Tag Archives: painting

Good Medicine, the inner and outer process behind a painting

I thought it might be interesting to follow the birth of one painting through a view of both the process pictures of paintings and the internal processes that lead to them. In creating my art, I move from the dialogue between my cracked identity and compensatory identity, through the dead zone of the unbearable, into the essence of a phenomenon like dreaming life dreams or loving self.

In order to paint like this, I need to live through the phenomenon in my own life, in tandem with painting.

Famous last words: I’ve broken up with drama

In August, I had a scary phone call to handle. A co-operative venture had filled my work life with drama. I used to be a drama junkie, so the emotion-laden telephone conversations, non-productive meetings, misunderstandings and general chaos were a deeply familiar pattern to me.

Veronica Torres, channeler of Eloheim always asks: How ridiculous does it have to get? For me, this means that sometimes a situation has to blow up really badly before I am ready to confront a blind spot of mine. Without going into details, the situation had come to that point on several levels.

I did what I do with my life and myself, took it to the canvas.

Dragon Fire

Then, baffled, sad, disappointed and at moments torn up, I dragged myself and my canvases to work counselling.

In that safe space I dared to let go of my compensatory identity, who is hell bent on finding the solution to anything. Nothing is too hard, too painful, too overwhelming to take in, contain, move around and transform. I let myself sink into the world view of my cracked identity who would offer to try to heal anything in the whole world, just to have a chance to feel loved and worthy of living. I allowed myself to go into the dead zone, that black hole of despair and feel, again, the dying inside of unbearable loss. The fear of which keeps me from setting boundaries.

Gradually the agony started fading and I found myself in my core. In touch with the dragon strength from my second painting. My work counsellor remarked on the tiny but perceptible shift in my spinal alignment when I made this connection.

Back to the scary phone call. It almost made the inner work of the previous two weeks worth it. We cut through any drama with vulnerable, honest communication and built an agreement that allowed for a freedom of work. After the call, I went to my roll of preprepared cotton canvas, flayed it open on the floor. Filled with the aftermath of fear, determination, dragon strength and sadness, I emptied a bottle of water (no water source in the studio) on the canvas.

The beginning stages of Good Medicine.

I taped plastic bags on my feet, because this energy needed my whole body to be expressed. I threw Golden fluid colors on the canvas, skated in the color with my plastic coated feet. Of course the plastic promptly broke and the colors seeped in.

Impulse by impulse,


throwing colors,

trusting the crazy jazz

of the emotions

moving my body

moving my colors

moving the energy

I kept working the underpainting of what was to come.

This is where I ended up, the paint is still wet here.

After a while, I peeled off the plastic bags, dried my feet and continued tossing paint onto the canvas.

A few days later, I took the roll to my art supplier slash frame building guy, at Taiteilijatarvikeliike Snow White to be fastened on stretchers, left it in the owners capable hands and forgot all about it.

If it comes up again and again, there’s something there

What did nag at me, after the phone call, was that the dramatic collaboration was one that I had jumped into eagerly at first. When the truth behind the scenes started revealing itself I had burrowed myself deeper and deeper into it, attempting to understand the roots of what was happening, ignoring all the warning signs.

The work opportunity in itself was more important to me, than the risk of energy drain. I stretched myself as much as I could to be able to stand the situation. Drawing boundaries came to my mind only when I realized I had to protect my health. Realizing this made me curious about what was going on with my relationship to myself.

I believe I create my reality and the vile thing about that is that blame kind of loses its function. Sometimes it would be such a relief to just blame others. So what was it about drama, energy feeding and victimhood that still held its appeal over me? [You don’t see my face as I’m writing this, so let it be stated that as I write I cringe, fidget and scrunch my face in embarrassment.] I would so much like to be over this, not be this human, vulnerable, repeating ageold patterns of behavior.

I have a hate-love relationship to solving these puzzles in my life. What I love is the end result of freedom and exuberance that always, every time and invariably infuses my everyday life after a foray into the inner landscapes. What I hate is diving into the ugly truth, into my very own private shit and sorting through it.


But this, my friends, is Good Medicine. Taking everything, all of what life presents to you, good-bad-indifferent and being curious about why it is happening in your life, what it brings up in you, what can be discovered. This is the adventure.

It’s all in the preparation

Okay, so I was sitting in my studio, wondering what would be the shape of my next art sharing event and what kind of a ride art would take me on this time. I had forgotten all about my huge canvas and was just nagging my muse for something rational that I could do and for pictures I would be able to post on Instagram to show that something is happening and keep the art sales going.

I stumbled upon a Crimson Circle SES course that was organized in Edinburgh. BAM! That sent off a huge impulse, so I made the arrangements and traveled there. I wrote more about that trip here.

In the meantime my huge canvas was having its own adventure in the framing shop and there was this musical interlude as necessary inner and outer preparations were made. A few more events had to take place before the scene was set for some more painting.

There was my birthday, when my Mom called me drunk and blasted open my heart in another trip to the core. Essential to this painting was also when I met my friend at Fazer’s Cafe and  got the text that my canvas was ready, I was drinking coffee and eating complementary color lemon-blueberry cake, talking about life, the universe and everything.

Complimentary color cake at Café Fazer.
Complementary color cake at Café Fazer.

My friend graciously agreed to came with me, to check out the store and the art supplies. When I saw the canvas, I took a step back. Humongous at 150x121cm!

My friend helped me carry it back to the studio. We walked the streets of Hakaniemi, on both sides of the enormous canvas. It fit both the elevator and even the narrow corridor at my studio. As we swapped stories about mothers and stared at the painting, I remembered the summer when my Mom was homeless and I spent more time with her than I had in years.

I kick myself now that I have no picture of the painting as it was in the art supply store. The truth is, I couldn’t wait to get my hands immersed in paint again. So I started out. It’s always difficult to continue the painting when the underpainting feels impressive or lovely in itself.

As I painted my thoughts raced back to the beautiful mirror that my friend held up to me when I told her about how I experienced Mom’s homelessness and walking beside her during a part of her experience. I felt my heart thaw, as I painted myself back to my core. Little by little my heart started to expand.

After the first painting session back at the studio.

It felt vital at this stage to share something about what was happening with this painting and inside of me with my crew, so I posted on Instagram and Facebook.

“As I paint I think about my mother who taught me everything she knew about love. Tenderly, as a conscious choice. She comes up again again again while I paint about loving self, because she also taught me everything she knew about hating self. I let color lead me while I attempt to contain the whole spectrum. Not so much about the past, but now. How can I love myself and at the same time love my mother? Yes she is drunk most of the time, changed beyond recognition, angry, bitter. And. She is still here. Still alive. Is there a way to stretch the skin of my heart so wide I can love us both and not hurt either of us? Who am I to dream of peace on a large scale if I cannot paint myself spacious enough to fit the mess of my own biological backyard inside of me? Self-love seems to be inexorably linked to all the love in my life on an experiental level.”

I lifted the painting on the wall, to see it from a different angle and continued painting, adding light and variety.

I deeply appreciated the responses I received, because they helped me see the parallel I was working on, my relationship to my Mom, who is hands down the most difficult person in my life to love and my relationship to myself.

A few days ago, I sent a text to her saying that I love her in good times and bad. I received a response that makes it a bit easier to continue the communication.

A change in tempo

Yesterday I had two deadlines for Minä Olen magazine, an importan telephone call, a sick firstborn and a client coming to pick up a painting. That’s when this painting started speaking. All the contextual, emotional and energetical groundwork done, it was time to paint!


The starting point yesterday.

Having had absolutely no idea what to do for many days at the studio, now I knew I wanted to balance the painting. But honestly, not much thinking was done yesterday. I alternated between important calls, writing the articles, painting, meeting a client, painting, writing with friends and clients on Facebook, painting and so on.


Spreading the greenish blue and adding a bit of flame.

The painting was speaking to me all day long.


It was pretty scary, slathering on this pale yellow. I had my marching orders, though, so it had to be done.

Layer after layer.

Ah, pesky bismuth yellow, maybe I like you after all.

And this is where I stopped working for the night, breathless with love. Today, back at the studio, writing this blog, I only see a work in progress and feel that inner itch to continue painting. But late last night, there was rapture.

I went home, alight with joy and showed the Engineer what I had created. Such a good man, he celebrated with me, exclaimed over the change that had happened, watched the pictures. We watched Newsroom together, sipped rum and I fell asleep in the middle of the program.

So, this is the journey of Good Medicine this far.

I’m feeling pretty emptied out now. Grateful to be able to live and work like this. Excited about where this adventure takes me next. Glad to be able to share it with you.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts about seeing inside the making of one painting. Is this something that interests you, or would you rather just have the painting speak to your directly, without the interference of the artist?

Implemented Self-Love, One Illustration at a Time

Look at yourself in the mirror with a loving gaze.

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.


What is implemented self-love for you, today?

About Fear

This week has been about fear for me.

Monday, in Taekwondo training, my considerate instructor said it was time to test me for the yellow belt. The others had done the test before Christmas, when I was lying in bed with fever.

All my inner walls slammed up. I wanted to flat out refuse. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away.

Instead I disconnected my brain and just waited for the test to start. I wish I could tell you that I aced it. Did not. I was pretty bad. But I did it. Tomorrow I get my belt.

What I learned during the lesson was that when I’m afraid, I tense my shoulders into a knot. I try to push myself into succeeding. It doesn’t work that way. Instead I prevent my body from doing what it knows how to do.

Hello Fear.

Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.
Hello Fear. Mixed media on canvas, 60x80cm, by Marie D. Tiger, 2015.

I went walking and running on ice yesterday. My intention was to explore how fear moves in my body. Just spend some time with it, experiment. I found a nice spot, a dirt road covered by bumpy, wet and slippery ice. Yellow sneakers, trembly knees, strong breaths out. Despite my mind’s screeching, fantasies of a broken nose and panic, my body knew what to do.

Relaxed, yet alert, my body, supported by my conscious breath, walked pretty normally. My feet kept slipping and sliding and correcting the balance with the appropriate movements. My shoulders kept trembling and numbing with the force of fear running like electricity through my muscles. But it was just sensation. An experience.

My taekwondo instructors keep telling me that the fear is normal, the bumbling around is something everyone does and the answers are inside.

I take their words to heart and bring them with me into the studio. Here I throw everything into the inner fire.

Work in progress.
Work in progress.

And paint for my life.

Tule syliin. Step Into My Arms. 140x100cm, mixed media on canvas by Marie D. Tiger.

What are you afraid of? What would help you stay relaxed and alert in the midst of feeling your fear?



What Happened after I Committed to Art?


I hope this year will be filled with unexpected blessings, illuminating insights and lots of beautiful ordinary moments for you. <3

In the midst of the kid’s holidays I wanted to come tell you about the amazing developments that have taken place, after making room for Empty Space and then making  the decision to commit to art.

Traditionally the three weeks around Christmas and New Year have for me been times of intense introspection, pierced with birth family drama and old patterns jumping up. Often I have felt helpless before my own life, before what I have created in my reality. While it has lead me to further delve into my inner landscape and into what it is that I would like to create in my life, it has been intense.

This year, it’s been vivid. But in a completely different way.

Choosing to throw caution and doubt in the wind, has opened up inner doors to art, rapid fire. I found James Elkins’ book, What Painting Is. He is an art historian multipotentialite, who understands art making on a visceral level. When he talks about painting being “life’s blood: a substance so utterly entrancing, infuriating, and ravishingly beautiful that it makes it worthwhile to go back into the studio every morning, year after year, for an entire lifetime.” he is describing the room that my soul dwells in.

Every day. Since I made the Decision to just make art. Has been so filled with life, crystal clear moments, enjoyment that words feel trite as I try to describe it. When I prod, jab, scratch, gouge and slash the canvas with my brush, my blood cells sing, my muscles flow with endorphins and I feel like I am at the center of my universe, doing exactly what I was made for.

Now, there is a new ingredient here. See, one thing that kept me from pursuing art, for real, was that I suspected I wasn’t very good. For a long time I thought it was just my perfectionism, but now I realise it was the wish to do better, to have the skill to express what is growing out of me. What I appreciate most is that now I’m open to learning that. The mixing of grays, a balanced palette, a liveliness of brushstrokes, a moving feeling body painting its unseen onto the canvas. A new gear is on and the books, people and ideas I need are flowing into my life. It is as if a dam has broken. As if art was waiting outside of the door, just waiting to bust in.

I’m happy. The ecstasy that so used to freak out my parents is back, the passion that makes me feel like an embodied song of Pavarotti inside is here again. And it has a place to go. My studio is just the right fit for all of this that can be so difficult to cram into everyday life; the bliss, the excruciating sensitivity to stimuli, the intensity that can ignite fire, the ocean of feeling.

This is short, but I wanted to tell you.

In the case that someone who has an impossible, irrational, crazy dream is reading this. What’s good about dreams is that they are really tenacious and when you dare to choose them, just that choice changes everything.


Different Modes of Creative Action

It has been quiet here on the blog. This is largely because I have been experimenting with the Empty Space and it is turning into Open Space, moment by moment.

So what does this mean?

Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.
Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.

Early this Fall, I had the rare opportunity to start concentrating on my bigger acrylic paintings. This work leads away from the verbal, for me. Where drawing and writing are areas of creativity that thrive on insight, the dance of imagination and rational thinking, painting is different.

So my days have been spent in slow contemplation, feeling into the deep rhythms of my life, the issues in our world, meetings with clients and groups of students. Inbetween that I come to my studio and time stands still.

Then colors, images, rhythms, melodies, feeling tones and sensations start moving through my body, until I have an impulse toward a particular tube of preussian, or a brush, or maybe dancing a little. The paintings unfold themselves out of me in a similar fashion as my children did. Words have very little to do with this. They come much later.

Sometimes this is hard to accept. I would like to draw, send out creative insights, write and connect. But everything I know about creativity tells me to surrender to this unusual time in my life and see what happens.

What kind of different modes of creating are you aware of in you life?


November Glow


November Light, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90cm, 2014.
November Light, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90cm, 2014.

I have been enjoying lots of empty space lately. It seems the ideas I like the most, come from simple being and breathing. Last week November Light, this week, who knows?


Sending you lots and lots of deep breaths and faith in the process, whatever it looks like for you. Remember, you only need to listen to the impulse and allow it. Again and again and again. Don’t forget to breathe. <3


Hello All,

It has been a long summer hiatus with a whirlwind of adventurous life experiences that I can’t wait to write about.

Lux Aeterna Swan goes to Switzerland.
Lux Aeterna Swan goes to Switzerland.

Today I am heading off to Switzerland, to deliver this painting and say hi to my eighteen year old exchange student self. It’s been exactly twenty years ago that I spent a year in Münchenbuchsee. Although I did not know it at the time, it was also where I found love.

So many dreams were born that year and a lot of them have come true.

What are you dreaming about, today? If everything were possible and easy, where would you go, who would you be with, what would you feel?


Feelings Are Good

Feelings are good. Watercolor in thought book 24 × 17 cm.
Feelings are good. Watercolor in thought book 24 × 17 cm.

In our sensitivity,

in the free flow of our feelings,

in our vulnerability to each other,

in our experiences,

is hidden our aliveness, vitality and hope.

Let it all flow.

This empath elephant is the first in my SummerFreeFlow 2014 collection. I have also started to post progress pictures of my watercolors, on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest. Some lovely people have been telling me it’s nice to see how the paintings are born, impulse by impulse.

This painting is for sale as an original, as cards and as art prints.



Swan-painting, Coming Back to Core


I was our writing in a nearby hotel this week. While I was talking to a colleague two swans flew over the river that I was watching from my window. It was a wonderful sight.

A minute later, they flew by again.

I knew it was time to sit with my dearest Lux Aeterna Swans again. I taped a few videos for your enjoyment, should you like to follow the painting being born. 🙂 I have speeded up the time a bit, based on feedback I received about the first videos, in these new ones and would love to hear how that works for you.

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

And if you want to watch the whole process, here are:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

In these last hours of creating the swans I got to use a lot of greys. Love that. My mind doesn’t want to understand how filling in grey makes the yellow brighter, but my eyes appreciate the difference.

Painting brings me back to the core, faster than anything else. I think that’s what’s trusting our impulses can do, at best. Help us become aware of who we really are inside.

To Create or Indulge in Drama

This morning I woke up at 6:05 am, thinking it was seven o’clock. I was in a lousy mood, with tons of inner pressure building. I cleaned up the whole kitchen, very dramatically and with an air of martyrhood, I’m afraid.

When I walked to my early morning meeting with my new friend Lorella, there were swans all over the newspapers, flying in the sky and blinking at me from a stuffed animal in a shop window. This has been happening for two weeks.

Talking over coffee with my artist friend, a painting flashed before my eyes. The Swan. Suddenly my foul mood, the drama, the overeating of pasta and craving for sweets all made sense. Another painting is on the way.

I was actually hoping to write this blog from Zürich, on my way to Burgdorf to listen to a concert, where my friend is directing the choir. Instead, I was painting all day, layer by layer revealing the essence of Swan that wants to born right now and no later.

My favorite symbolism page said this about swan symbology: “The concept of partnership is further expressed on a divine level in Hinduism, wherein the swan graces vibrant traditions as the Hamsa bird. In the Saundarya Lahari (translated: “Waves of Beauty,” it’s a text filled with beautiful mantras from the Hindu perspective) two swans (Ham and Sa) pair together, swimming around in the divine mind “living on honey from the blooming lotus of knowledge.” Isn’t that a lovely concept?”

I made my first video about the painting process, I hope you enjoy it. Have a lovely lovely weekend.

What kind of signs do you typically get when a new creative project is emerging?