December 1st, early morning. I can’t believe Johnny will be here in 21 days. I am a workday away from accessing my own world of art and creativity. I have to finish up the digital piece I’m currently working on and start something new and fresh. A new painting perhaps.
Yesterday, I got a notification on Facebook from writer and scholar Line Henriksen that the new special issue of Women, Gender & Research by herself and Morten Bülowa and Erika Kvistad, had been published – with my art ( “Iceland” ) on the back cover! This is yet another reminder that my art belongs out there in the world. I have to wrap up the work on my new collection – and hand it over to the audience. ♥
All of my different sides are visible in my art.
I haven’t felt like myself for a while. I’m a little torn between different versions of myself. The office-me, the artist-me, the Swedish-speaking-me and the English-speaking me, the strong me, the scared me etc. It can be a confusing at times. I’ve always had many sides to my personality and also many layers within each side which makes me a bit complicated to say the least. This is also visible in my art. I don’t have one single signature style, but various forms of expressions. I can be raw, I can be cute, I can be dark, I can be colorful. And I can be all those things at once. Even though I win many different followers and collectors by using different techniques and styles, I sort of envy artist with a clear signature style – because they are so dedicated to it. I am too restless, too curious about the next level of expression. I am always moving forward and I can’t go back to a successful style or expression even if I’d want to. When I move on, I never look back. Going back to an old style wouldn’t feel genuine and it would look forced. So, I guess that is my style – to always reinvent myself and my visual expression. On a deeper level, I believe I’ve used my art to rediscover and reclaim all the sides to myself that used to be censored or oppressed by other people.
I had some kind of breakthrough in my thoughts about my future painting last night. It was wonderful. The Dead Lolita theme has felt old for some time now. I don’t connect with the role of Lolita anymore, I’ve come too far on my journey of self-empowerment. It has been four years since I first got the idea of killing my inner Lolita – and I think I killed her on the way without even noticing. All the artworks for the Lolita show will be included in other collections.
The new theme for a future collection of paintings is “black on black” – whatever that might be. I have worked a lot with demon portraits against a black background and I would say it is my signature style. I love playing around with different nuances of black, adding more life to the dark and, often flat, color. I will also go back to making mixed media pieces instead of just acrylic on canvas – I have some new ideas I want to explore when it comes to my technique. This is exciting! I have already prepared some canvases. All covered with black paint, of course.
I am finally back to making art again. It’s been 5 months since I finished the last piece in PhotoShop (The Blue Connection). Being creative is my natural state, so I am starting to feel like myself again. I can see that my style has changed a bit since the last 2 pieces. It has shifted from a darker expression to a more delicate and dreamy style. My collage technique has always been driven by a freudian selection of images – but I work on a much deeper level now. My new collection of works will be my most personal one yet. Like visual diary notes. Who needs therapy when you have a talent to dig into yourself and bring it out as an emotional confession through a clear visual expression?
It is early morning and I am thinking about my new collection No Place Like Home and how it was supposed to be a love story. I have been working on the collection for almost 4 years now. From the time I met Johnny until now when we are broken up – you can follow our love and connection by studying my work. A house adrift. Two houses making a connection. Creating a root system. Sparks. Fire. Then – a separation. A disconnection within the root system. And now what? Am I supposed to end the collection about “finding a home” – on a bad note (with The Blue Connection)? Perhaps I have to continue working on it until something comes along that will create a ‘happy ending’? What if I have to wait for years to find my happy ending?
I will continue working on this collection to see where it’ll take me.
Red has always been my favorite color – and red was a theme in many of Ingmar Bergman’s movies. Perhaps the color red is what connects me to his inner world. The color of the inside. The color of our hearts, the world underneath our skin and the color of our wildest desire – the desire to connect, to bleed into each other’s existence.
I am taking a couple of days off to just focus on my meditation and making preparations for the panel discussion on Saturday. I have so many thoughts about the horror genre and about why I am making horror art in the first place. It’s funny, because I am not that into the genre in general. I don’t listen to dark music (if you don’t count Bach and Mozart as dark composers), I am not a big fan of horror movies and have never read any horror novels. Although when it comes to visual art, I prefer darker expressions, but it doesn’t have to be horror art. Is Swedish artist Lena Cronqvist making horror art? Roger Ballen? Are the films of David Lynch expressions of horror? Or Bergman movies? Does horror have to be a negative energy? There are so many questions in my head right now.
I am definitely bursting my own comfort zone by stepping into the arena again. It is both scary and wonderful. I made a new year’s resolution to “find the pulse of life” in 2017 – and I had no idea it would only take a couple of months to find it. Funny how life works.
Even if there are so many good things happening right now, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. To be an artist and to make art is a to make a contract with the world – the art doesn’t only belong to the artist but also to the world outside the studio. The art is in a way, its own thing with its own integrity. I am just the birth mother. With this unspoken contract it is understood that I, as an artist, am in the arena, a public figure with a voice. It is both a responsibility and a privilege.
As I am entering the arena with my art once again, many people want my attention and participation. I love it. But this new tempo makes me feel a little out of my depth. I know it’s just a matter of time before I get used to it again. It is, after all, a very positive thing. I’m feeling very loved and appreciated.
This week I’ll be busy with preparations for the “Women in Horror” panel discussion in Stockholm on Saturday. I wrote to the discussion moderator and suggested we could call her “the murderator” instead. She loved it.
I am featured in French cultural magazine Fier Panda with a new interview!
Read it HERE in French or the English version below:
I would really like you to tell us a story, if you do not mind : the one about pink in your art. I believe i remember you posting something about a disease you experienced years ago… Am I right ?
I was born with a serious case of atopic eczema and various allergies which would make my skin break out in violent rashes. My skin was always sensitive and in intense periods I would scratch myself until I was without any skin on my hands, and I had to wear bandages. This physical childhood trauma is visible in my art and I am dealing with the ‘pinkness’ of my skin and the world I can see and feel underneath it. The raw, the meat, the fleshy truth of my existence all exposed for the world to see. It still happens that I get sick and have to take surreal bath treatments at the hospital. The baths are, for some reason, colored in neon pink. I use more pink during the periods when I am sick.
But the pink color in my art has other explanations as well. I discovered my teen sexuality and had my first orgasm in a pink bed. When I think about it, everything in my childhood room was pink. I also use the color because it represents femininity to me. I am always creating artistic expressions based on my own experiences and feelings and I happen to be a female artist and it’s reflected in my palette. Even my depictions of Hell are pink and girlie. I had an art show some years ago called “My Pink Hell”.
I try to keep up with you creations and I feel like your art has encountered several stops along the years. Has your painting always been related to the bumps in your life ? Unemployement… Romance issues… Violence… Family troubles… I feel like you are the blueswoman of swedish painting (yes, I know – ‘jeeez Louise’- right?)
I am always changing and evolving both as a person and as an artist. When I change, my art changes too. I have been struggling with post trauma stress for many years and you can follow my trauma recovery in my art by looking at it in a chronological timeline. And I have gone through many psychological processes in therapy during this time and it has helped me create a very personal mythology in my art. I use a lot of symbols but for me they have a different meaning. I use upside-down crosses but to me it’s not a Satanic thing, I use the Eye of Providence, cats with eyes on the body, bodily fluids like piss, poop, drool and blood – and fireworks. All of these things are part of my personal mythology and have a deeper meaning.
My creativity (my visual art and my writing) has helped me survive many hard times. I use a lot of humor to deal with the horror, the fear and the rage. So even if I am ‘a blueswoman’ of Swedish art, I am also playing some polka melodies to have some fun with it. Playing the polka blues – yeah, that’s what I am doing! This way I am not only surviving the painful things – I am also adding humor to it so I can laugh at it. It’s such a relief. Without using humor, I would play the blues from a grave right now. For real. My art has saved my life many times. And watching Seinfeld and Frasier helps too. I need to make art and to laugh. A lot. That’s how I have survived 20 years of suffering. But I am feeling happier than ever right now. I have punched many demons in the face while dealing with them in my art. They all deserve it.
At times I haven’t been able to make art and that’s when it’s been really tough. But it only happens when I stop believing in myself. So when it happens now, I know that it’s not about my art, it’s about how I am feeling about myself.
Do you have hope you’ll ever find yourself through all the process of creating? Like your voice is singing somewhere and you’d really like to find the tune.
I am slowly on my way there. I had a big creativity blockage and got all burned out a few years ago so I have been away from the art world for a while. Now I am working on a new collection of artworks. I want this new collection of works to be bolder, more experimental and more ‘me’. More of everything! I have only just begun to explore the new me in my art. I know I have a lot to discover and I do feel like I have to learn a new language because I am moving away from my old artistic language to make room for another. It’s exciting and a little scary because I don’t know where the journey will take me – but that’s the nature of a journey. They should be a little scary because that’s when you know that you are pushing your boundaries enough to grow and flourish.
Could you please tell me a bit about your experience with meditation and how it influenced your life ? Your art ?
Meditation is a great tool to ‘clean your emotional palette’ and to find the right focus. I used to believe it was new age-ish and a only something for hippies and that’s not my style but I have found the perfect style of meditation: guided NLP meditation (Neuro Lingvistic Programming) which focuses on stress relief rather than transcendence and all that creepy out-of-body stuff. In the trauma I separated my mind from my body to be able to survive, so I don’t want to have an out-of-body experience again. I want to do the opposite – to reconnect.
The meditation has helped me stay more focused while I am working and I’m also finding more details in my ‘meditation dream state’ to add to my artistic mythology. Since I started with meditation, my art has become more airy, more spatial and ‘clean’. The expression is captured with simplicity now.
Being a Swede and a woman, how do you feel about the new state of our world ? How do you feel about : Russian politics ? American politics ? Swedish politics and the far-right wing slowly creeping in your country? (Same in France by the way…)
It is a scary time, especially for us women. I get very affected and upset by what is going on in the world. There is just so much negative energy in the world and it’s hard to feel safe. There are an increasing number of rape, sexism and fascism have moved into the White House and in Russia it is now legal to abuse women. As a survivor of domestic violence, this makes me both sad and angry. But I am dealing with these issues in my art at the moment – it will be my way of commenting on all the crap that’s happening in the world since I can’t really do anything about it in any other way. I am not a political artist but I can’t help but wanting to contribute somehow.
I know you have tried several others media than painting, do you feel you need to explore some more ? Would you like to see more people painting in 2017?
I wish people could find the courage to be themselves and to use whatever talents and strengths they have. We all have some superpower but only a few acknowledge it. Most people like to ignore, numb and hide their true nature so they can go on living in their comfort zones. I have comfort zones too but at least I know they are ‘uncomfort zones’ because you can’t grow in them and there is no way for new ideas to grow there. To me that’s creepy. I try to stay away from my comfort zones but being financially broke right now forces me to be stuck in one at the moment. As soon as I have more money I will try new things and invest money in bigger art projects. I want to make sculptures (made out of junk), I want to curate a group show and I want to buy a professional camera so I can make new photography projects. I have so much I want to do but so little money! Do I sound like that bluesman now?
You have always been a big provider of oddities on the web and I first knew you via your blog. Do you feel like we should all drink to the Web source ? Is it a corrupting or inspiring feeling ?
It’s inspiring because you can connect to the oddities like finding little pieces of your ‘home planet’. But it can be a comfort zone too, to stay in places that feels like home, instead of looking for new zones somewhere else. I like the idea that you can find every sick and twisted thing you can search for on google. It is all there. Amputee porn, cats with strap-ons, dwarfs with redneck mullets, people fucking oatmeal, fingerfucking melons and licking statues for fun. Whatever the human mind can come up with – it’s all there. It’s a cyber ghetto wonderland.
Finally, what great things are you going to accomplish in 2017?
To continue working on my new collection of artworks and perhaps write short stories. I also want to learn how to not be so scared of the good things in life. Like love, happiness and success. “If you are at the top there is only one way to go – down.” This is a very disturbing way of looking at life and I need to change it (as fuck). So I have a lot to accomplish in 2017. Wish me luck!
Since I started to scan my own handwriting for my digital works, I have been inspired by the idea of incorporating words, letters and written messages into my paintings as well.
My trauma is so much about language. Words. The lack of them. Repetition. The tone of them. The temperature. Linguistic warfare.
I have always been attracted to words in paintings. Basquiat used it a lot in his paintings. David Lynch as well. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I am so into early renaissance art – there are a lot of writings in them. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Mexican ex voto paintings (prayer paintings).
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to write and make up stories. I got A+ on most my Swedish assignments in school. Writing has always played a big role in the way I express myself. But in my traumas there has been this underlying threat that I am not allowed to express myself through my writing. Especially not about the traumas. Using words in my art is a way for me to rebel against this threat – and a way to break free from the invisible chains I’ve been forced to carry for the last two decades. It is my statement of independence and a way of reclaiming my artistic freedom.
I am taking a day off, just relaxing and contemplating. The creative flow is amazing but I have to make sure it’s not adding stress to my life. I haven’t worked this hard in years. It is good to feel swept away by my creativity – and to feel a little out of control at times. To let my imagination and creativity lead me and not the other way around. This is the reason why I have never felt truly lonely in my life – because the creativity and my imagination has been my companions. The times of a deep sense of loneliness only comes when I am not creating.
Next month I will take part of a panel discussion in Stockholm about horror, but nothing is more scary than watching the Trump administration at work. I feel like I can’t add anything to the world of horror that is not already coming out of Washington at the moment.
My self-therapy work has shifted from dealing with themes of my past to solely dealing with plans and strategies for future challenges. I now have a step-by-step plan how to get out of my current situation of being broke to reaching a more successful place – and a list of necessary resources I have to use to be able to do it:
- stress reducing and finding balance within
- focus (eliminating distractions and negative energy)
- understanding my value as an artist
- no doubting or hesitating
Since I have a plan, a strategy and a list of must-have resources, I simply have no excuses left, to stay in my comfort zone of isolation. I am pushing myself out into the world like I am giving birth to my own life.
I had a wonderful afternoon with my friend Mats Tusenfot yesterday. I really needed to get out of my apartment – and out of my head for a while. Being two digital horror artists we share so many places inside our minds. Places where a differerat kind of philosophy rules. Where the authentic self is never abandoned. Or overlooked. Not afraid of the dark. Not ashamed of strong emotions. Not interested in what money can buy. Not willing to compromise the artistic expression. It is comforting to meet another otherling who understands the pain, confusion, awe, fear and passion of being different in a world that is like an open wound.
It’s been such an intense month. I’ve created 5 digital works and I have 5 in progress right now. I am also working on 5 paintings at the same time. That’s 15 artworks, completed and in the making, in January alone. Just to understand how special this is, I will remind you that I only made 4 artworks in total during 2014. I need to slow down, but I’m just having so much fun – it’s hard to go slow when I am so deep into this amazing flow.
I am so full of ideas. I don’t know what to do with everything that pops up in my head every day. I have many new ideas for writing projects, artworks and future endeavors. I am not complaining, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, but I don’t know how to handle it. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I also feel rich – and grateful. I have this talent that is like a treasure chest with a never ending surplus of imagination and creativity. As long as I am lucid in my head, able to use my hand, eyes, feet, lips or whatever physical aid I need to be able to create, write or speak, I will be loyal to what’s in that treasure chest.
I am a lucky person, because what I create and put into the world somehow comes back to me like a beautiful reward. Every week, people send me warm and generous messages about my art. Not all people get such feedback when it comes to their work. I don’t think people thank their mailman for delivering the mail on time every day, or send positive feedback to the pilot after a successful flight. Being an artist is to work with the mind, heart and soul as the raw material for an expression – and then send the expression into the world to be looked at, judged, bought, ignored, praised or ridiculed. It takes a lot of courage to do that, but it can also be so rewarding. And when I am having a shitty day, things like this reminds me of my mission and why I am displaying my heart and soul in the public arena:
The life of an artist is not easy. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot. I can’t even see myself having children when all I want is to be alone in my studio working non-stop for hours, days, weeks. My kitchen is a mess, I haven’t had the time to watch movies lately and I can’t find the time for other things I love to do, like reading, writing, making notes and research about psychology. I need to find a good balance for this flow, or I’ll disappear into it completely.
I’ve had a really good day. I woke up early, watched a movie in bed, went out for a walk in the snow, made some errands, had a chai latte on the go – all while I was hurrying to return home because I felt so inspired and wanted to continue my work in PhotoShop. And once I was home, I got a sweet comment from my friend (and role model) Julee Cruise and I was suddenly reminded of who I really am, beyond all the trauma recovery work, the struggle to find a job, to find a place in the world. In fact, I already have a place in the world. I am me – and who I am and what I do is appreciated by other people, even by amazingly talented and successful people, like Julee. I am loved and appreciated by many people, even the ones I admire and look up to! And if they can see who I am and appreciate me for who I am and for my talent – so can I.
I am not the definition of my past. I am not a walking trauma. I am not a mediocre artist. I am not worthless. I am not tragic. I am not someone’s possession. I am not silly. I am not overreacting. I am not a victim. I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. I am not here to stroke other people’s ego. I am not a doormat. I am not weak. I am not a place for other people to project their inferiority or superiority complex. I am not a dumpster for other people’s intolerance and ignorance. I am not a blank space for them to fill with stupidity and rage. I am not even your idea of who I am.
I am not anything other than myself and only I get to decide who that person is. I define my own weaknesses and strengths. I have boundaries. Integrity. Value. Worth. Talent. Resources. Gifts. I am love. I am magic. I matter. I am courageous. I have wit. I am intelligent. I am kind. Warm. Open.
I am the opposite to who other people decided they wanted me to be. The opposite of their visions, ideas and expectations of who they thought I ought to be. Even when they tried to control me – and when they did – I was none of those things.
I am a lucky person, because through my art and writing, I get to show the world who I really am – and the world loves me back! It is the best love story I can think of. I am very lucky indeed.
If I ever start doubting myself again, I’m gonna remind myself of the way other people embrace me and my work – it is evidence that I can do whatever I want with my life and that life is welcoming my courage and ambition. So I just have to go on doing what I a doing; to be a kool cat, to make art, write and to love.
I can’t seem to shake off the feeling of not having any solid ground to stand on right now. The only solid thing at the moment – is me. Which is ironic because it used to be the exact opposite – I used to live in a comfort zone where I was full of chaos and confusion. It’s comforting in a way, to know that just because my reality is shifting in its form and size, I stay intact.
It’s not that I’m full of doubts, it’s more that I’m about work really hard to reach my dreams and ambitions – and I want to understand what I’m getting myself into, what I’m actually about to achieve. I’m asking “can I really do this?”, not as a doubt but more like forming an agreement with myself. Could I write the books I want to write? Could I ever leave Sweden and move to America? Could I be successful and make a lot of money? What do I have to sacrifice in order to be able to achieve my goals? What I’m a willing to let go of to get further ahead? What is sacred and what is unimportant when I start to think about it? What is standing in between me and my goals? Time? Money? Self esteem? Insecurities?
The key to success and achieving goals is to always remember that every decision to make means choosing between comfort and growth. Most people are not willing to sacrifice the comfort and security of a “normal “life to go for their wildest dreams and aspirations. Daring greatly and taking risks means sacrificing certainties and the stillness of an untouched reality. My reality will always be flexible for new dimensions and weight. At times it will be heavy in order to shift, like it’s doing right now. Other times I’ll ride it like a wave to get to a new dimension within it. An artist has to be open-minded to these things. Things most people miss out on. But that’s just the thing – I have to acknowledge and appreciate all that instead of ignoring it. This is the purpose of my existence. It scares the hell out of me at times – to know that loss and sacrifices are part of the deal I have with my dreams.
I will always choose growth instead of comfort, because the time I made the opposite decision – the comfort almost killed me. I’m made for bigger things than to live a normal life. And I haven’t even really started yet. But I’m on my way. I just have to understand where exactly I’m going from here.
FROM MY DIARY:
September 10th 2013
Where have you gone? I miss you so much. We are one. You are me – and I am you. You are my voice and my best friend. You helped me when I needed it the most and you pushed me out of the big depression in 2008, I know it was all your doing and I am so grateful. But lately, I’ve been having all kinds of new feelings towards life, myself and – you. So we could start over, forget about depressions and gloomy things and just go nuts, what do you say?”
January 4th 2014
“My darling, it’s silly that we should avoid each other like this. I know things have been very awkward and painful between us for a long time – but I’ve never lost my hope about us. Remember the magic we created together? All that glorious beauty and powerful statements? I think about all the times we pushed paint around on the canvas together. A thousand shades of pink. Baby blues. Mars Black. And the warm flowing colors of fire. I feel curious about how it would be like to meet somewhere again. We have both changed I’m sure. We are older, wiser, survived great pains and passions that have carved our characters into new shapes and temperament. I long for you. I miss you. And I miss us. Will you connect with me once more, if I asked you? I know we still got it. I can feel it within myself, the sparks and fireworks when we connect. I am here for you, waiting for you, as I have been for many years. I will be in my studio tomorrow. If you come to me, I will love you for as long as you need me. Let’s tell our stories. Come to me my love. Tomorrow.”
May 30th 2014
Its been a while since I wrote a letter to you. But this time I have something important to tell you. I can see how I have forced myself upon you, how I’ve tried to use to just to make money and how brutally I have treated you because I’ve been too stubborn and my ego is too big. I know I’ve been hating you, even wanting us to part forever. I’ve used my frustration to push you away because the pain has been unbearable at times.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Can you now understand how wonderful it is for me to finally be able to unleash all the creativity I have inside me?
7 years later.
It’s the first day of my new journey where my creativity is the main focus. I’ve been painting again for the first time in a very long time. All the hard work I’ve put into my self-empowerment has paid off. The anxiety is gone. It was there whenever I stood in front of the easel for over 6 years. Today it felt smooth and easy to paint. I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel any pressure and my mojo created that sweet flow I’ve been longing for. I started with the face, like I always do. For the first time I gave my Lolita demon green eyes, the same shade as mine. Perhaps my art will be more personal from now on. I feel so much closer to myself now. More connected. I’m sure it will be visible in my future creative projects as well.
I tried to create time blocks so I could practice self-discipline and focus without distractions. One hour at a time, where I’m totally focused on what I’m doing – no multi tasking, no looking at my phone or talking to other people. After an intense hour I take a little break and then go back for another hour of intense painting. I think it will work.
I’m so drained. My eyes hurt. I will rest now and continue painting tomorrow.
I feel really happy.
One of the best things about the human mind is that we have the power to change the way we look at things – and the new perspective will present us to a whole new world. We can go from being in a bad place to a good place. We can be sad and then something will make us laugh. We can be wrapped in negativity – but if we untangle ourselves from the gloomy and judgmental mindset, we are able to see things from a more positive viewpoint. This what I’ve been doing lately, and it’s definitely becoming my new hobby.
I have been thinking a lot about my creativity blockage lately. I don’t feel blocked anymore – I am simply waiting for the right time to start working in my studio again. I want to feel ready. I am almost there now. The creativity blockage lasted almost 7 years, but was it really a blockage, perhaps it was something else?
“It is more natural for me to not create now than to be creative. My paint and brushes are stored away in transparent boxes and waiting for this paralysis to disappear so I can use them again.
It’s like all of me is in this invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. A coffin if you like. For I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling that is rooted deep inside in my core. ”
When I look back the creativity blockage I can see it wasn’t so much an artistic blockage as it was a self-abandonment. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in myself. I was punished by haters and started to project their hate onto myself. I shrunk into myself. I started to believe I wasn’t even worthy of my own success. No wonder I just stopped working as an artist.
Some of my favourite role models: Anne Shirley (the main character in L.M Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables), Ingmar Bergman, J.K Rowling, Pippi Longstocking, Frida Kahlo and Edvard Munch.
Last week I made a list of my role models, to see if they have anything in common – and what that would say about me. What I found was actually quite surprising. My role models are a mix of artists, fictitious characters and creative personalities (I also included some scientists like Stephen Hawking and the whole institution of NASA. The Weta Workshop in New Zealand is the perfect example of the meeting point –where creativity, imagination, absolute dedication and respect for make-believe worlds come together) but they did have a great deal in common.
Most of them are survivors of both internal and external struggles; depression, anxiety, overcoming illnesses or some kind physical purgatory but also the struggle of maintaining their core beliefs and integrity in a society which doesn’t allow much space for that kind of genuine spiritual freedom. They refuse to victimize themselves although they are emotionally or physically crippled in some way – instead they embrace vulnerability and use it as a source of raw material to put into their work. Almost like a testimony of human nature – somewhere between the horror and supernaturalism of life itself.
My role models are ambitious, curious and focused and all that is woven into their creativity. They use it boldly to express themselves and to be seen in a world with closed eyes for whatever is painted outside the lines of conformity and any approved ideology. They are brave and courageous in that sense. As a teenager, I was obsessed with Madonna and her song Express Yourself was like my own private anthem of who I wanted to become and what I wanted to achieve in life; “Express yourself, so you can respect yourself”. My role models are individualists who are celebrating their true nature instead of hiding it behind mainstream ideals and ideas of appropriate decorum, perfectionism and conformity. They follow their own path. Uncompromisingly. They do things in unconventional ways and add humor and depth to it. Like Pippi and the way she goes about scrubbing her wooden floor. The boring task of house cleaning turns into a fun adventure. It is liberating.
The most striking feature my role models have in common – is their need to create magic. Reality can be harsh, raw and unforgivably hard at times – and the antidote is and has always been the product of human imagination. Religion, occultism and the fantasy worlds of artists, writers, musicians, dancers and actors have served as escapism and vicarious truth and realities since the dawn of humanity. Nietzsche claimed that “no artist tolerates reality”.
Anne Shirley in L.M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) creates her own magical worlds which allows her to escape the painful reality of being an orphan – and the misfortune of being a misfit with a deeper intellect and more vivid imagination than society allowed for a young girl at the time (doomed with red hair and all).
The need for instant transcendence and transformation is translated in the artist’s imagination and creativity as a gateway to a higher level of living and existing. A ‘homemade’ space of total freedom and a place where magic is allowed to happen without any threatening consequences and the adamant qualities of real life.
The artist creates a Universe in which he/she is both God and the vulnerable mortal, but with a sense of control of his/her own destiny. Like Alexander in the opening scene of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982) where he is seeking magic beyond his own boredom of passing time (and ultimately the waste of life).
The results of my research about role models really surprised me – I suddenly realized how much of them I can see in myself. I share a lot of qualities and strength that I admire and respect in these people. It kind of shocked me to see how much of them was reflected within myself. I am ambitious, brave, creative, I too am overcoming traumas and hard times without accepting the role of a permanent victim. I am searching for that spiritual freedom by following my own path. And I never thought I would discover just how important magic is to me. It made me think of the years of creativity blockages and mental paralysis – where I created my own worlds of magic at home – with interior decorating almost like backdrops or settings – where my imagination could run wild and free, until I was able to create art again (any moment now).
My “winter room” (which was featured in a local interior decorating magazine) in 2009:
and this is in my next home, a house in Stockholm, it’s the same room that I just kept transforming over and over again (2009-2014):
It is important to examine our role models and what they stand for – because it will expose something very vital about ourselves. They are there to remind us who we really are, beyond all the crap we are going through in life. They are our spiritual family where everything makes sense in the most comforting way.
And once in a while I get messages like this on Facebook:
I’m slowly making progress in my process of self-empowerment. I’ve made so much research about fear of failure – and fear of success that I now feel confident in my awareness about these mattes (both my weaknesses and my resources and strength) and I feel ready to embrace failure and welcome the benefits of making mistakes in order to become wiser and better at things.
“People who succeed have the courage to fail.”
– Richard Sudek
But the most important and valuable thing I’ve learned about fear of failure – and success, is to say “fuck it!” when it comes to what other people think or say about me and what I do. To not apologize for who I am or for the decisions I make in order to reach success. To not censor myself in order to make other people feel more comfortable or superior And to not feel responsible for other people’s opinions and judgment. Just “fuck it!” – I am who I am and I feel damn proud of myself! I’ve accomplished many amazing things already and I will achieve so many victories and successes in my future. The shame and humiliation of a possible failure – or the fear of being punished for being successful is slowly fading.
I’m currently planning my comeback as an artist and and the long journey to success by breaking down the essential steps to be able to be more creative and to rebuild my career after the 7-year hiatus (due to creative blockages and being all burned out). It is important to do this slowly and methodically, otherwise I am putting my health and my whole future career at risk. If I rush it, I will just end up burned out again. It is frustrating, but I accept it – and now it’s just a matter of improving my self-esteem before I can get into that focus and flow that is necessary when striving for success.
In his book Outliers; The Story Of Success (2008), Malcom Gladwell states that it takes 10 000 hours of practice and preparations before you become really, really good at something – and add talent and a willingness to work extremely hard to that and you’ve got the recipe for success. Here is the ironic part: while being depressed and passive in my art career for so many years, I haven’t really been completely passive when it comes to creating art.
Because I couldn’t paint anymore (I just completely froze, every time I stood in front of the easel), I started to explore digital art instead and I’ve practiced and learned so much during these years and I’ve become really, really good. Since I started digging deeper into the digital media in 2012 during my creativity blockage, I’ve created over 60 digital artworks! While I was crying and being depressed because I couldn’t paint – I was slowly became an expert of making digital art. Funny.
And, I’ve also spent at least an hour every day writing on my blog – and I’ve been blogging for 11 years now, which may not be a big achievement in itself, but I have become very good at expressing myself through writing. It feels completely natural for me to write every day now – just as natural as painting or creating digital pieces.
And finally – if I hadn’t been depressed and creatively passive during these last 7 years, I wouldn’t have spent so much time binge watching so many American movies and TV-series and become this good at English.
So it all worked out fine in the end. I might have lost many years working as a successful artist – but now, I’ve collected knowledge, practice and cleaned the mental palette of old energy, mannerism and distorted self-images. I’ve grown and matured both as a person and as an artist.
At some point 7 years ago, I just stopped believing in myself – and that is the true death to an artist or any creative person. I will never make that mistake again. Nothing and nobody can stop me from achieving all my goals and dreams now. This is my time to not only rebuild my old career – but to design and create a new one.
It’s noon. I am still sleepy, I didn’t sleep well – I am haunted by nightmares again. The things I try to not think about during the days pop up in my dreams at night. The brain is fascinating, because it takes care of your unwanted feelings and thoughts and try to process it anyway. But the problem is that I have an excellent “dream memory” – I remember most dreams, very vividly and I can revisit places my mind makes up, over and over again because my dreams are so detailed. Places that doesn’t exist in real life, but for some reason are real in my dreams.
I’ve been thinking about my imagination – and how flexible my mind is. Almost acrobatic in its way of bending inwards for endless deep and meaningful monologues or building its own worlds with the help of my imagination – and outwards in the way I feel so connected with the world and some people, I am without a doubt an empath. My mind can do almost anything I want it to do – go to dark places, go to bizarre and strange places, to complex and mysterious places, or to be raw and real in the approach to things.
The only way it can’t bend is to be logical and strategic when it comes to power. Which is, of course, necessary in real life, which creates problems for me sometimes. Especially when there are gaps in logic or reason, when I don’t understand why people act or do the things they do. My mind tries to bend itself inside out for an answer, but fails every time.
I am also very uncomfortable around people who can’t seem to connect to their minds at all – people with a brain that can’t bend in any direction but stays in a stiff position because of their disconnect.
I am proud of my athletic mind. It will take me anywhere I want to go in life.