A lot has happened, since I last wrote. I felt called to create a new website. It’s a longish story, but before I dive in, I wanted to thank you for following this adventure into the life of an artist. I appreciate you. <3
When we last met, I was deep in motion, painting the series of the Skin of self-compassion. That collection is now painted and ready to exhibit, once a gallery is found. Shortly after the last blog I wrote here, I was very ill with pneumonia and got transported into yet another level of self-compassion. Without deep breaths, I had to rely on my feverish mind and the kindness of my family who took such good care of me.
When I got well, I painted my lungs who are such a good friend of my heart.
Becoming a professional artist
Being so ill, I started realizing that artmaking had become work. It used to be that making art filled me with energy and bliss. Painting full time changed that. I found myself becoming very thirsty for a different kind of sustenance, while I painted. I longed to understand how other people did this as work and started looking for mentors, artists, those who have come before me.
I also started to be aware, that painting like this, I would not have enough energy to do coaching full time. Something had to give.
Turning the dream into a job
That is where you find me now, writing this. I have been studying at Heart of Business for about nine months. I’m learning to lean into God, listen to my heart and build a business authentically. This is what I have been looking for, all these years, having a business.
It is slow going, there is so much re-wiring to do.
Feels like one of those things that are worth it, though.
I would love it, if you would join me at my new site mariedtigermikkonen.fi where I work with strong and sensitive people who yearn for beauty, kindness and healing.
And even if you don’t, I want to thank you again for reading my musings all this time as I was working on articulating and bringing out what was waiting to come through.
I have been fortunate enough to have been reintroduced to my roots lately.
I see the deep, harrowing loneliness and isolation of my childhood and teenage years.
I remember how I would have given all of my reflective capabilities, all of my depth for just a few moments of belonging, of being able to immerse myself in a drunken appreciation of the rowdiness I saw all around me. Instead I saw it all, as through a glass wall, the observations, sensations and emotions around me swirling into my brain. There was a clear eyed, calm voiced witness inside of me that commented on everything, including my own actions and motivations.
This experience of being, through no conscious choice of my own, shut out from the pack, outside of something that everyone else could partake in, left to my own overwhelming sensations and interior landscape, gave rise to this deep yearning to find authentic connection. To somehow explore what I saw, express it, see if I could find someone else who recognized what I was sensing.
As I took a longer walk back from my children’s school this morning, I took time to stay with each footprint in the snow, a drop of water swaying this way and that on a pine branch, the particular scent of bared asphalt and snow that melts when it hits the road.
I see my isolation differently now.
The eyes of self-compassion see myself as an adolescent in a new way. I was practising my future life in a way, those difficult years. Something inside of me knew that my life, my heart path, lay elsewhere. No matter how I tried, I could not fit into that which was not of my soul. Something inside of me was stronger than my will and I just could not squeeze myself hard enough to fit into the tiny space that was offered to me.
Have you ever felt it? That no matter how you try, you just cannot make yourself convincingly fit into the roles offered to you?
My sense of being on the sidelines fills me with this deep silence, a spaciousness that can contain and give birth to new universes. This otherness in me makes it possible to stand the distance between myself and the world. It is also from this gap that connection is born; the active, compassionate, loving reaching out to you, there, on the other side of silence.
The deeper I paint myself into this exploration of self-love and self-compassion, the slower and more silent I become. It doesn’t feel like a punishment, anymore. It feels like coming home.
So I wanted to write a bit,
just a wordy wave,
to you out there,
where ever you are and
wish you a day of self-compassion with all that you live with, today.
The adventure of self-love continues. Yesterday, after coming home from meeting my work counsellor and seeing an artist friend, I updated this illustration. I don’t think the problem with loving ourselves is the self-care, as much as what happens within, when we do care for ourselves and our boundaries.
Setting boundaries is scary. We only ever see the surface of the people who set their boundaries for us. But when we do it, lots of stuff happens inside.
For me, saying no is often accompanied with a sensation of nausea, guilt, endlessly questioning whether I did the right thing and if I hurt the other.
As for the acrylic part of the project, here is the big, first acrylic painting in the Getting Lost in Landscapes of Self-Love on the right. On the left is its little sister, called “Loving Self”, from my last show.
Now, I’m going to tidy up my studio, to make room for clients and more painting. Thanks for following this winding path, as I find my way, impulse by impulse, into this new project.
Self-love skill number two. Saying no appropriately.
Man, how I struggle with this one. There’s saying it, of course. Hard at times, almost impossible at others.
But before you can say no, you have to be able to feel into what you really really want. Yes or no. You have to be able to say, I’ll come back to you, I’ll think about it for a while.
You need to accept, appreciate and allow your preferences.
Then, you may need to calmly say no thank you. Sometimes forcefully.
So, the practice continues. 🙂
Oh, and what do self-love skills have to do with creativity? My current experience is that the more I make art, the more productive I am, the more time I need for empty space time, bupkis days, taking care of my needs. It’s all part of the whole of creative work. Although the final act of creation may be fast and expressive, what makes that possible is sometimes a lot of time spent incubating, ruminating and in general just containing different kinds of tension.
This means I need to carve out that time by saying no. A lot. Trust the process, trust the need for this time, trust myself.
Sometimes saying no to the outside world is saying yes to your own art, whatever its expression.
What can you say no to today, as a way of practising self-love?
Back from Scotland and my adventures into the mystery of loving self. Things keep getting more hectic here on our planet, more turbulent. I felt an updated skill set in caring for myself would be appropriate. I’m glad I did.
Edinburgh was a beautiful place where it was easy to breathe deeply. I came back with lots of inner space and a collection of non-verbal, not yet painted experiences.
I’ve always thought loving ourselves is a pretty abstract concept. Easy to think and talk about, harder to practice. A quick google search seems to indicate it isn’t an easy concept generally speaking.
It seems to me, loving ourselves is something to be practised, day by day. This way it does increase, helping us to keep center in this ever-changing world of ours.
So while I’m painting my huge paintings around this theme, here in my studio, I thought I would ask my inner crew to give me something more tangible, that can be shared now.
I asked my friends: What is implemented self-love? Here’s the first illustration, T. and Fant style.
Today I have spent all day, filming a video about the making of core art. It has been the perfect thing to do in the midst of an incubation period.
The art show is closed now, unsold paintings are back at the studio and the future lies ahead, unknown. I think this was the show I loved most, of all of those I’ve had.
I used to think an art show is about exhibiting what I’ve painted and that has never felt natural, comfortable or even worthwhile for me. So this time, I wanted to do something differently. I wanted to connect, I wanted to share.
“out that expending emotional labor, working without a map, and driving in the dark involve confronting fear and living with the pain of vulnerability. The artist comes to a détente with these emotions and, instead of fighting with them, dances with them. The linchpin connects as a result of the indispensable nature of her contribution. The artist, on the other hand, connects because that’s what art is. The artist touches part of what it means to be truly human and does that work again and again.” ― Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
I started by asking my crowd what they wanted to see at the show, how they would like to participate in an art exhibit and I also asked the culture center what they would like to see. This made all the difference.
Forty people left their dreams on little colored paper notes in the dream incubator I had in the show. I felt honored, when I glued them onto my canvas in my studio. The power of those dreams, of people creating their everyday lives was palpable.
Countless people left messages, sent pictures of themselves, sent notes about how what they had created after the show. Clients who bought paintings shared their important memories or reasons for buying a particular painting.
Suddenly the time spent connecting felt real and the art I had created became part of the bigger context of people dreaming their reality everywhere. This is what I want to do next time as well, more connecting, more sharing, more of all of us being humans together.
“It’s what we wrestle with every single day. The intersection of comfort, danger, and safety. The balancing act between vulnerability and shame. The opportunity (or the risk) to do art. The willingness to take responsibility for caring enough to make a difference and to have a point of view.” ― Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
So now I’m here, in the Big Empty that comes after a big project ends. I’m ghessoing huge canvases, cleaning my tools, tidying my studio, going to Scotland for a workshop, making a film about core art, writing more again, watching movies and generally floating around in empty space, letting the New come in.
The longer I do this, run my company, make my art, dive deeper into core art both myself and with my art students, the more I’m convinced that we can’t jump from here [my everyday life, my freedoms and restrictions], all the way there [to my ideals, fabulous success, great technical prowess]. We need to follow the impulse, take the next tiny step, create the minuscule potential that is available to us now. That is when the adventure opens up. All [wry grin] we need to do, is to learn to live with the Unknown.
Sending you courage, the strength of wry humor and general wackyness where ever you are in your every day dreamer’s life today. <3
Next Wednesday, the 5th of August, I open my art show, Dream Maker, Heartbreaker at Culturecenter Grand Piispankatu 28, Porvoo, Finland. Welcome to enjoy Dreams and good company between six and eight pm.
Even if you can’t make it, I thought it might be fun to have a virtual art show here, at the blog. I know many of you don’t live in Finland.
Making art, for me, is impossible if I don’t love myself consciously. Without love, I don’t ever get to the studio door, but instead I allow distractions and the needs of others to keep me away.
In order to make art, I must be able to be all of me. Every little last piece of my humanity is with me in the studio, which is why the studio door sometimes feels monstrous. Facing myself, all of me, again and again.
You can make art or you can be perfect
Seth Godin wrote about this and I agree. The more I create, the more I crumble my expectations of perfection in myself, life and other people. Instead, I enjoy the ever growing creative energy that I can channel and trust my impulses and intuition to guide me.
Living my dreams, practicing self-love, being married, having children, working with other practicin idealists – none of it is all unicorns and rainbows. I would like it to be. Still. But I am learning to dance in this gap between the ideal and reality, letting it all move through me.
Coming to the studio after a fight with the Engineer, getting two wriggly, unwilling, tired kids to school and finding out a workshop has been cancelled. I sit down in front of the canvas, relax my body, open up to my imagination and I just breathe.
Approximately six hours later I wade through whatever weather there is, go get the children, cook, pack Taekwondo training gear and go train with my firstborn. Taekwondo keeps me both humble and in touch with my power. Centered in the midst of exploding force and knowing when to use it.
They Will Ask: Who Do You Think You Are?
In any life there comes the time when someone asks this of you. Who do you think you are – to dream, to paint, to write, to shine? I think this is a kind of harvest time [despite the potential hurtfulness of the discussion]. Getting this question from the doubts inside or from people around you means that you are starting to have an impact.
That is at least what I told myself, when this happened. After having a good cry.
It’s Worth It
A long time ago I read a book called Creating a Life Worth Living. This has always seemed like a worthy investment of my time. Life is so cumbersome, intense and scary, at times, it might as well be worth all the trouble. My fears keep whispering to me, it would be easier to live in quiet desperation, easier to “be normal”, just shut down, not feel it all, not engage it all.
Then again. Each time I say hello to my fear and dare anyway, a new door opens up, a new potential awakens, something new becomes possible.
Part of Something Beautiful
I used to hope I would find a community of people where it would be wonderful to work, where ideals would spring into everyday life and love would abound. This year especially, I have learned that we are all doing our best, even when we fall short. Maybe especially when we fall short. There is no perfection to be found.
Not in me. Not in you. And that is okay.
Compassion, taking care of emotions inside, instead of moving them into the relationship through drama. This leads to forgiveness. Seeing that things are what they are. Seeing people for who they are, instead of shooting out expectations like a sprinkler. Some lessons learned this year.
Just Start Somewhere
If I’ve learned anything while painting fulltime, it is that starting is the most important thing. It gets the creative juices going, opens up potentials, teaches you things. Just start. The rest will take care of itself.
Befriending the Shadow
When you can’t beat it, learn to love it.
And Then Sometimes Everything Goes Topsy Turvy….
If you’ve been reading this blog you know that my Dad has used to be my greatest opponent. I had to literally go through him to get to my first art school. As we talked through the years, I realized that he just sees me so differently from who I am. He sees some parallel-reality Marie, an elegant, reed thin woman, who wears navy, always blends in and loves cocktail parties. He had the perfect life planned out for this first born.
Instead he got me.
So, this spring I thought I had waited long enough and I asked him: “Are you at all proud of me Dad?” He is. Despite my flaming red hair, despite my aversion to cocktail parties, Burberry scarves and navy clothes.
It’s been quite a year. It seems the further I dive into living my dreams, the more I feel – of everything. The challenges become greater, the demands on trust grow. Wouldn’t change it, though.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what you see, thank you for watching and reading. I salute you, Dreamer.
It’s been quiet on this blog on this side of the year. I’m mostly on vacation,
but today I have been writing an article for Minä Olen magazine and since I found a way to get my scanner to work, I thought I would come and muse in the blog for a bit.
I was sorting through all the illustrations for 365 Days of Creativity (remember those guys?)
and found many scetches, a bunch of undocumented finished ones and raw ideas.
I now have 231 documented and finished illustrations of different creative days, mostly with my inner animals, but some with my alter ego red head stick girl.
The whole thing of course started when I got tired of sitting on my ass and wishing I would create and inspired by Seth Godin started drawing or painting something small each day [and no matter how imperfect], posting it here on the blog. The drawings kept getting better and I learned to listen more to both my inner animals and my impulses. My imagination seemed to speak animal. Until the beginning of year 2015, when form suddenly fell away and it was just myself and the colors left.
From my current vantage point it seems that I have most literally created myself visible. Through drawing and the inner work that being an entrepeneur gives rise to, I have slowly solved the conflicts between my inner artist, my coaching practice and my company Crealife. Instead of being a big mash up of everything, there are now clear distinctions between these.
This blog, that I started when I needed an outlet where to share my art, has slowly become a hobby, as my Finnish core art business, Crealife, has taken over. The painting process of my latest body of work Dream Maker, HeartBreaker has been a mostly wordless one, suitable more for documentation in the journal than short, intersting blog posts. Instagram has been a good way to share that process with my lovely audience. <3
So I’m pottering around the blog today, wanted to say HI and also that I am opening up inner doors so I can write in this blog again, adventure around in my beloved English language and perhaps send out a smidgeon of playful inspiration to summerwarmed imaginations around the globe. <3
There is one thing that I have been encountering this spring in both myself and in discussions with other Dreamers. It seems that there is an expectation that living your dreams is somehow easy. And that if a dream disappoints, or following it brings with it challenges or hardships, the dream is somehow faulty or wrong and has to be exchanged for another, or vilified.
Well, here’s the thing. This. Is. Not. Easy.
And I don’t think there is anyone on the face of the Earth, ever, who has found that living true to a dream or several of them, is an easy thing.
Living your dream may be carting bulky, unwieldy things while sweating like a pig and looking stupid, just because they fit your budget and it means you can offer more value in a workshop.
Living that dream may mean sleeping in the living room to give kids their own rooms, because you know that the tender balance of dream vs economy could not handle the extra intrusion of a mortgage.
Answering the call of the muse may mean getting up at five, three weeks after giving birth, to get forty-five minutes of writing done at the local café before the baby wakes.
Loving your craft, your art, your business or your whatever Dearest Vision means being willing to face your fears, doubts and resistance; opening up wide to the unknown; pouring in your time, money, focus and passion into it in order to solve yet another elusive puzzle.
It means you jump into yet another transition and accept the shifting grounds of reality so you can create more deeply, more authentically, more fully that which is burning inside of you.
You need to be willing to surrender to what is growing inside of you and to the changes it demands of you.
From the outside it may look like people who follow their dreams are driving on a highway, with a clear map they’re using for navigating all the crossroads.
“Easy for you, you’ve always known what you want.”
This is just not true on an experiential level. At first there is just the elusive calling, sometimes there, sometimes not. You have to persistently seek those clues, look for the YES! in things. And then you have to, you just have to dare take the steps.
Do you know what the hardest thing is? It is not taking that leap; getting married, getting a new job, going to study something new. Although those decisions may be agonizing and scary, what is much, much harder is doing something, each day, to express your dream. To write those words, today, tomorrow, the day after that. To do something when you’re still crap at it. To practice. To dare show up, human, unfinished, imperfect and still express what is inside of you.
When you start doing that, creating something every day. That is when you start living the dream. That is when your dream can start teaching you about its hidden soul.
Following your bliss is not blissful all the time. In fact it can be terrifying and really really crappy, downright boring and disappointing. That’s part of it. Doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Just means you’re on your way.
A warm thank you to everyone who took part in the Giveaway. It was a delight to meet so many of you in an e-mail. The five lucky winners have either received their packages or have a nice surprise coming in the mail in a few days. 🙂
Today it’s canvas making day in the studio again. It is unspectacular work.
Work that my mind scorns and scoffs at.
But as I listen to Dan Burke’s music and work, pausing at times to smooth the canvas, feel the gritty fibers under my hand, I think of the customer who will buy this painting and I’m filled with love. I’ve come across so many hastily made store bought canvases lately that twitch, turn, bend and are wonky this way and that. Another outer authority slipping away, the thought that store bought canvases are better made than my handmade ones.
A similar theme is opening up in Taekwondo practice. The repetitive basic moves that we practice over and over again, are blossoming into surprisingly firm kicks, swift turns and an agility I haven’t been used to in my body.
I’m thinking, what if I approached all everyday phenomena in my life, especially routines with this fresh attitude? What if I were an attuned, humble and awake beginner, filling the dishwasher? Taking the kids to school? Gathering the materials to my book keeper? If I were to appreciate the moment, my moment, enough to really be aware of what I’m doing and that I can choose the quality of the moment?
So, I’m back to tightening, stapling and turning – knowing that the painting born on this canvas will be quality, through and through. When I paint, I feel as if I’m channeling the feeling tone of my being onto the canvas and my deepest hope is that my paintings may be there in a small way as a support to you, while you work toward your dreams.
What are the foundations of your life, what are the basics you are practising?