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Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Originally I am from Leppävirta, a small town in the midst of forests, fields and lakes in Eastern Finland. It was a good place to grow up, to learn about the nature and how to live with it. Now I live in Tampere, in Western Finland. It is a perfect sized city between two big lakes and has a lot of beautiful nature around.

Forest Cuckoo (detail)


When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

I always knew that I want to do something with my hands. Painting came maybe by accident when I was studying and realized how beautifully water treats the watercolors and how uncontrolled it is to paint. I had not painted much, but a friend of mine asked if I could make something for his daughter. I painted a girl, a fox, a bird and a volcano by a sea and that is how everything probably started.


Nature is predominant in your work. How do you stay connected to nature in your day-to-day life?

While the watercolors in my paintings are drying it is nice to walk, bicycle or just go to sit by a lake or to a park. Nature gives me ideas and the patience to work. It is wonderful to see all the layers of nature and how they are connected to each others. It makes me to feel very small and eager to remember those moments by painting and capturing them.


According to your bio you've spent a lot of time in Reykjavík, Iceland. How is the landscape different there from your home in Finland?

The first time when I went to Iceland, I lived in a beautiful Northern fishing village of 1400 inhabitants. The other times I spent in Reykjavík. Living by the sea (and on an island) was such a dream for me. In Finland we have lakes and also seas, but they get frozen in winter. In Iceland the seas are alive all year around, but the mountains might have snow even in summer. There are glaciers and volcanoes too. There are dense forests everywhere in Finland, but Iceland is almost naked compared to that. Both are for sure very beautiful in their own special ways.

How has your personal style of illustration developed?

My style is almost the same as when I first started to paint. In the beginning I sketched very quickly, because I was so eager to get the painting part started. These days I have more patience to sketch and think, but at the same time I can also paint very spontaneously without sketching at all. Most of my flora paintings have no sketches at all, they have grown leaf by leaf and petal by petal. The sketching part is done more in my mind than on paper.


What is your favorite subject to paint? 

I enjoy everything. I am happy when an illustration is used in a new way or the style is connected to new ideas. I am happiest when people commission work with their own theme. Then I can observe and research and then dive to a new different life for a moment. Or as long as a painting is finished.

Your work has such exquisite detail and must be very time-consuming. Are you committed to painting exclusively or would you consider going digital for certain projects?

Painting exclusively sounds wonderful to me, though there is also all the paper work, dishes to wash up, plants to water, teapots to drink empty, the different weather to experience and all the kilometers to walk and bicycle, which I also do with a great pleasure. But yes, if a nice idea arises, I would think about digital, though I might be a quicker painter these days.


Anna Emilia's website.