Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!
And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.
So you have been warned!
Oh yeah, one more thing. Please excuse any annoying adverts, they're only here to help fund this little blog. "

- Alan Hogan


Expat blogs in Finland
IX13 - Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs 2013

Listed in the Top 100 blogs (39)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Two Landscapes and a Council of Trees!






Here's two paintings I made a few years ago.



'Sophia's Landscape'

The first here is called 'Sophia's Landscape' and it shows a typical summer scene from western Finland. This particular painting was from a photograph taken near the town of Nivala in the province of Oulu. The original painting is now owned by a private art collector in Helsinki.


This original photo from Nivala/Finland
was inspiration for 'Sophia's Landscape'







'Fourteen Angry Trees'

The second painting is made up of four individual frames each sized 70cm x 50cm. I decided to call it 'Fourteen Angry Trees', but I might be willing to change the title if anyone has a better suggestion. It depicts an imaginary landscape behind fourteen distressed and bitter-looking trees with a lot on their 'mind'. To achieve the image above I photographed the four original paintings and joined them together using image-editing software on my computer. The original painting or tetraptych (size 70cm x 200cm) can be seen in the video below.

    





Prints of 'Sophia's Landscape' are available here!




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- Alan 

    

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mayweather in Finland!

I just wanted to throw a blogpost in quickly as it seems the winter in Finland may finally be over, well at least until after autumn. And no, this post has nothing to do with the recent boxing fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, so apologies to any boxing fans who stumbled onto my blog here. I hope it was a good fight. I didn't see it myself unfortunately, I was fast asleep in bed!

Getting back to May-weather, last Thursday saw the arrival of Vappu, Finland's annual Mayday celebrations which actually begins on the 30th of April and can continue until May 1st or even longer for some folk depending on whether or not you have a strong head! It's traditionally a very Finnish affair with students past and present wearing their white graduation hats. I've been told that in the past students also had a blue hat which was worn during the winter months and then swapped for a white version on Vappu to celebrate the arrival of spring, summer and happy days. There are various styles of hats symbolising which area, academy or field you studied. For example if you qualified as an engineer you would normally have a long string and tassle attached to your hat. I think I prefer the normal white sailor type hat myself.


The traditional Finnish student hat


Of course as I studied in Ireland myself I don't have this white student hat. To my knowledge students in Ireland don't have student hats, maybe one or two junior schools wear them as part of a uniform but definately not used as graduation wear for Secondary School (High School). Nope, all we received was a certificate and a jolly good wave goodbye! Some third-level colleges and universities may have special graduation garments and hats similar to those found in the United States of America. These are usually rented though, so you would never see them worn annually on May day.

Anyway, with the absence of a white hat I decided to grab my old school tie instead and throw it on just for Vappu. Don't ask me why I still have my old tie, just a bit of nostalgia I suppose! I wasn't going to any Vappu parties so it didn't matter if it offended anyone or looked silly. With my striped-maroon St. David's school tie fitted on and a few drinks ready for some cocktail-experimentation I felt a bit like Harry Potter. My first trick was the exploding champagne bottle!!! Maybe I've just started a new trend for expats, wearing an old school tie on Vappu!

This years Vappu weather couldn't have been more confusing. I was planning a nice garden barbeque with friends for last Thursday, but then after a few pleasant sunny days this arrived on Wednesday morning and continued for most of the day. The final snow show!


  

With no option but to cancel my bbq plans I decided simply to enjoy a bottle of bubbly and some drinks indoors. This didn't stop those in the big cities from partying hard though  and to everyone's surprise the snow melted away like magic and sunshine brought joy to the land of Moomin and trolls. From what I heard there were actually a few new trolls crawling the streets of Helsinki on Thursday night! But overall throughout Finland people had a great day out. Lots of fun, balloons, good weather and of course champagne! Here's a video by a young mexican lady who went to the Vappu outdoor celebrations in the town of Lappeenranta in eastern Finland. She's explains what Vappu is all about in a more photogenic way than I could ever do!





You can read more about Vappu in Finland on my previous blogpost called 

Vappu! - May Day in Finland

Simply click on the image below!
















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- Alan
 



               
                                                             









Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Eggs: Irish v Finnish eggs




As it's the Easter this weekend I just wanted to post a quick blog on Easter eggs.









As a kid growing up in Ireland the best thing about Easter was receiving chocolate Easter eggs. It's customary for Irish children to get an egg from their parents and they often get a few more from relatives also. With lots of nice and kind relatives I usually got around five or six eggs in total!









The eggs themselves vary in size from the smallest 12cm to the largest being around 20cm in height. It's possible to buy much larger eggs, but these are usually expensive and popular with husbands buying for their wives. Most eggs are made from either milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. Inside your average Easter egg you can find a bag of chocolate sweets or candy
depending on which brand. 







Most eggs are packed in boxes and foil, some come in very large boxes! The lower-priced eggs (without a box) are usually made from a chocolate-candy, and not as tasty as the real chocolate eggs. Some popular eggs when I was younger were the 'Buttons', 'Flake' and 'Milk Tray' eggs all produced by Cadburys. The famous Milk Tray box of chocolates has been around for as long as I remember and is an old favourite in Ireland. .... James Bond has nothing on the Milk Tray man!





I may be wrong but the large-sized Easter eggs don't seem so common in European countries outside Ireland and the UK, although a few can be found in shops such as Lidl and Aldi. When some Finnish friends of mine were presented with eggs while visiting me when I lived back in Ireland they were quite surprised at how large the typical Irish Easter egg was.

In Finland the eggs you find in shops are usually small. The most common ones I've noticed are the Kinder Surprise egg with a small toy inside. There are many other egg brands of a similar size such as Minnie Mouse, Transformers and of course Angry Birds. I consider the Kinder egg to be like the Cadbury's Creme Egg, and not quite an Easter egg due to the fact that they're both available all year round, at least I think they are. 
For me the best Easter eggs in Finland are the Mignon eggs. These are something special, and nothing like anything you will ever find in Ireland.



The Mignon Egg
   




The Mignon Egg is produced by the Finnish food company Fazer, one of the largest companies in Finland. This egg is the second oldest Fazer product, dating back to 1896 and is considered to be the quintessential Finnish Easter egg. The most notable feature about the Mignon egg is it's resemblence to a normal everyday hen's egg. This is because it is indeed a perfectly natural egg which has be drained of it's contents, cleaned and then filled with a blend of delicious nougat and chocolate. The natural egg look is then enhanced by it's real egg-box packaging. The result is a piece of chocolate art and what I would call an adult's easter egg!!! In other words, it's sitting in my fridge now waiting to be devoured! 

Of course, for those who don't like chocolate here in Finland there is also another customary dish which can be found well-stocked on supermarket shelves this Easter. This is called Mämmi (pronounced Memmy in english). 




Mämmi is an acquired taste and will only appeal to some. For me it was a big NO!! NO!! the first time I tasted it. But as I am a fan of Guinness (a sort of liquified version of Mämmi) I may try tasting it again someday. The Finns consider Mämmi a dessert, but I would rather compare it to a potent energy power-breakfast. Here's a video of what sounds like a Scottish guy describing this Finnish Easter dish in detail !!!
 ... Warning! Viewers discretion advised!!!





Thank you for visiting my blog and Happy Easter from Finland!!!


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- Alan
 



               
                                                             








Monday, March 23, 2015

For the Records!

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I presently have a garage full of old wood left over from a bathroom and sauna renovation. I have used quite a lot of it so far as firewood over the winter. I intend to salvage whatever reusable pieces I can. One idea I had is to build a little unit under my old vinyl record player to store all those old records I've collected over the years. I stumbled upon a few cool designs here on the internet just to inspire me. While the wood I have is old, I still think I can build something suitable and functional. Nothing like a bit of functional design!














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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

    

Monday, March 16, 2015

Holding for Hilda







This painting is called 'Holding for Hilda' and it depicts one of the many soapstone sculptures from the Pohjola building in Helsinki, Finland. A slight modification by myself plays on the painting's title and is purposely aimed at bringing the public's attention to the original designer of these wonderful sculptures. 
Her name was Hilda Flodin (1877-1958)

Hilda Maria Flodin (16 March 1877 in Helsinki - 9 March, 1958) was a Finnish sculptor, painter and graphic artist. She had come from financially stable background, with her parents Frithiof Flodin and Fanny Basilier working for the State Council. While not caring for school much, a young Hilda Flodin became a better student at the age of 16 on starting art studies at the Finnish Art Society drawing school (Suomen Taideyhdistyksen piirustuskoulussa) in Helsinki (1893-1898). Here she studied her first five years under teachers Helene Schjerfbeck and Albert Gebhard. In 1899 she left to pursue her studies in Paris France, where she studied at the Académie Colarossissa.

Her early period of works consisted of mainly sculptures and graphics. Flodin at an early age also became familiar with various methods of printmaking. A Paris exhibition in 1908 included subjects such as Helsinki and clouds representing her graphic works.

However, while the Pohjola building, designed by the great Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen is in itself a fine achievement, for me Hilda Flodin's wonderful soapstone sculptures are the icing on the cake. Well worthy of some light under Saarinen's shadow. The Pohjola building, built in 1901 can be found at 44 Aleksanterinkatu in the centre of Helsinki. Constructed from granite it's an excellent example of Finnish Romantic style architecture. Here's a little video clip I made that illustrates both Eliel Saarinen and Hilda Flodin's work.



If you understand Finnish here's a good link for a closer look at the life of Hilda Flodin.

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

    
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