My Nordic Adventure: Helsinki Apartment




You may recall the gorgeous apartment where I stayed in Helsinki. For a long overdue addition to My Nordic Adventure Series, I painted a breakfast scene from that wonderful place, replete with Marimekko dishes and curtains and a Bialetti espresso maker (which I learned how to use out of necessity). Dreaming of going back there now…

Happy Wednesday, friends.


My Nordic Adventure: A Tribute to Bikes in Denmark




The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark were the number of bicycles, and how relatively few cars there were on the road. There are bicycles everywhere. Old women on bicycles, kids on bicycles, large people on bicycles. Nearly everyone rides a bike in Denmark. Bikes are especially popular in Copenhagen. At every street corner, they are lined up. And every street has a bike path. Rain or shine (or snow) Danes ride their bikes. It’s really an inspiring sight to see. Also, here’s a nice little blurb on the Official Website of Denmark on Bicycle Culture.

Have a wonderful Thursday, friends!


My Nordic Adventure: On Hugging an Icelandic Horse




Meeting an Icelandic horse was perhaps one of the single most magical moments of one of the best days of my life. Icelandic horses are unique to Iceland. They are relatively short and have two gaits. They have gorgeous long, thick manes. In three words: they are special. I have always loved horses, and it was a particular dream of mine to meet and hug an Icelandic horse. When I got to Iceland I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen. Most of them are somewhat wild (you see them everywhere), but I didn’t know how I could get close enough to one to make eye to eye contact. One of the days I was in Iceland, the cousin of an Icelandic friend of mine took me for a drive along the South Coast. She asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “I want to hug an Icelandic horse.” So every time we saw horses on our drive that day, she stopped her car to see if we could get close enough. And sure enough, at one stop, we met the most beautiful, most friendly group of horses. And I hugged them. I will never forget that day.

Happy Wednesday.


My Nordic Adventure: Food Packaging, Part One




One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling is to look at food packaging in grocery stores. Sometimes I’ll even buy things in stores just for the packaging! Not surprisingly, Scandinavian people have designed some of the most attractive food packaging in the world. Today’s My Nordic Adventure entry isĀ  a collection food packages that I saw and loved on my trip. There will be more food packaging to come as part of this series in the months ahead.

When you are traveling, grocery stores are great places to see great graphic design and typography specific to that culture. Sometimes food packaging hasn’t changed (or has changed very little) for 25-100 years. I love those packages the most. On my trip to Scandinavia last year, I spent a lot of time looking at aisles and aisles of food and photographing some of the beautiful stuff I saw. Sweden was especially fruitful, but I found amazing packaging in Denmark, Finland and Iceland too. I can’t wait to visit some grocery stores in Paris when I am there in July!

Happy, happy Friday to you. Have a great weekend.


My Nordic Adventure: Journal Entries, Part One




{Journal Entries from Day 12 of my adventure in Scandinavia}

When I was traveling in Scandinavia last year, I kept a travel journal for the entire adventure. Every evening after a long day of exploring, I took my thoughts, my water color paints, my pens and any ephemera I’d collected and document my day. I used one of these gorgeous Large Moleskine Watercolor Books to record everything. I have never been an art journal keeper, except when I travel. The joy I experience when I keep a journal like this makes me wonder why I don’t engage in this kind of activity in my regular life. While traveling, I find it really grounding to re-assemble my day (and all of the visual inspiration I found) in pictures and a few words.

As part of My Nordic Adventure series, I’ll share with you some of the pages from that journal. First up: two different days from my time in Copenhagen. The entry above was from Day 12 and the entry below was from Day 13 of my trip. Copenhagen is a really colorful, lively city and I cannot wait to go back and visit there again.


{From Day 13 of my Adventure}

Happy Thursday.


My Nordic Adventure: Chairs, Part One




Who doesn’t love a good chair? My trip to Scandinavia offered a treasure trove of seating delights. This week’s addition to My Nordic Adventure series is an assemblage of paintings I made of a few chairs I saw and loved in Sweden. Many of these I saw at the Nordiska Museet in their collection of Swedish decor through the ages. Have I mentioned how much I love that museum? You can read about my visit there here.

Happy Thursday, friends!


My Nordic Adventure: Stockholm Signage




Raise your hand if you love signage. I am one of those people too. I particularly (like most sign buffs) love old signs. There was a time when I would drive around different towns with my camera looking for old signs to photograph. I love signs for the same reason I love to collect certain things: the typography, the color combinations, the use of icons.

Scandinavia has some of the most beautiful signs in the world, and today’s My Nordic Adventure installment is an homage to some that I saw and loved in Stockholm, Sweden. The thing about Stockholm (and many of the places I went in Scandinavia) is that even most of the new signs were beautiful. Even the street signs are graphically cool.

I think what makes signs in countries outside your own often more interesting is that they are just so different from what we are used to. Even the use of language on the signs becomes artful or inspiring or funny. At some point I’ll get around to drawing the signs I saw and loved in Copenhagen, Helsinki and all over Iceland too.

You can see all the previous installments in My Nordic Adventure series here, and you can learn more about the project here.

Enjoy your local signage today, and happy weekend!



My Nordic Adventure: Icelandic Wishes




Today I’m back with another installation in My Nordic Adventure — a series of drawings and illustrated photographs from a trip I took to Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Denmark in September of 2012.

The day I took this photograph is a day I will never forget. It was the day I really fell in love with Iceland. You can read more about that magical day on Iceland’s The Snaefellsnes Peninsula here.

Also, thank you for all your kind emails, FB & Twitter comments about yesterday’s post. You are kind people and I am very grateful for all your well wishes and support!

Happy Thursday.


My Nordic Adventure: Swedish Mittens




Those of you who follow along here know that last week I started a new project here on this blog called My Nordic Adventure. This week’s entry: Swedish mittens! I hope you like them.

BTW, I was pretty excited when my favorite travel magazine AFAR posted about My Nordic Adventure in their Reading List: 8 of Our Favorite Stories This Week. Thank you, AFAR!!



Introducing: My Nordic Adventure Series!



Friends, I’m very excited today to introduce my latest personal project: My Nordic Adventure. Remember last fall when I went to Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland for three weeks? That trip (which you can read about in the Travel & Adventure category of this blog) was a dream come true. Through this ongoing project, I’ll share with you some of what I experienced & saw there. I collected and drew (and am still drawing) images of architecture, textiles, food, packaging, chairs, signage, and on and on. Every 1-2 weeks I’ll post an entry in the series: a collection of things (like the collection of doors, above) or just one image with some hand written reflections or a photograph montages with lettering and line drawings. I might throw in some hand drawn maps and I’ll even post some images of the actual travel journal I kept during the trip.

Today’s entry: doors! I love doors, and some of the doors I saw during this trip were exquisite. In Copenhagen and Stockholm I loved the hand lettering of door numbers. I have so many photographs of doors that I may even have to do a second installment of door paintings for the series.

Unlike previous and current personal projects (Collection a Day, 365 Days of Hand Lettering, The Reconstructionists), this project will not fall on a specific regular schedule or day of the week. However, I’ll be posting generally every 1-2 weeks here on this blog. Stay tuned for my next entry in the series later next week. Thank you for following along, and please share with others you know who love travel (or Nordic countries, in particular).

Happy Tuesday and welcome to My Nordic Adventure!