April 20, 2014


"This is too bad to be true. Now Life is a bit too insulting, my misfortunes too improbable -- this just can't happen, the bad timing is too good..."

"This is too good to be true. This is not really happening, getting such an opportunity after such a long time; hope that I'm not being had, something's askew... do I hear angels singing? Come on."

After experiencing these new feelings of such profound unreality -- instances quite unrelated but within a fortnight -- well, then one had to paint again. Both times, everything went sort of sliding by, taking place on the fictional side of the lens. The world had lost its substance -- and I, obviously, vital parts of the screenplay -- might have to spend the rest of my only life improvising... Anyhow:

This vivid feeling of Not Really Happening and Silver Screen attracts, as we heard before, angels. And there's celluloid film, of course. (The ultimate symbol of Only Make Believe -- sadly but appropriately it is falling into disuse, thus out reality itself). Then what about the couple in the front...?

...They're made out of black and white, clean paper versus its opposite -- an unusual lot of ink with smudgy aquarelle. (It's the perfect way to ruin a painting if you're not careful. And your white shirt too.) Most likely they stand for for longings, perhaps for that magic moment when Impossible meets Possible Anyway... you decide. It takes an angel to sing praise to uncertainty. Let them sing. Let us embrace the feeling that life is greater than we know, more unreal for better and worse.

("Embrace": letter size miniature, the usual ink-and-aqua.)

April 13, 2014

On Dalslandic Elevenses

This little piece is my dear friend Marie's fault. Or mine -- I happened to tell her about the curious and ancient eating habits that we had back when my family went to old little Dalsland during the summers, where time stood graciously still. And like the Mad Tea Party, the meals -- with quaint names that wouldn't translate even into modern Swedish -- tended to drag into each other. A sort of First breakfast crashed into Second breakfast. Seconds tended to saunter into some kind of pre-brunch, rolling on relentlessly into brunchlunch. This was all served in a lulling marinade of cheerful nonsense from my dear Granny, who was never able to stand a table conversation more radical than the weather yesterday, provided that it didn't rain too excitingly much. Attempts at resurrecting actual exchange of ideas were forcibly -- that is, cheerfully -- interrupted with some fine reminiscence of what my very same Grandmother did or heard once as a child, not very far from here, on that hill over there, or something in the same social but slightly anaemic vein. You had to run and hide early in the morning; I preferred to go out painting in this wonderful landscape (no breakfast but shake sugaree, provided that I got away...) this maze of small but very round hills clinging on the top of each other and covered all over with pines; interspersed with innumerable tarns and lakes, like deep and dark eyes, a realm of elks and yarns. It is quite dark and sad in this little piece; reflecting, like one of those murky creeks, my present mood. Not much one can do about it...

...to the best of my knowledge, they still have "dinner" at two p.m. And 'round something like three or four in the afternoon one might get invited to a large party, merry, hearty but nonetheless Ordeal that starts with coffee and sandwiches followed by coffee and cinnamon buns and then coffee and seven different kinds of cookies and you got to have one of each and when you're prepared to die -- dying 's bad table manners but there's not much one can do about it -- there comes the cream cake. And, nota bene, coffee. Then there's ordinary dinner (disguised as something else, for it is quite ruined now) and at last some kind of evening meal and... yes, now we were back at my Grandmother's place, not very far from where she was born and also near the place where she found a toad recently, id est, reheated Marinade d'Monologue.

So; Marie, who found this amusing, urged me to do some kind of rendering. Now let's see. There are fish swimming through the air -- one looked like this when I was working on it, the background came later...

...and elves dancing -- my friend's suggestion, as there are enough things dancing in the back of my mind already and they sort of had to be spirited away without digressing -- thus a little misty and fleeting -- and last but not least, coffee. Have some more coffee.

Time for dessert. This sketch I did on the spot, many years ago, escaping. You see the house up there, on the other side of a tarn.

April 06, 2014

Chinese Pear Factory

I had to paint this. Say a little symbolic something, even if real life is much more cruel. I read in the Svenska Dagbladet (March 31, 2014) about a place named Tangshan in China, where the pear trees are dying from all the pollution spewed from the steel factories. And when the pear trees don't grow pears, the farmers have nothing to farm. They they have to find work at the steel factory.

Ink-and-aqua, letter size. Detail: Pears and farmers in tears. --- We live on the same planet, and the toxic clouds that are murdering fruit in China are also threatening you and me. We are all pears.

March 30, 2014


Naïve enough, but still. Here are the Owls again, finished (and available as a Poster). The whole work:

Drawing with light digital strokes on dark, sort of etching in light, gives the dreamy little piece a kind of shimmer:

Let's have a look at the heights, or towers, or whatever they are. There's a bit of everything in them. The usual rules apply: If I know what those things are, I won't tell you. If I don't know, I will. Reality has a tendency to catch up with art; I get to understand what I paint much later.

By then, I hope that the owls had a safe landing after all.

March 23, 2014

Blue Drag

A little musica ad hoc, all instruments real and imaginary played by me (albeit not in the same time really) -- piano, three ukuleles, one acoustic and one electric guitar; synthetic, next to toxic strings and lastly pan flutes sampled from a tone played by a craftsman/vendor in the Andes; the original sound was very authentic -- and also very false. Voilà.

I am particularly happy that I got both joy and sadness into it, perfectly and irrevocably entangled; i.e. Life. Perhaps one might call it Broken Music; like Ragtime (q.v.) but with the raggedness and the grit and the grain not merely restricted to the tempo but to the execution in general -- thus lifelike.

I think that it is the fine and macabre art of Ms. Valeria that inspired me to the somewhat Aztec skull. The rest is made a little rough, as the movie in general. I had to get done in time. Six instruments and one illustrator -- but I am only one... Only being one hampers me.

March 16, 2014

On Musical Chemistry and Sketching as a Life Saver

A little sketch drawn this Friday, from a concert where Science married Music, featuring the gentlemen of Tona Serenad as DJ:s and Ms. Thi-Lot on the... now let's see -- Laboratory Harmonium? Chemistry Organ? That is, she had boiling retorts and laboratory thingamajigs and other noisy toys, and with merry and very musical disregard for their actual sounds she sampled and filtered them around into some weird kind of beauty... The result was no less strange as many of the noises were engaged in intriguing chemical reactions even before they were turned inside out. This singing lab was served with aforesaid vinyl on the side, harmonies from the fairest reaches of Outsider music. An interesting evening!

Sketching like this is utterly important. It's not merely restlessness. It keeps the hand a-going, it shows that the cogwheels are still spinning all right inside the artist, despite all evidence on the contrary. It is said that old Monet's hands trembled every morning -- of fear. What if this is the hour when I can't paint anymore? Will this be the day when I lost my main excuse to exist? -- No laughing matter. My oil painting lay low until recently as Life was standing on its head, Thi-Lottied inside out, and it was a blessing that I could still draw, paper or Photoshop didn't quite matter. My hands didn't have to tremble.

Nevertheless, it was a good day when I forced my way back to the oil tubes again. A small but important slice of my Soul was found lurking inside that half-dried Cinnober Red; I have yet to find the tubes where Hope and Self-Esteem may dwell. Perhaps in that old Emerald Green...?

Above, recent microscopical blossoming in oil, quite resized, and below the relieved artist -- digital.

March 09, 2014

Poste Restante

The Painter, whose life has been Far Too Interesting as of late has the feeling of, as the Swedish saying goes, "living in a trunk". Something semi-nomadic, something like this:

(With heartfelt thanks to old friend Marie who dared me to capture this feeling.)

One is concentrating on things that can be done on the fly, less bound by a fixed address; giving private lessons et al. (I am currently pestering Stockholm with this modest little flyer.)

The bird would be a common blackbird but blue looks better in water pigments. So this is my bluebird...

And perhaps it lives here:

March 02, 2014

Strange Birds and the Way They Sing

Hoot-toot-toot: Owls are falling freely through the void without any fixed point in life; hooting, tooting, flapping wildly all the way down --- Where's the ground? And which way is Down, on the whole? Too dark! But they are only sketches so far, and can't know what kind of painting it'll be yet or how to react to it. Nor do I.

They are drawn with light strokes on a dark background, not the customary other way round. That's fun for a change: When you're falling through darkness, you must try to have a little fun.

And this is this is a large bird with thick glasses, a small detail from the children's book that everyone wanted me to draw/write until I said All Right Then, I Give In. I'm far from done yet (not to mention far from published) so this is what you get for now. Give the bird a cracker. Be sure to hold it up closely.

Finally, a little birdsong from the painter himself. Warning: Those overly addicted to strict Western rhythms might find this a little revolting. I add a few beats here and there, without really caring. This bird did have a cold too, albeit the music would be in a fair state anyway...

Lyrics (c) J. Ceder 2014:

May I work with something
that I know how to do?
May I love and be happy
and how about you?
Will we have shoes
will we make ends meet?
It's all decided...
On Wall Street

[Whistle and piano...]

Do I own my home?
Or... the bank?
Will I get hit by
some economic prank?
Will I wear shoes?
...have anything to eat?
It's all decided...
on Wall Street


(I'm still working on the owls. Here they are about to get some lustre and shine to their feathers -- the eyes should glow better too, and with some luck they'll see where they're flying then. But that's more than I know.)

February 23, 2014

Hommage à Valeria

This little thing is for artist friend Valeria Montti Colque, whose works have long fascinated me.

They are the sum of life and death, joy and sadness -- all tied together in a festive, happily undiplomatic manner with shining beads and seas of bric-a-brac. It all looks rather pre-Columbian. (My mind is brought instantly to Día de los Muertos and such celebrations, when the underworld comes visiting to our floor.)

She does paint and draw, but it is the live installations that are truly breathtaking. Or what about a figure who is wearing two skates as feet, then a suit from which a lot of teddy bears and other furries grow; the chest is an old wall cabinet and the head, finally, is a grinning skull; all decorated with bright colours and garlands etc. etc.?

I hope that I've been able to capture just a little of her Magic Surrealism. I find no better name for it.

February 16, 2014

With Fadime in Mind

While clearing the debris from my old life and past address and very past love I found this cardboard that I made some years ago. It is a portrait of Fadime Şahindal, a young lady who refused to be given away in marriage. She fought back, privately as well as publicly for her love, herself and the rights of all; a quest that finally had her invited to speak in our Parliament. (You may read the speech here.) Less than three months later, she was dead -- shot straight in her head at point-blank range by her own father. This resulting tragedy was back in 2002; I remember seeing the headlines on my birthday. But I also remember...

...I saw her once, very briefly, but she was the kind of person you remember; much shorter than you'd think but a large cloud of hair and something intense, sort of piercing way deep down in her eyes. So to a small but important extent I could work from this flash of a memory, but it was mostly newspaper clips for the proportions -- I remembered the hair as rather reddish but the clips were black and white, so I let the ink dance its dance of sorrow, soon adding thin strokes of bitter red.

The portrait was intended for something vaguely autobiographical with a widened scope. For I was stuck in something far less murderous, but otherwise similar -- there was me, a girlfriend, her family etc. etc. and thus our little circus played a part in this huge, nationally neglected mess of dishonourable honour -- a good and personal reason to write a book.

And I wrote it.

It turned out that no publisher in Sweden dared to touch it. The manuscript (rewritten to pieces between the refusals) is gone now and my little story untold; it doesn't quite matter today when new scandals in the same vein surface every now and then.

Ink, aqua and extra thick colour for the sad glint in her eye. It took time to make water pigments this muddy and opaque but it was well worth it. Nowadays, I would've used ready-made gouache. And would never have tried to write a book, now when there are so many digital options. Rest in peace, brave soul. This humble blog post is for you.

February 09, 2014

Mayo illustration

This little thing is for a recipe in old good Slynglar, the Fanzine; existential ramblings on how to make mayonnaise (in Swedish).

Digital; would be ugly if one didn't smooth the contours "by hand". I'm also happy that there's a bit of texture and a good bit, as usual, of don't-know-what. (And If I know, as usual I won't tell you. It's funnier if you tell me.)

As for Nipponiana, Life -- and all its uncertainties (including very hearty ones) has done its best to hamper the progress and you may see the result below:

One can endure anything but uncertainty. However, we'll see next week.

February 02, 2014

Lost in Communication

There's such a lot of things that the Web can't convey. When we're past the point of skypeing, twittering, typing texting chatting webbing there ought to be the point where we actually meet; sit still together, dancing without moving; now finally we can say the most important things and mean them, and say those that can only be said without words.

Those moments when we actually meet are becoming sadly scarce. With lonely souls in mind, the Artist (who does have a heart too, believe it or not) made this little piece above, Lost in Communication. The resulting vision -- albeit originating from private depths -- seemed universal somehow in these webbed days...

...and is thus for sale: One might have it vastly above mini here -- or even buy the original. The latter might want a little cutting and matting (down to seven by seven inches or so) freshly baked as it is. The usual tech; here you see pencilling and inking.

Quite as usual, too, I gave the perpetual canvas Nipponiana a new dash of je ne sais quoi -- Hiragana, Kanji and the beautiful lot. I don't really know what they say, but perhaps they are lost too, and want to know what Real Life might hold beyond words and emoji.

January 26, 2014

All in Good Time (if Polly doesn't get Too Tired)

Everything that is good does not only take time, it takes too much time. I believe that the entire value of something is decided by how much Too Much Time it took (not mentioning the eternal values created by exceeding a budget with the loudest bang possible). Nevertheless, illustration is a craft that demands Speed, and thus the Illustrator has been experimenting with more pencil+digital lately, as in this late 18:th Century dress. (Resized detail from a perpetual book project; I think that I've mentioned it; good mainly for trying out this kind of stuff.) In theory, you find the pencil dancing hurriedly over the paper, immediately followed by scanning, Swosh!, and guaranteedly smudgeless yet quick sploshes of digital paint. But if you want it to splosh nicely...

...you have to spend quite some time with it anyway; letting the highlight play its part, allowing the shadows to form the dress into nice flows and creases.

The same goes for the equally perpetual oil painting that I've spent some time with now; scales and all. I believe that I could finish it off fairly quickly, but I'm told it's no hurry, and I believe that the time between painting the details makes the details better. (I think this concept is called Ma in Japanese.)

You can see that the underpainting of green, black and white is shaped into scales with light overpainting, wet on wet. Oily, all but smudgeless. (There is also a pagoda or something in being.)

This is not to say that everything that you spend Too Much Time with automatically becomes valuable. You might, for instance, spend Too Much of the oily ma-time doing Cold Calling -- the bane of every freelancer -- and too much writing about it instead of merely doodling this feeling; something like this:

And now Polly is very tired. (Polly is thus drawn in very sloppy Digital.) See you in February.

January 19, 2014

Wanted: Salesperson/Agent

This seasoned artist is looking for an extremely upbeat, socially gifted and terminally persistent Salesperson/Agent for selling his skills dearly to any place where illustrations, commercial or even finer arts might be needed.
Terms: Straight and generous commission, set by mutual agreement.
Payment in advance: Not at all. (Non-selling salespersons need not bother.)
Please send your résumé, i.e. experience + personal qualifications, to
(It might be of interest that Yours Sincerely is a member of the The association of Swedish illustrators and graphic designers and runs his business through his very well-registered sole proprietorship; Firma Joakim Ceder based in Stockholm, Sweden.)

And now for something completely different. You'll be very happy to know that Whale and Mission Impossible is still for sale as a poster. Here you may see the work on the original (if there's such a thing as a digital original) -- Look! :)

Last and perhaps least, the Dragon Painting is still in (slow) progress. This week: a foot, or claw.

The right side of Nipponiana will become more peaceful, I think. At least I hope so.

January 12, 2014

Things That Go Swoosh...

...seems to be the theme for this week. For instance, a katana, or Samurai sword, might go Swoosh fabulously well. (The bright spots that you see are wet paint, still glittering; the Beauty of True Work.)

Other Swooshers might, for instance, be bats. Their heads were clandestinely pencilled at "Vetekatten", a popular café in downtown Stockholm, and I turned them into flapping beings of the Night on the spot. They are receiving some electric colouring right now, and someday, they might swoosh around in a book of mine. (One of those perpetual projects.)

Part of the charm is that they'll have no idea about this.

January 06, 2014

Slow Progress w. Mt. Fuji and the Battle of Life

This week has been beyond description privately -- and it's still only Monday since a few hours back -- so I haven't got much done on the oval dragon painting. But I am planning a swordfight near Mt. Fuji (is that Hokusai enough?)...

...and add little details, so don't say Die.

I might get the opportunity to add a visual comment to this aforesaid private chaos some glad day when this chaos is over; but thus one can't describe chaos, for then it isn't chaos anymore. -- Q. E. D.

December 29, 2013

On the Effects of Christmas Delirium and the Nice Manners of Japanese Dragons

The dragon (which I started on last week, see below) is taking shape nicely, but slowly. I finally got around to giving the poor thing a head. The Japanese dragon is a good and friendly creature, they say it brings luck and prosperity and suchlike and it will only set fire to things when it's in a very bad mood, so don't you worry.

For lagniappe, here's a little thing that dear Ms. Linda came up with the other day. In her nightly photograph of a hydro plant (or a similar thingamajig) she distinctly saw Santa Claus; the lit parts being the eyes and the water was the beard, etc. -- and frustratingly, she was the only one who saw this. ("A clear case of Christmas Delirium", as she said.) So she hinted that I might do something surreal on this and well, it's worth a sketch at least, which follows:

Dear readers, Happy New Year!
See you in 2014.
-- Joakim.

December 22, 2013

Season's Greetings with Dragons in Progress

I have started on a new painting in oil. I can't say too much, but the result is supposed to hang above someone's very real samurai sword. The commissioner wanted a Japanese dragon and the rest is up to me.

So I decided to fill the poor thing with Nipponiana. I've never been to Japan, but a good deal of naïvité, blissful ignorance and a little wholly thinking might help. All is to be encompassed by said creature, scales and all. The rest is just let loose; and all of sudden there's a little airplane (a Mitsubishi Zero, I think) and some kind of cherry blossom...

We'll see what happens next -- after a short holiday break, that is.

December 15, 2013

Fine Fish Don't have to Answer Phones

Being an Operator who has to answer phones all day long is no fun, not fun at all, or so my friend told me. The endless plethora of voices cease to be human, they fade into some kind of nagging grey mould inside your eardrums and the bitterness of having to deal with them all the livelong day must soon reach toxic levels. Incidentally, I had just -- but did not think of it right then -- drawn this fish for a book that I might complete someday. The fish is a Northern Pike, and they are Fine Fish, yesssir. And Fine Fish do not have to answer phones. Ever.

The cell phone is modelled on one that I once had -- just a few years ago really. Nothing wrong with it, but outdated. It's thus a little Retro already, and will be very much so when I'm done with the book, if ever. Then, If I'm still on the track, the Grey Mould might want me to buy yet another cell phone.