Arctic, Culture, Everyday life, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Sápmi, Tromsø, Uralic

Missing something I never had

Feeling the Sunday blues today, and felt like sharing some thoughts I have had for some time now. I hope I manage to articulate myself in a good manner, and hoping to hear others’ view on this as well 🙂

I feel it is so important to have a sense of community and identity. A tribe of sorts. In fact, we all did up until very, very recently. You could even tell what area or region people were from by their clothing. The way they proudly wore their identity and sense of community. It is so rare nowadays that tourists will literally pay thousands to witness authentic indigenous way of life.

A wedding photo from my family tree, many generations ago in Finnmark.

It sounds silly, but I miss that. I have never had it, but I miss it. I miss traditional everyday dresses and stronger traditions. I miss women being more supported with raising children by their community. Not feeling alone in our experience. We are not supposed to raise kids alone. We are not supposed to not work together and to not rely on each other. When we don’t have that community around us, we get consumed by loneliness and loss of purpose. Just think about how wonderful it feels to have a good friend or a family member who truly cares. We are utterly dependent on our safety net.

The globalisation we see today has come at a great cost. Every month, the world loses indigenous languages. Every week, less natural surroundings and every day people feel more cut off from each other, and Mother Earth. Where will we end up? Even our diets are globalised, getting adviced to eat the same here in the European Arctic as they do in warm climates. That is not sustainable. That is not what have been practiced for thousands of generations, and what our bodies are used to.

I do not wish to naively say that all things were better before, because I do not believe that they were. I do, however, think we have lost something very precious along the way, at least in my part of the world. People who wish to reclaim their sense of community and identity sometimes even feel like a fraud or a fool for ‘taking back’ something they never personally had.

I believe that the trauma experienced by virtually all humans today by having our way of life so dramatically changed in such a short timespan, needs great healing. And only we can do that job ourselves; in our own hearts and minds.

Thank you for reading, may all beings be free and happy ❤ May communities heal and may we take better care of the planet 🌎

Arctic, Beauty, Buddhism, Dharma, Everyday life, Landscape, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Tromsø, Uncategorized, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

Namo Isha Ja – Guided meditation

A heart opening guided meditation session led by Kim Rinpoche.

October night sky a few weeks ago 💙🍂

If we know our hearts and our own natural state, we will also simultaneously know how to love and care. Not only for others but for ourselves and our difficult emotions. Life is so full of difficult emotions, as we know. Compassion and forgiveness is always with you, like a silent friend.

Thank you for reading and still following my blog. It is most appreciated. My posts are very sporadic, as time flies by with the new baby. Long days but short weeks. Not enough hours to get it all done, and not enough hours to just enjoy him – this new little person that runs our lives now. Motherhood is equally hard as it is wonderful. I hope to get more painting and other artsy projects into my days again.

Adventure, Arctic, Beauty, Buddhism, Dharma, Everyday life, Indigenous, Landscape, People, Photography, Saami, Sápmi, Self portrait, Tromsø, Yoga

21 photos from my summer

Håja and Hillesøy
Håja mountain. We drove up and got the best view ever. Very happy with this photo!
Arctic July.
More furry neighbours.
Rainy summer day.
Ilo, a cute little dog we met at Reinøya.

Early morning at Reinøya.
Seal at Reinøya.
Summer swim.. Me and my boyfriend’s mother. 8-9°c!
Tromsø centrum, the pavillion.
At the Arctic-Alpine Botanical garden in Tromsø.
Blue Himalayan poppies. 💙 In the World’s Northernmost botanical garden.
So many beautiful colours and shapes.
Midsummer, 23rd of June.
Tiny Arctic dolphins.
Sunlight over Lyngsalpan.
Rainy evening at Spåkenes.
Kali 💚🖤
Picked a small bouquet.

“I love the Arctic summer, it’s the best day of the year!” Short but sweet. How was your summer?

Anthropology, Arctic, Beauty, Culture, Finnmark, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Uralic

Happy World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

Yesterday was World Indigenous peoples day, so I share this wonderful portrait of my relative Johannes from 6 generations ago. Wearing a pesk/finnmudd. I think we have the same nose, and eyebrows. I look forward to teach our son about his ancestors. It was a black-white photo by S. Trombolt but Per I. Somby colorised it. #ArcticPeople #Uralic

Indigenous means ‘naturally occuring’. Someone or something that ‘belongs’ to a place, and who is living in harmony with the natural surroundings. A part of the local ecosystem. The natural world belongs to us ALL, we need to treat it with respect and appreciation to be able to continue living in it sustainably. Always give more than you take, even if it is “just” gratefulness.

Where was or is your ancestors indigenous to? Do you feel as a part of the natural surroundings?

Small tip on how to feel more connected to the natural world: consciously focus and feel into the knowing of being held and supported by the Earth and gravity. See if you can completely relax into that knowing and if you can trust that you are safe and being held.

Adventure, Animals, Arctic, Dharma, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Finnmark, People, Photography, Quotes, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Uralic

An open heart is the best medicine

“Practice being here until ‘now’ disappears. Dwell nowhere. Be beneficial to others, and you will lack nothing. Flash open your heart. Be a child of wonder, playing with generosity. Floating in a sea of billions of universes, whatever that is, “That” is all we are. It is as much out there, as it is in here. How amazing. Trade in all your wrongs, injustices, hurts, and fears for mercy, hope, compassion, and kindness. An open heart is the best medicine, open it a little more with every breath. Be like a little kid, running with Wonder, “What is this?” – words by Tilopa, the mahasiddha.

Photo from way back when. I used to love horses but now I must admit being a bit scared of them 😄🙈

How is your spring going?🌻 Myself, I am very busy with the new mama life. Barely time to write this post 😄🙏🏻 It’s hard, wonderful and all worth it.

Will be back with more photographies and updates soon. xx Monica

Arctic, Art, Beauty, Duodji, Everyday life, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Our true nature

Our sweet little boy 🖤 My wool sweater knitted by grandma.

Being a mama has really opened my heart, not just for our child, but for all children. I have always loved the little new humans obviously, but being a parent takes it to another level somehow. Truly an automatic bodhicitta practice; infinite love and boundless compassion – our true nature.

Here are some beautiful motherhood art pieces I really like. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 🥰

Art by Germaine Arnaktauyok, “Quiet Time”, 2005
Art by Mayoreak Ashoona, “Matching braids”, 1991
Art by Emily Kewageshig
Art by Alanah Jewell

How has motherhood changed you? Has it opened your heart (more)?

Adventure, Arctic, Beauty, Everyday life, Health, Landscape, People, Photography, Pregnancy, Sámi, Sápmi

An eventful, colourful January

It’s the last day of a very eventful January, and I am spending it curled up on our big sleeping couch with our newborn baby boy who is about 2 weeks old now, in his little baby nest and my partner who is sitting on the other end writing away on the computer. Outside, it’s already dark again. Polar night is officially over here but I have not seen the Sun yet. I am not outside so much, hardly at all as all time and energy is spent adjusting and taking care of this new amazing creation. I did however manage our first little walk with the pram!

Life is new and different and surreal as parents. Giving birth was intense and hard work, and unfortunately not how I envisioned, but nontheless a very powerful experience. A rite of passage of sorts.. At one point during delivery I felt like I connected with all other Mothers giving birth naturally, experiencing the same pain at the exact same time. When he was born, there was an incredible silence and love that I have not experienced before 🤱🏻

January is also my birthday month, and this year I celebrated at home with my little family and my friend Katharina. 29; last year in my twenties, first year as a mama! 🎉✨

How was your January?

Arctic, Beauty, Culture, Finnmark, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Family portraits from 138 years ago

Ellen
Johan (he went to Usa)
Brita and Anne
Johannes
Mikkel

Wanted to share these amazing old family portraits from our family tree 😊🎄 Taken in 1882. Exactly 110 years before I was born 😄 Six generations back in time.*

This is one of the many reasons I love photography 🙌🏻 Colourised and brought to life by Per Ivar Somby recently. (Not the best quality because I took with my phone).

*
Anthropology, Arctic, Awareness, Culture, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, List, Outfit, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Endangered and extinct: Sámi languages today

Photo coloured by Per Ivar Somby. In the photo: Brita Somby, wearing traditional dress (gakti) with traditional wool shawl.


The nine remaining Sámi languages are spoken here in the north of Europe (see map and gallery below) in a cross-border region which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This region is generally called Sápmi – mostly by Sámis, and is sometimes referred to as Lapland. Laponia in Swedish Lapland is the World’s largest unmodified UNESCO nature area still cultured by natives. Sámis are indigenous to Sápmi and Northern Europe, our heritage and ancestry traces back to Ural mountains, Siberia.

Sámi languages speakers estimate:

Southern Sámi 300 – 500 speakers

Ume Sámi – less than 20 speakers

Lule Sámi 2 000 – 3 000 speakers

Pite Sámi – less than 20 speakers

Northern Sámi – 20-30 000 speakers. There are three main North Sámi dialects.
Northern Sámi is the most accessible language, both in terms of literature, news broadcasts, and other material for those who want to learn a Sámi language as a foreign language.*

Kemi Sámi  extinct

Inari Sámi 300 – 500 speakers

Akkala Sámi – considered mostly extinct since 2003*

Kildin Sámi 300 – 700 speakers

Skolt Sámi 300 – 500 speakers in Finland, fewer than 20 speakers in Russia

Ter Sámi – less than 5 speakers left, all elderly

Out of the 11 historically attested Sámi languages, 9 are still spoken/used.

Today we are around 90 000 Sámis, but as you can see from the numbers they do not match up to speakers of Sámi languages. Roughly 4/10 Sámis speak and use Sámi today.

Why is this so?

To avoid humiliation and to give their children “better chances in life”, indigenous and minority parents often decide to speak a dominant or official language with their children. Sámi parents have not been an exception to this rule, especially in the very near past.

For the sake of how long this post would be in order to include all four countries’ history with the Sámi people, I will mainly focus on Norway.

Title: Samiske barn undervises i norsk / Sámi children learning norwegian
Opphaver: Fotograf Sverre A. Børretzen
Rettighetshaver: Leverandør NTB scanpix


Up to the 17th century, Sámi society lived pretty much its own life, with little interference from the outside. But with the new borders of the Nordic countries, interference was inevitable. Historically, the language situation can be divided into three distinct periods: a missionary phase; a harsh assimilation phase; and the present phase, with potential for integration and revitalisation.

The 17th and 18th centuries characterise the beginning of missionary activities, with some very positive projects for the benefit of the Sámi languages: teaching was conducted through the medium of Sámi and religious texts were translated into Sámi. From the middle of the 19th century however, a new policy based on national romanticism and ‘vulgar Darwinist ideas’ led to a harsh suppression of Sámi and the languages. The Norwegian Parliament and government pursued overtly a policy aiming at assimilating the whole Sámi population in Norway in the course of one generation.

The “dark century,” 1870 to 1970 ca, had detrimental effects which can still be felt on both the languages themselves and on their status and speakers. In the coastal areas of Norway (and elsewhere), negative attitudes were transmitted by the Sámi themselves as a result of the policies, and inter-generational transfer of the language ceased in only a few generations.

Approx distribution of the languages/dialects today. The biggest blue area is mainly Troms and Finnmark.

New efforts in maintaining the languages were revived in the 1970s and still continues to this day. However, one of the most striking failures of the Sámi strategies is that the smaller Sámi languages (in numbers of speakers as listed above) have not seen success in improving their situation or even in defending their previous position. This failure is partly due to the fact that most speakers live apart from the larger Sámi groups. Dispersed among Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, and Russians, they do not have the demographic concentration that would enable them to use their language in the workplace and in official situations, including schools.

A language’s development, aging, and dying was considered “natural,” out of human reach. Languages were not killed, they “died of old age.” This agentless “model” for the prediction of the future of languages is still found among politicians, and legitimates their way of treating minority languages.

In Norway, many municipalities with a Sámi population had developed procedures to give the Sámi some local linguistic rights. Yet, when the Sámi language law (in force since 1992) designated certain areas as belonging to the Sámi administrative districts, many of the municipalities left outside these official districts – often municipalities where the speakers of the smaller Sámi languages lived – withdrew services in Sámi, claiming that the law did not require them. Even today, there is strong resilience towards using official Sámi names in for example Norwegian towns and municipalities.

Sámi name for Bodø not welcome, 2011.

*Currently, education, official documents and the media use Northern Sámi almost exclusively. This variant is used as a de facto “official language” and the most significant efforts have gone into the development of this particular language, to the detriment of other Sámi languages.

Opinions also differ on whether the different versions of Sámi are actual languages or dialects, and how to designate their speakers. “The Song of the Sámi Family” is the official Sámi anthem. To demonstrate the differences among the Sámi languages, here is how the Sámi anthem titles look in Northern Sámi: “Sámi Soga Lávlla,” in Inari Sámi: “Säämi suuvâ laavlâ,” and in Skolt Sámi: “Sää´msooǥǥ laull.” In Finnish, the title would be the somewhat similar; “Saamen suvun laulu.”

Sápmi flag by artist Astrid Båhl from Skibotn, Troms. Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen


Most Sámis today speak either Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, or even English as their everyday tongue (some migrated to the USA). Many are bilingual as well. Another factor is that some Sámis do not identify as Sámi or even know that they are due to the assimilation in the past. They do not have any relationship with the language(s).

**Akkala Sámi is the most endangered Eastern Sámi language. On December 29, 2003, Maria Sergina – the last remaining fluent native speaker of Akkala Sámi – died. However, as of 2011 there were at least two people, both aged 70, with some minor knowledge of Akkala Sámi.

Unlike the Indo-European languages spoken in most of Europe, the Sámi languages belong to the Uralic language family, and are most closely related to the Baltic-Finnic branch, which includes Finnish, Hungarian and Estonian, although opinions vary as to the closeness of the relationship.
Photo I took at the main square in Tromsø 2019. Demonstration against violence and discrimination towards sámi.

Sámi women and a man in Sweden. Colourised photo by Per Ivar Somby.
Many young Sámis today use the traditional handwoven wool shawl as an everyday garment in a more urban way in order to still show our Sámi identity, and belonging. I think it’s a small yet beautiful act. Wool shawls like this are however sold commercially many places as well. (Photo by NatGeo of Jokkmokk Sámi Ella-Li Spik, herder).

Norway, Sweden and Finland was in 2019 urged by the UN to increase public funding of Sámi parliaments as a response to the dire state of the disappearing languages. But even if the situation seems dire for many languages, it is still possible to revitalise them and start using them more often. Which languages survive and which do not ultimately seems to be a question of human will, not of any rules of nature.

I know that languages and cultures come and go, but I do feel it a great loss to lose what has been native for Sápmi and Lapland for literally thousands of years, in only a few generations, when it can be perserved. I am happy that some schools and institutions are giving sámi language courses to anyone who wishes to learn it (although this is mostly in Northern sámi), and I do also secretly wish that my children will learn it, which I never did due to the Norwegianization process in Finnmark. Language is a huge part of culture and when it’s taken away, people get confused about their own community and sense of belonging, and even turn on each other as a result of feeling alienated.

Me keeping warm and optimistic about the future of the languages and culture.



Thanks for reading! xx


Sources and texts used in this post:

https://site.uit.no/sagastallamin/

http://www.sorosoro.org/en/sami-languages/#:~:text=Yes.,beginning%20of%20the%2021st%20century.

https://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2019/12/will-the-sami-languages-disappear/

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/saami-languages-present-and-future

Adventure, Arctic, Everyday life, Landscape, People, Photography, Poems, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi

Away, away..

Senja island. The pointy peak is Segla. Hiked it once, amazing view. Apologies for grainy mobile shot, it doesn’t do it justice.
I love driving. One of my happy places, for sure.

“Away, away,—to the mountains away,
Where the pine trees murmur and sway,
And the foamy waterfalls sing and spring
Over the boulders gray.

Hills—
Blue and green hills, near and far,
The farther they lie, the better they are.
The near ones I can climb and see
But the beautiful far ones call to me”

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Arctic, Art, Beauty, Culture, Dharma, DIY, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Genealogy, Indigenous, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Sewing, Spirituality, Uralic, Vajrayana

Things that are yours to keep

Traditional headdress by me, shawl hand-me-down. Photo by Sebastian Wilches 2020.

Some things I truly believe are yours to keep, that no one can take from you:

Your spiritual practice. In my case, it is vajrayana buddhism. It has saved my life in many ways – both in dealing with chronic illness, but also the normal existential stuff like finding purpose and joy 🙂🙏🏼📿

Your ambitions and dreams (if they come from a place of pure motivation and love). In my case now, it has been starting a little family with children 💜🤱

Your ethnicity and ancestry, no matter how lost or scattered it is in this modern world. In my case from my personal experience, I feel very connected to my home in the Arctic and being uralic/finno-ugric. I didn’t as a kid and teenager, at all, but now as I am older, I feel like I can “own” it more. I don’t speak any of the uralic languages, and feel a sadness about this. A disconnection from my own culture. And a feeling of not belonging to a community, when they can’t speak to me. I hope my son will not feel as disconnected. But I have found other ways to express this – primarily through art and duodji. Not all languages are of verbal nature, but are equally important, I think. 🎨

Your creativity. Not necessarily arts, but anything you find a solution to that involves stepping out of the habitual intellectual mind and into a state of spontaneity and flow.🌊

Your struggles. This sounds negative, but for me I mean that my struggles are valid. I have a body that has its big share of physical problems, and I don’t mean to whine. At all! 🙂 Just to express that this is my reality, and that chronic (perhaps invisible to others) illness can happen to anyone, any time in life.💙

Your love. This one sounds cheesy but I think we all can feel love and that we have love as a basic human need. To receive it and give it. And we all have different ways of showing it. I like giving gifts for example.. but am not so good verbally expressing how I feel. I like receiving kind loving deeds, but not to be smothered. So understanding how we show it differently is important too. I also believe that as humans we have the capacity to love many at the same time. Whether it is friends or partners, plural. Romantic, familial or platonic.❤

Arctic, Art, Beauty, DIY, Indigenous, Landscape, Outfit, People, Photography

Complementary colours

Did you know there is a reason why orange+blue and yellow+purple work together so well? 🧡💙💛💜 They are considered complementary colours! “Complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale colour like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colours may also be called ‘opposite colours’.”

Everyday life, Landscape, People, Photography

Spring in Tromsø, part 2

Hair dresser. Norwegian and sámi road signs.
People sitting at Solid café.
Bastard bar and Huken pub.
Taxidermy wolf with the cathedral in the reflection.
Shop window.
Sticker in window for a sámi publishing company.
The candy shop
Running girls statue by Italian artist.
Hampen.
Melting snow.
Skansen.
“One day everyone will die, every other day we will not.”
New restaurant by the bridge.
All the dry shampoo.
Utepils
Rakettkiosken.
“Alt blir bra” – “Everything will be okay”.
Acrylic painting, Art, Culture, Dharma, DIY, Landscape, List, People, Spirituality

My top 10 favourite painters

Before even starting this list, I know this is going to be a long post. I will not be able to choose just one artwork by each artist, and I want to write what exactly it is about their work which speaks to me and inspires me. Just googling and looking through their work and studying their techniques instantly sparks motivation and awe in me.

Here are the artists:

Nicholas Roerich
Thomas Cole
K. Hokusai
John Savio
Eva Harr
Robert Gonsalves
Theodor Kittelsen
The Brothers Hildebrandt
Phil Couture

Let’s begin!

Nicholas Roerich

The list is sort of random, except for the one on top. Nicholas Roerich’s artworks are truly some of the best I’ve seen, not only in style and composition but also in the message they convey: often spiritual, mystical and religious themes combined with amazing landscapes and colour combinations.

Short trivia: Roerich (1874-1947) was a Russian painter, philospher and archeaologist. Founder of Agni Yoga or Living Ethics/Teaching of Life with his wife, Helena. He did a five year long ‘expedition’ to Asia, which in his own words were: “from Sikkim through Punjab, Kashmir, Ladakh, the Karakoram Mountains, Khotan, Kashgar, Qara Shar, Urumchi, Irtysh, the Altai Mountains, the Oyrot region of Mongolia, the Central Gobi, Kansu, Tsaidam, and Tibet”, which immensely influenced his works.

During his life, he lived both in Russia, Finland, England, India and USA.

Besides the recognition as one of the greatest Russian painters, Roerich’s most notable achievement during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact (the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments) signed April 1935 by the representatives of American states in the Oval Office of the White House. It was the first international treaty signed in the Oval Office.

There is a museum in New York displaying 150 of his works- which I would love to visit 🙂

Fun fact: The minor planet 4426 Roerich in the Solar System was named in honor of Nicholas Roerich.

Here are some of his best works, in my opinion (Sources: Google and the Roerich museum website)

703492
“On the heights, (Tummo)”, 1936 – As a breathing exercise, tummo (Candali in Sanskrit) is a part of tantric practice. Tummo literally means “brave female” in Tibetan.
aj
(Could not find the title for these, but I find them lovely)
milarepa-the-one-who-harkened-1925
“Milarepa – the one who harkened”, 1925 – the first painting I saw of Roerich and fell in love with.
Roerich_Panteleimon
“St. Panteleimon the Healer”, 1916
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(Could not find the title for this one either)
11bc22fa332e870de9ebeeb3027760d1
“Padmasambhava”, 1924 – I particularly like this one because of the colours, but also how Padmasambhava sort of sits leaning over a little mountain top looking over the meditating monk in a caring way, probably giving him some blessing, transmission or terma. I would love to have this on my wall.

Thomas Cole

As you can probably guess, my favourite kind of art is landscapes; mountains and rivers, skies and horizons. Thomas Cole’s work is very realistic and typical for the romantic era, but also carries a sort of spiritual vibe to them as he often implemented celestial beings such as angels. He is exceptionally good at perspective and composition, as you can see in the works below – and the details are amazing.

Short trivia: Thomas Cole (1801-1811) was born in England, but moved to the United states when he was 17 with his family. He is known for his amazing landscape paintings of the American wilderness, and was mostly self taught, studying other artists’ work and reading books.

In 1842, Cole embarked on a grand tour of Europe in an effort to study in the style of the Old Masters and to paint its scenery. Most striking to Cole was Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna. Cole was so moved by the volcano’s beauty that he produced several sketches and at least six paintings of it.

Fun fact: The fourth highest peak in the Catskills (where he and his wife lived) is named Thomas Cole Mountain in his honor.

I struggled choosing a limited amount of Cole’s paintings because he has so many good ones. I chose four of the absolute best ones, in my opinion, where the two first ones are part of a four series of paintings called The Ages of Life.

(Sources: google and Wikipedia)

“Childhood”
“Youth”
“Prometheus Bound” – 1847. One of Cole’s largest oil paintings. 
In the painting, Prometheus is chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus in Scythia. Zeus has punished him for endowing humans with life, knowledge, and specifically for giving humans fire.
Could not find the title for this, but I like it because it looks like a scene from the Tolkien universe.

Amid those scenes of solitude… the mind is cast into the contemplation of eternal things.

Thomas cole

Katsushika Hokusai

I love Japanese art. Although kind of typical Japanese in style, Hokusai still has his own expression, and I like the use of so many colours. He also has a lot of movement in his works, making them come alive. Just look at that wave 🙂

Short trivia: Hokusai (approx. 1760-1849), was a Japanese painter and woodblock print maker.

Hokusai had a long career, but he produced most of his important work after age 60. His most popular work is the ukiyo-e series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which was created between 1826 and 1833. It consists of 46 prints.

Hokusai was never in one place for long. He found cleaning distasteful, and instead, he allowed dirt and grime to build up in his studio until the place became unbearable and then simply moved out. The artist changed residences over 90 times throughout his life.

During a Tokyo festival in 1804, he created a portrait of the Buddhist priest Daruma said to be 600 feet (180 m) long using a broom and buckets full of ink. Another story places him in the court of the Shogun Iyenari, invited there to compete with another artist who practiced more traditional brush stroke painting. Hokusai’s painting, created in front of the Shogun, consisted of painting a blue curve on paper, then chasing a chicken across it whose feet had been dipped in red paint. He described the painting to the Shogun as a landscape showing the Tatsuta River with red maple leaves floating in it, winning the competition.

The artist also had difficulty settling on a single moniker. Although changing one’s name was customary among Japanese artists at this time, Hokusai took the practice even further with a new artist name roughly each decade. Together with his numerous informal pseudonyms, the printmaker claimed more than 30 names in total (!)

His tombstone bears his final name, Gakyo Rojin Manji, which translates to “Old Man Mad about Painting.”

Fun fact: Claude Monet acquired 23 of the Japanese artist’s prints.

(Sources: katsushikahokusai.org, artsy.net, google and wikipedia)

“Great wave off Kanawaga” – 1832
“Hokusai”
For anyone who likes Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies, I think maybe some of his creatures were inspired by this woodblock print.
“Sarumaru daiyu” – 1835

“Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tokaido” – 1842
“Inume pass in Kai Province”
In Japanese woodblock printing, the use of Prussian blue – a synthetic pigment imported from Europe – is very common. My favourite shade of blue 🙂 

John Savio

The only Sámi artist on my list, and the best one 🙂 I snuck him on there despite him not mainly being a painter, but also doing lithography. This summer, I went to see his original artworks at the Savio museum in Kirkenes, my mother’s hometown. Most of his art has arctic inspired themes; reindeers, the Sámi peoples way of life, and the wilderness (vidda).

Short trivia: John Andreas Savio (1902-1938) from Bugøyfjord, was the first sámi artist to get his own exhibition at the National Gallery (Norway). He also exhibited some of his works in Paris in 1937. 

Savio grew up as an orphan and died at age 36.

Picture I took of one of his paintings at the Savio museum in Kirkenes.
“Summer” – Lithography of a Sámi man in lotus posture
“Boy and girl” – One of his most famous works, at the Saviomuseum
“Man with reindeer ox”
A painting by Savio. The inscriptioin on the frame is in German, and is thought to have been owned by the Nazis during the war. In 2005, this painting was donated in the mail to the Savio museum from a woman in Germany. Savio rarely put dates on his art.

Eva Harr

I was lucky enough to visit Eva Harr’s gallery in Reine, Lofoten this autumn, and got to see her original works up close. Her style is realistic combined with a fiction-like feeling; it could be a real place she has painted, but it could also be a made-up dreamy landscape. She’s good at combining elements, such as rocks, and I like how she is able to make many of her paintings look hazy.

Short trivia: Harr (1951) is a Norwegian painter, born in Harstad. She has her own gallery as mentioned, and many of her works are displayed in other museums around Norway. Her own words about her art: 


“Jeg har en meditativ holdning til mitt arbeide, der naturens syklus alltid står i fokus. Døgnets ulike stemninger, lyset og mørket, nattens begynnelse og slutt – og ikke minst månen med sin mektige symbolikk og innvirkning på våre liv. Symbolene jeg finner i naturen er ofte universelle og sterkt ladet. Dette velger jeg å utforske og fordype meg i. Mitt landskap er et indre landskap, og er metafor på mine indre reiser. Jeg vil speile naturen, og dens viktige plass i våre liv. Jeg blir berørt av dette uforutsigbare som preger vår tid, uro og støy som truer vår natur. Dette preger mitt blikk, og er underliggende i mitt valg av motiv. Samtidig ser jeg klart at lysets skiftninger og landskapet i nord, er en veldig viktig inspirasjonskilde.”

from her own website, evaharr.no

Some of her amazing works (Sources: google and her website)

“Erindring” (Recollection)
“Brev hjem” (Letter home)
“Mot blått” (Towards blue)
“Over jorden” (Above the earth)

Rob Gonsalves

Four years ago, I came across one of Gonsalves’ paintings (the first one below) and it reminded me of a meditation experience I had had. So I checked out more of his works, and found so many more that I liked. Style: surrealism (or magic realism) and optical illusions.

Short trivia: Rob Gonsalves (1959-2017), also known as The Master of illusion, was a architect and painter from Ontario, Canada. His works were very much influenced by other surrealist artists, such as Dalí and Escher. He also published several books containing his works. Sadly, Gonsalves took his own life last year. Check out this webpage if you want to see more of his mindbending artworks.

(Sources: wikipedia and google)

“The phenomenon of floating”
“White blanket”.
I think there is something very cozy and safe about this painting. I love the snow, and have many times thought what it would be like if the snow was warm – like a bed.
“Nocturnal skating”
“Union of Sea and Sky” – Acrylic on Canvas. This painting reminds me of a poster I had in my room growing up, of dolphins and other sea animals underwater.

Theodor Kittelsen

One of the most famous and beloved artists in Norway. You have probably seen his works even if you don’t know it. His art reminds me of childhood, as he made illustrations to many of the big Norwegian fairytales, lores and legends. I wish I had more of Kittelsen’s art, but I have been so fortunate to get my hands on five vintage porcelain plates (for hanging on the wall) with his drawings on them, and one giclée print of “White Bear King Valemon”.

Short trivia: Theodor Severin Kittelsen (1857-1914) was a Norwegian illustrator and painter born in Kragerø. He has also written and published several poems. He came from a poor family with seven siblings, and his father died when Theodor was only 11 years old. This forced him to get out and get a job as an apprentice, which inevitably lead him to meet art historian Diderich Aall, who saw how gifted the boy was. Aall decided to pay for his art education.

In 1874, 17 years old, Kittelsen attended Wilhelm von Hannos drawing school in Christiania (now Oslo). In 1876, he travelled to München, to study at the royal art academy there.

Kittelsen’s depiction of trolls have largely shaped how people see these beloved fictional creatures.

His family’s home at Lauvlia is today a museum. Some of his most popular works were made here. His wife Inga was a stay-at-home teacher for their nine children and she organised his exhibitions.

Th. Kittelsen also composed an eerie book with illustrations about the Black Death.

Despite being very talented, Kittelsen never achieved financial security through his works.

Fun Fact: The Norwegian black metal band Burzum have used Kittelsen’s drawings for their albums Hvis lyset tar oss and Filosofem.

(Sources: wikipedia, google and theodorkittelsen.no)

“Far, far away, Soria Moria Palace shimmered in Gold”
“Self portrait” – 1887. I think this might be the best self portrait I’ve seen 😀 
“Nøkken as a white horse”. In legends and fairytales, Nøkken is a personalisation of what lives in the eerie unknown waters in forests. He lives in rivers, fresh water lakes and bogs, and often lures people in to drown them. One of Kittelsen’s most famous works is “Nøkken”.
“The troll who wonders how old he is”. I remember seeing this painting is school books, and absolutely falling in love with it.
“Huldra disappeared”. In legends, Huldra is a beautiful female creature who lures men into the woods, kind of like Nøkken. I love the misty feeling in this one.
“Echo” – 1888, oil on canvas. I absolutely adore this painting, inspired by Lofoten. Kittelsen regarded this as his best work.

The Brothers Hildebrandt

When I was a kid, I used to flick through my dad’s art books and magazines, and I specifically remember seeing fantasy paintings. Fantasy is a very unique genre, and I love how skillful you have to be with your brush to make good fantasy art. Tim and Greg Hildebrandt are two of these.

Short trivia: Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, known as the Brothers Hildebrandt (born January 23, 1939), are American twin brothers who worked collaboratively as fantasy and science fiction artists for many years. They produced illustrations for comic books, movie posters, children’s books, posters, novels, calendars, advertisements, and trading cards. Tim Hildebrandt died on June 11, 2006.

They began painting professionally in 1959 as the Brothers Hildebrandt. The brothers both held an ambition to work as animators for Walt Disney, and although they never realized this dream, their work was heavily influenced by illustration style of Disney feature films such as Snow White, Pinnochio and Fantasia.

The brothers are best known for their popular The Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, original oil paintings for a limited edition of Terry Brooks’s The Sword of Shannara, and their Magic: The Gathering and Harry Potter illustrations for Wizards of the Coast.

(Sources: timhildebrandt.com and Wikipedia)

“An unexpected party” – Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.
A scene from Tolkien’s children’s book The Hobbit.
“Mushroom village of the elves” – Tim Hildebrandt
“Gandalf visits Bilbo” – Greg and Tim Hildebrandt
Weird looking cat-fish-creature by Tim Hildebrandt.
Tim Hildebrandt’s painting of J.R.R. Tolkien sitting under a tree with one of his own imaginary creatures.

Phil Couture

An oil painting artist I discovered last year on Etsy. As mentioned above, I like Asian art, and also fine art, so Phil Couture’s oil portraits of geishas really deserved a place on my list. I ordered one of his prints not long ago. Style: realism.

Short trivia: Philippe Couture was born in Drummondville, Canada in 1984, raised in Lakeland, Florida, and currently resides in Kyoto, Japan.  He has been drawing and painting his entire life and Phil’s art education was primarily self-taught.  His training consisted of drawing and painting from life, studying masterpieces in museums around the world, and employing exercises taught by classical ateliers. – from his own website.

Couture also has his own Instagram page.

“The scarlet fringe (Shirakawa)”
“Ichiaya”
“Hanatouro”

Thanks for reading! Who is your favourite artist?