Tag Archives: #whatisselflove

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?

And then for something completely different

So, tiger wants to join the crazy melee of self-love, bewilderment and creating.

Eleven years ago, I made my final artwork of Taidekoulu Maa. An sculpture, sown together with of small pieces of superlon, taken from my childhood mattress. At first I wanted the final work to be part tiger, part woman. But then my warm head teacher asked me [didn’t tell me] how the sculpture felt, being half and half.

I remember resisting the change in my idea, at the same time as I felt the sadness of being just a half intensely.

In any case, the sculpture that was born and that was exhibited looked like this.

The sculpture made as my final work from art school.
The sculpture made as my final work from art school.

What I now see is that the sculpture was so descriptive of my artist identity at the time of graduation. Already a tiger, yes. But completely without skin.

Growing fur

The tiger with fur, made by Anna-Karolina Tetri
The tiger with fur, made by Anna-Karolina Tetri

So, when Anna-Karolina contacted me and asked me if she could make a skin of felt for my tiger, I jumped into the adventure.

The tiger was completely changed.

From a work of art into something that reminded me and everyone else of a plush toy. At the same time as I kind of liked the finished work, I also missed the naked tiger inside. Conceptually interesting was also that the first impulse of many people was to go and sit on the befurred version of the tiger.


As I started floundering my way into this newest collection, the tiger started tugging at me. This happens sometimes. Artwork starts to have its own mind. So I contacted the Fur-mama and asked her if I could buy back her part of the tiger.

Today at the studio, tiger joined the fray.

First steps into transformation.
First steps into transformation.

I have absolutely no idea how this project will come together. But I am having a lot of fun, as well as lots of moments of insight into the energy that I’m building with this work. Closeness and intimacy with myself or others starts growing when I allow myself to feel everything and then sink under those feelings, through sensations all the way into my core and dare let my defences be released.

I’m still learning about the difference between defences and boundaries, but getting there. So is tiger.

Black gesso being administered.
Black gesso being administered.

Self-love skill #2 – Inside Out



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.

How are you loving yourself today?