New work! “My Prerogative”

“My Prerogative” by Mia Makila, 2019. Acrylic and color pencils on canvas, 60×60 cm. Click to enlarge.

I dedicate this painting to all women and girls in Alabama, USA. The only person entitled to make a decision about their body is the owner of the body. Especially when it comes to such a profound decision of creating a life or choosing not to.. Women are like God that way (if you believe in one, I don’t) and you don’t interfere with God’s plan. The red cross in her back symbolizes delusional religious people and conservatives – who believe they are entitled to judge, force, exclude, punish, hate and make decisions for other people (in this case women). I was abused by a man of faith and during the attacks of physical and psychological abuse he used to shout: “I must beat the devil out of you! You have the devil inside you and he makes you into a whore!”

I will never stop fighting for women’s right to their bodies, sexuality, expression and independence.

The stories behind my art: “Meltdown”

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‘Meltdown’ by Mia Makila, 2012 [digital]

An early draft:

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work in progress – ‘The Meltdown’

Detail studies:

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My diary, March 7, 2012:

“Wow. At last I’m in the glorious flow of creativity again. It’s been years since I’ve felt this way. I’m working all the time – yesterday I sat 11 hours straight in front of PhotoShop. There are no words for what I’m feeling right now. I’m in love with all that life entails. Even the pain that comes with it. I feel all tingly inside. Horny too – as I always feel when I am in this flow.

But next week I start my trauma treatment at the Crisis and Trauma Center at Danderyd’s hospital. Hope my creativity flow will continue even during  this new time of therapy. Maybe I can even use what I am experiencing in my PTSD treatment in my new art. I hope so.

My new art is the most honest I’ve created so far. It exposes who I really, really am. Somewhere between light and darkness – and where the light dominates the dark.

I don’t know where my art will bring me right now, but I don’t mind not knowing. I follow all the impulses of my excitement.”

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

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:

Primitive surrealism

I’ve made a fun journey through different styles in my art. I started out as a surrealist. I was 16 years old when I finished my first real painting – a surreal self portrait. Then, I moved on to explore expressionism, cubism, more surrealism and then some kind of  a primitive realism.

Works from the time before I found my true artistic voice [1995-2005]:

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It wasn’t until I suffered a deep depression in 2006 that I started using my creativity and my art as therapeutic expressions. I also joined the European Lowbrow movement – that later turned into Popsurrealism. It was in the “big eyes-large-head” mannerism of Popsurrealism that I eventually would lose myself and my artistic voice – and then get blocked and mentally paralyzed for almost 7 years. The cutesy stuff was bad for me, it’s just not who I am. I’m raw and direct both as a person and as an artist. I don’t sugarcoat things. I use a lot of humor in my art but it’s never cute.

My boyfriend, who’s really clever and very perceptive when it comes to me and my art, came up with a good description for the paintings I’ve done post hiatus: “primitive surrealism”. I like it. I’ve always felt at home in primitive art and in surrealism so I guess both genres have helped me develop my own style and visual expression. From now on, I’ll call myself a primitive surrealist. It’s perfect.

Painting styles post depression [2006-2016]:

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It’s interesting to see how many similarities but also how many differences there are between my physical artworks (paintings, drawings, collages) and my digital art. I have gone from chaotic compositions in both my physical and my digital art to simplicity and stillness, but in my paintings I’m so much more raw and colorful, whereas in my digital art I’m more cinematic and poetic – perhaps because I’m also writing poetry on my computer, perhaps there’s a connection there.

My digital art [2007-2016]:

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Inside my box of cut outs

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Here is a photo of my box of paper cut outs from 2008. I collected these vintage cut outs that I found in old books and magazines and used them in my mixed media collages that I made during the years 2006-2009. I used to buy erotica, porn magazines from the 1960’s, science books, art books etc and totally destroyed them with my scissor and created a new context for them in my art. It was a fun creative process, totally freudian and surreal.

A video from 2007 where I show how I used to play with these cut outs in my art.

 

Some of my mixed media pieces from 2006-2009:

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?

How people live with my art

Sometimes people send pictures to me of how they live with my art – here are some: