It's amazing what you can send by post...

...and possibly it arrives to its destination in one piece. Some art that I've sent through the post recently: a postcard-sized watercolor, four framed and unframed oil paintings.

1. The watercolor flew to Norway.

abstract watercolor titled Cocci Green 1

The title is "Cocci Green I", and it went to Moss, Norway, for the Twitter Art Exhibit benefiting The Women's Crisis Center in Moss. The exhibition has been organized by the artist David Sandum, and it's a brilliant way to fund raise for a good cause as well as introduce the general public to artists from all over the globe (and for a reasonable price, anyone can own an one-of-a-kind, easily transportable artwork). More information about the exhibit, which opens April 13, 2012, at

This work is from my newest "bacteria and other single-celled creatures" obsession,..I mean series. Sometimes I have a need to move away from the "macro" world of human figures and tighten my focus to the "micro" world, the basic units of life. Even though the actual details and mechanisms of cells (and all aspects of biology) fascinate me, I choose to edit those out of my watercolors and leave the more sweeping motions, shapes and colors.

2. My dad has a stop-over at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

And I hope he gets to stay for the BP Portrait Awards exhibition. The selection process is ongoing for the next two weeks, and I'll be biting my fingernails while assuming a distracted, 100-yard stare the whole time. Just waiting for the results of this selection committee would be one thing, but added to it is...

3., 4. and 5. "The Guys" were packed off to the Mall Galleries in London.

portrait of the artist's father-in-lawportrait of standing veterinarianportrait of husband and dog

Mikko, Matti and Sakari (with Laku the dog) were shipped off to the Mall Galleries in London for second-round selection for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Open Exhibition. To save on shipping costs I sent them via Express Mail, and in my anxiety, and to make sure they wouldn't arrive late, I put them in the post ridiculously early, as in a week too early. My reasoning was based upon the post office quoting me a 3-5 day delivery window, and I translated the post office speak as 5-7 days. The nice gentleman who answers the Mall Galleries' phone assured me they would be unpacked and eyeballed. Mercifully the wait is only until next week.

I guess I'll while away the time working out how to pack the paintings and ship them back to Finland from Finland.

My First Commissioned Official Portrait

Rauli Svento portrait and reveal Friday September 16th, 2011, was a very exciting day for me. That afternoon was the reveal of Professor Rauli Svento's portrait, which was my very first commissioned official portrait. Or how I slipped up and described it to the Dean of the Business School as 'my first official commissioned portrait', which sounds like it was my very first commission, officially, ever. To makes things clear: it is an official, public portrait of Professor Rauli Svento, commissioned to celebrate his 60th birthday and his distinguished career at Oulu University (and he's not done yet!). It will hang in the Oulu Business School (Oulu University Linnanmaa campus, here is a link to the university posting about the event).

Professor Rauli Svento has worn many hats during his career at Oulu University: researcher, professor, Dean of Economics and Business Administration and Vice-President of Oulu University. He played a central role in building the Business School program from the ground up and as a co-creator of the Matti Ahtisaari Institute.

Professor Rauli Svento was a brilliant sitter to paint, and that superlative works in two ways: he has a very amiable and easygoing character that brought a calm focus to the painting process, and his intelligence and perceptive nature made for very interesting topics of conversation. It's not every day that I get the chance to pick the brain of a top-notch economist, what with all the global market explosions going on these days.

The portrait was composed in shades of blue, blue being Professor Rauli Svento's suggestion and preference. I  see it as a direct challenge to all those brown and muddy-grey toned portraits that can be found lurking the halls of universities and hospitals, remnants of a pseudo-cubism episode of portraiture here in Finland that just won't die.

The portrait was completed over a course of six sittings in the spring of this year. I tried to keep the light consistent by scheduling each sitting for the same time in the mid-morning. The painting was started in semi-defuse sunlight conditions, so I was thrown off one morning, near the completion of the portrait, when the sun came out from behind the clouds and light popped through two windows at once. It was a surprise (I had forgotten how spring sunlight came in the room, due to the long, miserably dark winter) and I was excited to put down new colors and highlights, but I had to stop and control the impulse to capture that specific moment of light because it would have upset the balance of the composition. Plus, people would probably have wondered at the strange light situation and ignored the subject.

Six sittings seemed like a lot of time (average 2-3 hours each) when I initially scheduled it, but it was just sufficient for painting the face. I used photographs taken at a few sessions (under different weather conditions) as references for modelling the suit, tie and backdrop in between sittings. As I couldn't step back from the portrait during the sittings (I still need a studio, surprise!), I also referred to the photographs to correct any blunders in the drawing/likeness.