I can officially now say that my 10 x 10 collection for Galleri Melefors is complete. What a journey! It all started over a year ago as I began doing the initial sketches and headed out into the woods with Leya Rasmussen and Jack Grimfrost for our first photoshoots.

I wanted to create this blog post to go through the collection, piece by piece, as it became a real story along the way. Unlike in previous collections, I used only one main model and it really became “her” journey. Which I am happy I get to share with you now.

compilation of sketches and references for the show

I thought I would start off by sharing with you my inspiration planning board before I had gotten started with anything. In the beginning, I thought I’d be focusing heavily on John Bauer references – this however was only partially true. I had made some hasty sketches for a few of the pieces coupled with inspiration and reference shots of what else may fit. What took me a few minutes to scribble out would be MONTHS of work down the line.

full image Sweet Nothings painting

First we will start with the preeminent piece in this collection – “Sweet Nothings”. Despite my urge to recreate many John Bauer paintings, this piece really was the catalyst for much of the inspiration behind this series (John got his time in the sun too no doubt haha). This was accidentally/happily a red riding hood inspired piece. I started with the theme of temptation. What would happen if this seemingly innocent young lady wandered into the forest and was bemused by this dashing wolf fellow. What is he whispering? What sweet tales is he enticing her with? And more over… what if she listens? What if temptation wins?

Hidden Realms by Christina Rigdeway full oil painting

Then I painted “Hidden Realms” – which does deviate from the story line. I created 2 non-figurative pieces for this collection. I wanted to see how I would do without a face to paint, just create a dark magical atmosphere. I had found this tree stump up on Mösseberg and thought how incredibly fairy tale like it was. I wanted to recreate it with extra magical touches like purple toadstools, fairy lights and a cooler more mysterious feeling. 

Enter the wolfman once more! This painting sparked a bit of controversy online when I posted it. Either you loved it or you hated it. However, I really wanted to show what I thought would happen if the young seemingly innocent lady decided to follow the wolf into the forest. I always had a feeling what he wanted from her would be more carnal. Her heart is ignored and absent from his view. It is a painting about being taking advantage of or even happily ignoring the truth and smiling on as this plays out in front of you. 

Sometimes I paint simply beautiful things, other times I paint real emotions and situations we all have deal with. I appreciate all the comments and shares from those of you who really connected with this piece <3

From Within oil painting by Christina Ridgeway

Thus enters the rider in the forest. There was a nod to Bauer here as he often depicted riders in his paintings. But this is more of a story about going within to find your own answers and your own truths. I took these reference photos over several days and at the time there was a terrible snow storm going on. It felt… correct. Accurate. Things being tumultous all around you as you brave the path forward, seeking your own light. Your own truth. 

Surrender oil painting by Christina Ridgeway

And through that journey through the deep dark woods we come to “Surrender”. The name is accurate as it really is the feeling I wanted to accomplish – surrendering to your own reflection, your own inner demons, accepting yourself and situations that have happened for what they are. For who they are. Originally in my sketch I had drawn foxes. However, this collection I decided should center around wolves and cooler tones. The wolves play many different parts in this collection, in this painting I saw them more as guardians for the girl on her journey. Checking on her, protecting her, as she releases and lets go. Another nod to Bauer with this one – who loved painting feminine figures by dark waters. 

The next painting, “Forgotten Lands” is another step into non-figurative work. It was a small mossy waterfall I found up on Mösseberg which was hidden away and completely magical. It was nice having 2 smaller pieces of mystical mossy forest sprinkled in this collection, while also being a unique challenge in terms of color, form and detail. 

The Blue Bird by Christina Ridgeway

But I did eventually recreate a John Bauer piece, at least one!! I loved the original painting, it felt mysterious. I have a book of his work and the stories he created them for at home – however I couldn’t see that this was connected to any written work (if you know otherwise – please let me know!). However, I wanted to remake it in my own style with my own meaning. I guess, in a sense, you could imagine what she had hoped for. Not a wolfman, just a regular boy. Leading him into the dark forest of her own world where her own principles reign supreme. I have used bull finches before many times as symbols of spirit guides. The friendly, yet watchful, forest court sees over their procession as he stares ahead in anticipation over what’s to come. It’s the only time I painted the male figure without the wolfhead, and though still dark and mysterious, perhaps is just how she’d of wanted things to be like, rather than what they were. 

When I Believed in Magic full oil painting by Christina Ridgeway

And here we are – lost in a dream. In “When I Believed in Magic (all I could see was you) we enter the dreamworld. Fantasizing about how things could be, would want them to be, a magical view of the world around us. I took the reference for this painting up on Ålleberg mountain but remade it into a softer twilight piece with the wolves like thoughts on the move through the fields, her gaze off on something unseen as butterfly ideas flutter about her. How enchanting it would be to stay there, cloak off, free in your own perception of reality. But reality has a way of sneaking up on us all the same. 

midsommar painting ashes we all fall down by christina ridgeway

And so we come to the midsummer piece. The choice. I didn’t realize just how much work it would be to create this large 85 cm painting and all the rich diverse life that resides within the forest. But after 2 months – I was finally happy with the outcome. We come back to the central theme of temptation and inner guidance. It was inspired by not only Swedish midsummer, which we celebrate here every summer, but by the old nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie”. I always thought that was a morbid kids song. “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down” – in reference to the millions who died during the Black Plague in Europe. Here are the girls, dancing around the maypole with the devil. Seemingly all innocent in their white dresses… but our heroine has a choice now. Does she join the dancers and the fun? Or does she continue protecting herself with her posy and carry on?

girl with wolf skin star cloak in forest oil painting Absolution by Christina Ridgeway

The answer is ” she moves on”. The final piece in this collection is “Absolution”. Still with a “posy” in her hands, but these are Gentian flowers. Flowers symbolizing victory. As morbid as it seems to “kill” the wolfman, claim the stars and move on… it’s really a symbol for not trying to hide things you have been through. It was part of her journey, it made her. But it doesn’t define her.

We are all so much more than the experiences we go through or “mistakes” we feel we have made. Just as this collection was a journey, life truly is. It can be easy, especially now and days with our lives on broadcast for the world to see, to feel like we should be perfect. No flaws, no regrets. But perhaps the real challenge is how we face each of these situations. How we achieve our own sense of victory…and to be proud of our own journey.


Thanks so much for reading through this to be end! I appreciate all the support you all have given me the past year! If you are interested in any of the pieces here, feel free to get in contact with me and check out their availability under “Available Work” above. All the best <3