The 'Book of Elves' Elf Portrait Series

"When it's dark enough you can see the stars."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


What is 'Book of Elves'?

'Book of Elves' is a collection of elf portraits made by artist Eeva Nikunen inspired by quotes from the 19th century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Who is Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a 19th century American poet. His writings are truly inspirational, they centre around the themes of individualism and self-reliance. Emerson also writes about the importance of connecting oneself with nature.

A work in progress photo of a portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A work in progress photo of a portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Why am I inspired by Emerson? Why Elves?

I came across Emerson's writings while I was searching inspiration for art.  I really connected with Emerson's philosophies. The themes of self-reliance, individualism and connecting with nature moved me deeply.  I wanted to express and share those feelings through art. And that's how the 'Book of Elves' elf portrait series was born. I've always been fascinated by elves. Elves are magical creatures that I associate with the themes of respecting nature, wisdom and living a meaningful life. And I felt that I could best communicate how Emerson's writings make me feel through the world of these magical elves.

The process so far

I've made four elf portraits for the 'Book of Elves' series so far. I'm creating new art for the project all the time. My goal is to combine these elf portraits into a meditative art book. I would love it if the book could be a way for people to connect with the magical elven realm and find their own inspiration through the elf portraits and the quotes that inspired them.


"The earth laughs in flowers."

"The earth laughs in flowers."

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience."

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience."

"Nothing external to you has any power over you."

"Nothing external to you has any power over you."


These are some of the quotes that will inspire the next elf portraits. I hope you will be inspired to follow along with this journey through the magical elven realm.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

"Happiness is a perfume you can't pour on others without getting some on yourself."

"When it's dark enough you can see the stars."

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."

Thank you for reading! Which quote from Emerson connects with you the most? I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

-Eeva