NEW! “Puppet Girl”

“Puppet Girl” digital collage (2020). Soon available.

This one was so much fun to make. In a way it is a self-portrait of how I use to be (a puppet girl for others to manipulate). I have outgrown the chains and nails and I no longer allow anyone to make me feel like a puppet.

“NEW! “Anthem”

“Anthem” by Mia Makila, 2020, archival ultrachrome print. Available.

Finally! I have been working on this piece on-and-off for over 4 months and now it’s all done. This is the story of self-empowerment and it includes a collaboration with my amazingly talented friend Candice Angelini. I used and manipulated a few of her coolest head pieces (Coiffe Shamanic Bird and Post Mortem II) and pieces from her creepy Zombie mask (see last picture for some of the original pieces I used in the collage).

The first and the last

I just woke up from a strange dream. I was in an old and abandoned SPA facility with a friend. It looked like a tiled circus tent with bright colors. We looked around and found a staircase to another floor, where an old lady had a dusty record store. There was a door to a garden in the store. I was carrying a naked wax doll into the garden and put it on the grass. Suddenly she came alive and her body became warm and she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started to scream. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She made resistance. She wanted to escape but I wouldn’t let her. Her heart was beating so fast. She was strong, but I had her locked in my arms. I tried to soothe her and hush her while sitting on the grass with her facing the garden. I could feel it working. Her heartbeats were finally slowing down. “Good girl. Your name is Echo”. I said. Then I woke up. I could write a story based on this dream, it was like a seed to something creative.

Yesterday I spent the whole day in PhotoShop. My wrist is a little sore today. But I am having so much fun. At the moment I am working on two pieces about houses and they will be the last ones. I need one house where my story begins – where my trauma started, The working title is “Genesis”. And then I need one last piece where the story ends. It will be a love tribute to my home with Johnny.

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“Out of the Nothing Box” by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

I think I am done with the houses now. I started making them in 2014, right after I had left the man and the house in Stockholm. When I became ‘homeless’ in so many ways. I don’t feel homeless anymore. Not in any way. So it’s time to wrap up the digital suite about houses.

I feel like I am entering a new phase in my creativity. My skills are improving so fast and my ideas are bolder and more complex. I am also using more contrasts in my work. It highlights the rawness of my style.

Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating it by refusing to be held back by anything or anyone. Not by my critics, not by my fear and not by my own past. When I was living in that house in Stockholm, I felt censored and I held back so much of what was me. It’s very uncomfortable for me to look at my art from that time. They are ridiculously foggy and submissive to the viewer. You can hardly see anything more than a pastel colored mist.

Here is “Tess” from 2012. You can see how I’ve worked up the contrasts in the first version and the original, foggy version:

More foggy works from 2012:

You can almost follow my journey through confidence and bad self-esteem just by looking at the palette in my art. It went from fiery to foggy and now I am all about contrasts.

Work from 2006:

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“It’s All In My Head” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]

I will rest my wrist today and spend the day doing other things. I just can’t seem to shake off that dream. Echo is hauting my mind.

The discussion

I have spent the day with old episodes of Frasier and writing poetry that I will add to my digital art. I’m feeling a bit drained from yesterday’s experience. But I had so much fun up on that stage.

The discussion went smoothly and I made the audience laugh many times. I like making people laugh – even if I am talking about serious matters.

Before the discussion started, some of my horror sisters were swapping recipes of the perfect fake blood and how to stuff animal intestines to make it look even more gross and fabulous. I found it very amusing. “What is the best ‘base blood?'” they asked. And ‘You’ve got to add some Burnt umbra to the Crimson to make the perfect shade of blood when you are painting, otherwise it will just look like ketchup.”

When we were asked about what we consider to more frightening – reality or fantasy, there were no hesitation to state that reality is far more frightening than any horror movie or artistic expression – and that life itself is a very scary concept. Some of us create horror to deal with dark themes found within ourselves – others are celebrating certain aesthetics associated with horror.

When the question about artistic influences came up, I mentioned early renaissance artists like Bosch and Bruegel but also David Lynch and my art crush Edvard Munch. Other girls were inspired by Mary Shelley, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Tim Burton, the symbolists and the PreRaphaelites.

Then we went on discussing the worst horror clichés – I said I can’t stand the asian horror cliché of creepy women with long, black hair – I find hair beautiful and sensual” I said and added: “Perhaps that’s why I make my demons bald”. A few of the girls hated the cliché of the slutty blonde who gets killed early in horror movies and typical scream queens.

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When asked whether being a woman in the horror business gives us an advantage or if we experience difficulties because of our gender, I talked about how I feel free to explore raw sexual themes (especially the sexuality of young girls) and perversions without being questioned. I definitely think a man who would do what I do, would have a tougher time. I am not judged as “perverted” or “insane” but rather considered to be “exotic” and “daring”. I love being a woman. And I love exploring the world of horror from a woman’s point of view. So much of my horror is about fear, shame and pain – whilst many male horror artists deal with subjects like rage, violence and intimidation. I think there is a difference between how men and women work with darker themes, but of course there are many exceptions. Some women celebrate vengeance in their horror expressions and aggressive energies – the only aggressive quality to my work is the way I let my vulnerable lolita demons take up space and flaunt their wounds and their pain. I have been censored and suppressed by many men in my life – and through my art I am able to break free and to be loud and say “fuck you!” without being aggressive as a person. It liberates me. I am able to turn my shame into artistic expressions of vulnerability and then it’s easier for me to accept myself and feel more empathetic towards myself. It is my way of healing and recovering from humiliation and submission.

I am happy that I got the opportunity to talk about these things in public – and now I am hungry for more public adventures. This was the starting point in the second chapter of my art career and I finally broke through the wall that’s been standing between me and life outside my studio. From here, anything is possible. And I mean it.

Women in Horror panel discussion at Kulturhuset, Stockholm

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The panel discussion about WOMEN IN HORROR was amazing! I felt a sisterhood to my fellow horror creators and I could have stayed on that stage longer because it was such an inspiring discussion! I also took pictures of other things which inspired me during my two days in Stockholm, I will post them later.

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The women in horror included (from left to right): Aurora Walderhaug (horror art,  horror comics), me, Ella Moe (horror creator in music,  film and art),  Valentina Chamorro Westergårdh (horror movie director), Annika Algrot-Andersson (horror photographer and costumer designer) and Sarah Giercksky (horror movie director and enthusiast).

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I will write a longer post about what we discussed tomorrow, now I’m just ready to knock out – but I’m feeling happy and proud of myself. (You can find the new post here)

They introduced us as “the finest of female horror artists in Sweden”.

The pulse of life

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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.

"Girl in Yellow" by Lena Cronqvist

“Girl in Yellow” by Lena Cronqvist, 1999

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.

The bald and the beautiful

What a strange night. The church bells kept ringing for an hour. In the morning, I woke up to rain and feeling slightly off. But I’m working again, painting on ‘The Wound’. and coming up with new ideas for more paintings. It’s funny, every time I add hair to my characters, it ruins the whole expression. I can’t do hair for some reason. I ended yesterday’s work with making the character bald and I felt better about it.

Some of my baldies:

And characters with hair:

I’ve been losing a lot of hair this year, due to stress, and it is one of my biggest nightmares to become bald and completely hairless. I love my hair, it makes me feel feminine and beautiful. A lot of my sexuality is in my hair, I don’t know how to explain it.

Perhaps the core expressions – embodied in my demons, have to be as bald as they are bold because they are not about gender, identity or beauty. They are human, deeply intimate – channeling our inner child and spirit and who we are at the core. Something that is real and raw and connects us all. Hair is a superficial part of the human body – I go deeper than that. My demons even lack skin. So to put a fancy hairdo on top of their heads is like decorating a Christmas tree, it takes away from what they want to say. What I want to say. What the core has to say.

A palette of emotions

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I am not only making research about colonial folk art portraits, I have also started digging deeper into the palette of emotions. As a portrait painter specializing in strong human emotions, it’s important for me to know the nuances of them, not only their basic color. There is a difference between anger, rage and wrath – and between anxiety, fear and terror. Since I’m working mostly with the primitive emotions (like fear, pain, rage and shame), it is crucial that I have a deeper understanding of how they work, express themselves and what their core symbol is to me. For example; I’ve used upside-down crosses to illustrate negative emotions, but without any nuances. It could be fear, anxiety, rage or plain evil:

My latest paintings have the expression of rage, defensiveness and protectiveness:

Compare the expressions to my older paintings, where it wasn’t so much about rage but more about fear, shame and pain:

You can really witness my inner journey by studying my artworks. From the time I was still living the symptoms of PTSD, to dealing with the traumas by facing them – and then slowly overcoming them.

I will be able to tell better stories through my art, express myself more genuinely, if I learn how to work with the palette of emotions. They are the raw material in my art and the core of my creativity.

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A change of heart

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Selfie, 2011

Everything feels a bit off and weird right now. I can sense a change coming. Another one. I can feel it. This time, the change is coming to me, I’m not forcing any processes to happen – it’s not coming from me. It makes me feel a bit lost. At times, I forget that I’m on this inner journey – I find a new level of my own consciousness and I feel awakened, like that’s the new reality for me to live in. But then, another breakthrough happens. I get these powerful realizations. Insights. The misfit pieces, suddenly have found the right places in me. Things that used to make me confused, suddenly makes more sense. I connect the dots. I see the bigger picture. Or I spot the lost and forgotten details, which are so crucial when it comes to understanding the bigger picture. This happened to me this week. Twice.

And here I am, not knowing what to do with what I found in myself this week. It is both liberating and also fucking scary, because this realization kind of forces me to change course in my art. I was NOT expecting that. I’ve been going with this ‘finding my way back to my art and the wonderful juices of creativity’ mantra for a couple of years now – and I thought I was in a steady place. In a place where neither doubt or a change of heart, could ever touch me. Boy, was I wrong.

The meeting with Mats Tusenfot and talking about the purpose of creativity inspired many new thoughts about my own art. I heard myself tell him (with no insecurity at all): “My digital art is my most true artistic expression, painting has too many limitations, digital art is where I can say what I want to say.” What the hell was I saying – why did I say it? Did I really mean it? Ever since I was 15 years old I’ve been painting and it’s been such a big part of my identity. That was how I started out as a young artist, I was a painter, and that is the core of my creativity and my artistic voice – isn’t it? My artistic voice is made out of colors in tubes, the smell of canvas, charcoal dust – it is not speaking in a binary language translated into hi res images and textures of clouds, waves and grungy walls in a folder on my computer, right? This is very confusing to me. Is my love for painting not the same thing as what I should be doing as an artist? Is my love for digital art forbidden and cheap?

I need to figure these things out. And even if I feel a little lost and even if change can be a scary thing – I am not scared. The only thing I am certain of is that this is a time for a change that will lead to something lasting and steady. When it’s over, I will not have to struggle with self-doubt anymore and I won’t feel like I don’t know what my true artistic expression is. It is time to figure it out, once and for all. When I think about it – I’m  not at all lost right now – I think all these uncomfortable questions is a result of me taking control of every area of my life, including these sensitive matters. Because now, I am ready to explore who I really am as an artist. I know who I’ve been, I know who I became when I lost my way, I know what I am made of and what I’m capable of – but I still need to find out what my art really is about, so I can become everything I was born to be – and do what I was born to do. To be able to fulfill my life’s purpose. What a great journey I’m on. I am on my way.

I am on MY way.

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Selfie in my studio, 2009

Artistic regret

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I had to make a difficult decision this week. My internship at the gallery wasn’t working out as I’d expected, so I had to leave that opportunity behind. I don’t know what will happen to my financial situation and there’s a lot of things up in the air right now, it makes me feel stressed, but everything will be fine in the end. I just know it. And for the first time ever,  I trust my instincts and my gut feeling without second guessing it. It’s an important progress. Since I’ll have more time to myself now, I’ll be focusing more on my painting.

My latest digital piece – The Bones of Rape is a step closer to the expression of my paintings. It’s always been a clear distinction between my digital art and my physical works, but I sense a future emerging of the two. It excites me. I’m so much raw and direct in my artistic expression now than just a few years ago. You can see the artistic evolution in the three works below (of characters in the same position):

When I look back on my career and evaluate the work I’ve done so far, I can see how it was a mistake to let go of the horror genre in 2012 to join the Popsurrealists. I regret the big-eyes-large-head mannerism because it’s a style rather than a true artistic expression. I am not interested in a cute style – I am looking for something more authentic and real, like a core expression. I don’t see myself as a cute person or as an artist focused solely on the balance of innocence and light horror, but an artist who’s digging in her own dirt to find raw beauty buried underneath. I’m exploring vulnerability, primitive emotions and what trauma looks like when it’s exposed in the light instead of being stuck in the dark. My work is part of my personal healing and my creativity is a tool in my trauma recovery – and it would be a crime for me as an artist to be cute about serious matters like that. I often use humor in my work, to deal with heavy topics because too much of the dark expression and it gets lost in the darkness, the viewer must be able to breathe and have an element of escaping the heaviness – but it’s not appropriate to be cute about it. The cutesy stuff makes the core expression look insecure. Why not go all the way? Why hold back? I love Popsurrealism but it’s not the home for bold artistic expressions as much as it’s the home for “horror light” – which is fine if you don’t want to dig into the rawness of the mind and soul. Then you have to step beyond the boundaries of the “creepy-cute” and prepare yourself to find some pretty disturbing artistic expressions. And that’s where I feel at home and yet on terribly unknown territory. I love that feeling.

One of my horror collages  “Mystery of Death” and one of my Popsurrealistic digital pieces “Happy Day”:

The Mystery of Death

The Mystery of Death, 2006

Happy Day

Happy Day, 2012

“THE BONES OF RAPE” BY MIA MAKILA

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“THE BONES OF RAPE” BY MIA MAKILA, 2016 [digital]

Detail studies:

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The anatomy of a broken sexuality. Rape is a complete murder when it comes to the victim’s spirit and sexuality, but yet it’s treated by our laws as if it’s a minor crime. Rape is not only a violent attack, rape can be many things – even having sex with your partner when you don’t feel like it but that is ignored or when a ‘no’ is not enough for someone to leave your body alone. This piece was difficult to make, but it felt important.

My art as tattoos

I feel very flattered when people send me pictures of their tattoos, designed to look like my artworks. It creates a very intimate bond between them and my art and I feel very lucky to be part of that intimacy. Here are some examples of my art turned into tattoos:

The original artworks made by me: