Park Improvements, Etelä-Haaga

All summer I’ve been wondering how I would paint this little construction site.
It was interesting but somehow bland and uniform.
This morning the first red leaves appeared and the problem was solved.

Working in the city gardens is a very popular summer job for university students in Helsinki, but the men and women working in this park look like seasoned professionals.
All summer as I went by on by bicycle on my way to work, I would see them sitting under that purple parasol, drinking their morning coffee. I couldn’t help but think to the end of the movie “Office Space” and how much nicer it would be to be working outside in the sun, and actually get something real done.
A side note: There’s a stream behind the hedge at the back with a rare trout spawning ground that became polluted with raw sewage a few weeks back. Let’s hope they survive…

My Favourite Coffee Pot – Broken

When an old favourite object breaks, I take a picture or make a drawing before throwing it away.

My wife has promised to try to re-attach the handle with epoxy glue. Besides being a sculptor and an archeologist, she is a professional restorer specialized in polychrome sculpture. So maybe there is still hope for this old pot.

My long-suffering sneakers

Very old high tops I had to finally throw away in Paris. They were not a famous brand and made in Czechoslovakia, but they had lasted long. So long that the textile parts had faded from black to purple.

Senate square, Helsinki

Senate square, Helsinki
I kept being interrupted by heavy downpours that almost washed away this drawing. I opened my umbrella and switched to water-proof markers.

Most of the buildings on the square were designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, all in the neoclassical style.

I love this square because it exemplifies the forces that shape a city. On its four side are:
1) The Church
2) The University
3) The Senate
4) A mixed bag of commerce: Shops, a bank, a café that also shows art movies (one of my favourites, but now closed for renovation). The mayor’s residence is squeezed a bit on the side, and there used to be a police station, but they got bumped.

– And The Czar in the middle of the square.

I’ll get some more sketches done later when the tourist buses leave…

Sketchbook Helsinki August 26, 2010_1

Yes, it’s a huge ferryboat behind the building. It’s bigger than the buildings in the old town.  They cross the Baltic between Helsinki and Stockholm daily.

The rain it raineth every day…

Sketchbook_Paris_1991_032, originally uploaded by Brin d’Acier.

Second day of heavy rain, and more to come.
My plans of sketching outside have to be postponed.
James Gurney has a great list of other things going awry when doing art en plein air:
Gamestoppers on Gurney Journey

So, here’s a post of houseplants – in many ways the ideal model, as they never move or get impatient.





Travel Sketchbook 2010: Tallinn

Drawn from the boat between Helsinki and Tallinn.
Luckily there’s still time for a long weekend away.

Tallinn old town, seen from Toompea ramparts.

Tallinn is just two hours away from Helsinki, but it’s another world. An older and in many ways more cultured city, full of history.  No city in Finland has managed to keep its medieval center intact, and Helsinki is a new town, mostly built in the 19th -20th century.

Alexander Nevsky cathedral (1894-1900).

Done in watercolour from a sidewalk café in Tallinn.

Travel Sketchbooks 2010: The view from Ile Verte at low tide

A small island in the St-Lawrence river that you can only reach during high tide. Around forty inhabitants and passing whales. This is the south coast, green and muddy. The north coast is colder and rocky.