Saturday, October 25, 2008

Urban Sketching Part 3: Jyväskylä, Finland

This is Part 3 in my Urban Sketches series: Jyväskylä, Finland
Part 1: Chicago Faces
Part 2: St. Petersburg, Russia
Part 4: Uppsala, Sweden

Part two of my 1997 trip, to travel to University of Jyväskylä (prounced 'gee-VASS-cya-luh') to give a presentation to the Music Department, produced a lot of sketches. The train trip on the way up there from Helsinki was full of lots of families traveling for their summer holiday and it was a gorgeous sunny day.

An unusual character wearing the t-shirt for a Finnish Football team (that's US football, not soccer).
Sketched on the train from Helsinki. Once I botched this guy's eyeglasses, this turned into a cartoon, but I still like this picture.
Another train sketch. This mother reading to her child was actually a quite young woman, but a few botched lines aged her by 15 years and put on 25 pounds. (As my friend Mari told me, "the same is true whenever we put on makeup".) Usually I sketch inconspicuously, but in this case I was pretty overt about it since it was just me and the two of them in a passenger compartment. At the end, I felt compelled to show the picture, which I preceded by an explanation that I did a poor job and I didn't really think she looked like that. But I think she didn't understand my English so I got a blank stare.
My first night in Jyväskylä I stayed in University guest housing and I was on my own, so I wandered into town. I found a bar where I made sketches of three students. This one had a confident smirk which I captured only semi-successfully.
Another student in the bar. I remember thinking he looked a lot like Mike Meyers' 'Austin Powers' which had just come out that summer in the US, but was probably unknown in Finland still.
Another student in the bar. Notice the thing under his nose; that's called a philtral dimple. But when I showed them my sketches, the one in the beret pointed at it and laughed. I guess he thought it looked like his nose was running.
The evening after my presentation, my host Petri Toiviainen inited me to his summer home. He, his son and I enjoyed a hot sauna by their lake. Although it was well into the night, it was daylight out because of their land-of-the-midnight-sun latitude. We baked to unbelievably high temperatures, swatted ourselves with twigs, and jumped into the icy lake. I also learned about the mystical nature of the sauna, and also the correct pronounciation, which is "SOW-nuh."
This was on the train back to Helsinki. This guy was kind of an Elvis/tough guy who was making himself the center of attention in the dining car. He seemed fairly harmless, although he did whip out a switchblade and started doing tricks with it. I'm pleased with the way this sketch caught his looks and self-styled coolness. His response to the picture was ambivalent, but he did ask if he could keep the picture. He declined to give an address for me to send a copy, but he signed his name himself ('suomesta' means 'from Finland').
I'm very pleased with the way I caught the hunched-over attention this woman was paying to her book, with minimal use of lines. Her name is Simi Kouri, and she was in the dining car with me and Vesa Attonen.

See my sketches gallery for the rest of my drawings from this trip.

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