldn't do just one card, but six...It's like playing a game with colours, motifs and compositions, because it's so much faster way of working. BUT I will also keep on painting with my lovely gouache paints for my other illustration work. Nothing beats mixing the paints and spreading them on smooth watercolour paper!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Book publishing party!

First spread of the new book. 
We had a book publishing party on Tuesday with Kerttu, the wonderfully energetic author of Elsa ja Lauri -bookseries. The top floor of a nice Café Talo was packed with our friends and relatives. Trio Pullakka, our very own house band played (me as the percussionist).
Here are some photos from our cheerful little celebration. And a tiniest little peek from the book I'm sketching at the's still a work in progress and a bit of a secret again :)

Kerttu and I celebrating!

The lovely little boy also named Lauri who has been Lauri's "model" in my mind.

Trio Pullakka (quartet) playing!

Plenty of colouring to do.

Mini fraction of the sketches that are piling up on my desk.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Helsinki Book Fair and our new book!

Last weekend was the Helsinki Book Fair; four days packed with events, interviews and book sales for all book-loving public to enjoy. Our latest picture book "Elsa ja Lauri matkustavat" (Elsa and Lauri go travelling") made it just in time from the printer to be presented and sold at the fair by Oppi&ilo, our publisher. 
Kerttu and I had a book reading session and afterwards we created paper airplanes with the children and their parents. It's always a great pleasure to see children listening to a story. Their attentiveness and concentration is amazing to watch. And the colourful paper planes were flying around the children's play area. Apparently some of the planes travelled all the way to Italy, Greece and Dubai, and even to Minecraft world.

I was also taking part in Kuvittajat's (The Association of Finnish Illustrators) stand and spend a couple of hours there as a cashier. Next to me was illustrator Maija Hurme drawing mini portraits of people for free. This caused quite a queue, so I jumped in to help out and did a few quick portraits myself (see the very poor quality photos...). It was nice to talk to people while drawing.  I'd love to that kind of thing more often, though without cashier duties at the same time!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course

I'm very excited to be part of Make it in Design's online course and finally be learning the basics of surface pattern design. The course is taught by British surface pattern designer and illustrator Rachael Taylor. She is a truly motivating and inspirational teacher.
For the last few years I have dreamt of designing for wallpaper, fabric, stationery etc. Now I have signed up for the Module 1 of the course titled Designing Your Way. We are on Week 4 out of 5 at the moment, and it has been really fantastic. And I have overcome my negativity when it comes to using computer software. That is quite something. Learning to use Illustrator and Photoshop feels almost like arriving on a whole new planet!

I thought I might share some of my experiments here too. I don't know where I'm going with my designs, but I love every minute of finding my way.

Hey birds, what a surprising subject for a motif!

Below are some colour versions of a flower themed placement print that I drew spontaneously while having a cup of coffee in a lovely MOKO Café & Design Market yesterday. I had just bought new pens, so I was trying them out. Then I came back to the studio and experimented with Photoshop. It was fun, slow and not so easy! Well, hopefully one day it will be as natural as riding a bike...

Enjoying a very large cup of coffee and drawing, what a bliss.


Three colour versions out of...twenty?