the other day as I walked to my artschool (this old schoolhouse in which I create art) for the first time of the semester ...
I was carrying a bag on my back that I had bought five years ago as we first moved here to Järna. I had bought it in order to carry my food to my job in Stockholm.
Then, in February, when I had said "goodbye" to that job, I changed the usage of the bag into a "school bag". I wrote on it, with big letters: www.artschool.com. Doing so, was both a feeling of victory and of tremendous freedom!
That morning, as I walked to my artschool, in the late August, the air was crispy, just as it is when schools begin here in Sweden — and I felt like I was a little schoolgirl again. Thrilled.
(”Porträttmålare” is Swedish for”portraitist”.)
We all have to earn our living somehow. We cannot escape from that, unless someone is kind to pay for your life, as well as for their own.
One evening in 2010 I looked at pay-jobs. I did it more for fun, than because I really thought I needed one. I typed in “artist”. And I got a hit. No, it wasn’t a work as an artist. But as a “helper”. And I thought that working as a helper could be quite all right, as long as we got along.
So, I was called for an interview – the only thought in my head, as I walked there, was: “Let the working hours be concentrated – don’t let them be spread out!”
My prayer was heard, and from then on, once a week, I was to work for 15 hours. And once every third weekend for 14 hours. I did so – for close to nine years. Until February this year.
THE BIG CHANGE I endure. And I stay at places. But it is an artist I am, not a professional helper (I was never enough). So, I said thank you and goodbye in the beginning of this year. The reason I dared to quit, was another job close to where I live, where I thought I also could work. Where there also were good working hours, (which was the reason I had stayed for so long at the other place). I would not have dared to quit if it wasn’t for another paid job (probably, I would, if I had been alone without a child. But so wasn't the case).
But for some reason – don’t ask me why – I never started working at this new job, despite of several steps of preparation for it. First I was confused. What now!!?? What happened??!! Then ... I started focusing on my commissions.
FOCUS Now I could focus so much better on what I was to do. I could now get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every night of the week – which seems to suit me perfectly. Now I did not have to feel sad or uncomfortable anymore, for not doing what I was good at.
Having had that income had been making me “money-lazy”, as I would not have to force myself to making money on doing my own things. So I didn’t make any money on doing my own things.
PORTRAITIST I am now the "porträttmålare" that I’ve always been. And a happy one! Some weeks ago, as I rode to my studio on my red bike, it hit me how fortunate I was to have been able to develop this gift and knowledge. How fortunate I was that I knew how to paint deans of cathedrals, governors, headmasters and so on. Because I really can! I never reflected on it this with gratitude before. Now I did – and I smiled!
BRINGING BALANCE Now it’s my time to practice balance in my life. There have been periods I have desired to also paint other things than portraits, of course. And there have been times I have been tired and fed up with painting portraits! There wasn’t enough energy in me though for doing all the things; attending to my pay-job AND work on my commissions. AND paint other things AND have leisure time.
But now it has all changed! My job as a portraitist is now being my paid job and painting other things is also my job now. I need to work on both, in order to flourish as an artist, in order not to get bored. In order to develop! But I am not forcing myself to paint the free paintings. Yes, I have to do it! But even though I have to, I make sure I am being generous and kind to myself as well. I am putting no pressure on me what so ever, to achieve anything great in my free painting. Nor do I put the pressure on me that I have to enjoy it all the time! But still, I have to do it – I have to paint in a free mode beside doing the portraiture. And ... in the same time I am being free. Completely free!
And sooner or later, something lovely may appear before my eyes on my easel. That is very possible. – In its´ own pace. So I am aware now of the necessity of developing a balance between doing portraiture and doing free painting, in order for my joy to last – and grow.
LIFE My life has been quite a confused soup of lots of things. I have my son. I have the love for my House. The photography. The making of books. The singing. AND all the etceteras ...
Now – as I enter my studio, I have a wonderful job to attend to. And I have a life outside of the studio, which I can fill with all those other things. Of projects, amusements, love and rest. It is great to now be able to focus in my studio totally on the painting and not on other projects. On my free time – I can focus on all those other things ...
FREE I am so happy to be free! That made it possible for me going home to my House for three whole weeks!!! (My man and son came there too, for the middle of the weeks.) Not attending to my job as a “helper”, also makes it easier to finish my book project. I will do it with help of Josefin Lennartsson, my friend and fellow self-employed, as we will meet regularly and help one another. And this will also happen with the help of the best thing I have come across on the Internet - the 100 days goal!
Today TODAY IS SATURDAY. Most people long for the weekends. I don’t know if I would say I wished I did that too. Maybe. But I prefer the days when I work. When I get things done.
What I do in this moment is getting some sunlight and – if I care to listen – enjoy some of the birds singing around me. This is important too.
This morning I looked at some old articles in newspapers about things I’ve done. It is a long time now since anyone wrote about what I do. Seven years to be precise. That was from when Annas and my book was being released.
In the eighties, newspapes wrote ones in a while about artexhibitions that I would have together with my mother, or alone. In the nineties, newspapers wrote about me sailing with my husband at the time. And towards the nineties some was written about my art and exhibitions. And then came year 2000. It was from then and oneward these articles I read this morning were published ...
It is tricky when I do the portraits, because they are not supposed to be seen until they have become official. So in this way it is not so easy to write about me now. Or is it because for the passed nine years I have worked 50% with another job that did not force me to take my art as seriously as it deserved?
Life goes on. Year after year fly by. And you know what? I can get so frustrated when I feel I do not use my time in a wise way.
Now I will pray a little. That, ateast I know is a good way to use my time.
I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO PAINT SOMETHING INTERESTING. Interesting color combinations, composition, motive, structure, size. It nearly drove me crazy trying to think something interesting up! I was frustrated.
Then I got the BEST idea. I would paint myself a painting that I liked. Something for the wall in my own house. Now, that was another story. THAT was easy! Oh, how relieved and how happy I was to come up with that simple idea!
I enjoy painting this man with wings with his dog with wings. It is still not ready. But it is getting there. I am a kind of a happy painter now!
WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL, I would sing and sing and sing. Then I begun taking violin lessons and played for many years, but never quite enjoyed it. But as I got a little older, I started taking singing lessons instead. That was SO much fun. I loved every second of it!
When I used to gather with others around a piano to sing, I was always the one to endure for the longest time. For me, there is so much joy in music! (Not so much in listening as in participating). Yes, I would be singing ALL the time. Then ... the singing stoped. (That is another story).
When my man (who is a musician) was a little boy – his mother tells – he would suddenly come in after being out playing with the other children. He would jump up the table with his little harmonica saying he had to come in “because he got such an urge for playing!”. And he would play! That was then. And that was good. That little boy found joy in the music!
My man is a composer, a pianist and percussionist and makes the most beautiful music!
It would have been so good if he and I sung/played together. It would have been heavenly! But we do not. He does not do music for fun. We don’t gather in our house around music for the joy of it. The JOY OF IT...
When I was a little girl I would enjoy sitting drawing. I did it a lot. I do not do that now, although my now 83 years old mother keeps encouraging me to. She does so, because SHE still plays with pens, charcoals lines, colors, paper. Everyday. As much as she can. That is her life. She still finds joy in it like a child.
You know what happened the other day? I got an urge for drawing! Which I ignored. The following morning I did again. (This time I caught a pencil and some paper).
And I realized that I am with my art practice like my man is with his music – I do not do it just for the fun of it. This was a (sad) epiphany!
But I have found so much more joy lately in my painting, for which I am so utterly grateful! I will write more about that one of these days.
Now I know that what I have to do, is reclaiming that playfulness. I must practice PLAYFULNESS along side with my job as a happy painter! Because, it is impossible to JUST and only WORK with art.
I put myself infront of the camera! This is not a thing I would normally do. (I feel brave!) I am talking about a painting I soon will be making.
It's been years since I last said YES to a commission. Not that people ask me every day. No, but it happens. And I have been saying "no". But this time I felt fine about it. It was time. I like the idea of working with a deadline that someone but me, has put on me.
I started as usual, by meeting the person I am to paint and taking a bunch of relaxed pictures of her. Then I played with the pictures in Photoshop, deciding on the composition and on the background for the portrait.
One of the more stressful moments that I used to have when painting portraits, were when I thought I had come a long way, but still did not know how to paint the background. It is so, so important for the picture as a whole! And truth is, (atleast for me) painting a big, solid surface is not as easy as one may believe. Quite the contrary. This time, and last time (about four years ago) I stared instead by painting the background — and then I continued with the rest. It seems like a good strategy. So, dear friend, please wish me luck as I paint this portrait!
My mission is to nourish our souls through art. This is wether it is being my own art or someone else’s.
Now there are numbers of definitions of what art is, you say. I am not going to bother figuring out what everybody else is thinking here, but briefly I will evolve my own understanding and experience of art.
For me art is deeply connected with beauty. But – though it may sound strange – the beauty is not mainly what we see; beauty is about harmony and love! It is a feast for the eyes, offering a sanctuary for our souls in a busy world.
Art is timeless. The experience of art may even, when it reaches its’ peak, connect us with our Creator.
He made a little cirkus in a suitcase... Now, lean back, make your self comfortable and enjoy the beautiful cirkus by Calder for eighteen minutes!
"How nice things you do. I like your expression - as if it was a part of me. It would be nice to meet again. Hugs! ".
A friend wrote me this today after seeing my paintings - and I replied:
"How happy you make me! I wished it was always easy to paint. That I always wanted something. That I always knew what to do! It is a matter of discipline, listening inward, and also of a certain amount of planning, I think. Now I'm in my studio painting again... and I am thinking about a new series of BIG paintings I am to start. What shall I be painting? All I know is how they should feel. Not how they should look. You are welcome here (to Järna) and visit! A hug to you!"
At about the same time, Samuel wrote me after seeing my art on facebook:
"I am liking your page, and so you´ll get that support that I am able to give you through Internet. Also, I´ld like to add that you are brilliantly good".
And I answered him almost with the same words that I had answered my friend a little earlier. Samuel wrote me back:
And exactly, so is it! Like Samuel says.
So we all know by now that a real artist shouldn’t wait for inspiration. A real artist shows up. She goes to her studio and she paints wether Inspiration is there or not.
But I must admit that I have really, really been longing for some sort of flow in my painting. I believe that every artist should do her investigations as what makes the painting flow.
Maybe one should think of ideas and collect ideas in daily life when one is out of the studio? Maybe one HAVE TO become close friend with the habit of using a sketchbook? When ideas starts coming they usually bring more ideas along with them!
Yes, I will go home and do some playful sketching after finishing up my cup of tea!
Just want to say that today was an uplifting painting day with progress! I love those days of painting when I leave my studio with a strong desire of getting back soon!
I just looked at the fb-page of a fellow artist. She and I were both in the same online art-course a couple of years ago. I got the shiver and tears in my eyes, by seeing how well she was doing in her art practice.
Compared with her I felt I was still playing in the sandpit.
I wish I would take myself and my art practice seriously. I wished I could, with a sober mind and wide open eyes, see where I am at; what to do, and what steps to take next. I wished I would neither diminish nor exalt myself.
I want to be true and do the best out of what I am.
I wonder what is just a matter of mindset - that may be altered – and what is our personal uniqueness; the ones WHO-WE-ARE. Is it possible for me to take myself serious and ever do anything for real (or is it written in my DNA, deep down in my bones, that I never could)?
My mother LOVES painting and creating and assumes I do too.Often when I am in my studio and we talk on the phone she asks – with a great expectation in her voice, if I am “having fun”. Too often I have not been able to give her the answer she wants.
The autumn of last year, and the winter this far, has not been very good for my painting. It has only been the last three times I’ve been in my studio that has really worked. But now... now it is good again! Yesterday, as I finally got started, I wished to paint more and more. That is a good sign!
What I have been missing is a theme and some concrete idea of that to do. A year ago the theme was Leona and Mark... along with a few pitchers.
I intended to paint from a photo I saw of Charlie Chaplin. In the picture I was drawn to his narrow shoulders. But as I started painting It l didn’t make room enough for them to show. The photo was taken from straight ahead and the light was even all over his face. So but for those narrow shoulders there really wasn’t much in this picture. But I kept struggling with it nevertheless. The other day I overpainted it with a black lasur – and things started happening! My man loved it but disliked the pattern of yellow curls I had painted behind him. I was thinking about what he said and the next day I mixed a reddish purple in a jar and applied to the packground making a sharp contrast to the figure. And I was making sure the edges of the purple areas were sharp. The result surprised me. It looked like nothing I had done before. If I liked it or no was too early to say. But making it made me feel content. The next day I started scething a picture of my grand mothers sister Ingeborg. My intention for it is to be in the same style. It will get an orangeish-yellow background inspired by a gorgeous portrait I saw by Picasso of his wife Olga.
I hereby add a rule for the work in my studio. This is rule no3. Always work in series! Work on a number of paintings simultaneously! I did that a year ago, when it went well and when it was fun to paint. And I have not done that after summer. When it did not go well at all.
It is fun to paint again!
iI will tell you a little what is in my heart if you would like to take a peek inside. I am thinking business. B U S I N E S S .
There are many coaches out there who calls for my attention these days. They all want to help me making my business bloom, they say. They are the Experts. And yes, I do want to make my business thrive. I do not want to be dependent on that extra job I have any more. I believe I do already have quite some knowledge of how to do. Atleast to start with. And I also know that there is much knowledge I lack when it comes to the actual moneymaking. I am just not interrested enough in the money itself, I guess.
But I have a hard time believing that any one of those coaches really could help me. Because I believe I would be standing there between her and my own wellbeing waving with my arms, shouting and preventing myself from reaching everything I could. From reaching all that good that is awaiting for me — and for my tribe, right around the corner. I can picture myself how I would be standing there nagging over and over, as the poor coach and the poor me would be trying to get some work done, "I am not passionate enough to do this!", or "I just lack the energy to do it". "I am too tired". Or (and this is the saddest thing) I would probably be standing there shouting; "I am not worth it..." And the poor coach would eventually just give in, face the impossible situation, and run off.
Yet I know in my heart of hearts that I DO HAVE SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE with to this world. And really, really I wish I could do it more than I do. And honestly, I wish that I could earn my living on it. And to earn a better living that I have today. But the truth is also that I do feel very tired. I am tired in my soul... And yet I know that if I did reach out to get connected, that would give me motivation and energy.
How strange doesn't that sound?
...to make things I wish to look at. As I sit here at the table with my cup of Robios, I enjoy the company of my painting. It is not ready, but the dark lasur I've put on in some places is definitely taking it in the right direction. I deeply disliked it before today. But some friends that saw it on Instagram gave me kind (undeserved) feedback wich trigged me to keep painting. I wanted to do it good for them.