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My Finland Sketchbook

AUGUST 29, 2009
Wheat fields near my uncle and aunt's home in Finland.
Aunt Mimmu and Uncle Jim
My wife, our three young children and I have just returned from a wonderful two weeks visiting our relatives in Finland. My aunt (who is Finnish by birth) and uncle moved to Finland a year and a half ago from the U.S. Four of their children also live there with their families. It was so nice seeing all of our young children connecting, made easy as they are close in age and share English as a common language.

We spent our first afternoon in Helsinki at a local beach, and took our first swim in the Baltic Sea with our cousin Samuel. I also sketched some other people at the beach. Some of them were from Russia, which is just a few hours away by car:
Directly above, scenes from another beach on a island in Helsinki harbor. That's my 2-year old son at bottom right, and above him is my cousin Martti.

On our first weekend we took the overnight ferry to Stockholm. Our hotel room (booked online, sight unseen) had - miracle of miracles! – a small balcony where I was able to sit and sketch the rooftops of the city and the sky:

The view from the balcony.
My 2-year old son obliged by taking a long nap in his stroller while I drew these Stockholm harbor scenes below. Stockholm has a bustling harbor, with a rich profusion of boats:

Here are some people seen at a street market in Stockholm. Most of them were shopping for berries, which were in high season:

Some things I’ll remember about our trip: the pleasure of taking saunas nearly every evening with relatives who really know the art of taking a sauna; the food, particularly at the restaurant in Helsinki where our cousin Riku works as a chef; an education by our cousin Goobie on the fun playground equipment in Finland and by our cousin Martti on Finnish licorice and chocolate; and the trees such as this one in front of my cousin Eva Jo’s home in Oulu.

My daughter overlooking a Finnish lake.

One of many golden moments: on a visit to Oulu, which is just below the Arctic Circle, cousin Eva Jo and Uncle Jim serenade us with recorders one evening on the back porch. They can really play!

We spent the last part of our trip at my aunt and uncle’s house in the country. A dirt road through wheat fields became my sketching paradise. After lunch I took walks with my son in his stroller until he fell asleep, and then would find a place to sit with him by the side of the road to paint until he woke up. Just as I was finding my stride with my watercolors our trip was over and it was time to come home.

Thanks to our entire Finnish family for being so gracious and generous, for hosting us in your homes, and for being so welcoming. It meant a lot to us, and we’re happy that we have had the chance to get to know you better. Kiitos! See you next time!
You can see more work from my Travel Sketchbooks here.
Topical: Travel Sketchbooks