Touched By Art

Hello, everyone! Even though I have joined the weekly photo challenge it feels like forever since I actually blogged. There have been times when I have wanted so badly to reconnect but not only have we had so much to do–the attic project, other cleaning and clearing-out projects around the house, preparing for harvest, among much else–I just couldn’t get the words out. I sat down a few times but nothing happened.

Today, however, I am going to share a little frame project with you that I have been wanting to show you ever since I got the painting that inspired me to do the frame in the first place.

RamvikCape

I told you that I went to an art exhibition when I was in Sweden for a holiday with Lilli, but I was too excited and emotional about it still that I couldn’t get the words together to tell you about it. I can’t tell you how silly I felt when I left Junsele that day. Ever since I heard about the exhibition I knew I would make sure Lilli and I could go there. I haven’t followed Jonna Jinton’s journey right from the beginning, when she left her apartment in Gothenburg and moved all by herself to the small village of Grundtjärn in northern Sweden some seven years ago, but her blog and her art–photography, painting, the haunting tunes she produces by practicing the ancient herding call–touches my very soul. So naturally I had so many questions, things I wanted to say, but once there I couldn’t get the words out. Does that qualify as fangirl problems? I think I even forgot to sign my name in the guestbook under my message.

All that said, it was a wonderful day, and I may have forgotten half the things we did talk about, but she is ever as bit real and genuine as she is in her blog. A truly amazing human being. And I am so happy both Lilli, my brother, and I got to meet her and her partner. I certainly hope there will be more opportunities, especially since my daughter has become so very much inspired by Jonna. More about that later.

Driftwood

I remember when I was much younger and used to go down to the river with my mother to collect rocks and driftwood. My mother would paint on some of the pieces, and others were ready artworks already. Gnarled and twisted, bleached and mystical. I just love driftwood. So when I came back to Ramvik with the painting I bought at the exhibition, I knew instantly what kind of frame I wanted for it.

AbandonedBoat
This old boat has been sitting there for so long I can’t even remember it not being there.

I already had some driftwood I collected during the two years I studied in Sweden, but Lilli and I took a walk down to the cape and collected some more to bring back home to Finland. So I now have an entire IKEA-bag full–and then some.

Driftwood, however, can be very fragile, so I needed to build a frame to which I could attach the driftwood pieces. I wanted to get started as soon as we came home, but things kept getting in the way. I did document some of the steps, though, when I managed to squeeze in some time for it.

OldSaw

CuttingCorners

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I got the measurements a little wrong, and didn’t realise until I was ready to glue and nail it together.

We have so much wood here that it wasn’t difficult to find material. The saw is vintage and the blade was so dull, but I managed. And it was easy enough to adjust to get the right angles. I will be getting a new blade for it for future projects because it really is so handy.

MasoniteTriangles

WoodglueAndNails

One day I went into Rauma to K-Rauta and bought some nails, wood glue, and I had some paint since earlier. I have another project with those wooden logs I wrote about in an earlier post. You can read a little about that here. The details of that project I am still leaving for a later post–it has evolved since the initial idea–even if I am dying to tell you about it.

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Working with wood is something I truly love. There is something peaceful yet energising about it. Everything from picking out the pieces to sawing and sanding. I easily lose myself in it and I love that feeling. My mind goes quiet and I just exist in the moment. It’s like I become all my senses, and all those complicated thoughts that I tend to trip and stumble over disappear. I guess it is the same with drawing and photography, but getting to work with my hands the way I do when I handle wood is something deeper, more soulful.

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Can you believe this is what it looked like earlier this year? This room is called tupa in Finnish, which is the first room you enter in the house–after the foyer. It is now our new living room.

Harvesting season has just begun and it usually takes a couple of weeks, but after that I really hope to get some more time for my own projects. And to be able to finish the goals I set earlier this year for the house. Clearing out boxes and piles of things that have been left over the last couple of years. Plain junk or valuable memorabilia from past generations–it doesn’t matter. When it is piled up in stacks all around the house it leaves this chaotic energy that sucks me in and I have such a hard time getting past it. At times it seems to be at a standstill–nothing happens, housework piles up, Loke’s hairs gather in the corners and follow our socks and clothes onto every surface in this entire house. It drives me mad sometimes, and I can get so grumpy, but I try to tell myself I’ll get there. To look at what I have accomplished (like with the living room, for example). All it takes is a little every day. One step at a time, right?

Lastly, I want to share another painting we got, also by Jonna, and the story behind it is quite amazing. In an affiliation with Samsung, Jonna painted this, and Lilli saw the video she made while working on the painting. She was both horrified and mesmerised when Jonna started painting outside the canvas–on the wall. You can find her video here.

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JonnaJintonStyles

And so Lilli wanted to paint her own galaxy. I watched as she dripped paint and smudged it, just like Jonna, and while I don’t have a photo of that handy right now, the result was sent in to an art school in Rauma. This morning we got the message that Lilli is accepted and starts next week on Tuesday. It is only one day a week, but Lilli loves drawing and painting and I am ever so grateful and thankful for the way art touches us. All of us.

And I am also so thankful you are still here, and for the newcomers as well. I hope to get back to updating more regularly soon, but until then, I have found Instagram Stories to be a lot of fun and easy to manage, and I share a couple of photos a day on my account, so if you are curious about what goes on and my updates on the blog are sparse, head on over. Link is here, or just click the Instagram icon or any of the photos at the bottom of my blog.

I wish you a lovely weekend. Much love and hugs to you. ❤

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Walking Through The Ages

Good evening, everyone! As of right now, I am snuggled up on my father’s sofa with a cup of coffee and my laptop. I just finished editing some photos from today’s road trip to Junsele–a smallish town about 130 kilometers from where my father lives. I went there with Lilli and my brother to have a look at an art exhibition by Jonna Jinton, and I have been writing and erasing several times over now to tell you about it. I’m laughing because I feel like a sloth trying to run–gracefully–on a tightrope. Haha So I am deciding to tell you about it later.

On the way up to Junsele, however, we decided that if the rain let up, we would stop at Näsåker on our way back, another small town where next to Nämforsen (a river), there are petroglyphs dated all the way back from the Neolithic Age to the Bronze Age. I can’t actually find any information that it would be a UNESCO World Heritage site, but since it sort of is within the High Coast area, I am categorising it as such.

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A soft drizzle fell over our heads and Nämforsen roared next to us as we walked carefully across the wet wooden walking paths.

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I visited this place about two years ago, when I came here to pick up my brother from a yearly recurring folk festival called Urkult. Back then I had no idea these patroglyphs existed in this place.

The landscape up here is so unbelievably beautiful I am at a loss for words. We walked around for quite some time before continuing our drive home.

Nämforsen

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Down by the rocky shore people passing by have made these balancing rock formations. Also called meditation rocks–I think. It looked amazing, and Lilli wanted to make her own.

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Lilli’s meditation rocks.

Would you believe that I left my camera battery charger back in Finland? I feel so silly. I realised it when Lilli and I arrived at Drottningholm Park early on Friday morning, after getting off the ferry. So ever since then I have used my camera sparingly, since it only has about half its power left. In fact, all the photos in this post are taken with my iPhone. I did however get some really nice photos taken with my camera in Stockholm, at Drottningholm, so check in on my Instagram profile if you want to have a look. 😉

When we left Näsåker, we took the so-called Tourist Route back. It ran closely along Ångermanälven (Ångerman River), and in the light rain the mist clung to the forest-dressed mountains. I kept ooh‘ing and aah‘ing as we drove, and we stopped at a couple of places so I could run out and snap a few photos.

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I balanced on the edge of the shore to reach this rock sticking up in order to build my very own meditative formation. The first one tumbled into the water.

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After these last photos we only made one more stop to fill up the tank and to get some drinks.

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Early tomorrow morning, my brother and I will go on another road trip. We will drive across the border to Norway and go visit Trondheim for the day. It’s about a five-hour drive from here. My brother recently got his license, so I guess you could say it’s a celebration. And he asked me if I wanted to join him. Since you love taking photos so much, he said. Of course I agreed. So that was also another reason I opted to save the battery I have left for tomorrow during this trip today. I do wish I had taken some photos at the art exhibition, though, but I completely forgot.

I wish you all a lovely week ahead, and I will see you soon! With a few photos from Norway. ❤

Setting The Inner Fire Free

Building bridges and connecting with my peers is something I as a child spared no thought on as how-to or even that it was a concept to ponder. I lived very much in my own world, and at least before I got into my later teens, I was quite content with having that one friend. Later on, before understanding myself, I went through some frustrating and confusing experiences in meeting and connecting with others. Today, I am at a point in my life where I am grateful for all these different relationships–both good and bad. They have taught me to understand myself and others better, and have lead me to accept that I am still happy with only a few friends.

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With that said, I do like to socialise. I really love meeting and connecting with others and joining conversations. Very often, however, I find myself so engrossed in just listening to what everyone has to say that I forget to actively partake. While I suspect I at times come across as the silent one of few words or suddenly a lot of words, only to sit back and be quiet again, it has never been for the lack of interest or that I haven’t been present. All the things I hear, I take them in and then I ponder (except for when several people speak on top of each other and my brain automatically switches to a place far, far away). So sometimes by the time I have gathered what to say, the conversation usually has moved on.

The same goes for being asked questions–I like to have some time with it before I can connect it in my mind and offer a reply. When I feel a prompt answer is needed, especially to questions I haven’t been asked before, I might end up agonising over the things I say. They fly out of my head and I think that is not how I truly feel, that is not what I really wanted to say. This was something I truly despised about school when I was younger, constantly wishing don’t pick me, don’t pick me as the teacher’s eye wandered across the heads in class. And when I did get picked, I had spent all that time wishing myself away instead of thinking of an answer.

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This comes close to how much I used to worry about saying the wrong thing and guarding every word. This isn’t that. But I think they are linked. I wonder if maybe it triggered what later became a fear of being misconstrued. As a teenager, for example, it didn’t occur to me to worry about organising my words before they came out. I just went along with it and “edited” as I spoke. Which sometimes resulted in a lot of strange conversations and lengthy explanations that perhaps made no sense, or were too complex. Small talk, for instance, is something I have had to practice for years to avoid simple “So how’s things?” becoming a recollection of my entire past week. Now remember, Lotta, this is a polite small talk thing to say, you are not required to bare your soul. I am still not entirely sure always how to tell apart the sincere queries and the polite ones.

This is where this bridge comes in–my way of connecting back with others. My ping-back. Through blogging and through photography I get to truly share my innermost self. I get the time I need to slow down, gather and connect all that spins ’round and ’round in my head, and deliver it when I am in harmony with it. I get to sit with the words of others and the words of myself and let them get acquainted.

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When I started blogging, I had to just go for it. I knew how this thinking process of mine tends to become a labyrinth I get lost in. So blogging is also a way for me to find a balance, to connect back to myself after all these years of second-guessing every single little detail. To share thoughts and photographs a part of me feels are nothing special, not entirely me just yet, gives it substance for me to work with. I hold myself accountable. Through blogging I am every day reminding myself of what I have learned so far, what I still need to work on, and that whatever the outcome I am one step further than yesterday.

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So that is why most of these photos are images I have at one point shared already, only they are different. They evolve just as I do and my photography does, thanks to joining online communities and breaking the silence on social media. By reaching out at my own pace, yet trying to take that extra step continuously and challenging myself, I am in turn inspired by all the people around me. I learn things, pick up on tips and tricks, and I secure one more stone in this bridge I am building to reach my goals.

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Without others, without you or any of those I will come into contact with in the future, these visions and dreams of mine would have remained a hazy and abstract canvas in the back of my mind. A thought I would have pondered until I realised all the opportunities had passed me by.

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And the most wonderful thing with both photography and drawing is that I do not need to organise this brain of mine. To get to the place I want to shoot, yes, somtimes. And to start that drawing, definitely. But once I begin my head becomes quiet and peaceful. Those innermost feelings and perceptions that may be too complex to put into words can be shaped with brush and pen strokes, light and shadow, colours and tones.

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So even if I am content on my own, and with sporadic and spontaneous meetings with my closest friends, I wouldn’t be able to live this journey fully toward my biggest dreams without forging connections. Without these mediums of blogging, Instagram, and other platforms, through which I reach out to people, my art and my photography would have remained a whimsical hobby of mine hidden away in drawing pads and folders on my computer. And I may have only just left the starting line, I may not have a gallery or a web shop yet, but I don’t see it as a hopeless wish anymore, nor do I feel silly for setting that wish free. I know that the only way I can fail is if I stop reaching out, stop trying to connect.

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Thank you each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart, for whichever part you have in this bridge of mine. Lastly, I want to leave you with one of my all-time favourite quotes.

I wish you all a wonderful day. ❤

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer

Courage This Night

Hey! I actually made a deal with myself that for this Midsummer weekend, I would leave my computer alone and spend all weekend outside. No writing. No editing. No photography. There is nothing wrong with being passionate, but my brain has gone into overdrive. Just a couple of days ago, as I stood chopping rhubarb for homemade jam and pie, I started feeling so nauseous the entire world started spinning. I had to go lie down and fell asleep almost instantly.

For the past few weeks I have found it difficult going to sleep at night and then I wake up five to six hours later, ready to take on the day. As a result of falling behind on my rest I just keep getting more and more scatter-brained. I know these bright nights and long days are partially behind it, but it’s my tendency to become obsessively submerged in my passions that is the real culprit. So I said to myself take a step back and just be. Lilli went with her grandmother to spend the weekend, so I couldn’t have had a better opportunity to merely laze around and do absolutely nothing.

I took a blanket and a drink outside and lied on the lawn with Loke, and it was so wonderful to just be there. The sun warmed my skin even if we had a really cool summer day yesterday, and I listened to the wind and the swallows as they whooshed past above us. I even made the jam and the pie, which turned out absolutely delicious. But I forgot to leave my phone out of my reach. So while going through Happy Midsummer Eve wishes and photos on Instagram and Facebook–and squeezing my own in there–I started thinking about when this tradition started, and how did they celebrate it, say, a few hundred years ago?

As some of you may have noticed, I have a tattoo on my forearm. I got it my last semester at Härnösand Folk High, after almost twenty years of wanting to get one but never finding it was the right time. In it are Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn; Yggdrasil; and Thor’s hammer. And in rune-inspired font are three words–strength, courage, and wisdom. This symbolises all things that are important to me. It also serves as a reminder how in the end I never gave up, even when I thought I had. So last night, just as the sun stood at its lowest, I threw on my warpaint and ran through the fields. I don’t know where it came from, but I just knew this was something I had to capture, something I had to do. And as I sat here by my computer, as I said I wouldn’t, editing the photos I took out there, Jay told me you’ve got guts, I’ll give you that.

I do. I have courage. I think I always had. I just wasn’t wise enough see I was the one holding me back, nor strong enough to break down the walls. So now I would like to share the vision that seized me last night and had me flying through the fields to capture.

Siezed

Familiar

Yonder

Stranger

WhispersWithin

Be Louder Than Your Fears: An Introduction

Be louder than your fears. You may have noticed I have this in the header section of my blog. I also have it with me these days in the back of my mind. On the days I have to step out on the battlefield to challenge myself it is my banderole. It is the beat of the drum as I stride forward, head held high and knees shaking. Engraved on my heart too because no shield and no armor is of any use if I want to change. I have to let those challenges hit me so I can feel them, receive them, understand them.

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Fear. I sit here and think about it, how it once ruled my entire life. Fear doesn’t seem to come alone, though. It isn’t just fear; it is a lack of belief in one’s own abilities. Not much sense of self. The strange need for confirmation and praise from others yet never, ever believing it. No matter how many compliments or how much encouragement I got, the voices and words of criticism and degradation I had ever heard in my life won. One phrase I seemed to love to use once, the one phrase that resonated all through me was you are such a fraud. I used to be mindful of and so very careful with every single word I spoke because sooner or later this new cheerleader or supporter of mine would find out how very wrong he or she was about me. One day soon, he or she would see me for what I really was. A fraud. A poor, pathetic excuse for a human being. Harsh? Yes. But that is how I truly saw myself.

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Trust. I didn’t trust anyone. But how could I? I was wholly convinced anyone and everyone I ever came across would betray me. And I never even gave them a chance to prove me wrong. I was always right. It was easier that way–better that way. At least I wouldn’t be disappointed. Which, funnily, I always ended up feeling anyway.

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Hope. The crushing weight of hope lost. Yet it never died. Deep down, some part of me never, ever gave up hope. Hope is an odd thing, because no matter how hopeless things seemed, how hopeless I felt–hope was the glowing ember that always ignited and kept me going. I actually used to hate that feeling before things started to turn. With that sense of self-irony I would tell myself oh, what the hell, I love failure and rejection anyway, so why not give it another try? What could be more fun than being totally crushed? The more the merrier! I also used to think it was my stubbornness, sometimes I still might. I remember comparing that sense of keep going as a cogwheel mechanism deep, deep down that forged ahead on the absolutely worst days while I was being dragged behind on a line. I was on the ground, got pulled across gravel and dust and through muddy swamps. It never, ever stopped.

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I am sharing this image in honour of some personal inspirations of hope: great Swedish illustrators from times past, like Elsa Beskow and John Bauer, and the accompanying stories; my grandmothers who enriched my childhood with the enchanting fairy and folk tales of old; and for Jonna Jinton who embodies hope and creates art with soul, showing us magic and dreams truly can be the stuff of our world.

So how did it all change? How did I turn it around? These are questions I have asked myself a lot. During my last weeks at Härnösand Folk High, I spent so much time trying to go through my past few years to pin point the pivotal moment. I couldn’t. I still can’t. And, I think, that is because that magical moment doesn’t exist. Rather, the magic lies within a formula of many different moments. A sequence of moments that lead me through the haze until the day I realised I could see clearer. I think of it as the mist on a cool morning after a previously hot, baking day. How do you define the single moment in which it dissipates? I didn’t even know the mist was lifting, and so I didn’t think to keep an eye on the process. Until I noticed I could see across the distance.

This is where my journals have become so important. And they confirm my belief that it is a formula. A series of moments–motions–that lead to insight. It is all a process, and I take it all–one day at a time. One step at a time.

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I have already mentioned I went back to Sweden a couple of weeks ago to accept a stipend. The gesture moved me so deeply, like a confirmation of all the challenges I have met, all the obstacles I have overcome in the past few years. After receiving the message about the stipend, I thought that now I want to write about this. I had wanted and meant to for quite some time, but this gave me that last push. It also inspired me to write this and the next post in Swedish, too. Since about the age of eighteen it feels like I have travelled all over this planet, and because of that I seem to have become more comfortable with English than my own mother tongue. But at the Folk High I received so much encouragement and support writing in Swedish that I wanted to do it also as a gesture of how grateful I am. And this is exactly what Härnösand Folk High is about–an atmosphere of acceptance and equality. Not even always through spoken words. It is more like walking into open arms and being embraced. You are surrounded by all that which is needed for you to find your own inner voice and to strengthen it.

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I wrote these posts before I left for Sweden, and I had intended on posting them back then, minus the part of me receiving a stipend, since I was to keep it secret until that last day of school and the ceremony. I never did, though. And then I thought I would post it after, which would give me a chance to add some photos from the school. But I forgot. I took a few photos at the very start but then I got lost in the joy of being among all those people again, meeting my teachers and fellow students who still had a semester or another year left. I did however step up in front of the entire school to share the very moment I will share here, too, in the next post. One of many, many moments I got to experience during my time at Härnösand Folk High. One of those many opportunities I was given and accepted to challenge my fears–be louder than my fears.

So with some photos from that day, and a few more words, I will in the next post tell you about a day I got to challenge both my fear of heights and my fear of trusting others. Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any experience or challenge you have had or met which has had an impact on your life. After my time at Härnösand Folk High my belief is stronger than ever that we can learn so much from each other. Even from that which may seem small to us. Some of us go through life and apply these valuable lessons we have picked up and learned along our journeys even without thinking much about it, but to someone else it could be quite the inspiration. ❤

 

Dandelions And Bees

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday. The sun keeps on gracing us with its presence and we just got back inside from grilling in the garden. I just love that crackling and sizzling accompanied by a symphony of bird song in the background.

Earlier, I was outside getting some shots of an information pamphlet but got distracted by bees collecting nectar from the dandelions. I have been reading that photography book, too, and diligently following the examples. The book is Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. It’s excellent, and I am so impressed by how easy it is to understand. I honestly feel I am making progress! And I can honestly say I have not used automatic settings, which I am kind of a little ridiculously proud of.

However… I found a lot of dirt speckles and a piece of hair stuck inside the lens I use the most, and I can’t for the life of me get it out. How much it affects the functionality of the lens or the quality of the photos I take, though, I wouldn’t know! Haha

And, seriously, I am so happy and thankful so many of you liked the post from the latest Weekly Photo Challenge. It made me all giddy. Here are a few of the photos I took earlier–with a little wild editing effects added in Lightroom.

Wishing you all a continued happy Sunday. See you soon!

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