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.