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October 15th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 8: The first hoar-frost in the morning.

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This morning the grass was covered with hoarfrost for the first time. Winter is coming – slow but steady. The nights are dark and crystal clear. In the last week I have seen four shooting stars. It is indeed astonishing how many stars there are in the sky. And it’s also quite remarkable when you realize that in the city there are just as many stars in the sky. It’s just too bright to see them.

What else has happened   As you can see in the drone picture Arteles Creative Center consists of two houses, the Blue House (also called Nexus) and the Timber House (also called Yellow House, for obvious reasons). The walls of the timber house are completely made of solid pine wood, which is also visible in the interior. This creates a grounded, warm and comfortable atmosphere. ♥︎ I am a very happy resident of the Timberhouse. :-)

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October 8th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 8: The last berries.

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The forest prepares for winter. Abundance transforms, becomes less visible. Yellow, red and orange leaves compete with the hooded crows to see who can make the biggest circles in the sky. The crows clearly win. Their laughter echoes across the fields. They gather in large flocks and ride roller coasters in the sky. The remaining leaves on the trees clap before they too fall to the ground in large rounds.

What else has happened    The last cranberries and blueberries have been picked. There are hardly any mushrooms left, it is already too cold for that. ♥︎ I am still writing the book. It takes longer than expected, but I can see that it will be good. This feeling helps to carry on in moments when the finish line feels far away. ♥︎ One day at the lake we’ve met an otter. It suddenly emerged from the water two meters in front of us and looked at us with curiosity. I wonder if the wolverine I saw there in summer was actually an otter after all. 

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October 1st 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 8: Red. Orange. Yellow. Brown.

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Red changes to brown, green to yellow. In the light of the sun the landscape glows still golden. But the shadows of the winter night send their omens. More and more often misty fog blows over the fields like big grey clouds that have lost their way and cannot find their way back to the sky.

What else has happened    Finnish brown bears are mainly vegetarians. I was wondering: if they actually only eat berries and mushrooms to gain their weight for hibernation, how many tons of berries and mushrooms do they have to eat? :-O ♥︎ I only ate one mushroom (the porcini below). It’s been the first time that I have trusted my own knowledge of mushrooms.

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September 25th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 7: Orange ocean of leaves.

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Cold wind blows over the treetops and colours them orange. Stubble fields fence stubbly the paths. The singing swans are still there. You can hear their calls far against the wind. There is a change of direction. It is as if everyone, the trees, the wildlife, the lake and the rocks, decided at the same time that winter is coming soon.

What else has happened    There is a shift in life at the residency as well. After months of uncertainty everone, I above all, longs for direction. I try to find peace with myself, even when things turn out not the way I want them to be. There are good things on their way. I try to be grateful for them, even when they haven’t arrived yet. ♥︎ I have been listening to a conversation with Marie Forleo and Edith Eger which I warmly recommend to you.

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September 17th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 7: The air is crisp.

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Cold wind blows over the treetops and colours them orange. Stubble fields fence stubbly the paths. The singing swans are still there. You can hear their calls far against the wind. There is a change of direction. It is as if everyone, the trees, the wildlife, the lake and the rocks, decided at the same time that winter is coming soon.

What else has happened    There is a shift in life at the residency as well. After months of uncertainty everone, I above all, longs for direction. I try to find peace with myself, even when things turn out not the way I want them to be. There are good things on their way. I try to be grateful for them, even when they haven’t arrived yet. ♥︎ I have been listening to a conversation with Marie Forleo and Edith Eger which I warmly recommend to you.

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September 10th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Month 7: Ruska is coming.

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The autumn winds have arrived. Red and yellow leaves whirl across the fields and trails. Occasionally a frog still hops along the road at dusk. It’s getting cold – Ruska is coming. The mice have noticed that too and want to move into the wooden houses. Their scratching and scraping in the walls tells of their winter preparations. The little spiders on the meadow don’t care. They knit castles made out of mist and raindrops.

What else has happened    Moose flies! This species of fly, which looks like a mixture of a one centimeter tick and a flea, is still looking for its moose to spend the winter on. Some have confused me with a moose. I try not to take this personally. ♥︎ For some weeks now I have been walking barefoot in the morning on the meadow. It is good to feel the ground under my feet. Somehow it makes me happy. ♥︎ Step by step the book slowly takes shape. My publisher has already started to drum up business. It feels a little surreal. But good at the same time.

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September 3rd 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 27: An »ugly« sketch a day.

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4 months ago, a friend and I decided to send each other a quick drawing every day, taking a maximum of 5 minutes. The aim was to find joy in sketching again. So that high expectations would not stand in the way, the result must be explicitly imperfect. After a short break in June it has now become a habit. I like my sophisticated stork very much, so I’d like to share it with you as well. 

What else has happened    These colors!! Every evening during my walk the most beautiful sunsets happen. Pink and blue, violet and apricot. I have the feeling of constantly walking in one of my own illustrations. ♥︎ The scent of ripe apples floats over the meadows and fields. There are also hundreds of grasshoppers living on the meadow in front of the timber house. I wonder what they do there all day long. I mean, besides hopping around all the time.

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August 27th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 26: Autumn whispers.

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In the past I would have been afraid to sleep in the forest. Too quickly I would have thought of all the many scary movies I have seen so far. I would have thought of zombies, evil creatures and dinosaurs. Now I am not afraid anymore. The night in the forest is peaceful and quiet. The campfire crackles and hums. It is good to feel the forest floor and to be very close to it.

What else has happened    Autumn has arrived. ♥︎ I submitted the first draft of the book. That was exciting and felt uncomfortable at the same time. It is the first time that my editor has seen the book in its entirety. To create something for yourself is hard enough. It’s one of the hardest things to bear that something you have put your heart and soul into it becomes visible and goes out into the world. But it is also the most beautiful thing of all. 

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August 21th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 25: Greetings from the woods ...

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August 13th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 24: The light at the horizon is pink ...

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The nights become longer and darker. The sunset glows in a golden orange and paints shadows as long as knitted stockings. Camomile flowers blow white in the wind. Big flocks of sparrows eat the last berries. Three days ago I saw the neighbour’s cat carrying a partridge home. Pleased as Punch.

What else has happened   Imagine if there was a guide to help you design your design or illustration portfolio to be convincing in an instant. The good news is that there is a book on its way which is gonna help you to achieve that. And this book is coming along. I can see the light at the horizon. Finally one big decision has been made. The pink cover it is. 

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August 6th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 23: First week of August

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»Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!«, the rabbit said to Alice. »He was always in a hurry to get where he was not.«, Tolstoi pointed out. The rabbit looked irritated and tugged embarrassed at its white, long ears. Don’t worry, little rabbit, Vanna Bonta said: »There is only now. And look! How rich we are in it.«

What else has happened   A friend from Hamburg came for a visit. »There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.«, Jim Henson said. ♥︎ We went to Rajaportin Sauna, had Munkkis at Pyynikin Munkkikahvila (the best coffee place in Tampere) and took the bus to Helsinki to say good bye. »Goodbye always makes my throat hurt.« said Charlie Brown.

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July 30th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 22: Repeat!

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Getting up • coffee • morning walk • working • writing • working • writing • writing • ring ring • talking • hanging up • writing • working • eating • writing • working • coffee • writing • writing • text message pling • answering • eating • writing • groaning • writing • moaning • writing • evening walk • writing • writing • red-eye rubbing • teethbrushing • yoga • falling asleep like fainting.

What else has happened   At the moment the forest is a paradise for berry lovers: Raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, black and red currants, blueberries.  ♥︎ There are also a lot of mushrooms. Unfortunately very different varieties than at home (except for the toadstool above). My mushroom app says that most of them are good to eat, but that it does not take any responsibility in case of poisoning. It’s probably not the smartest thing to trust.

 

July 23rd 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 21: The rustling in the woods

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The work on the book is currently tenacious. Like thick syrup. Every step forward is a feat of strength, a valley of tears. The forest brings healing. The rush, the green, cool wind in leaves. Work, work, work becomes breath in, breath out, breath in again. The forest levels out, brings peace. Everyday problems are swept away by ferns and blades of grass.

What else has happened   Tomorrow I will be interviewed by Patrick Wirbeleit, the initiator of the Carl Buch Preis. In the series »Can you make a living from it?« Patrick asks how life as an illustrator works. I am in good company, because Patrick has already interviewed Tor Freeman, Ulf K, Jutta Bauer and Ferndinand Lutz, among others. Join us at 10:00am (MESZ) live on Instagram at @carlbuchpreis. ♥︎ Life in the artist residence is still on hold.

 

July 16th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 20: The night came back!

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The night returns. Sleep comes easier. The birds become silent at midnight. Blueberries slowly turn blue. Water lilies sail lazily on the lake’s mirror. The neighbours’ dahlias shine in summer colours. They are a memory of my childhood. Days turn into weeks. Weeks into months. The smell of chamomile wafts over the land. Time seems to stand still and race at the same time.

What else has happened    We went hiking again. Everything is better with hot soup, a campfire and a friend. ♥︎ The book is coming along. Page by page, one step at the time. It still feels like a mountain of work, but sometimes joy comes back. ♥︎  The new sauna stove works pretty well. It feels good to cool off in the hammock in the summer wind. Hundreds of mosquitoes feel the same way. Have you ever noticed how strange mosquitoes fly?

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July 9th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 19: Rain, rain, sunshine, rain!

It’s raining. Every day. Several times. It’s good for nature. The trees are greener. With their twigs and branches they dance through the rain. The leaves flutter and clap. It’s good for me. From my desk I look out into the wet outside. Inside it’s warm and comfortable. The raindrops are tapping on the wooden roof. It is exactly the right time to write the book.

What else has happened    I got soaked in rain. Several times!! The Finnish summer is heavy with rain. It would be smart to have an umbrella. I always forget. ♥︎ Every day is just the same. The writing process is a valley of tears. Eat, write, eat, write, eat, cry, write, yoga, sleep. It’s part of the process. Just one step at the time ... ♥︎  The travel diary, about my sailing trip to the Arctic last year, is still happening on instagram. In case you are interested.

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July 2nd 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 18: Finally the rain came!

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Just as quickly as summer came, so did the heat. Temperatures of around 30 degrees burn the lawns and the sun-shy skin of city girls. All colours lose some of their richness and a translucent cotton cloud of summer haze hangs over everything. When finally the first raindrops fall on dusty roads, you can hear a deep sigh of relief.

What else has happened    Long missed friends are back in town. ♥︎ With the rain clouds the night came back. It is still daylight all night long, but it feels more like resting time. ♥︎  One year ago I joined the crew of Spitzbergen.de on the barkentine Antigua for three weeks to sail around Spitsbergen. Since last week I have been posting a series of illustrations from this sailing trip on Instagram. Here you can also find a travel diary (in German).

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June 25th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 17: The heart of Summer

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Midsummer nights turn into days. It’s easy to forget to go to bed on time. The meadows stood high and have been mowed. The smell of freshly cut hay is everywhere. The lake smells of summer and seagull crowds regularly gather on it. Dragonfly hearts sail over the water. There is this lightness in the air that only exists in the heart of summer.

What else has happened    I ate two popsicles in a row. ♥︎ A few days ago I met a wolverine at the lake. He took an evening walk too. These weasels, who look like little bears, have a very peculiar way of walking – broad-legged like hip-hoppers with baggy pants. ♥︎ At midsummer we had sauna until 2 o’clock in the morning. I discovered two sauna ghosts. There was also a feast for the midsummer mosquitoes. My legs are covered with stings.

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June 18th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 16: Midsommar

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The meadows are high. The sun is bright in the sky and covers everything under a veil of dark-blue silk. The shadow becomes a friend. Winter pale skin turns to red. It’s freckle time. Even the lake gets some made of water lilies.

What else has happened    Midsommar is coming. It’s a celebration of the longest days of the year and the white nights will be illuminated even more by large bonfires. ♥︎ Going out for lunch for the first time since March has made me happy. ♥︎ The book is coming along.

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June 11th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 15: Summer sadness.

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Blue – the dawn is glowing blue – a dream is coming true, when you will come my way some sweet day. Red – the sun is rising red – and all my love you’ll get when you will come and stay someday. Green – the grass is growing green – and in my dream I’ve seen a snug nest in the height some sweet day. White – the sort of tears is white – and black’s my lonely night when you will go away someday. Let me sing that song of the golden girls and the men so strong – that old song. Blue and red and white and green and ev’ry you between. »She’s Sunny,« they will say someday.

What else has happened    The lyrics are from the film »Solo Sunny«, a story about the young singer Sunny which was played by Renate Krößner who died only recently. This song has accompanied me ever since. ♥︎ Rhubarb is very yummy and at the same time damn practical as an umbrella. Thanks for the pic, Ida! ♥︎ The second sauna hat is almost ready. The only thing missing is the fitting to the head of the future wearer ... then the ears will be pointed even more. ♥︎ This week I have started to revise an old storybook of a story I really want to tell and draw. It’s a story about ponies ... it feels good to revive this project and to dig it out of the draft drawer. ♥︎ I realized I live in a wildflower supermarket now. Bon appetit, dandelion.

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June 4th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 14: Bright days. White nights.

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White rays of the sun colour the shadows on these days into a dark blue hue. Everything that is green grows tremendously fast, because it gets so many more hours of sunlight. At night there is almost no darkness here – only candy-colored gradients of apricot, pink and light blue violet. Even the birds don’t stop tweeting, they just become calmer and quieter at night. For me as someone who is very easily frightened in the dark, that is a great asset. 

What else has happened    The lilac is in bloom. ♥︎ Every evening, when I go for a walk, I pass a pine tree in which a very dedicated seagull nests. I am very curious when the gull kids will hatch. ♥︎ There is so much pain and anger in the world. So much injustice. Many things cry out for change. On the big picture as well as the small. What can I do about it? First step: making a fearless inventory to recognize one's own privileges, even if it creates shame. Shame goes away when it is allowed to be seen. Unvisible it’s a catalyst for more anger and stagnation.

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May 28th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 13: It’s the simple things ...

Happiness is fleeting. It is a gentle touch of comfort, a short breath in which the future doesn’t matter. It’s the busy hum of bumblebees, the smell of sunlight on pine bark, the feeling of fresh grass under my feet. It’s trees swaying gently back and forth, rustling. It’s fresh bed linen drying in the sun’s rays, sailing in the wind. It’s the lush pink of raspberries. And it’s the message of a loved one, which comes at exactly the right moment and gives me the feeling of being connected, regardless of time and space.

What else has happened    Still not very much. I am still the only one at the residence and I am starting to enjoy being alone with myself. ♥︎ I’ve found a mushroom that is a rather rare find. It looks exactly like the forehead of Commander Worf of the Star Trek Enterprise. And a bit like a pine cone. Even though it’s highly toxic, in Finland, however, this poisonous mushroom is considered a delicacy – when prepared correctly. It’s sold at weekly markets with warning signs. ♥︎ First week of being forty was fine. A friend sent me a message: »We are now strong, middle-aged women. I promise you, it won’t hurt.« Yes, we got the power!!

 

May 21st 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 12: Silence! Strangely quiet almost!

There is this important distinction between being alone and being lonely. Right now I’m alone. Keeping an eye on the buildings, looking out of the window, working on my new book.

What else has happened    Not much. The neighbour’s cat came for a visit. I once got completely soaked in rain on my morning walk. I mowed the lawn which felt oddly satisfying. I miss certain people and I am glad for that. That's the flip side of love and it’s worth it.

 

May 15th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 11: A good place to turn 40!

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I still remember my father’s 40th birthday. I was 16 years old at the time. Now my age begins with the number four. The biggest problem I have with that is the even number. Because I like odd numbers. Even numbers give me the creeps. The funny thing about aging is that I actually feel exactly the same as I always have. Nevertheless, I am very happy that I no longer have to deal with as many doubts today as I did when I was twenty. I wouldn’t want to go back – that’s for sure.

What else has happened    Snow is quite normal in Finnish May. Last week it was snowing, hailing and sunburning. The lilac usually blooms on my birthday, but here it needs at least another four weeks. Nevertheless there are already squirrel babies and bird’s nest kindergartens. ♥︎ I learned how to make a campfire with a lot of wind. My friend said, »Work with the wind, not against it.« After I burned at least 15 matches, he lit the fire with a single one. Very impressive! ♥︎ The last corona-stranded artist has left the artist residence. It has been very silent here ever since.

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May 7th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 10: The most amazing blues ...

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I have realised that the Finnish flag can only be blue and white. Any other colour in the flag would not make any sense. Finland is the land of the bluest blues – the most amazing shades of blue I have ever seen. I grew up in a region that is famous for the production of indigo blue - using dyer’s woad in the middle ages. I remember the white and blue china of my grandma on which we ate Sunday cake. I remember my first pair of blue jeans, which my parents had specially tailored by a Vietnamese seamstress because there were no jeans for children to buy. They were so stiff that I could hardly walk in them.

What else has happened    A Finnish fire is usually lit with sampo matches. Sampo is a Finnish match brand that is almost 80 years old. The name is based on the epic Finnish poem Kalevala, in which – among other things happening – the magic mill Sampu produces flour, salt and gold. The brand was redesigned in 2018. Now illustrations with a touch of Art Nouveau are the visual anchor of the brand. Everytime I see a new design, I have to buy it. They are so beautiful. ♥︎ In the coming days the last three stranded artists will leave the artist residence and travel home. Corona has changed everything. From now on everyday will be a silent day* (*normally, there are silent days during the program when there is no speaking).

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May 1st 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 9 : A lake, a forest, a campfire, some Hasenbrot

There is something magical about the finnish forest. The Finnish soul has always been considered closely connected with the forest. This may be due to the fact that three quarters of Finland is covered with trees, but it may also have something to do with the peculiar beauty of Finnish forests. Because Finns like to spend time in the forest, it is often possible to spend the night in open cabins or light a campfire there. Actually you don’t need much more to feel at ease. Maybe still freshly brewed Coffee, a warm woolen blanket and some veggie grilli makkaras. And in some weeks: Anti Brumm.

What else has happened    When I was a kid, my parents sometimes brought home sandwiches that they had taken along to a trip but not eaten. Since these sandwiches might have seen a rabbit (!!) during the day (yes, not a deer or a hedgehog, a rabbit!!), they were called »Hasenbrote (bunny sandwiches)«. In the garden of Arteles lives a huge family of rabbits. So I have been having lots of Hasenbrote lately. ♥︎ Masks are currently not available in Finland. Coffee filters are supposed to be a good alternative (as a filter element in self-made masks, I know). With my Hario filters I feel like a blackbird. I want to fly off, sit on the highest roof ridge and proclaim loudly that the sun is rising and spring is coming. 

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April 24th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 8 : Greetings from the land with the pinkest clouds and the bluest sky

Things I have observed in the last week: a few cranes dancing in the fields (their singing sounds like Jurassic Park), a curlew (in Finnish: isokuovi) with its long curved beak and spotted feathers, a flock of greylag geese (in Finnish: Merihanhi) ruffling the pink clouds of the evening sky, a fluffy fox sniffing around the house at night almost looking like a wolf, singing swans on the lake, two wagtails, frogspawn (there will be a lot of frogs in summer, a lot!!) and some finnish mice.

What else has happened    Julie, one of my fellow artists, saw three wolves wondering around in our forest. Our neighboor’s dogs barked like crazy during that night, they almost seemed croaky the next day. In Finland wolves have to struggle with the same problems as in other countries: the story with Little Red Riding Hood, sheep, hunters, human projections of fear ...There is a great documentary about wolves in Finnland, directed by Juha Suonpää. ♥︎ Also here the fear of Covid-19 grows and makes people crazy. Supposedly heat destroys the virus. So that means more sauna!

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April 17th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 7 : April weather

In the morning a well-rested winter welcomes the day with heaps of snow and a blue vail of light. Around noon he gets tired. Then spring sneaks up from behind and surprises him with cyan blue skies and sunrays that cut through the snow like laser swords. In the evening the woollen blanket of snow has vanished and small flowers take deep breaths of chrystal clear air – preparing to explode. As the sun slowly sets, the blackbirds praise the glorious deeds of Spring. Feeling quite proud of herself, Spring therefore celebrates through the night and oversleeps the next day. Winter on the other hand feels well rested in the morning (because he went to bed quite early – after watching »Game of Thrones« on Netflix). And everything starts all over again.

What else has happened    It's really been like that for at least five days. Snow in the morning. Green meadows in the evening. ♥︎ On Easter Sunday, finnish kids dress up as witches. With a collection of willow branches decorated with ribbons and feathers, they knock on the doors of their neighbours and offer them a branch together with a spell. Finnish author Juha Vuorinen translated it like this: „Willow switch, I’m the Easter witch! I wish you health and a love that’s rich! From me I bring some luck today, for this branch what will you pay?« (Virvon varvon tuoreeks, terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks, vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!) The commonly accepted currency is candy. ♥︎ I have to admit that I’m letting myself go a bit with these ugly plastic shoes. In Finland you always take your shoes off when you come into the house. So even though they are ugly as hell they are super practical. And at least they’re pink. ♥︎ Stay safe! With love, F.

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April 9th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 6 : Hello spring!

The pines glow golden, the ice shines blue. In the lee of the trees I can feel the sun on my skin. It reminds me of the sun-warmed fur of a cat, in which grains of dust glitter, of pine needles pricking my feet, of bumblebees humming from bush to bush. Today, right now, right here, I am happy.

What else has happened    Have you seen the pink supermoon? Here it was neither super-large nor super-pink. Still it was rather beautiful. ♥︎ One of my fellow-artists photographs the view outside her window every day. Take a look. ♥︎ Is anyone interested in presenting their portfolio in my book (a textbook on how to design a portfolio as an artist)? If so, please send me an email.

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April 3rd 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 5 : Under the thawing ice a storm rumbles ...

During the last week it was quiet and almost peaceful. Everyone here at Arteles has tried to continue their daily lives as best they could. Walking through the forest it is difficult to see the crisis caused by Corona. Nevertheless I feel the stress in my body when I breathe in and out. Deep below the surface lurks a tension that rumbles in my stomach. It is the feeling of a hailstorm that is hurtling down my back. It is feet that feel hollow, as if they have no contact with the ground. And yet there is sunshine on my skin. There is the red, fluffy, bouncing ball in the snow that is the neighbour’s cat. There is the springlike wind that tenderly blows winter away. There is beauty in the now.

What else has happened    For the first time in my life I saw the northern lights. They looked like a big greenish cotton candy hanging around in the woods. ♥︎ My sauna hat was a success even though it does not look like a lynx (as it was supposed to look), but more like a kangaroo. That’s ok. Things often turn out differently, but that does not make them any less good. ♥︎ We had our first ballet class here at Arteles. With only 4.5 years of training, I am still an absolute beginner in classical ballet. But it has made me happy to give an introduction to some very fine artists who still have a childlike joy in them. My inner child loves ballet. It is my happy place, because it is the only place where I can get out of my head. It is physically very demanding. But just because I have to concentrate so hard to sort out my octopus legs and arms, I find peace of mind. ♥︎  Stay safe and at home.

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March 27th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 4 : The calm in between storms

Today it smells like spring outside. The cars on the street are buzzing like bees towards the city. I have no idea what they’re up to, because of the shutdown, there’s not much to do there. In the last week our group has become smaller and smaller every day. Today there are only three artists left in the residence. All others are gone because of Corona. The residency program for April has been cancelled. May is at stake. I try not to think so much about what might happen and how it will turn out, but to concentrate on what is now: wet forest soil, whooper swans on the lake, a book that wants to be written.

What else has happened    I started making a sauna hat. It feels good to practice a craft and not have to think so much. The wool is patient and fluffy. I have stacked wafer-thin layers of wool. The wet felting gives the softness structure, strength and stability. This is good for making a hat. However, right now I enjoy being in this cloud of wafer-thin wool, not knowing what happens next, and letting go of the rigidity and strictness. ♥︎  On my walk to the lake I met two singing swans. I wanted to feel how thick the ice still was and broke in. Fortunatly a friend already told me how to behave when breaking into the ice. Move like a dolphin, up and down, up and down, to push yourself over the edge, he told me. That’s good advise.

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March 19th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 3 : A new challenge for everyone

I pictured the apocalypse like this: with a gloomy sky and thunder roaring to the core. With brute force and open conflict. Maybe a zombie attack. Now the whole world is holding its breath while washing its hands. In a very short time everything has changed. Yet everything remains the same. Nature doesn’t mind what these crazy humans are worrying about. The thawing lake stretches under its icy blanket and blows funny fountains. As the sunlight returns, the trees grow small buds that soon explode into leaves. The magpies collect love gifts for their chosen ones. It is as it is. There is certainty in uncertainty.

What else has happened    A large part of the artists here at Arteles have returned to their home countries because people want to go home in times of fear. In scientific experiments, rats that are exposed to high levels of distress return to their rat homes, even if they do not feel safe there either. So the need for home seems to be a primal instinct inherent in all living things. ♥︎  Even though we are a smaller group now, we are still trying to continue with the residence life as planned. Yesterday we went for a hike in the Ritajärvy nature reserve. In the thicket of trees it was easier to be in the here and now. ♥︎  One of my artist colleagues taught me how to felt wool. I’m gonna frisk a sauna hat. In times of need, it’s good to keep a cool head. ♥︎ Please stay safe and at home!

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March 12th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

Week 2 : A new setting

The air is crisp and sometimes feels like glass. Every other day some snow decides to fall out of the sky and steals away quietly as soon it has had a brief glimpse of the human world. Nature seems to be preparing for spring and birds spread their wings and take to the sky. By dusk they discuss what should be done. Their shoulds follow me at every turn. An old companion keeps me company. Together we stare out of the window and wonder what comes next. 

What else has happened    My car broke down. The exhaust pipe fell off. A friend suggested to call her Rust-inante instead of Rocinante (a name I gave her since she is a 20-year-old work horse of a car). ♥︎  We’ve had Sunday brunch at Frantsilla, an vegetarian café in Hämeenkyrö. I like the name Frantsilla. Sounds like Franziska, only with less of those hard German zzz-sounds. ♥︎  Somehow it feels very strange to watch the Corona-News and what’s happening at home while I sit here in my warm little country home behind the seven mountains. Please take good care of yourselves.

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March 6th 2020  ♥︎  Haukijärvi, Finland

The great adventure begins ...

On February 27th it started: my Hamburg apartment cancelled, my studio in storage, car bought, my favorite pillow, drawing materials and iPad packed. On to the ferry, which brought the fully packed car via Travemünde to Helsinki. From there it took another three hours and finally we are here: in Haukijärvi, where I will work and live for the next couple of months.

Side note    My new home is Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland, an International residency located in the middle of the extraordinary nature of Hämeenkyrö, far from city life distractions.  ♥︎  The last few years have been like a roller coaster ride. A lot of good things have happened and there have been some sad things too. It feels to me like it’s time for a break. Letting things go, welcoming new things. On to new adventures.

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December 2019  ♥︎  Tampere, Finland

Dear business partners, dear friends and colleagues!

With best regards from Finland I wish you a relaxing and wonderful time between the years and a good start into the coming year 2020. An exciting year is coming to an end and I am grateful for the many great projects we have created and set in motion together. I would like to thank you for the inspiring and constructive cooperation and the trust you have placed in me.

Many great things have happened in 2019, here’s a short summary:
The new corporate design for the University of Erfurt was launched in October 2019, after we had started the process in December 2018 with the first workshop. Remarkably effective and at ease, we mastered this mammoth task together. As the responsible art director and contractual partner, I have been responsible for the development of design. I brought Anka Suckow on board for the brand development and the mediation of the process. I am very grateful for the courage and the team spirit we’ve experienced at the University of Erfurt and I am very happy about the innovative result.

February 2019 I’ve spent as Artist in Residence in Haukijärvi in Finland. The Arteles Creative Center is located in the middle of Finnish forests, 40 kilometers from Tampere. It is one of the most international residencies in Scandinavia. There I’ve worked on my new graphic novel and drew a silent comic which you can read below.

Back again, being the president of the illustrators’ organisation I had the pleasure of welcoming Andreas Platthaus, the German comic journalist, as honorary member of the IO. This was a great honour. You can see how honoured I feel in the photo ;-)

The fulfilment of a childhood dream of mine has been a three-week sailing trip in July 2019, which I was able to attend as a travel illustrator. At around 0 degrees we tried to sail around Spitsbergen on the Dutch barkentine Antigua. Because of pack ice it didn’t work out, but we saw many polar bears and collected lots of plastic from the arctic beaches. More about this soon on www.gezeichnete-reportagen.de

In the field of illustration I was allowed to be part of exciting projects that make the world a little better: for example the multilingual Austrian magazine Papperlapapp or the 100 women project. 

Also very nice indeed – the success of the kunstanstifter books »Julia Dürr and Astrid Walenta: Madame Fafü« and  »Iris Anemone Paul: Polka für Igor«, for which I am responsible for the book design. The latter was even awarded the German Youth Literature Prize twice in 2019.

And as a final bang for the buck, in October 2019, after nine years, I was finally able to successfully complete my doctorate on the subject of image authorship in literary book illustration. The work is now published on the OPUS Open Access Server of the Bauhaus University Weimar and can be downloaded here free of charge. A shorter English version is available here.

A lot has happened. Fast was the year. Now I’m sitting in the snowy Finnish town of Tampere eating gingerbread, drinking coffee and feeling great gratitude for the past year. I am very excited about the new year and the many adventures that await us in 2020. And I am very happy to go this way with you. With that I send you my love and very warm greetings, Franziska


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April 22nd 2019  ♥︎  Hamburg

Who would I be? ... #latergram

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February 2019  ♥︎  Arteles, Haukijärvi, Finland

The Random Collection of Silence

I spent February 2019 at Arteles Creative Center as an Artist in Residence. What a wonderful and very special experience ... I did a lot of walking through the forest and on the frozen lake and spent many hours just with myself, alone but not lonely.

Arteles was a real game-changer for me. Being back in the big city I feel like being stuck in a jumper which has become too small. I am very grateful for this momentum and how the experience at Arteles has effected me! Many thanks to the founders and the people who keep that place alive! I tried to capture the experience with the silent comic strip »A Random Collection of Silence«. Can you feel the silence?

Side note    Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland, is the lively headquarters for an International residency program, welcoming artists and creative minds from all around the world, from all the defined and undefined forms of creativity. The center is located in the middle of the extraordinary nature of Hämeenkyrö, far from city life distractions. The current call for entries »Enter Text« is an international residency program for writers, researchers and artists working with text.  ♥︎  February should be one of the coldest months of the year in Haukijärvi, but this year has been unexpectedly mild. The temperature was jumping up and down, like a yoyo ... on my last week there, the temperature was continuously above zero and the frozen lake started to melt. This unexpected short winter following the heat wave Northern Europe was facing last Summer made me wonder ... how long will there be a real winter ... climate change is real ...

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January 29th 2019  ♥︎  Hamburg

I am off to some soul-searching!

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No internet. No telephone. No buzzing. No fussing. In return: Silence. Awareness. The soft rustle of fresh snow.

Working on a book project about inner peace and gratitude I am very much looking forward to spend the next couple of weeks undergoing an experiment: For that I am going to explore various strategies people use to find inner peace. First stop: Solitude.

I am very curious what I am going to find if the inner voice doesn’t have to shout anymore to drown out the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Let’s get lost to discover new things by taking a look inside.

January 11th 2019  ♥︎  Tampere, Finland

A short travel note: Found a personal heroine!

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Once you are travelling through Finland, it won’t be long before you are going to meet the Mumins. As soon as you are going to be invited into a Finnish home – for a cup of coffee for instance – you will meet the little kobolds – as decor of your coffee mug. These mugs are part of almost every Finnish household and very popular.

The Mumins have been created by Tove Jansson, a Finnish female writer, painter and illustrator. The only Museum in the world dedicated to the Mumins is in Tampere. Here I came across an old photograph of Tove Jansson which touched me instantly, made me stop, made me pause. It shows her as an adventurous, strong and curious woman on the island Klovharu which had been her summer home for many years. I’ve felt an urgent longing for a place like that, for a home of my own – with nature, with serenity.

Side note
The first Mumins book was published in 1945 but failed economicly. Tove Jansson has written over 20 Mumins books overall. | You can find more information about Tove Jansson here.

Finland is a country with a specific and very unique design culture. And you notice this often in the details of everyday living, for instance with dishes and dinnerware. The Mumins coffee mugs are manufactured in Helsinki by the Finnish porcelain manufactory Arabia. The second Finish world known porcelain brand is Iittala which today still produces Alvar Aalto designs as well as many others.

January 1st 2019  ♥︎  Tampere, Finland

Happy new Year! Greetings from Finland!

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Side note
The lake Pyhäjärvi is thoroughly frozen in Finnish Winter time so it’s possible to walk on the ice. The first steps on the ice felt a little strange for me, somehow I immediately had to think about what my granny told me as a kid: »If you breake into the ice, you’ll die in an instant.« Didn’t happen ;-) The children here did a lot of ice skating, some people went for ice fishing, others made a hole into the ice and took a deep dive after sauna. Vive la vie!

October 25th 2018  ♥︎  Hamburg Germany

Can you draw? Workshop at Jung von Matt

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Do you know that voice in your head that is telling you that you cannot draw? If so, you are not alone. Most people know that voice, most of us develope somehow – probably during school days – a believe that drawing is not for us, that we cannot draw.

That’s unfortunate consindering that sketching and scribbling is one of the areas in life where you can’t go wrong. In drawing everything is possible, anything goes. And also sketching can be a highly effective problem-solving tool for you because sketching helps us to understand and think problems through, so we can find new, innovative solutions and ideas. I like to help people to overcome that believe system that drawings have to be pretty and technically well made to be effective. And that’s what we did together at Jung von Matt Hamburg. Many thanks to Kyra Braatz and Heike Lorentz for making it happen.

Side note
Interested in a workshop which enables you to translate your ideas on paper? Take a look here.

August 5th 2018  ♥︎  Spitzbergen Svalbard

Till the end of the world ...

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After coming back from the Arctic I am filled with a longing for the wild. Svalbard is such a special place – beautiful and wild ... but sometimes life has its own sense of humor: I've met two shy and nosy polar bears. They were hanging out behind the hill and were snooping on the ship I was on ... bewildered by these strange and clumsy creatures on the boat who were frantically taking pictures of them ... #fuckingtourists

Side note
Spitzbergen is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. And it is beautiful – in its own way. Rough, sparse, without any trees or bushes but vast and at the end of the world,  I’ve felt so free.

July 18th 2018  ♥︎  Travelling

A short travel note on my way to the South

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As my train descends to the south and passes through vast fields of grain, swallows spread their wings and take to the sky – there ain’t nothing that can harm you! And yet as time flies I feel sad and happy at the same time ...

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Side note
I am spending the Summer in Weimar, meet me there. I probably will be at Luka and Steffi’s house because they make the best Sunday pancakes ... even if the pancakes probably beg to differ ...

June 26th 2018  ♥︎  Hamburg Germany

Childhood memories

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As a kid I spent my summer vacations in the countryside, visiting my grand parents in Mecklenburg. Since my granny was working during the day I would spent these days with my gradpa who would be sitting in the garden swing – silently watching the sky (he was a very quiet man) – and I would be playing in a jungle garden made of raspberry bushes, red and black currants and dahlias – together with the chickens and numerous dogs my granny owned. I am grateful for that memory. Thanks, Grandpa! I think of you today!

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Side note
I loved that my grand parents owned so many dogs. Sometimes they had up to 7, sometimes 9 dogs in the house since my granny was a professional dog breeder. Shetland Sheepdogs to be precise. They looked like Lassie only smaller. Here I am – with Olli (my favorite, the cutie on the ground) and Hella – waiting in the courtyard.

December 13th 2017  ♥︎  Shanghai China

Hello China!

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With Goethe-Institut I’ve travelled through China from December 2nd till December 13th. Book reading and comic-workshop in Guangzhou, book reading and exhibit opening in Beijing, some traveling alone to Shanghai. It was a great adventure. Thanks to all the nice people I’ve had the pleasure to meet! On my last day in Shanghai I’ve met my old friend Rolf ... we worked together and were flat-mates in Shanghai 15 years ago.

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Side note
At the age of 24 I’ve lived and worked for almost one year in Shanghai – designing buildings and cities at the architectural office Swissleman (today: Lemanarc) where Rolf and I were first only workmates and later good friends. | The drawing on the left did one of the fabulous Chinese Comic Artists who joined my workshop. Thanks again! And: Guess who I am in the drawing?

November 1st 2018  ♥︎  Hamburg Germany

See you in China!

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For many years I’ve dreamt about being an author, touching the hearts of readers and changing the world through drawn and written stories. It may sound a little naive but I also imagined it as travelling the world and being invited to exotic and faraway places. In less than one week I am going leave Hamburg to start a reading tour in China. And to be honest – I imagined it differently: more fireworks! And above all I imagined that I would feel different: more grounded, wiser, happier, leading a different life … Change did come, but in other ways than I expected, life goes on, but the way I see and treat myself hasn’t changed much: For the last couple of weeks – to be truthful – I’ve worried a lot: Will I be good enough? What if I fail? What if I get lost? My worries took up a lot of space … so much that I almost forgot to realize that my dream actually came true. … Yup, expectation tends to kill the joy of the moment. Let’s choose experiences over expectations and joyful curiosity over effort. See you in China.

Side note
Meet me here: 5th of December 2017 Sharing session in Guangzhou | 6th of December 2017 Comic-Workshop in Guangzhou | 7th of December 2017 Book reading and vernissage in Beijing