Memories Of Warm Summer Days

Fireweed in the summer night light

dry moss

Baltic sea beach

strawberries from the garden

gray sky over the river

Mountain lake and sunset

Mountains and orange sky

Butterfly

rapsberries from the garden

drought in the forest

summer sky

baltic sea rock beach

beetroots from the garden

Fireweeds and gray sky

noctilucent clouds

Never had I seen the forest so dry or heard the moss creaking under my feet.

The dust from the dirt road to the seaside was flying around the car, falling on the wild blueberry bushes and staying there, a coat of gray on the forest floor that no rain came to wipe off.

Nestled between the forest and the Baltic sea were little summer cabins, little summer paradises, brought back to life for the warm weeks of July. The sun was hot, the wind was warm and it felt easy to get into the water. I’d thought it wouldn’t be warm enough for anything but a quick dip, but it was delightful to bathe and swim for a while. It felt just like when I was a kid and my family spent the end of our summers by the Mediterranean sea.

The grass in the garden had stopped growing long before Midsummer. The raspberries started ripening so early that we pondered cancelling our trip to the mountains and stay at home on jelly duty.
As we picnicked by the river after an unexpected pause to set up the spare tire, we watched the sky darken and wondered: will there be a thunderstorm? Will we get rain to cool the air a little? Or will the thunder start another forest fire?

We set the table in the garden every day. When the sun had turned and we could be in the shade, we picked the raspberries. Late at night, when it was a little cooler, Mom and Dad and I cooked many jars of jelly.

There was a watering ban, so we collected water went we showered and carried watering cans to try and save my vegetable patch. We couldn’t do miracles. But there were few pretty beetroots and some delicious strawberries.

Come August, there was a warning for cyanobacterial bloom at one of the nearby beaches.

The night sky got slowly darker. I was the days when you gaze up and spot a star and think: funny how I’d forgotten about that! I got a text from my brother one night. “If you look North, you will see noctilucent clouds”.

 

 

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Here Comes The Snow

snow on autumn leaves || by marion

first snow in the forest || by marion

snowy fir branch || by marion


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Holiday Windows: Two Cards

Color pencil Scandinavian Holidays Greeting Cards by Marion

I can’t say I’m excited about changing the clock to winter time next weekend. But then there are snowflakes on the weather forecast and soon, there will twinkling stars popping at the windows.

I remember taking the longer route home through the streets of Ullevål this time of year, gazing at all the delicately illuminated windows. For me, coming from places where fairy lights often tend to be overly flashing and unreasonably multicolored, the Scandinavian take on holiday decorating is perfection. It’s truly magical.

Drawing these cards, I found myself looking at those windows from the inside. Such a nice feeling !

Holiday card drawing process || by marion

 

My main focus these days was to create scenes in which something “happens”: this is something I want to get better at, because often my drawings are kind of “static”.

Interiors are also high on the list of things I want to practice drawing (I am a homebody, after all!). Several persons commented about my christmas tree design that I should try adding a background to the scene. So, it was time to give it a try.

What was the most difficult was to decide how to mix a “kid’s drawing-like”, geometric style with a little bit of perspective. Also, depending on the texture and the direction on the lines in the background, I either ended up with a cold, empty room feeling or (hopefully!) a warm and cozy one.

Here again, the best way for me to experiment and correct mistakes as I went was to draw everything on paper with colored pencils and merge the different parts digitally.

I am getting the files ready to send to the printer, and hope to add these two cards to my little shop soon!


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In The Autumn Forest

autumns birch leaves || by marion

On the last day of August, I took a little morning walk.

Path in the forest || by marion

I followed the path into the forest.

Autumn forest lingonberries zoom || by marion

The floor was covered with red blueberry leaves and lingonberries.

mushroom || by marion

It’s been rainy lately and now mushrooms are popping up everywhere.

Autumn forest floor lingonberries ||by marion

As I explored and took pictures, the wind made a nice rustling sound in the trees above my head.

mushroom || by marion

It really really looked like a fairy tale forest.

Lingonberries || by marion

Quiet, and full of treasures.

Autumn forest floor mushrooms ||by marion

more photo challenges


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Birch Forest Spring

Birch Forest Spring || Watercolor and cut paper collage || by marion

One of the things I love most about living in Scandinavia is the strong contrast between seasons. But even from week to week, nature keeps changing drastically. When I started thinking about making a spring version of my birch forest, the things that came to my mind were these little flowers and tender green birch leaves. In reality, they come several weeks apart (and perhaps not exactly in the same spots); but what’s the point of making art if you can’t play with the rules of nature?

spring flowers

As for the fall version, I painted the foreground birches, birds, flowers and leaves on a separate piece of paper before cutting them and gluing them onto the background.

Cut paper pieces || spring flowers || by marion

Cotton paper is wonderful to paint on. I enjoyed playing with successive layers of paint and letting the transparency of watercolors do its magic.

The making of the birch forest ||cut paper and watercolor || by marion

This time I tried adding some extra leaves on the forest floor. I’m not sure it adds any interest though. I also prefer the way the shadows of the trees look on the fall version.

I think I’ll make the summer version next. Winter will require a bit more research: there’s a lot of white to think about!

But this week I’m taking a little break from birds and trees to work on some greeting cards designs. What about you? I hope you have a great week!


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One Year Of Jam

Home-made jam || by marion

Wild blueberries || by marion

Raspberry and blueberry jam || by marion

Raspberry bushes || by marion

Wild blueberry and raspberry jam || by marion

Wild blueberries in the forest || by marion

Blueberry, raspberry & plum crisp || by marion

Blueberry picking forest view || by marion

Little jars, big milestone!
Last August, I made jam. August is there again: here in the north of Sweden, raspberries and wild blueberries are ripe and delicious. There’s still a jar of jam left from last year, and now I’m making more. Full circle!

On this journey to growing & foraging more of my own food,  the most important lesson I’m constantly learning is to lower my expectations and set reasonable goals.

Making one year’s worth of jam was my goal for last year. It was reasonable: raspberry bushes grow on their own in our garden, requiring zero maintenance except one yearly trimming. As for blueberries, well, the forest all around is full of them.

We’re celebrating the new berry season with Natalie’s fruit oatmeal crisp. Let me tell you, it’s delicious. After investing in a berry-picker comb, we set a new reasonable goal for this year: make another year’s worth of jam, plus freeze some fresh berries to enjoy next winter.

This is nothing like self-sufficiency, but there’s something so deeply satisfying about seeing those jars pile up. Not too little, not too much, just what we need plus some to give as gifts. Growing our own food, one little step at a time.

My super simple wild blueberry/raspberry jam

  • Servings: about 3 jars
  • Print

This is how I make my summer berries jam. I don’t even use any special jam sugar or additional pectin, but usually it sets just fine. I reuse peanut butter jars (such as pictured above) I save all year long. While I cook the jam, I sterilize the jars by putting them in the oven at 100°C for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 800 g crystal sugar (I use organic white sugar)
  • 1 kg fresh berries
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large pot. While stirring, bring to a boil, boil until a foam forms, rises on the sides of the pot and falls again. Reduce the heat and boil for a 5-10 more minutes while stirring. Pour still hot into sterilized jars. Close the jars and put them upside down to cool. The jam will seem liquid but will set as it cools.

 


more glimpses of life


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May Snapshots

birch leaves With may came green leaves,

field green fields,

seedlings and tiny green seedlings.

splitting firewood There was firewood to cut and split.

rainbow One day there was a rainbow.

blooming tree The tree started blooming.

evening walk I went on many evening walks.

sunset The days got longer and longer,

early morning mist and now there are bright nights and this early morning mist is back.


more glimpses of life


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A Bike Ride

bike shadow

bumpy road sign

forest sweden

moss

forest long exposure

västerbotten spring landscape

forest

moss

river

wild geese

The snow and ice are gone, and I went for a ride. Raced through the forest, stopped to listen to the silence. Heard birds. Smelled newly cut trees. Heard water running. Smelled moss and wet earth. Saw wild geese in the fields. Felt sun and wind on my skin. It felt good.


more glimpses of life


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Winter Village

Winter Village || Watercolors, watercolor pencils and cut paper collage || bymarion
I’m hesitating between “Winter Village” or “How I maintained my sanity during an intense couple of weeks”. I guess it’s a little bit of both 😉

Inspired by this walk and this scene.


other things on my desk


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