Happy Lunar Year, everyone! January 22nd kicks off the Year of the Rabbit, or the Year of the Cat 2023.
In my part of the world winter is still on, but days gradually get longer, and nights shorter, until the summer solstice in June.
A Year of Hope and Good Luck
In Chinese culture the sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity, so 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope – and I do believe Hope is what the world needs right now!
The Vietnamese celebrate the Year of the Cat. According to Vietnamese tradition the Cat brings good luck and clears away bad spirits. The cat is considered to be a friend and symbolizes strength and power.
Those who know me, know how much I love cats – so I’m very excited for the year to come!
A Year of Exploring Creativity and Arts
I’ve also read somewhere that creativity and appreciation for the arts thrives in Rabbit years. So you might feel like exploring museums, music festivals and performances. I know I do.
In Vietnamese culture cats are a symbol of kindness, perseverance, patience, thinking ahead before starting to do something. Cats are considered to be open-minded free spirits ready to explore. Sounds familiar!
Hopes and Plans
New year always brings new energy and I hope and plan for this year to bring more time for creativity and playful exploration in my studio. My studio is my Happy Place which brings me joy and happiness and fills me with energy.
With my full time job, planning is essential and I try to make time for my creative art practice every day.
My plans for 2023 are a mix of short-term goals I want to complete in the near future and long-term goals that will take months and years to finish.
This year I will focus on 30 day projects, one project for each month. As a former project manager I have naturally made a list of challenges and possible outcomes.
My plans contain both unexplored territory, projects in the messy middle and a few projects nearly finished. All in all, lots of fun and problem solving.
Plans also include recreation time like reading, writing poems and spending time with family and friends.
Plan B or C
Like Rabbits and Cats I always have a plan B, because the most certain thing in life is that nothing ever goes as planned. Change is inevitable and it often brings exciting opportunities.
To me, planning for project progress is a critical means to meet deadlines, and time management gives me the opportunity to focus on what’s important now.
The best thing about deadlines is that they herald new beginnings. I love starting up and exploring new projects.
My mantra is: I wonder what happens if I do this, or maybe that?
But now, if you’ll excuse me; I’ll get back to my stack of interesting books. It’s recreation time, or “time to compost” as my gardening husband puts it.
Thank you for showing interest in my art! Thanks for your kind support, for sharing likes and comments and for buing my artworks! It has been quite a year, and I think I have the best people cheering for me! Thank you – Happy Holidays!
Being an artist means a lot: As long as I have my studio I always have something to look forward to. And all your positive energy keeps my creativity grow! Lucky me!
Nice people from all around the world
I feel so lucky to be able to do this, so lucky to have family and friends cheering for me. And I feel so lucky to meet so many nice people from all over the world, some in real life, some over the internet.
I honestly don’t know who I’d be without my art practice!
What a year!
What a year this has been, with so many nice surprises! I don’t know how to recap this in a few sentences, but I’ll give it a try.
The first two months of the year I was really stepping it up and launched my newsletter and I had scheduled loads of interesting projects. But plans changed as a long desired opportunity knocked on my door – and I took on a new day job which I really love!
Working full time also means new priorities regarding my art practice. For instance turning down 4 invitations to exhibit my work this year.
Wow! I was totally blown away when I learned that my painting was the curator’s choice and made TOP 5 among almost 1000 artworks in this year’s international TAE exhibition in York, UK taking place in June.
I was so honoured that my abstracted portrait was highlighted in the catalogue. The model, who is an artist himself, was thrilled as he received the good news.
Makes me really happy to know that this special artwork now belongs to a dedicated collector in sunny California, USA.
They say: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Well, my planned summer holidays went down the drain this year due to Corona. I had no other choice but to surrender as I couldn’t beat that stubborn Covid-monster inside my body.
So no large painting outside in my planned forest studio this summer. But other nice things happened!
Making murals at MUNCH museum
I had never thought I would be able to show my work at the new MUNCH museum, but this summer opportunity knocked again – and I made 2 large mural portraits on the 11th floor. I loved coworking with kids visiting the museum! The exhibition is now closed and the murals on the walls are painted over.
New Batch of Artwork
In November I finally finished my new batch of abstract paintings and put them out for sale exclusively for those who follow my newsletter. To tell the truth, it is always a bit scary to show new artworks – what if no one likes them but me?
The first one sold almost immediately and I’ve received lots and lots of nice comments and interesting suggestions on how to go further! That’s so exciting!
I absolutely have the BEST PEOPLE cheering for me! What a year!
Thank you & Happy Holidays! Hope to see you again next year!
I’ve had so much fun in my studio over the past months! Finally the day has come: Proudly presenting some of my latest artworks. Hope you like them!
Followers first in line
The online exhibition | webshop is now open exclusively for those who follow my newsletter.
My new work will not be shown i detail anywhere on social media. So feel free to sign up for my newsletter and be among the first to get sneak peeks from behind the scenes and special offers from my art studio.
Handmade artworks – one of a kind
My artworks are all original and individual artworks, handmade and one of a kind. There are no prints for sale.
All artworks are sold unframed and unmatted, so you can choose your favourite framing and matting to match your personal style.
If you follow my newsletter you will get access to my new batch of artworks. You might have a look around to see if you find something you like at affordable prices.
I try my best to keep the prices low so you can buy the artworks you love to make your home shine even more.
I’m so proud and happy to have collectors around the world. Hope you find something you love, and maybe a little something for your family and friends, too!
Available artworks in different sizes
So many of you have asked: How do we get to buy your artworks? Well, here is your chance. Click on the links below and you will find the available art works.
All artworks are made on acid free art paper, watercolor paper or canvas textured paper. All artworks are sold un-matted, not framed so you are free to choose what will look the best in your beautiful home.
The links below will be accessible for followers of my newsletter only:
So many of my followers have asked: How do we get to buy your artworks?
Initially I was planning for an open studio, or a pop up exhibition, this month. I wanted to share some secrets from my studio, meet nice people, chat about life and art, and give you the opportunity to grab yourself a studio sale bargain. But as some of you might know, being a working girl means I had to downscale things. So I changed my mind due to a shortage of time and energy.
Instead you will “meet the artist” here at my blog this month. But please be patient, if everything goes my way you’ll get the opportunity to visit my open studio to see all the pieces available in real life next spring. And you’ll also find certain pieces available at ‘studio sale’ price – from small works on paper to larger canvas pieces, and everything in between. That will be so much fun!
But for now: Please be patient! Shopping will be available soon!
Work in Progress
At the moment I have several series in progress. The past year and a half I have narrowed my work down to abstraction, because I really want to refine my expression and focus on the untold.
In order to simplify and abstract my work further I’ve started working with a set of limitations because it gives me freedom to experiment within the set frames. I also try to avoid overthinking what I’m up to as I like the freshness and raw expression I get when working fast and spontaneously.
I have worked in all kinds of sizes and on different substrates to find what I like. The process has been so rewarding and I feel confident I’m on the right track!
My life is pretty busy, but I still need to be creative. Every day I do something creative – ‘cause if I don’t, I feel miserable and lose my energy. To me practicing art is important to stay healthy and happy. Making art makes me feel alive!
I love my day job, but OMG! working almost full time leaves me with so little time to make art! I’m twisting my hands, shaking my brain cells hoping they will come up with a fab solution, but so far nothing revolutionary really happened. So I try to deal with the situation as best as I can.
Find your own way
Most artists I know feel short of time, even the ones with no day jobs. The more time you spend working on your art projects, the more you wanna create – ideas come easy when you’re having fun!
Every artist has their own way of coping with “too little time to make art” so try to find your own way!
Right now I’m downscaling wherever possible; social media, planned exhibits, projects, ideas, time consuming techniques and size of paintings. I limit everything down to: What’s most important now!
I’m challenging myself to say yes to the right things. Which means I turned down 4 invitations to exhibit my work this year!
And I haven’t regretted it for a second!
How to get shit done as often as you want? Remove distractions. Make time to do what is important now. Plan. Make commitments to yourself. Show up! Do the work!
One creative hour spent every day adds a lot to your portfolio in a year. You might want to set a creative morning/ afternoon/ evening time to work on a fun project for 30 days to get things started. Join an art group or an art challenge like #30dayartproject Just do it!
Depending on how much time I’ve got, I might pick something from the list below:
Create one page every day in my art journal
Paint with only one colour a day (on several paintings)
Make the same pattern in different sizes/colours on several paintings
Organize my flat files … (works on paper need safe storage)
Look through art books while having breakfast/ before going to bed
Mix the perfect colour to get on with a WIP (work in progress)
Make quick sketches
Play with ideas
Design my own patterns
Make my own collage material
Try something new
Paint edges of finished canvases
Look at my unfinished paintings from new angles, or in the mirror
Read about art
Listen to art podcasts
Watch and learn from MoMa or Louisiana (classes)
Scroll some of my art groups to see what my colleagues are doing
Daydream about my next art project
Clean or tidy up a part of my messy studio
Re-arrange part of my studio
Go for a walk and study the world around me
Meditate upon an unsolved painting
Make plans for my next exhibition (whenever that will be)
Collect ideas for blog texts
Write blog texts
Put my work out on social media
Join an art challenge
Journal about my own art
Photograph or scan some of my work
Brush up my website (research other artists websites/blogs)
Research galleries and/or art fairs to sell my work
Enjoy my studio, invite friends over for a workshop
Visit museums and galleries
Hang out with other creative people
Time is a friend
But most of the time I pet my cat and water my plants…
Time isn’t short, time is forever, it has always been there and it will continue. Time is not an enemy. Time is a friend. It is universal and eternal. If you spend your time well, you will feel good! So pet your cat or do whatever makes you happy!
Dreams are like stars. You may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny. It might take a while, depending on how much time and effort you put into your journey. It’s all about dedication and how much you want it. So make sure you follow the right dream!
Some of you may already know that I decided to take a u-turn earlier this year. I went from being a full time artist, to taking on a new almost full-time day job. And I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Yey, I finally did the right thing after a long period of reflecting, making lists of pros and cons, dreaming, wondering what would happen if…
Dreaming big is sometimes easier said than done! Bucket lists, priority schemes, to-do-lists, mind maps, milestones, goal mapping, project management, WBS (work breakdown structure) and goal hierarchy are useful instruments to make sure you’re on the right track towards Your Dream.
Look for smart tools that help you in your process. There are loads of them out there. Or make your own. The trick is to have an overview, to watch your progress along the way.
The tricky part is to find your true dreams. And realize that they might change over time. Remember: Your dream is yours. No one else can take that away from you but yourself. So be aware of your inner critics, those insisting voices that want you to curl up in front of the telly or spend the evening scrolling on your smartphone.
Show up and focus
Whatever your dream is, make appointments with yourself, show up and do the work you have decided to do. Small steps every day is my way of working, it might not be yours. Try different things, do what you like.
– Make sure to have some fun along the way!
Remember to check in if you are focusing on what’s most important right now. If not, adjust your plan. But do not, I repeat; DO NOT spend all your time planning! Spend your energy on DOING whatever is necessary to get where you want.
Make sure to celebrate whenever there’s a reason to celebrate!
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a celebration to prepare: I’ve invited my husband to join me for a tiny drink in my messy studio! See ya later!
Normally I think of July as one of the best months in the year with its summer holidays and slow living with family and friends. I for sure had been looking so much forward to hot summer days, lazy breakfasts with my cat, wonderful lunchbaskets and swimming in the nearby lake, hiking, bicycling, roaming the woods with my husband and spending warm evenings in my hammock reading interesting books after nice dinners with a glass of greek Retsina.
This month I had made plans for bringing my large new paintings outside in the local woods in order to contemplate and try to bring in the energy from the old trees before the final stages in my pop-up forest studio. Also I was planning to bring my sketchbooks and some tools when revisiting some of my favourite secret places far far away. And I was supposed to prepare for an upcoming exhibition.
When life gives you lemons
Well, let’s say things turned out differently as Corona hit the house pretty bad. I hardly remember anything from the first 5 days of high fever and only bits and pieces from the next few weeks. All my energy was gone, my brain was more or less shut down and I slept 14-16 hours a day.
As you might have guessed, all my plans went down the drain. No painting, no recharging, no fun, no nothing. My husband and I could barely let the cat out.
They say: When life gives you a sour situation, make something good out of it, sweeten it up! This time I had no other choice but to surrender. I couldn’t beat that stubborn Covid-monster inside my body.
Some days are better than others! I’m so honoured! Thank you curator Cat Salter-Smith for choosing my painting “Portrait of Paul” as one of your Top 5 favourite paintings among the almost 1000 artworks in this year’s international TAE exhibition in York, UK.
Gala opening event in the Hiscox building on the Saturday 25th june. What a wonderful surprise! Online sale from june 29.
This is what the curator said:
“Yes, it’s a portrait of a person called Paul, but this artwork is so much more than that! Absolutely love the use of colour and pattern which has turned this ‘portrait’ into a fabulous abstract piece. Would be great to meet Paul one day! He really looks like a fun guy!”
The model, Paul, who is an artist himself was thrilled as he received the good news.
Makes me really happy to know that this special artwork now belongs to a dedicated collector in sunny California, USA.
Aiming for 10 years straight
This is my 6th year of participating in TAE and I plan to keep it up for at least 4 more! Two years ago my entry made the front page among several others and this year my entry gets highlighted as one of the Top 5. So much fun!
Making big life decisions doesn’t necessarily come easy. Every new year I make time to reflect about the previous year: Did things turn out as expected, or do I need to change my priorities?
In today’s blog I will reflect upon making a U-turn, in order to turn my life around to align with my changing hopes and desires, with what I want from life and how I want to live from day to day.
I’m the captain
As a former project manager I’m quite experienced in planning, evaluating and taking corrective actions in order to get where I want. The knowledge that you’re on the right path gives you energy to deal with rough days and short nights. I’m the captain, I know where to go, but sometimes you sail into troubled waters.
Most of us had our lives slightly changed during the pandemic. Also mine. Everything I had planned for was put on hold or canceled due to global and local restrictions.
Weeks and months passed by, my energy level dropped, my dreams changed and I realized I was on the wrong track.
Taking online art classes is fun and inspiring, you “meet” a lot of nice people, but at the end of the day, you are all alone in your studio. Your life and your wellbeing is your responsibility. No one will come knocking on your door to rescue you. It all comes down to: You have to deal with your own shit!
So what to do?
Setting a new course
Taking corrective action in life is a bold move that requires courage and conviction.
Artists are often sensitive to the world around us, often with great empathy for other people. But sometimes we lack empathy for ourselves, or we might be too busy looking outwards. During the pandemic most of us had time to reflect.
– What’s important now?
– How do I want my life to be when the pandemic is over?
Realizing you’ve come to a crossroads in your life might be hard to accept, but trust your intuition – pay attention to your dreams and your happy thoughts.
I’m not very skilled in sailing, but I do know how to plot a new course on a chart: So here I am happier than ever in my new almost full-time dayjob! Will have to adjust plans for my artist life though…
I read somewhere that being an artist is like having a permanent midlife crisis. Many artists experience that creativity is constantly fluctuating between ebb and flow. But don’t worry, the creative ocean is enormous!
Time to compost
Right now my creative energy is low due to other obligations (studies and preparing for upcoming exams).
Also I need time to reflect on what’s important now and what will be my next move. Or as my farmer husband puts it: Honey, you need time to compost. I think that’s a good way to see things: I need to compost. Time to be still, time to collect energy before I start growing. Hopefully this period of composting will help bring my work to the next level.
At school teachers kept talking about the spiral of creativity, meaning that students re-learn things on deeper levels.
Puzzles from the subconscious
Lately I’ve been working on a series of paintings that really puzzles me. When working intuitively I open up to receiving messages from the subconscious. It’s actually quite exciting not knowing what the painting is trying to express.
Working intuitively can of course be both frustrating and time consuming as the process stops when I’m unable to decipher the message, when I can’t find the story.
Some days I spend more time looking at a painting than actually painting.
Working alone in my studio I sometimes miss feedback.
Of course I don’t expect family and friends to understand and give constructive feedback. Just like I don’t know shit about their job, they don’t know shit about my art! They’re just trying to be nice by telling me what they like and dislike.
But what resonates with you or my uncle doesn’t necessarily give me the answers I’m searching for, because our preferences are like a compass and we all have different trails to walk.
My best feedback comes from within. And if I’m really stuck I ask an artist colleague.
Some of you might know that my life is about to change and that I will fulfill a longtime dream by starting a new day job soon. But first I have a few exams to pass.
But right now it’s time to compost and spend some long overdue time with my family. Hope to go hiking with my best friend before the birch pollen season kicks in.
Being an artist today is a busy life. There’s not much time for Livin La Vida Loca. There are bills to pay, applications to write and pictures to paint. Marketing is another field. Sometimes it’s hard to keep focus. Luckily I’m a quite experienced project manager and motivator.
What does an artist do all day?
You probably think that: Making art is the most important thing that artists do. But there is more to it than painting.
Daily tasks like mixing paints, preparing panels for painting, sealing them, cleaning brushes.
Weekly chores like paying bills, ordering new material, shipping out fresh work, organizing and cleaning the studio.
Administrative duties like scheduling appointments, answering email and press queries, communicating with gallerists, dealers, and collectors.
Marketing responsibilities like photographing new pieces, managing social media, writing newsletters and blogs. Uploading new work and maintaining the webshop.
When in the studio I try to structure my day to create periods of flow. Multitasking is not my cup of tea. Time management and focus is my secret weapon, because my energy goes to whatever I’m focused on.
You don’t always get what you wish for. You get what you work for.
I coach myself the same way I coach others and make sure to keep track of my projects in order to get where I want.
Real Artist or not?
I believe anyone can become an artist if you really want to. But the work of great artists resonates with the audience and makes you feel something. True artists love what they do and make art to communicate something.
My work is about how the mysteries in life unfold in different ways. I paint from my heart to explore and express what cannot be said in words.
They say it takes about 10 000 hours of practice to master a discipline. Some art teachers claim all artists will make about 1000 ugly paintings in their career. I think I’ve done my fair share by now.
Studio time is Happy Time
I love going into my studio. Studio time is a happy time, even if the creative process sometimes gives rise to frustration. There are lots of decisions to be made every single day. So when in doubt I take a break, I take a walk or I dance. My experience is that moving my body helps boost creativity.
A day in my studio involves playful experimenting. Risk taking is vital and daring to fail is part of the learning curve. “What happens if I try…” is one of my mantras in the studio. I follow my curiosity and am willing to be different.
Long hours in the Zone
When I’m focused I normally work long hours. When being in the zone, or in flow, in creative mode I have a tendency to forget eating and drinking, so my husband cooks and when he’s at work he kindly reminds me.
I’m not very fond of taking breaks. I prefer working till I’m finished and then call in the day to socialize with my family. Before going to bed I make sure to get some most needed unstructured time to reflect, or compost if you like. Without composting time my mind goes crazy, and I end up spending most of the night more or less awake figuring out new things to explore in my art practice.
As an artist I am well aware that I need to take care of my most important tool: My Body. Therefore I make sure to get my beauty sleep to increase health and well-being and to enhance cognitive ability and get those creative juices flowing.
My Studio Assistant
Every artist needs a muse. My studio assistant is the best! He has neither experience or a degree in fine arts. But he supports me in his very own special ways, and our life drawing sessions are wonderful. He loves modeling.
I would never ever swap him for another studio assistant.
Time to reflect is an important part of the creative process. Some days I spend more time looking at my paintings than painting. Why is that so? Artists have different creative processes: Some enter the studio with a clear idea in mind, start a new canvas and paint the picture. Just like that.
My creative process is more like this: I start with an idea, and then the painting becomes something else. I love the playful initial stages of the painting process where I explore happy accidents. For me the hardest part is taking a painting through the messy middle to the clarifying stage and finishing it.
No wonder I need time to reflect, or compost if you like. That’s why I have several paintings going on in my studio. So when one painting stops, I can continue working on another. I normally have loads of work in progress in my studio, but all of a sudden there are piles of finished paintings, too.
Writing about Art
Writing helps me reflect and clarify things. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’ve been blogging about various topics for about 20 years.
7 years ago I started this art blog hoping to share some inside views from living the vida loca as an artist. Initially the art blog was meant for a smaller audience of family and friends, but I soon realized I have views and followers from all over the world. And that’s a boost!
Putting your work out there is part of the game. If no one sees what I create, and no one wants to buy my art, I really need to win the lottery.
With the energy from The Year of the Tiger I decided to step up the game: So this month I welcome you to join my brand new Newsletter.
I’m a lifelong learner. I love a challenge, so this year I will find the courage to step outside my comfort zone, to climb out on a limb and reach for my next level of growth as an artist. I want to go all in!
I offer you the chance to be the first to get news and special offers from my studio. News about upcoming exhibitions, opening nights, artist talks, workshops, open studios, giveaways and new art for sale.
By signing up for my newsletter you will get special discounts and get to grab brand new artworks before they enter my webshop.
I plan to send monthly newsletters, unless something very exciting and extremely urgent matters pops up on the horizon.
How to Sign Up
I will be sending my newsletter directly to your email inbox. If you cannot find your welcome email, please check your spam mail. Make sure to move my newsletter to your inbox and add me to your contact list.
There is a “Happy Place” for each of us. It’s a safe haven for happiness, a place that allows us to breathe deeply and find peace no matter what is happening in our lives. Some prefer their happy place to be a low-stimulation environment, where quiet stillness offers a feeling of being at peace that can last for a long time.
While knitting might be your happy place, My Happy Place is different.
My studio is my happy place!
Lots of people find their happy place in nature, or with animals. Studies show that spending just 20 minutes in nature boosts vitality levels significantly.
I’m the sort of person that needs to spend quiet time in solitude to refuel myself. Studio time gives me the chance to unwind and get away from the hamster wheel and the madness going on in the world.
My Happy Place brings me joy and happiness and fills me with energy. My studio is a wonderful space where I can “travel” to fabulous places, “meet” interesting people with fascinating stories and interact with my passion to let dreams and fantasies come true on the canvas.
My happy place has lots of positive impacts on me: In my studio I find courage to step outside my comfort zone, climb out on a limb, and reach for my next level of growth. My studio is the place where I can escape and feel happy, feel at peace with no interruptions of any sort – until night time when I wine and dine with my family.
Unique Life Experiences
Living a creative life is food for my soul. I believe painting heals, lifts me up, fills me with positive energy and hope! Studio time normally boosts my vitality levels and brings out the best in me. When I’m in creative mode no one can judge or harm me, except my inner critic. There are lots of decisions to make during the process.
Painting resembles life with its many layers of experiences. Some of them you want to paint over, while others really shine. There are happy days and not so exciting ones. The push and pull of living and painting, make the whole story of both you and me and every single painting, unique.
Therefore I believe that every artwork will reveal its own secrets to the right viewer. For me buying art is a soulful decision – and you instinctively know when to buy a painting!
I’m currently working on two parallel projects for my upcoming solo shows. These days I’m also considering whether to participate in a few group shows. So happy the pandemic is coming to an end!
There are no formal qualifications to become an artist assistant, although many assistants enter the job with a background in fine arts. My assistant has neither experience or a degree in fine arts.
The King of the Art Studio
My studio assistant is a model and a poser dreaming of being the King of the Art Studio. He sure knows when to step up the game to get his treats and make me brush his fur till it shines. Mr Handsome Cat also tells me when it’s time to turn his woolen blanket.
I admit it: I’m his slave, he is my master and I think he is drop-dead gorgeous!
My Magic Art Assistant
Apart from being drop-dead gorgeous, super smart, friendly, soft and furry, he is absolutely magic! Mr Magic Art Assistant even likes my studio music (contrary to the rest of the family). He knows exactly when I’m stuck and in desperate need for a hug and a nice cup of tea. No wonder, he practically grew up in my studio!
But sometimes we’ve had tiny accidents: Like the very first day in the studio when he suddenly jumped up on the table and stepped right into my wet paint. Of course, I immediately removed the blue paint under his feet, so he wouldn’t lick off the acrylic paint himself. Once he managed to taste the green water behind my back. But normally he just relaxes somewhere safe in his own very special place. So, no trouble at all!
Instead ofadministrative duties – like scheduling appointments, answering email and press queries, communicating with gallerists, dealers, and collectors – Mr Art Cat provides artistic support like purring and well… purring.
Instead of mixing paints and preparing panels for painting, he sleeps.
Instead of cleaning the brushes, he slowly and carefully licks his fur for hours.
Instead of bringing me food, he screams for me to come watch him eat.
Refreshing Walks in the Woods
During summer months we often have lunch in the nearby woods. His woods. After lunch Mr Cat normally takes the frustrated artist for a walk to clear the mind. Yes, it’s true. We take walks together. But he refuses to swim in the river with me. Well, you can’t have everything!
Time to Reflect
When it’s time to reflect, my assistant is the best. He curls up and we talk and reflect until he wants to go outside. Sometimes we work on art texts for blogging, like today – I do the writing, while he watches birds and squirrels on youtube. He loves when I read out loud!
Life Drawing Sessions
Our life drawing sessions are the best. They make a cornerstone of training arts and living La Vida Loca, or the artist’s life, in our shared studio. This is the only time I’m allowed to sit in the studio arm chair.
As you might have guessed, the studio arm chair is His Highness’ Throne.
I think Mr Handsome Studio Cat likes modeling best. I actually made a whole series called Cat People to honor our relationship! Part of the series was exhibited in 2019. Mr Drop-Dead-Handsome just loves it when I look at him all the time! And I love him dearly! It’s a win-win situation.
Artists and Their Cats
Many artists have shared their studio with cats: Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Ai Weiwei to name a few. So I’m not alone!
Looking back, creating art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To most of those who know me, it’s no surprise I ended up living the vida loca as an artist. After a long and winding road I finally found my true calling ten years ago.
Back in the Days
As I remember them, my early years of childhood seem to be quite lighthearted and enjoyable. Back in the days, young children growing up in the countryside were normally playing outside with friends, while their parents were tending livestock, working the fields or taking a nap after dinner.
I really enjoyed my own company and had lots of freedom and long hours of roaming the hoods, trying to figure out life’s mysteries and searching for fun.
The Tiny Artist
My dad had plenty of tools, so at the age of 4 the tiny artist was stone carving day after day, fully determined to become a sculptor and make gigantic statues. A few weeks later I gave up because I couldn’t find stones that would let me form them the way I wanted; the materials were either too hard or too soft. And my wrists were really hurting from all the hammering.
Then I tried working with clay from the nearby seashore without significant success.
Sadly my carpentry didn’t come out like I wanted, either – so I went back to drawing, encouraged by Grandma who was happy to model for me every day.
First Art Exhibit
At the age of 5 I had my first art exhibit in Grandma’s house. All the neighbors were invited and Grandma served coffee and homemade cookies.
To my big surprise I sold my first drawing. And Grandma told everyone that I was going to become an artist.
Years passed by
Through adolescence I was sketching, drawing and writing for hours every night. I hardly had time to sleep. At 16 life took a new turn. Years passed by; life was filled with schoolwork, sports, friends and parties.
Good years, by all means, but my creative spirit was not nurtured except for a few lucky hours every now and then. Some nights I skipped sleeping, or I couldn’t sleep at all, because my brain was in creative mode.
Dreamt I was painting
Night after night I dreamt I was painting large canvases with bold marks and vivid colors; weird and wonderful abstract motives. They say that what you dream of, over and over again, is telling you to pay attention to that theme in your waking life. That your subconscious is trying to connect you to something that’s important for you.
So I tried watercolor and ink, but didn’t quite get the expression I wanted. I tried oil painting and hated the smell, but OMG! was I the most popular girl roaming the bars for a few weeks with oil paint in my hair and stains on my hands…
Photography was a lot of fun, but I never got around to apply for studies in New York. And since Bergen was totally out of the question I started working again. And all of a sudden I was caught up in Family Life, university studies and coaching handball. Time flies when you’re having fun!
The Local Art School
At 50 I discovered the local art school. Half way through my second day in summer class at Nydalen Kunstskole, I had kind of a spiritual awakening – a feeling of being connected with something I’ve been looking for my whole life. I finally had found my true calling and that autumn I attended art school.
Sometimes, dreams come true or tell of a future event.
Time flies when you’re having fun! That’s for sure! Early this summer serendipity knocked on my door and intuition told me to jump on the art train passing by. I have not regretted one single minute, not even a second! I have found my joy!
Having fun is vital
I had so much fun doing Louise Fletcher’s free taster that I signed up for the full 10 week course and exchanged my plans for a lazy summer holiday with long hours of work in my art studio. I didn’t get much of a sun tan this year, but I gained artistic insights and had a ball!
For me having fun is vital for my well being and when things get too serious or busy I get overwhelmed and lose my energy. This summer has been amazing!
Small works for big changes
Working small on sheets of paper has many advantages when you master the format. You get to experiment a lot more and finish work in a smaller amount of time and you get to know your preferences; what you like or don’t like.
When working on technical paper or sheets of canvas paper I feel free to follow my intuition, I feel free to play and never think of “ruining” an expensive gallery canvas for that matter. Working on paper also means I can sell works at affordable prices.
Another aspect of working small is that there’s really nothing to lose: If your painting sucks, make another and notice what you do and don’t like. It’s called learning and the more I learn about my preferences, the more “me” my paintings get.
My favourite idea when working in my studio is: “I wonder what happens if”… and this is how some of my small playful works give rise to big, bold changes.
I’m So Excited for what’s to come!
Well, to make a long story short I had so much fun and learned so much doing the full 10 week course this summer, that I signed up for the brand new 6 week master class starting in a couple of weeks. I’m so excited for what’s to come!
My, my what a splendid way to spend the summer! I’ve had so much fun painting almost every day. I’ve already learned A LOT and I’m filled with positive energy, good vibes and hope for the future. I actually LOVE my artist life at the moment and can hardly wait to enter my studio. The drawback is, of course, my lack of suntan…
In my previous blog postI told you that serendipity knocked on my door as I was closing my studio for the summer, planning for lazy holidays with family and friends. This summer my intuition kicked ass and turned my summer plans upside down.
Today I feel like the luckiest artist in the world thanks to the wonderful teachings of Louise Fletcher, her team of coaches and my fellow artists taking the course. My energy is back, doubts are gone, and I’m ready to conquer the world! Good thing I listened to myself, even if my suntan this year will be minimal. Muahaha!
Joining this course feels like a transition ritual where my inner artist is coming of age. As an anthropologist I’m well aware that rituals are symbolic passages from one stage to another – so my feeling of “coming of age” as an artist is, of course, on an emotional level, but hopefully it will show in my art practise and my body of work.
Let loose, feel free
As you might remember, I’ve been struggling with my work for some time, feeling tense and frustrated. Now my studio has transformed back to My Happy Place thanks to the exercises, tips and tricks we learn and share with each other.
Finding my joy
For me letting loose, feeling free, playing and experimenting is just what I need to find my joy and creative energy! There are so many ways to lose track of what’s the most important things in your life. When things get too serious, I tend to lose track of my path. For me, playing and having fun is vital. Especially in the studio.
Relaxing in the hammock
Balance is another important aspect of human living. Our modern society is very busy and one is supposed to refuel and heal within hours or weeks. I simply LOVE canoeing with my family and I also like spending time in my hammock, reading books or staring up at the sky. That’s a nice way to recap my day and have a little chat with my cat.
As I was closing my studio preparing for a long summer holiday, serendipity knocked on my door. It’s said that “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!” I never thought that quoting these words in my June blog post would make a difference, but Boy! Was I wrong!
So be prepared for what you wish for!
My art practise is my life line
Almost every single day I create something. That’s my priority. I feel like my studio time fills me with energy. Expressing myself through painting, sketching and collage helps me be more aware of what is going on inside, especially when things are busy outside and the world situation is hard to grasp.
Having fun is my fuel
The hardest part of creating is finding my own voice. On my way through art school, workshops and classes I somehow lost my joy. Last spring I dragged myself into the studio, only to find that I didn’t like what I was creating. Now, that sucks! Imagine going to your happy place, getting stuck and feeling frustrated. Some say that being an artist is like having a midlife crisis your entire life…
Thanks to my art friend Cheri, whom I met through the international creative community Canary Rising, I finally discovered “My Octopus Teacher” – if you haven’t watched that film yet, please do!
What a life changing experience to have found British abstract artist Louise Fletcher and her brilliant teachings. Louise is a down to earth teacher with excellent motivational skills and strategies that really helps you get back to basics, letting loose and feeling free!
Louise’s free taster course in the first half of June filled me with so much joy and hope that I signed up for a full ten week course and skipped my summer holidays!
I’m so excited! I can hardly wait for next week’s teachings and assignment!
Spiralling upwards, downwards or sideways?
In art school my teachers often talked about how artists work in spirals, meaning that when learning new techniques you add to your toolbox so you can make art at a higher level. So far, so good.
The downside of learning all that new stuff is that you might get lost, forget about who you are as an artist and spiral yourself down, or enter someone else’s spiral.
Last spring I felt tense and stuck. I didn’t seem to get anything right. I was sick and tired of creating paintings that sucked. I had completely lost my joy and I felt like spiralling downwards. And I had absolutely no clue how to push my art further.
Don’t stop looking!
But: If you’re searching for something, even if you cannot pinpoint exactly what it is, don’t stop looking – because one day you will find what resonates with you! For me having fun is essential; I love playing and experimenting! For me Louise’s and her team’s teachings are spot on!
This is my journey – I will find my joy – and make my studio my happy place!
Today painting almost feels like an out-of-body experience, I’m so excited and I love love love being in flow having fun in my studio.
My journey as an artist began ten years ago as I entered the local art school for a week-long summer course called Finding Your Artistic Voice. I was a complete beginner. Except for a few attempts with watercolor, I had never painted before and barely knew upside down on the paint brush.
I found my true calling
On day two I realised I had finally found my calling. My results were nothing to brag about, but I loved the creative process. It was a very intense and hot summer week with deep diving into inner landscapes, lovely lunches outside and refreshing swimming in the river with new friends.
The teacher was a well known artist who sometimes gave me a creepy feeling as she laughed at my beginner attempts at colour mixing and criticised my way of using the paintbrush. Therefore I somehow didn’t think the teacher was walking the talk, but she kind of saw right through me and I was strongly encouraged to enter the two year art program. And for that I am forever grateful.
A gift from my family
The summer course was a birthday gift from my family. My husband and my son witnessed the immediate impact this creative week course had on my wellbeing, so the following month I enrolled as an art student, finally at the age of 50. Looking back I regret not doing this years ago, but life has been filled with other things.
The following two years my learning curve was steep as I had spent most of my life fulfilling others expectations, not listening to my inner self. They say there is a crack in everything, and that is where the light gets in. I don’t know who I’d be without my creative practice. Entering my studio is like coming home on a deeper level.
For years I worked full time jobs and made art during evenings, weekends and holidays. I hardly had any energy to meet friends, and my poor family only saw me during meals and when I fell asleep on the sofa totally worn out. I have no idea how many movies I slept through while my tea got cold.
Working two careers is demanding, and as my everyday life started to feel like a mountain to climb, and I began to feel dead inside, I realised I had to change my priorities and went for less stressful day jobs. Over the years I have spent long hours of hard work alone in the studio to push my art forward. Years of poor income have taught me not to spend money.
Never stop dreaming
To me being an artist means quite a few sacrifices. We only have 24 hours and 7 days a week. I plan my days well in order to accomplish what I want. Artist life is sometimes stressful, but I’ll never stop trying to fulfil my dream.
Trusting my inner voice has been a hard trial, guess I wasn’t brave enough to listen, maybe I was told I wasn’t good enough too often. When you feel your life is too small for you it’s time to make a leap! Time to unfold! Trust your inner voice, it demands to be heard!
10 years and 10 000 hours later
They say you need about 10 000 hours of practice to become really good at something. My art practice has covered several trials and errors, exploration, failure and happy coincidences. I have painted small and big, painted over again and sold a few. I have taken workshops, had exhibitions, even attended a third year at the local art school. I’ve learnt techniques and made loads of paintings in different styles, but I’m still searching.
10 years later I am eager to find my true artistic voice. But when the student is ready, the teacher will appear! So I carry on.
Like many artists I dream of pushing my artwork forward so it looks more like the artwork I visualise and the artwork I make while asleep. For years I’ve had vivid dreams about filling really large canvases with abstract non-objective paintings. These paintings look amazing, but when I go painting in my studio my work looks very different. So in order to get a little closer, I’ve made a plan.
I heard that if you paint from your mind, it won’t work. You have to paint from your heart and soul. The tricky part is that you have to use your intuition to get there. And that might be a challenge, because my intuition has more or less been switched off since early childhood. So what to do?
Recurring shapes, patterns and lines
Throughout my almost 10 year long art practise I have noticed that some shapes, patterns and lines are recurring over and over again. This especially happens when I’m in flow, when my (over)thinking left brain is taking a break and I just play and explore and completely forget about the rest of the world. When time is totally irrelevant, when I don’t need food, drink or rest. I love being in flow.
My studio is my happy place
Normally my studio is my happy place. But lately I have been feeling tense and restricted when in my studio. I feel stuck. My paintings suck. I don’t seem to get anything right. I’m sick and tired of this whole art project. All the fun is gone and it somehow feels wasteless to stay on my art path. I think I’ve lost my mojo. In times like this one sure needs a change: there is no point in continuing to repeat the same shit. I need to stop doing what I don’t like!
Searching for myself
At some point in art school we did research on our early works to see if there were recurring elements, and we were encouraged to make a log of our personal language of shapes, patterns and marks. Last spring while working on my graduate project, I made a journal containing my visual alphabet. This spring I went through my existing body of work looking for composition details. And, to my nice surprise, I found some good stuff that I really like. So, there is hope!
Next step collage
Next step in my process is making collage based on my findings. Making collage is both fun and challenging. Making my own collage material is a playful way to start my day in the studio. I find that working with a set of limitations gives me freedom to experiment within the set frames, and I often use a timer to avoid overthinking what I’m up to. The main thing is to let loose, to play, experiment and have fun! If it’s not fun, then I’m on the wrong track!
Recently I started experimenting with mixed media and I kind of like the combination of layering with acrylic paint, collage materials, ink, markers, charcoal and oil sticks. I’ve come to think of the layers as life experiences. In the studio some of them are covered up, but they still shine through or stick out like traces of history. It’s all part of what makes a person, or an artwork unique. Life in and outside the studio is not so different after all.
Cruising the internet
I’m not sure how smart it is to scroll through facebook, instagram and watch youtube videos when you are in search of yourself… but I admit I sometimes do, even if it is really scary to see how good some artists are.
I try not to compare myself with others, but sometimes I stumble over things that remind me of the art from my dreams, so I try to figure out how they have made their artworks and try to adapt some of the findings into my own work. The possibilities are overwhelming and I often get confused and frustrated when I cannot make it work. Now that’s a vicious circle.
Evolving as an artist
I never understand artists who make the same paintings over and over again. Some of them claim to have a ball, while others are frustrated and stuck with gallery expectations. Maybe there’s something wrong with me because I easily get bored and want to try something different, explore and see what happens. Maybe I haven’t found myself as an artist yet?
I heard that real artists paint from their heart and soul. But when creating from your heart and soul, you need to get in contact with your inner true self. The only gut feeling I ever had was stomach pain due to food allergies. Growing up I experienced that feelings often made things worse and that logic and reasoning was the way to go. Years later I find that it takes courage to look inside, and you never know what shows up from the subconscious layers. The question is how do I express my emotions in abstract ways that touch your feelings?
Having fun is my fuel
Right now the trick is to find what keeps my creative juices flowing. I need to find a way of nurturing myself, a means to fill the artist part of me with fuel that keeps me going, energy that keeps me pushing my art forward and closer to the paintings I dream of making. I need to free myself and unstuck whatever is holding me back. Because I love creating, I honestly don’t know who I am without my creative studio time. I suspect that my fuel is HAVING FUN!
Developing a unique style
When letting loose and having fun in my studio is established, I will explore and experiment different methods of putting things together in my personal abstract mix. I can hardly wait, all of a sudden I am super duper motivated! I love planning, and I know I’ll get there!
Even if it takes a lifetime
As long as I am creating there is hope! I will keep on searching for my artistic voice and continue abstractifying my work. Some say it takes a lifetime. I suspect I will need another incarnation to fulfil my dream, but I will never give up!
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