Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sketchbooks: A Swedish Summer

Rummaging through my sketchbooks, I found this one recently, which I made while in Sweden, one summer, a few years ago.

At the time, we were renting a tiny little summer house by a lake with plans to treat that holiday as something special: an artist's residency. So in preparation, Kenn and I had packed sketchbooks, lots of art materials, bits and pieces of paper, glue, scissors, some workshop tools (a hammer, some nails, pliers, some string, etc.), a huge pack of bright red acrylic wool, cameras and lots of other useful things.

The idea was, that we would each fill a sketchbook with drawings, collages, paintings and observations, recording and developing inspiration material we found and ideas that came to our heads, while we were there. We also wanted to experiment with building small sculptures and create something spectacular with all that red yarn, somewhere a little bit hidden in a Swedish forest.

Sweden sketchbook
Composite of various pages


That year, the Swedish government had decided to test the environmental impact of pesticides they usually disperse rather generously each summer and had refrained from dousing the landscape. Unfortunately, consequently, mosquitos multiplied at a rate that proved to be unbearable for people and animals. After some weeks of suffering, plans were abandoned and pesticides were used again. Of course, it took a while to have an affect and while we were there, there were still so many mosquitos, it wasn't funny...
To give you an example:
I opened the car door and stepped out and about thirty of those little buggers descended on me with the intention to suck the blood out of my body. I jumped back in the car, they all came with. After a short fight with lots of screaming and slapping about, we knew that we weren't going to drink our beers sitting by the lake!

Well, we made the best of it and as long as we stayed away from the water, it was alright.
Also, our little summer shack had a sort of "conservatory" with views out on the lake. We made it very cosy in there for ourselves and pretty much spent all our time there apart from the day trips and ventures for adventure, of course. It made me focus a lot more on being creative and draw, paint and collage in my sketchbook, which proves to me again, limitation aids creativity!

Here are a few more pages from my book:

The space in between
The Space Inbetween
collage made after having visited the chair museum in Österwala

looking at packaging design
Looking at packaging design
Exploring Swedish food packaging

Letters on an old house
Letters on an old house
pen drawing

Fat Blueberry Owl
Fat Blueberry Owl
painting with blueberries; the inspiration came from watching my friend, Maria Raymondsdotter paint with her son

Latte and Mygga
Latte and Mygga
drawing and collage

I saw a rabbit today (Saturday)
I Saw A Rabbit Today (Saturday)
drawing and monoprint

study for "The Ghosting"
Study for "The Ghosting"
drawing and collage

I like strawberries
I Like Strawberries
drawing and collage

The Elk
The Elk
drawing made at the elk park in Henby

There was lots of inspiration all around, in nature and places we went to visit, but I usually never have trouble noticing something that can trigger some ideas for my sketchbook. It is more difficult to find a way to visually record it, so that I like it.

Looking out over the lake from the "conservatory" of our summer house, as it was getting dark, was beautiful. There were some great bird stickers on the window panes, too. I am a sucker for kitsch, sometimes!

view out on the lake with sticker bird 2

I found some gorgeous trees on our excursions, while foraging for wild blueberries to stuff ourselves and paint with.

looking and doing

I spotted an amazing porcelain elk on a window sill and saw some fabulous shop signs, which somehow reminded me of Haight Ashbury in San Francisco.

porcelain elk

great shop signs

On rainy days, I sometimes sat on the porch, making things. Not everything worked out, but we made a pirate ship that later sailed out onto the lake in the search of adventure.

making stuff

a ship takes to the sea

Nearby, in town was an old train compartment that had been turned into a cool café. It was our favourite place to hang out and drink coffees. A beautiful blond girl worked there, she said she was born in Sansibar, Africa.

Swedish inspiration 3

We also checked out lots of lopis, which in Swedish means flea market, and charity shops in other countries are also always fun to explore and good hunting grounds to search for the quaint and peculiar.

Here is Kenn with his two Swedish twin brothers, Ken and Ken, sporting fabulous knitwear fashion (left) and some of the fabulous crochéd oven cloths, which were in our summer house (right).

everything cool

I remember, I felt like I was full to the brim with inspiration and didn't want it to end.
It was a great summer, meeting with our friends Maria and Lee and their kids, hanging out together, making artwork (The ghosting), sketchbooking, eating blueberries -  realizing that I am extremely happy, in love with one of the triplets!

feeling dreamy

The bright red acrylic wool, we used for making The ghosting.

You can see it below, but also find more info and photos on a secret club's website.
The project is based on "shinto", the Japanese tradition, that believes that rivers, trees and all things natural, are not only living, but also spirited entities, mixed with a more Western notion of a "spirit world" that co-exists with real life.

making of the ghosting 1