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Friday, 28 November 2014

"Illustrator as Author" mini seminar

Today we had a special treat for children's book and picture book people. Professor Martin Salisbury from Cambridge School of Art was the keynote speaker at a mini seminar organised by Aalto University's Graphic Design Unit. There were also interesting speakers from Finnish picture book field, such as Ville Tietäväinen, Kristiina Louhi and Maija & Anssi Hurme. It's such a rare thing to have something like this arranged in Helsinki. I wish that this is the beginning of more events like this for picture book enthusiasts, researchers, illustrators, authors and 'picture book makers'!

My partner, co-worker and fantastic illustrator/graphic designer Jussi made these limited palette designs below based on my pictures. We are having new business cards printed, and there was some extra space to fill in on the sheets of offset paper, with limited two-colour palette.
It's fun to see what it looks like, when somebody else has done the computer fiddling on my illustrations... The one on top is from a pencil sketch I had forgotten about. The one below is based on a piece of artwork I did for my exhibition two years ago.






Tuesday, 18 November 2014

It's the time for...

...the little Christmas elves to appear everywhere, so keep your eyes open! This year's seasonal card is Elsa and her brother, dressed up in costumes for kindergarten's winter play. It's a dark time of the year, so I will light up the candles and eat ginger bread (or chocolate) with a cup of hot tea...preferably in a rabbit costume because it's warm and cosy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Supercool swimming pool!

Here are some wonderful photos from one of the kindergartens we have visited so far with Elsa-workshops.
We started the art project together with the children by reading the book about Elsa's first visit to an indoor swimming pool. Then we did some painting with marbles to create the water in different shades of blue. Also some frogs were born, ready to dive into the pool water.
We instructed the group's own teachers to continue building a swimming pool area with coloured tiles around the water and even adding extra characters and elements to the 3D-pool. And this is one of the projects finished. These children created a truly fantastic swimming pool, I'm so impressed and happy!

Multi-coloured swimming pool tiles.

This frog (bottom right) meets a surfer!

Lifebuoy has saved one swimmer...jump board tower on the right!

Swimming pool tiles in progress.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Helsinki Book Fair and Elsa workshops


Last weekend I was performing with Trio Pullakka, our band that is really a quartet. This was part of Elsa book reading session at Helsinki Book Fair children's area. Our next "gig" will be in a week's time at our local library.
We have started our 'Elsa workshop tour' at pre-schools and kindergartens with Kerttu. So far it's been really exciting. We have planned two different workshops, one for each book. Both of the workshops start with reading one of the Elsa books.
We have had imaginary trip through the winter forest to the ice-skating rink with some of the children for Elsa luistelemassa -book ("Elsa goes ice-skating"). This workshop is the one with movement, improvisation and learning about the basic skating techniques through play and dance. With others we have started to build a swimming pool by painting water with marbles and making frogs. The swimming pool project will continue so that the group can build their own 3D pool with water, frogs, tiles and maybe even slides and jump boards for the swimmers.



Monday, 13 October 2014

Workshops for pre-school children


Elsa celebrating the Wihuri Foundation's grant
Me and Elsa's author Kerttu received a grant to go to local kindergartens and teach workshops based on Elsa books. There will be two different ones, both with a book reading moment and activities. The ice-skating workshop will be the one with a lot of movement and play relating to the subject. The swimming workshop is about creating a swimming pool together with different art materials and techniques.
It means that the two of us will be as busy as bees for the next two months!

Tomorrow we celebrate Elsa's name day in Finland. Well, one day too soon, Happy Elsa's Day!

Oh yes, Elsa has a very sweet little brother!

 Here is a link to Elsa's own Facebook page (all in Finnish): Elsa books.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Trying out something new

I thought I give it a chance with Copic Sketch Markers to see how they work, mixing them with coloured pencils and ink. Here is how I feel working with them, calm and sooo relaxed! It's so much faster as well, so I will continue my experiments.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Elsa book launch party

I had a really, really good time celebrating the two new Elsa picture books at a book launch party and illustration exhibition's opening last Tuesday. Here are some photos from this happy event!


The exhibition wall is ready!

Interior of Toukka before it got crowded.

Musicians' family members reading.

Which one is going to win, a book or a mobile game?

Yep, the shop is tiny.

Our band Trio Pullakka quartet performing songs made especially for the event.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Elsa book delivery!


Today I picked up 7 kg of Elsa books from the post office. Next week there will be the book launch and exhibition of some of the original artwork at Toukka. We are very excited! The author of Elsa books, Kerttu Ruuska and I are also planning workshops for young children, based on the themes of the two books.
Kerttu is an expert in ice skating and especially in synchronised skating! I can barely stand up on ice, so I learned a lot while illustrating the book about Elsa going skating. I'm definitely more at ease outside the ice rink, dancing my socks off.




Friday, 22 August 2014

Elsa-books, here!

The two Elsa-books are here, but I haven't seen them yet. That is frightening, always is. You never know what might go wrong with the colours etc. But still I'm not prepared to work on a computer, love my paints.
Anyway, next week I'll be framing artwork for the Elsa exhibition at Toukka in September.

Night of the Arts sketching...in the shop window!



Yesterday was once again the Night of the Arts in Helsinki. Last year I organised a watercolour painting session at Gudrun Sjödén store. I thought that this year I could do something similar, but still different. So I did some sketches in "Gudrun-style" in the shop window and I was accompanied with my very pregnant, beautiful friend Suveka. It's a strange kind of funny feeling to have people outside looking at you through a window...Well, strange is good.
We also had live music played by Kaneli ("cinnamon"), a band of three sisters playing some very good songs.
That was fun, as always!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer holiday update

I have been enjoying a long summer holiday. I had a chance to come to the studio today, so that I can start planning on how to get back to the work mode in a couple of weeks when the school term starts. I'll be doing more teaching this year (children, dance etc.) and some workshops based on Elsa picture books together with the author Kerttu Ruuska. Also an exhibition of original artwork from Elsa books will get me busy soon. The exhibition will take place in a lovely children's book shop Toukka in Kallio, Helsinki.
Below are the colour sketches and final illustration for the picture book Elsa uimahallissa ("Elsa goes swimming") published by Sanoma Pro in September. The cover design is by Jussi Kaakinen, my wonderful and talented illustrator/graphic designer spouse.




Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Going swimming!

My son loves to go the indoor swimming pool and play in the warm water for hours. The temperature in a lake or the sea is never quite enough for him. I'm not a big fan of swimming pools, but I still managed to finish a picture book about this little girl Elsa and her brother going swimming. Possibly more illustrations from the book later. It will be out in September, but my work is done!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Summertime soon!

Here is one pretty much finished spread from a picture book I illustrated earlier this year. The children are going ice-skating and it feels like winter was such a long time ago! Now they're all marching towards summer and I have almost finished the other book with the same main character. After that, I can go back to the ideas I have for characters and stories of my own. And I just might paint a few more birds again, I miss them!



Thursday, 10 April 2014

Trying to keep up...

...with the tight schedule of the second picture book this spring. Life seems to throw all sorts of inconvenient events every week to shorten or miss my studio days. Panic grows, no doubt about that!

Luckily I enjoy painting, regardless the messy studio around me. I just close my eyes from the environment and try to keep focused on the work. Spring, you sure don't make it easy for me.







Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Today, Tove and new paints!


Here's a sneak peek of the main character on a children's book I've been working on. I just got more gouache paints on Monday, just in time! I was seriously running out of my favourite paints. I found a good store in Germany that I order them from now on. I got special service, not to mention how much cheaper they were than buying from an art store in Helsinki...
Tonight, Tove Jansson exhibition opening at Ateneum Art Museum. What a treat!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Colours, light, paint!



Just  a quick Hello! from my studio. As you can see, I've been keeping very busy with new artwork for a children's book. The studio is a mess, but I just focus on the paper and paints while listening the radio, music and audiobooks. It's fantastic to get more natural light every day, that's for sure!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Combining handwritten text and image


Suomenlinna sea fortress is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. The Ehrensvärd Society (http://www.suomenlinnatours.com/lastenkierros) organizes every summer a children adventure tour around the island. I designed the poster for this year's adventure.

The interactive play takes children to see exciting places with characters that are based on the history of the sea fortress. This year's adventure will be set in late 18th century. What a fiddly business I had with the historical costumes to get them look almost authentic with all the tiny, important details.

By the way, the picture makes me realize that summer is closer every day!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Snow and sunshine


This weekend Helsinki got the first snow (well, 1-2 cm, but still white and gorgeous) and the sun came out after weeks of rain and darkness. The world looks very different now! It's also nice to get some natural light to the studio. Temperature dropped to -15 C, which means I'm' wearing multiple layers of clothing again, both indoors and outdoors. Spring is on its way, I can feel it!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Happy New Year!


Today is the first day back at the studio this year. I'm looking forward to working on two children's picture books this spring. It means hundreds of hours of painting, and working with some really nice people. And luckily the graphic designer is just next door, in case I panic (which I most certainly will do!).
The next book coming out soon is the Nordic Children's Bible (Pohjolan lasten Raamattu in Finnish) with 15 illustrators and 15 writers from Scandinavian countries. Here is my interpretation of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.