Our group meets up with some Tampere based artists, including Tiitu Takalo and Ville Pirinen. An opportunity to compare approaches, discuss techniques and find out about opportunities for Finnish comic artists. KUTIKUTI is a non-profit contemporary comics association; they publish a quarterly anthology (open call) that is distributed nationwide for free. Reminds me how good it is to work in collaboration and not exist in a vacuum of 1. I make a mental note that when I’m back in UK I will definitely join the group comics anthology I’ve been invited to.

I have a difficult fortnight finding value in my work and project; though I know I should give it time, the difficulties in finding apt subjects are making me doubtful over it’s meaning and purpose. I’m not happy with the drawings I’m creating. They feel twee and rigidly representational.

Not meeting and not being able to converse with people is bothering me.
Talking to the others about this, they point out that the project I’ve set myself is a challenging one. Yes, I could be based in the studio, or making drawings from photographs, but I’m trying something different. Or am I only making things unnecessarily hard for myself?

Three of us go for a walk intending to draw at an isolated and ramshackle house; when we get there the owner declines our request. The effortless way that Neil asks and then accepts his rejection sticks in my mind; he does not take it personally at all.

Conversations and occurrences like this one remind me to be adaptable, remain open, and that my project can and should evolve as it needs to.

Being here I can see I’m conditioned to working on commissions and to briefs, following a work process that has predestined end results. It is hard to accept other ways of working, where the goal is less or not even remotely defined, where a week’s work might produce 1 half decent drawing and 6 useless ones, if any. I feel quite envious of those people working on their graphic novels. Their narratives seem secure and there’s something appealing about working through pages of panels (patience wringing as that is) and having concrete results to show at the end of the month.

Looking beyond individual small holdings, I’m now pursuing meetings with several farm businesses, though this was not my original plan (that’s me trying to adapt). The shift in season from winter to spring seems to be making these awkward to set up.

I come up with the idea of written translations for when I meet non-English speakers and want to tell them what I’m doing / ask to draw them. The cards certainly help, though conversation remains elusive. I just wish I thought of it earlier.

A fortuitous encounter in the second hand market lifts my mood. At a booth of intriguing items I meet their seller, a pensioner named Kauko; we hit it off. I accept his offer to visit an artist friend of his, Rauni. She lives in what used to be her grandparents’ summer house, by the lake, with a modern studio annexe. We talk about how the area has changed and people farm much less, how she misses having contact with artists when here and she tells me the 2 huge oaks in the garden are saplings that came from historic Karelia region, since relinquished to Russia.

Both Kauko and Rauni seem to get my project, which I’m surprised to feel a genuine sense of relief about. The last 2 weeks have been a little up, mainly down, as I try to accept and develop new ways of working, while everyone else seems to trot along productively.