Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Soul Bird & the Swan

This is the main outcome of yesterday's creative efforts - the birthday card was just a quick diversion. It is a page in one of my art journals, but I'm hoping it will eventually make it on to a canvas.

The inspiration for this came from a forum post over on UKPagan by a friend and it intrigued me enough to investigate and find out more.

Soul birds, or sielulintu originate from the Karelia region of Finland. They are believed to bring the soul to a new born baby, and to take it away again when the person dies. Birds were considered holy, and the holiest was the swan. With it's long neck the swan could look at all levels of the world, including Tuonela - the land of the dead. The Finnish composer Sibelius produced many works based on Finnish Mythology, including the Karelia suite, and the Swan of Tuonela - the swan which glides eternally upon the river Tuoni.

That was a couple of months ago, and these ideas have been simmering away at the back of my mind since then, waiting for the idea to form, but mostly waiting for the soul bird to take shape. Finally it all came together, and yesterday it took form on a blank journal page. Unfortunately it was too late to get a decent picture yesterday, and it's still gloomy out today, so the picture still isn't that great.

Background is Black Soot DI over gesso. Soul bird is Stewart Gill White Mist over acrylic. Swan is white acrylic base, with watercolour to give shading. Hills are black marker!


  1. Hey Nigel.. this looks great and thanks for the info about Soul Birds.. lovely

  2. Beautiful page-love the detail on the swan, and the mountains are so effective-lovely story behind it too.

  3. A beautiful page Nigel and you have educated me again. Love the story. xx

  4. Wooow, what a stunning swan, the background is very striking and dramatic! This page definately has a great atmosphere...;)

    Ps. Not yet, still reliving the moment!
    lol ;-)))

  5. Thanks for the video..totally captivating...a feast of shapes in music and colour.
    Your swan is did that freehand?
    Wow, iF so!!! As I write this, I can hear Sibelius, another link at the end of your video clip.
    I shall think of this composer in a different light now. Thank you, Nigel.

    How long before your canvas is done?
    Sue xx

  6. Terrific journal page and love your painting of the swan. It will make a beautiful canvas. Annette

  7. Dear Nigel ~ I am SO moved by what you've created ...the soul bird and swan are perfection ... I have been drawn to swans for many years now

    the video is captivating and hauntingly beautiful as well = WOW!


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