Sleepwalking

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The pollen allergies mixed with the suffocating hormones of my PMS are slowly killing me. I feel so tired. And I have constant cravings for cheese and silence. I haven’t been able to paint in a week now. I miss it. I hate disruptions like this. I just want my flow of creativity and mojo and surf it with everything I am. All the time. I understand that it’s not a realistic wish. But that’s where I feel at home. When the flow isn’t there, I feel restless and anxious. Perhaps I’m scared to lose it again. But I won’t allow that to happen. Not again. I’ll just sleepwalk myself out of this mess of hormones and allergies. At least it means I am moving forward –  ever so slowly.

K.d Lang understands constant cravings.

Anxious

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My day has been all about rain and words. In the afternoon I suddenly felt anxious, so I redecorated my bedroom in hopes of a change of style – and mood. My PMS is here again. Perhaps that’s why I cried after I finished the 5th season of Girls. Or perhaps I cried because I think Lena Dunham is so damn talented. Her writing inspires me a lot. I think the 5th season was the best one yet. Can’t wait for the 6th and last season.

I’ve been resting in bed, reading, all night. I’m also studying the writing while reading it. The style. Rhythm. Flow. Effect. I’ve always been self taught in every creative area, this is the way I learn how to express myself; I study, ponder, turn the information into my own version of the techniques and styles – and ponder some more until I let it out in my creative process. Watching movies, reading books, studying art is how I shape my own artistic voice. They are my teachers. I learn fast, I observe well and I transform it to my own thing in a way that feels natural and intuitive. I will sleep soon, so that I can leave my anxious demons to rest. Bad hormones is like poison to an artist mind.

A promising grey day

Vonda Shepard – Promising Grey Day

It’s a beautiful grey day. My favorite kind of days. It’s like the clouds outside absorb the mists of my mind and I feel all clear and clean in my thoughts. The greyness makes my true colors more vibrant somehow. It’s Saturday but it feels like a “today” – a day without a label or any associations to a specific mood. I am still allergic and I think I’m coming down with a cold, but I don’t care. I feel so alive. If people could see what’s happening on my inside, I’d probably start selling tickets. Idea after idea are born wearing full costumes of completion. I think I have ideas for many years to come. Ideas for art projects, writing projects – even art installations and some lectures. I also want to write a play.

During all these years when I’ve been in some kind of creative paralysis, I’ve collected artistic impressions from other artists, inspiration, understanding of my own artistic voice and talent and created a personal mythology based on my trauma recovery – and it’s been 7 years of digesting all that, compressing it, refining and polishing it up – and now it’s ready to come out of me, like beautiful, little gems.  But with the force of a waterfall. It’s hard to go slow. To take one step at a time. I am still a little fragile. Rusty. So I have to go slow, otherwise I’ll eventually crash and burn.

This grey day is a perfect day to enjoy the flow of this force inside me. Without doing anything. Just enjoying the rush of ideas and characters having fun inside me. Using color as their language. A perfect contrast to they grey skies outside.

Overloaded

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Untitled photo project by Mia Makila – model: Domenique

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Untitled photo project by Mia Makila – model: Domenique

My hormones are not in balance and I’m having a hard time focusing on the painting. But it’s not only the hormones that is messing with my concentration. My mind feels like it’s about to explode from inspiration. It’s totally overloaded with ideas right now. I’m not complaining, it’s a wonderful experience to be able to create again – but it’s like every idea is restless and wants to jump out of me – all at the same time. I feel a little lightheaded. My mind is overcrowded with creative possibilities and I don’t have the mental stamina to keep up with them. I am painting, making digital art, creating things for the blog, writing, making sketches and now I am also re-editing old photo projects with Domenique. I have ideas for short stories, novels, children’s books, children’s books for adults, ideas for collages, drawings and sculptures, painting techniques that I want to experiment with – and I’m thinking a lot about how I can use the photo projects in a good way. I need to rethink the original idea, it’s just not gonna happen.

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My first photo shoot with Domenique when we were 14 years old, 1993

It all started in 1992 when I first met Domenique – and the year after we started making photo projects together. She wanted to be a model, I wanted to become an artist. She soon turned into my muse. We never stopped working together even though years could pass in between our meetings. In 2009 I decided to take our projects to a new level. It would be a collection of our works – my documentary photography of Domenique as a person and my own scripted ideas about identity, gender and sexuality told through hundreds of different characters that Domenique would embody in front of my camera. I spent thousands of dollars buying wigs, masks, costumes, props and accessories. I still have a whole box full of weird stuff from that time. It’s my favorite box.

We created more than 20 projects together in the summer of 2009. It was around the time when I started to feel blocked in my art. After that intense summer with Domenique – I totally crashed. I broke up with my boyfriend, slipped into a depression, stopped making art and moved to Stockholm – away from Domenique. She had her own problems to deal with, heavy problems. Life was tearing us apart and away from each other and our artistic connection. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to work with Domenique again. I hope so but it’s not very likely.

That’s why I need to rethink the concept of these projects. I have all these wonderful portraits of Domenique. If I’m not gonna tell the story about her through the characters, what other stories are hidden in there?

More questions to add to my already overloaded mind…

A heart translated

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So I am currently working on the new painting, a digital piece, making drawings and sketches for future projects – and creating video montages for the blog. The flow of creativity is here. It’s really here. I feel unleashed and liberated. But it’s not something dramatic, it just feels natural. This is who I am. This is what I was born to do. The purpose of my existence. It’s just part of nature, both mine and the nature outside myself. It’s my legacy to the world, which feels important to me since I am not interested in having any children.

Making art, being creative, is the act of translating the human heart and everything it inhabits. Its red rooms, the cemetery of memories and dead love, the rawness of pain, the delicate sensitivity – the glowing galaxies of its desire. Everything that comes without a language. Wordless worlds. It’s my job to make sense of it all.

The land shark

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An overcast morning. Grey shadows stretched out across the floor. My inside gravitating towards the ocean. A love story unfolding beyond the depth of the distance. Standing still, yet moving forward. Always.

J calls me a ‘land shark’ because just like a shark, I need to be in constant movement forward or I would probably die. But I do it on land. And the waves are happening inside my mind and heart – a soothing stream of fantasies and feelings, going back and forth, slowly shaping my artistic expressions.

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When I am standing still without any sign of movement at all, I suffocate and wither from within. I just can’t get too comfortable; I need to swim in the deep waters of the unknown instead of the familiarity of the bowl. Yet, the unknown terrifies me. The engines of my creativity is without a doubt both my desire and my fear. It’s all very primal. Sexual energy mixed with horror. Light and dark. Good and bad. Life and Death. Fantasy and reality. Fertility and mortality. Extremes. In juxtapositions. Always having fun together. Always coming together as one single energy. In the experience of a human life.

I am starting to detach myself from my older collections or artworks. They are me, but more like they were me. I have so much more clarity now. I am more present. I am more honest. Raw. Yet delicate in the details I choose to explore. Intricate details. Like symbols. Everything is charged with my personal mythology. Explosive. I am so much more confident in the storytelling. I am choreographing the colors instead of letting the spontaneous choices rule the painting process. I am experiencing more balance in the composition, the color palette and the expression this time. It is really exciting.

I will continue to swim on land later today, with my paintbrushes and the water that is like the blood in my paintings – the water that is the distance between me and the man I love.

About white, black and the infinite nothingness

 

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A still from “2001 – A Space Odyssey” directed by Stanley Kubrick (1968)

 

The first thing I do when I start working on a new canvas is to paint it black. The blank, white surface makes me very uncomfortable. It’s almost a compulsive act, to fill the empty space with…something, anything. The black paint is the perfect domination. It forces out the nothingness, eliminates the emptiness, tames the blankness. I always do this. Most of the times I let the black background be part of the painting, sometimes I change it to some other color. But I never let it stay white or pristine. The sterile white creeps me out.

Ever since I watched Kubrick’s “2001 – A Space Odyssey” for the first time, I’ve been convinced that Death is this white sterile room of passivity and helplessness. Most likely I will die in a hospital, surrounded by nurses in white, in a room with white walls, sterility, bright lights or daylight. My last suffering will take place in a white environment, while I’ll find peace in my sleep, with closed eyes – away from all the white.

For me, Death is not a passive continuation of Life. Death is not the eternal silence that follows my last breath, it is in the hours, minutes, seconds before I take my last breath. Then I simply stop existing. There is no Death for me. There is only living or dying – both part of life, not Death. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t belong to any religion and I don’t share the common idea of Death as something mysterious yet tangible or as a concept of rest and eternal non-existance on Earth but a resurrection in some other dimension. When I die, I don’t exist anymore, I’m not resting, I’m not transported to another dimension, I’m not a ghost – I only exist in other people’s memories, through my art and in photographs. To rest or sleep is part of being alive. We can visit other dimensions whenever we want while we are alive – by using our imagination, by asking questions through science, philosophy or art – and by listening to the heartbeats of life itself. It’s all here. It’s all here right now. If we dare to explore it –  because life and love can be overwhelming. Our potentials and the power in our own hearts and minds can be frighting. As soon as we start asking questions about ourselves or to question our lives, we are forced to be responsible of it – to change and lead our own lives. I call this “the conflict of independence”. When we choose to change the course of our lives, when we start to lead it in a new direction, we are faced with loss. Perhaps even loneliness. It is a painful process. But we are rewarded in the end. Nothing feels as good as the inner freedom and to be true to who we are, who we truly are. But to do that, we have to sacrifice a lot. It’s easier to numb our hearts, to let our minds fade into a blank space while we go through the motions, fall into ruts and the endless routines of every day life. To depend on people, to take their company for granted – to allow them to take us for granted. To stay where we don’t belong. To sacrifice or compromise our inner wildness, our curiosity, sexuality, perversions, dreams, desire, magic. Our nature. To accept replacement pleasure. Replacement enjoyment. Replacement everything.

To me, that is the real Death.

I’ve died so many times in my life.

The last time I died was a few years ago. In a time where I denied myself pleasure and happiness. A time when I turned my back on my true nature and replaced it with dependency, a compromised intellect, spiritual castration, denied sexuality, artistic suicide, neglect and passivity. This is also visible in my art from the time. All my digital pieces where so foggy, almost faded out, covered in whiteness, like I was afraid to exist through my art. Like I thought I wasn’t allowed to be loud. To be alive. Like I wasn’t allowed to take up space and demand to be seen.

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Two versions of my digital piece “My Neighborhood”, the lighter version is from 2012 and the darker version from 2014.

When I look at these works, I feel sad. I can see how lost I was. Almost erased in my sense of existence.. I was deeply depressed, lonely even though I was in a relationship, and so lost in myself. I had abandoned myself and my true nature in every way. I remember the mental paralysis that followed as meeting the true Death. Death came in daylight. Death was in the numbness. Death was in the comfort zones – and in the comfort itself. Death was in the suffering. Death was in the lack of choices. In the passing of time. In the waste of dreams. Death was in the isolation. And in the intimacy I had created in myself by accepting a life that didn’t feel like mine; spending my days alone in a house that wasn’t mine, in a relationship with a man who never felt like mine, making art that didn’t feel like it was part of me.

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A selfie from the time I was making the decision to leave

I had turned into a blank canvas. An untold story. An empty space.

It took me about a year from the time I decided that I wanted to change my life and to leave the man, the house and the dead life I had been living for a long time, until I could do it. That’s what numbness does to your ability to change and to break free from destructive things. I know how it feels to die and it doesn’t have anything to do with endings or eternal sleep.

To expect Death to be some kind of extension of Life is a presumptuous idea. It creates this relaxed attitude that Life is not the only opportunity to exist or that life is a passage. Life is incredible and precious. I don’t take it for granted anymore. Life is whatever you make of it. It is also the element of unexpected pain and suffering – but also the treasure chest of magic, love and creativity. Death is simply nothing. Life is everything.

When I am filling the new, white canvas with black paint, I have created a space of shadows that allows the possibility of new life and creativity to be hidden within it. Just like the Universe, the blackness of the paint holds a whole world of dreams and accidental beauty, born out of chaos and creation.

Turning shame into pride

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This week has been really intense. I’m in this new place where everything is finally starting to come together. My life has been really fragmented for so long, but now it’s like all the pieces are finding their way back to create a more solid shape. There are still some cracks and gaps to fill, but it’s just a matter of time until I find whatever is missing.

I am really happy I made so much research about shame, vulnerability and fear of failure/success, because they were all tangled up together inside me – one thing fed the other in a very destructive way. I feel so liberated. Where I used to feel shame, I now feel a sense of pride. I had lost the joy of looking at my own art – it made me embarrassed and uncomfortable. But now I feel very connected to my artworks and I feel happy looking at them. During the years of blockages and artistic drought, the characters in my art turned into my enemies. They were never as perfect as I wanted them to be. Not expressive enough. Not as alive as I wished they could be. My art made me frustrated. It pissed me off. Made me depressed. I don’t see it like that anymore. I feel really proud of what my mind, eyes, hands and soul can create together. I try to not judge it and to let it be whatever it is without wanting it to be more than it is; more perfect, more expressive, cooler, more playful, creative or more intellectual. It is what it is and I created it, it is part of me. It is something to be proud about. It is the part of me that makes me really special. I will try to remember that more.

The new painting (still without a title) is sitting on the easel in my studio right now and I am in love with it. I can’t wait to work on it tomorrow again. I’ve missed this feeling of love and intoxication in the first stages of making a painting (before you feel done with it and start thinking about the next project).

Day 1

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Work in progress

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.

Getting naked

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I’m currently studying professor and researcher Brené Brown’s books about vulnerability and it’s the perfect inspiration for me right now – you know when you hear the right things at the right time, said in the right way so you absorb it all and something suddenly shifts inside you? That’s how it feels. For someone who is all about authenticity and the rawness of the real and true nature of the inside, vulnerability is both one of my biggest assets and at the same time something that turns me into an easy prey for emotional vampires or abusive people. Vulnerability is a beautiful resource that I use in my art and writing, but it’s also my Achilles heel. People love to witness authentic art, acting, writing – when it comes from an honest place, a place we all can relate to, far away from pretentiousness and perfection. A place where human nature is exposed and celebrated – where nothing follows an expectation or an ideal. The most popular TED talks are the ones where the speakers aren’t following a particular structure in their talks, but where they are being real and speak from their hearts.

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Brené Brown talks about being brave enough to just show up at the “arena”. To put yourself out there – letting yourself be seen for who you are and to speak from that place of imperfection and truth. One of the biggest myths about vulnerability is that it is a weakness. To be out there, feeling vulnerable and “naked” when you are being real and honest is to be brave and courageous. There is nothing weak with being brave enough to expose yourself to potential criticism or getting your ass kicked just because you had the audacity to show up at the arena in the first place. When you are brave enough to put yourself out there, it will always be provocative to some people. You WILL get your ass kicked. You will feel naked and exposed, but at least you have the guts to do it. The critics are comfortable in their cheap seats while you are in the uncomfortable position in the spotlight. Their judgments and opinions shouldn’t matter because they are not being brave and vulnerable like you.

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A selfie from 2014, being vulnerable at the “arena” and letting myself be seen

I have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to my vulnerability. I’ve wasted it on the wrong people who didn’t see the value of it and who didn’t appreciate it but rather neglected it. I’ve made myself vulnerable in the wrong situations where the people didn’t deserve to be a witness to it. I’ve been emotionally naked in places where it was inappropriate. I’ve not understood the true nature of vulnerability and how it’s connected to other difficult emotions like shame and guilt. I’ve exposed my vulnerability to emotional vampires who just feeds of it like it’s fresh blood while they’re leaving me feeling drained and weak.

I can see that my “creativity blockage” happened in a time where I felt vulnerable I every area of my life and it triggered so much shame in me that it was impossible for me to distinguish the strength of being vulnerable and the excruciating pain of being vulnerable in the wrong place. So I just started to avoid the vulnerabilities that I actually could avoid and unfortunately it was my art and creativity that suffered from this confusion and survival strategy.

But now I am here, in a completely new place. After so many years of loss and being lost, I feel found and at peace. I still have some obstacles to overcome until I have reclaimed all the things I once lost, but at least I am working hard to get there and I am constantly moving forward.

I am slowly getting naked in front of myself. I was so used to being exposed and vulnerable to the world that I forgot about myself as the main audience. To let myself be seen by myself means to let go of the constant need to feel seen by others – and ironically it makes it easier for other people to see me as well. There’s a clarity to vulnerability. This has changed my art a lot. It’s more personal now with a deeper sense of a private mythology. I think it will change the expression of my future paintings too. Now I dare to be even more raw and visually clear in my expressions. Simplicity in the complexities of human emotions. That’s it. That’s what I’m all about.

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This spiritual striptease is a little scary but so wonderful at the same time. Brené Brown will guide me on this journey to understanding the nature of vulnerability and how I am to use it in the correct way, where it is only a resource and not an invitation to other people’s abuse or the rabbit hole to self-abandonment.

I can hear the demons whispering

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Something is happening inside me. I can feel new life running through my veins. Fresh blood. An intoxicating rush of red rivers underneath the surface. The essence of my life. Red. Glowing. Beating. Like it should be.

The sensuality of spring is inspiring. The newness of time, the texture of growth, the birth of a season – of life itself. A thin veil of protection, then exposed and raw in its delicacy. True vulnerability is the source of any greatness. I close my eyes but my world stays intact – there’s no darkness behind the light. Not even a shadow.

I can sense new artworks being born inside my mind like soft dreams but with such clarity that I immediately surrender to it’s pull. I hear my demons whispering inside. I am about to give birth to new life – just like momma spring. I can feel it. They want out of me. And they will take little pieces of pain with them – pain that will never return to my inner world.

Redefining my “creativity blockage”

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Some of the artworks I’ve done during my so called “creativity blockage” (I couldn’t make  them all fit). This makes me confused – this is what creativity blockages looks like?…

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.

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I got this new easel as a birthday gift when I turned 30. That’s when I just stopped having fun when I was painting, and the creativity process turned into a struggle – and 6 months later, I stopped working all together. I felt blocked, and it would last for almost 7 years.

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 felt like I was in a war with myself. Forcing ideas, self-loathing, wanting to change my style because I thought it wasn’t good enough, feeling disgusted by every single brush stroke that seemed wrong, the stress, the identity crises – who was I when I wasn’t making art? I also saw my career slip away – and I let it happen. Since I consider my art to be an extension of myself – a big part of me was missing. I felt cut in half. I felt amputated. I felt desperate and confused. And very sad. It was almost like a friend had died. I felt nauseous just walking into my studio. I felt scared. Scared of the constant failures. I worked. I cried. I screamed. I hated whatever I was working on. It always ended with me painting over the thing with black paint and then throwing it in the garbage. And then I cried and screamed some more. It was the worst kind of torture an artist can imagine.
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Stockholm, 2011 – one of the most painful years of my life. My creativity had abandoned me – or was it me who had abandoned my creativity and perhaps even myself?

I wrote this in my diary in 2010:

“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. ” 

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The making of “My Neighborhood”, 2012 about the three buildings where I lived together with the abuser.

2012 was a real turning point for me. I was diagnosed with PTSD and that’s when I began my inner journey in trauma therapy treatment. I slowly began to come undone – and layer after layer of pain and fear started to melt away. Things started to make sense and I could see that everything in my life was all wrong. My relationship, the environment, my behavior, feelings and thoughts. Everything. I could see that I had abandoned myself completely. I knew I had to change everything in my life. I knew I had to be brave enough to say goodbye to everything I had ever known to be real and true.
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Now I am here. Living a new life. With a new way of looking at things. And I have decided to look at my creativity blockage as something that was painful but so very helpful. When I stopped painting in 2010 – I didn’t really stop making art all together – instead I was exploring digital art. I didn’t really consider it art at that time. I was just playing around in PhotoShop. But with time, I got really good at it. During my creativity blockage, 2009-2016 I’ve made over 70 digital artworks. I am considered to be one of the finest digital artist in my genre. In 2013 my digital artwork “The Crash” was included in an all-digital group show at Strychnin Gallery in Berlin.
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When I put my career to sleep I suddenly had all this time to spend on myself. If I hadn’t been blocked I would never had the time to work so hard to overcome the PTSD and the traumas. I would still have all that cluttered chaos inside my mind. I feel very grateful to myself that I had the courage to change everything I needed to change in order for me to be happy again. It’s been such a long journey. I’ve also had the time to ask myself what I want to do with my life, who I want to be and what really matters to me and what I can live without. And now I have found a more honest place for my creativity. My art will be more personal from now on. It’s been an incredible time of awakening and self-empowerment. I feel very lucky to have reconnected with my core again. Through the process of growth and enlightenment I have also found my true love.
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With Johnny, 2015

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.

I am slowly reclaiming my creativity, my talents, my strength and my success. I have learned so much from this involuntary hiatus and I will use it as experience to add to my future career. And I will never abandon myself again. Ever.
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And when I look at all the artworks I’ve done during this blockage (around 150) I can’t help but smiling. THAT was a blockage – really?

The destructive doubt

Step by step, I am deconstructing myself in order to find understanding and acceptance. In each step, I am healing a little bit more. During a period of only a year or so, I’ve dismantled old survival strategies, destructive behavioral patterns, I’ve demolished false self-images, fantasies, old belief systems, I’ve explored and confronted concepts such as fear, guilt, shame, control, power, anxiety, worry, vulnerability, dependency, suffering, trauma, sexuality, trust, home, integrity, thinking styles, health, strength, awareness, destructive relationships, freedom, victimization, law of attraction, peace of mind, meditation, letting go, starting over, change, psychological projections, the core, self sabotage, happiness, creativity, failure, success, pride, connection, mental paralysis and passivity – and love.

It’s been hard work. A LOT of hard work. And after I’ve filled nearly 15 notebooks with therapy notes and self-therapy notes, in only two years – I’ve cleaned my inside from the chaos and pain of two traumas. The pain will always be there of course, but it’s not an active pain. I think I have to write a book about all this – I want to share my knowledge, especially with younger women who could identify with what I’ve been going through.

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My latest challenge and concept to break down – so I can get to the core of it and apply that knowledge to my consciousness and awareness – is ‘doubt’ – or self-doubt. And I think it’s the essential ingredient in most self destructive thoughts, behavior and perception. Whenever there is a doubt – there is a sense of loss. A loss of belief, trust, acceptance or faith. And if we’re talking about the belief, trust and faith in oneself, the doubt will lead to insecurities and suffering. It’s the moment where you start to doubt yourself that can lead to damaging decisions – or the consequences of not making one at all.

Imagine the doubt as a meteorite coming right at you. Now imagine its impact – and how it will change your thoughts, behavior and feelings just like a crater changes the surface of the Earth. The doubt-meteorite is an interruption of a flow of thoughts and behavior – and a disruption in our confidence and self-esteem. This is very destructive.

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The impact of the doubt-meteorie will create thoughts like “am I good enough?”, “perhaps their abuse is my fault after all?”, “am I really worthy of love and happiness?”, “could somebody really love me?”, “can I really do this?”, “what will other people think of me?”

Every doubt comes with a little fear. To overcome self-doubt – we need to examine that fear in order to rebuild whatever it destroyed inside us. Doubt can be good and can carry a lot of important information – like if we have doubts about a relationship, situation, a job or in things we know we need to change in order to be happy. But self-doubt is nothing but destructive. Believing in yourself and the things you do, will protect you from the any approaching meteorite inside your mind.

THE MOJO

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A friend made this for me a few years ago, after I’d posted something about ‘looking for my mojo’ on Facebook, it made me laugh

One of the most elusive and mysterious elements of creativity has to be the mojo. I have been searching for a good definition of the word but I can’t really find one that fully explains this invisible source of good vibes and magic. Perhaps it’s individual, or at least expressed in very different ways – on a stage, in the spotlight, at the dance floor, in an act of seduction, persuasion or as the driving force in a creative expression. For me, it’s a combination of sexual energy, confidence and being true to my nature – when I feel connected to my core and let it speak. Loudly.

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Portrait of my mojo at work

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I always feel the mojo pumping in my veins while I am painting and when the expression feels just right

When I feel my mojo working, it’s like there’s a warm, electric stardust rushing through my veins while I am creating art or writing – and that’s when I feel like I am becoming one with whatever I am working on. When it gets a life of its own. That’s when I feel like I am giving birth to something incredible that never existed in the world before I put it there. Something magical and more real than reality. My mojo isn’t always there and it’s hard to predict when it will be present and when it will leave. You can’t take it for granted.

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Trying to find my mojo, during the creativity blockage, 2010

When it’s not there, the creative flow isn’t there either. The work becomes a struggle or at least a little less fun. The magic isn’t there. The results lack energy and potency. When I finish a painting without my mojo, I don’t feel that sense of release or fulfillment. I can see that it’s finished, I feel done with it, but it’s like I gave birth to something stillborn and lifeless.

Examples of works where I felt my mojo working and where it was missing:

Mojo (left) vs no mojo (right)

Mojo (left) vs no mojo (right)

Maybe I’m being a bit over-dramatic, but I don’t think I’ve understood just how important mojo is for my creativity process. And it’s so connected to my sexuality. The mojo feeds off my sexual energy and my sexual energy feeds off my mojo. Like a cycle made of silver sparks and pink flames going round and round inside my heart, mind, soul or wherever it is located inside me.

I often feel sexually aroused when the mojo is working. It’s like the mojo is absorbing the passion I feel for creating art, the inspiration I’ve collected in my mind, the lust I feel to express what’s inside me and the intense focus of the creative process – and then squeezing out the most delicious juice that turns into some kind of magic energy. That’s when I feel closest to life. And to myself.

The importance of role models

Made with Square InstaPic 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.

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 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:

Goal Blocks

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.

Slowly.

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A new focus

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My studio, ready for new adventures

I’ve been so focused on building a new life and my new relationship this year, I haven’t really been in a place where it’s just me and my creativity. But now, I have laid the necessary foundations and they are stable. I find myself in a new place of peace and relaxation. Now, it’s time to just enjoy life and the results of the hard work and all my achievements. I will go back to making art again, and this time I feel a genuine drive, not an anxious struggle to find my way back to my creativity, I’ve already found my way back. I’m ready and so god damn inspired. I will continue my artistic journey in three phases; painting/digital art then a writing phase and then perhaps a combination of the two. I can’t wait to get started. This creative process will take years, and I am in no hurry to achieve all my goals, but I will. I feel so happy, and not at all scared or lost as I’ve felt throughout the last 6 years. Now I’ll shift my focus, from rebuilding my life to creating art and making all my dreams come true.