In mid July, Karen and I headed off for two weeks in Sweden and Finland. I’d been invited to be a GoH at FinnCon in Tampere, Finland over the last weekend in July so we took the opportunity to see a part of the world that neither one of us had ever been to before. Gorgeous weather throughout the trip made all our traveling easier. First we spent several days in Stockholm, a city filled with public art everywhere you looked.



Both high and low…


After several days exploring Sweden’s capitol we trained down to Jonkoping, the home of  The John Bauer Museum. Bauer is one of my favorite artists and huge inspiration in my own work. The museum itself is filled with room after room of finished paintings as well as drawers full of his sketches and preliminary drawings.


On our first day in Jonkoping we were met by artist and designer, Nicolas Krizan who showed us around the town and the lovely forested countryside where Bauer used to walk, always carrying his sketchpad. Here we are on ‘The John Bauer Trail’. I certainly would not have been surprised to see a troll or two hiding behind any one of these trees.


See what I mean?


We spent two nights at The John Bauer Hotel down the street from the museum where there were many delightful connections to the artist. Here I am on the carpet in the hallway woven with a replica of one of his most famous images.


Then we drove up to Sundborn, the home and studio of Carl Larsson which has been preserved much the way it was in his own time. Here I am at the gate ready to enter Larssonland when the battery on our camera ran out.


Its just as well, as they didn’t allow any photography taken within the house. Later, standing in his studio which was filled to the brim with his gorgeous artwork, I felt like I could almost reach out and touch the man himself.

Then it was off to the Stockholm airport and a short flight over the sea that separates the two countries. We were met by Pasi, our congenial guide and companion for the next several days . Before attending FinnCon we were able to squeeze in a visit to yet another favorite artists studio and home, Akseli Gallen-Kallela.


His home is built on a dense, tree covered spit of land that juts out into a large lake. Huge timbers, many of them carved, tapestries of his own design and many, many examples of his art covered the walls of the house.

Even his private boat dock was personalized with a hand carved weather vane:


This carving was on the front door of a museum where we viewed more of Gallen-Kallela’s work as well as many other fine Finnish artists.


I want one of those!

Then we spent three delightful days at FinnCon. The convention was presided over by Marrianna, The Supreme Queen of Everything, her sister, Karoliina and Liisa (not pictured). On the right though is Pasi, without whom our stay there would not have been nearly as much fun.


The event, which is free to all, ran very smoothly with plenty of ‘down’ time to get to know some of the other guests, Farah Mendlesohn, Petri Hiltunen and M. John Harrison especially.


After several days of intense conversations, art presentations and newspaper interviews it was time to train down to Turku, the oldest city in Finland. Our host there, Tero, a pillar of Finnish fandam, showed us around his lovely city.


We were joined by Johanna for our day long tour. Karen is hiding behind the camera.


Soon though we were aboard a giant cruise ship that threaded its way back through the thousands of islands that dot the sea between Finland and Sweden.


And then we were heading home, not quite ready to start our lives back up again.



8 Responses to “”

  1. redcrow says:

    Looks like you guys had a great trip! I hope to get to Finland someday. That little helmeted troll with the sword does get around though! I saw him a couple of times in Iceland: and

  2. tlchang says:

    Wow – what a trip! Bauer and Larsson are a couple of my favorite artists. I can’t imagine room after room of Bauer’s work! It’s so hard to see very much of it here. Sorry there couldn’t be pictures of Sundborn – I always wish I lived there when looking at his paintings.

    Thanks for sharing your trip.


  3. JFerguson says:

    Mr. Vess, Great looking trip. I’m ordering a book on Bauer from my library. One things that’s really buggin’ me. I just found out that “Drawing Down the Moon” has been cancelled by Dark Horse. Is this true? If so, are you going to release the book through another publisher or perhaps self publish? I’m very disappointed that a book of your art is not going to be published. I would really appreciate it if you would comment on what’s going on with this publication.

  4. Charles Vess says:

    I just noticed today that ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ was no longer on the Dark Horse site, but no one from DH has let me know one way or the other. When I know something I’ll let you know, okay?


  5. Marc Hodge says:

    Charles, I’m glad you had such a great time. I had a chance to go to Sweden 4 years ago and was able to see both Stockholm as well as Jonkoping. The John Bauer Museum is indeed a wonderful place. It was great just to be able to examine the original art. Unfortunately for me, I only had three days to do the whole trip in, but it was wonderful nonetheless.

  6. orchard says:

    I discovered John Bauer about the same time I discovered your work, so the two of you are linked in my mind. I had no idea that that Bauer painting was so huge! I thought his paintings were tiny.When I first heard of him I ordered the slender John Och Ester from Bud Plant for almost a hundred bucks!
    The sculpture and architecture are amazing, like another world.
    I ordered Drawing Down The Moon last week from Amazon( from Irene Gallo’s widget) Can’t wait.

  7. Malcolm says:

    Semi-conscious drunk on the carpet again i see :)

  8. [...] (left image via; image credit: Charles Vess) [...]

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