My natural state

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?

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A living dream

I am going through something very private at the moment. It is scary and wonderful – but it is hard for me to write about. I am really building a life that is my own creation. So much hard work. So much pain. But you have no idea how liberating it is to create a life that is not based on any pre-made idea or normality (and numbing conformity). I have a clear vision of what kind of life I want for myself in the future. I want to explore so many sides to myself that I haven’t been able to explore before; I will become a writer, I want to explore my sexuality, eroticism and sensuality – I want to dare to love deeper and to experience pleasure that has been out of my reach, on a much higher level.

To make this journey is complicated. I have no one to ask for advice or guidance. This is my journey, it is only meant for me. There aren’t any guidelines. No manuals. Not even a clear path to follow. I have been so used to merely ‘surviving’ life after my traumas. Life was painful in every area and my focus was on getting through one hardship after the other. For 20 years. Now, I am on the other side of the darkness. Getting used to the light. I still feel blinded at times.

I am not in ‘survival mode’ anymore. I want to LIVE. LOVE. CREATE. Create magic in everything I do – in who I am becoming. Creating magic in my art, magic in other people’s hearts and minds, in the way I look at the world (as a playground). I wish to create a life that I could call a living dream.

I just have to go on dreaming the dream so I can follow it all the way to the very edge  – and turn it into some kind of reality. You can call me crazy –  and maybe I am – but somehow I know that this is possible. Like I have always known it’s possible; to create a life outside what people consider ‘normal’ and ‘real’ by using the magic of creativity and imagination.

The satisfaction of capturing the right expression

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Painting “The Mask”, 2009.

I am positively exploding of creativity and imagination in my art right now.

But I get overwhelmed and fatigued at times. It is such a satisfactory feeling to be able to capture the images and ideas that pops up from nowhere in my mind. I call them “spiritual sketches” because they are like visions born in another dimension of my consciousness. I can’t describe how they are formed or how come they match my style so I can capture them precisely as they look inside my head. All I know is that it makes me feel free and powerful in a way. I am free to create my own worlds on my own terms – my way. I just have to stay true to my spiritual sketches.

I have the luxury of having thousands of pages in my therapy notebooks and diaries, filled with raw material for my two new collection of works. I am refining my personal mythology and adding to it, little by little every day, just by studying my own notebooks. I can see how I’ve had some ideas in mind for years, but it’s first now that I can turn them into art. Sometimes ideas has to grow and mature before they are ready to be explored and turned into an artistic expression. Timing is an important factor when you are making art based on your own experiences and emotions. You need enough distance so you can explore and study the emotions without getting caught in them – but you can’t be too removed so you can’t connect to it anymore. The balance fascinates me.

Taming the flow

Today was therapy day and as usual I got a lot to think about after the session. “You are such a rich person when it comes to inner freedom and creativity.” she said. “You have a vast mind and can move through many levels and dimensions at the same time. But you need to ground yourself in real life as well, otherwise you will drown in your own Universe. It has a powerful pull.” I took it as a compliment. I might be broke when it comes to money, but I’m certainly a millionaire when it comes to other things. I do feel rich. I am deeply loved, I can create magic and share it with the world, I am intelligent and I’ve become wise and enlightened with age. And I laugh a lot. I used to cry for days straight but I haven’t done that in months. It is such a big change for a person who is used to depression. I laugh and I feel good. I am really happy.

I have been working hard on my writing project lately. It’s turning out really great. With this project and making art for the new collection, I am working from the time I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep at night. My therapist reminded me of taking time off to rest and relax. “You have to find a way to tame your creative flow like a wild horse, so it’s not riding you instead of the other way around.”

It will be my next challenge. Because all I want to do right now is to flow. Wildly.

My birth

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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:

  1. self-discipline
  2. stress reducing and finding balance within
  3. focus (eliminating distractions and negative energy)
  4. understanding my value as an artist
  5. no doubting or hesitating
  6. patience

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.

My Birth by Frida Kahlo, 1932

“My Birth” by Frida Kahlo, 1932

The flow

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Trying to capture panic in “The Wound”

I am really painting again. No self-doubt, no hesitation, no fear – just me having fun in the studio. And even if the subject matter is very disturbing and painful for me, I don’t feel sad or anxious while working – I’m just letting it all out and as it leaves my heart and end up on the canvas, I am healing even more. Last night I ended up in that wonderful flow of creativity and passion that I’ve missed so much and I couldn’t sleep because of the rush from the flow.

One of the best things I’ve done lately is to define what my idea of ‘the perfect artistic expression’ is to me. I made a list of what I’m trying to achieve with my artistic voice, and if I just follow the list I will have no reason to doubt myself or compare myself to other artists:

  1. Capture strong emotions in their primitive state

  2. Use vivid colors

  3. Find a balance between light/dark and playful/serious

  4. Simplicity and a clear composition (no unnecessary details or a realistic approach)

  5. The expression should not be flattering or perfect in an obvious way

  6. The expression has to feel like ‘home’ to me

“Mojoing”

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Selfie from last year. This totally looks like a mug shot, I almost wish it was. But I do have some mojo going on.

My mojo has been missing for a long time but I am finally beginning to feel it seep into my veins again. I’m starting to feel playful and horny while working with my art and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Lust and passion are such important components in my creativity and it creates this sexual energy that feeds my imagination and ambition. I love it. It makes me feel powerful, potent and alive. I’m so dependent on my mojo – to be ‘mojoless’ is almost painful for me. It’s almost like I get sick when I lose the connection to my sexual energy. So, I need to stay connected to it.

I think mojo is such a natural part of the human energy – we are driven by two needs; to survive and to propagate our species – the mojo is a necessary energy for both needs.  I choose to celebrate it. To put it in my work – and load my core with it. Although I am so connected to my mojo, I lose the connection very easily. It happens when I start to doubt myself, when I lose myself to other people’s expectations, when I compromise my artistic expression – or when I feel censored by my own fear or by other people’s judgment. I just have to be more careful with my mojo and keep my shape intact and not letting other people mold it to whatever they want me to be for them.

The mojo makes me feel electric in both my body and thoughts and it keeps all my parts connected (mind, body, heart, soul) and therefore I am able to be me to the fullest. I think that kind of soft and invisible electricity is a beautiful experience and it’s also so natural – since our brain is wired through electrical impulses (and when the doctor tries to resuscitate the heart, they use electricity). There are so many fascinating and natural energies that people seem to forget about. We should learn how to harness them and to create something incredible with it – for ourselves and others. We should all start ‘mojoing’ more. Mojoing when we are alone. Mojoing together with other people. To let those electric butterflies fly.

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Mojoing, 2010

Rest and play

This flu is merciless, but I am still able to meditate and I’ve found some amazing places within myself. I never though I would be able to meditate and I don’t know if I’m doing it right but at least I am getting some peace of mind during the sessions. I’m keeping a meditation diary because I’m finding answers and keys to unlock insecurities and fears as I am traveling within myself. It’s quite incredible.

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I’ve discovered the importance of balance – both a sense of an inner and a physical balance – and a balance when it comes to rest vs play (work).  And I am now faced with an important question; is my creativity part of rest or is it play? Do I use my creativity to relax or as work? Perhaps the answer will change everything. Perhaps my art is not suppose to be what I do for a living – perhaps that’s why it has been keeping me from feeling the magical lust and flow when I am creating. If so – then I’ve been pushing myself in the wrong direction. I have to experiment to see how I am supposed to use my creativity – maybe I can use my writing and digital art as wok but the painting process is more about relaxation and self-intimacy than it is about working to make money. We’ll see. I will study myself as a scientist until I’ll know the answer.

Art flowers

This morning I’m watching art documentaries. I feel inspired. I’m so connected to the inner Universe of creativity and imagination, shared with so many other artists. I am lucky that way, I am never truly lonely when I have this inner world of magic that I can give birth to whenever I want to. That’s why it was so painful for me to be creatively blocked for all those years, but I was never blocked on the inside, I was blocked because of the pressure of being successful.

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My art is the most intimate part of me – because it’s the voice of my core. I haven’t been treating it with the proper respect. I’ve been taking it for granted, like it’s something to use in any way I can, but that is not true. It is rare and beautiful – something to protect and nurture until it wants to be released, like a flower in bloom. You can’t force it. You shouldn’t. You shouldn’t even consider it. I can see all the mistakes I’ve made in the past, how I’ve tried to force myself to bloom and release something that wasn’t ready to be released yet.

To deal with magic and imagination is tricky, because there are no manuals or textbooks. You can learn to perfect your technique, you can practice self-discipline, but how to reach the magic place inside is private and intimate, and out of reach for most people. That is why I need to treat it with the utmost respect – because it is a gift.

‘Acceptance’ is more about letting go

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work in progress – “Out of Reach”

I’m getting nowhere with the clinics, I’m frustrated but I’m slowly recovering. The health care system in Sweden at this point is basically following the trend of the DIY movement; Do it yourself. But I’ve become pretty good at figuring out how to treat myself and I know what medical care that works and what doesn’t. As long as my health is improving, I don’t care if I have to play doctor, I hate hospital milieus anyway.

Part of my self-treatment is to let go of the stress from this summer. It’s been a lot. I have some heavy decisions to make when it comes to how I want to build my nearest future. I also have to go on defining myself as an artist – I have a feeling that I have to let go of some things to be able to push through the struggles I’m dealing with in my creativity. Something is holding me back and I know exactly what it is, but it’s hard to accept.

It’s my audience. You.

Perhaps I have to kill some darlings – your darlings – in order to continue working with my art. I know I will lose a lot of admirers, fans and collectors if my work took a different direction, if my focus point would shift from the things that brought me success and appreciation – to a whole new genre where I’m not familiar with the audience. But that is the privilege I have as an artist, to reinvent myself and my expression over and over again throughout my career. I have changed so much since my early works and my art is changing alongside my personal metamorphosis.

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Early works:

Semi-Paradise

Semi-Paradise by Mia Makila, 2006

Alone In Hell

Alone In Hell by Mia Makila, 2006

Holiday In Hell, 2007

Holiday In Hell, 2007

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Works from 2014-2016:

"Not a Phallus" by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

“Not a Phallus” by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

The Screaming Rug by Mia Makila, 2016 - digital.

The Screaming Rug by Mia Makila, 2016 – digital.

"A Binary Dream" by Mia Makila, 2016 [digital]

“A Binary Dream” by Mia Makila, 2016 [digital]

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My life used to be a very private version of Hell. Chaotic. Dramatic. Painful. Everything in either black or white – but at the same time burning or in flames. Now, my life is full of love, longing, sensuality and stillness. I’ve found a harmonic grey-scale (visible in my latest digital works) within the black and white.

As I am thinking about all this, a title for a future art show emerges. That is evidence that I am on the right path. Acceptance is more about letting go than it is about finding new answers. I need to accept that I can never go back to being the artist I once was – and I can’t force myself to be the artist I would love to be even though it doesn’t come natural to me. I just have to let go of my timeline of success and failure and accept the artist I’ve become, going through all that. The artist I am. Now. Celebrated for my past achievements – but not forced to live up to the expectations that came with that. I have big plans for my future art projects, but I need more money. So let’s start there.

I’m letting go of your expectations of me. Thank you for loving my art so far. It has meant so much to me. But I have to have the freedom to reinvent myself from time to time  – and you are invited to follow me on my journey, it will be a roller-coaster ride for both of us I’m sure.

The Superpower

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We had another long and amazing talk about creativity. I love these discussions, I need them, I crave them. We continued talking about why we aren’t being creative right now. Why he’s not writing, why I’m not into the flow of painting. We established that being able to bring magic to the world by making art (in whatever form) is like a superpower. This superpower makes you special, makes you stand out, it elevates you from the crowd, it makes you fly, high above reality and everyday life.

But here’s where we have different approaches to our superpower. I am more comfortable flying than I am being grounded. Johnny is more comfortable on the ground than up amongst the clouds. He’s comfortable with the idea that he can fly, whenever he wants to – I am uncomfortable with the idea of having to land and spend time in the real world waiting for that special moment when I’ll get to fly again. “A superhero is a superhero because he can transform himself from an ordinary person into a superhero when he needs to. If he would be up in the air all the time, flying around, he’d just be a crazy person, flying without a cause, without a mission”, Johnny said. It made sense. I haven’t seen it like that before.

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I need to accept that I can’t ask from myself to be creative all the time and to not judge myself whenever I can’t find that flow. I need to be grounded at times in order to be able to transform and illuminate myself. I can’t be on a superhero mission all the time. Then it wouldn’t be special or the most private, intimate and wonderful thing I get to share with myself.

I have been forcing myself to use my superpower when all I needed was to be grounded and wait for the right moment to fly. And I’ve been afraid of crash-landing. Of broken wings. To have my superpower being taken from me. I’ve been afraid of losing my direction amongst the clouds. Of flying too high. To get burned by the sun. I have been confused about how to use my superpower and when – or when to stay grounded and enjoy life on Earth.

I have to learn how to use my superpower in the correct way. Then I’ll be able to transform myself when the right moment appears. When I’m on a mission to create magic – something rare and beautiful that isn’t a product of expectations or pressure, but the expression of freedom and joy. Just like flying.

From my own death to a new creativity

3 days until my love will come. I’m starting to feel like myself again, it’s a nice feeling. The seasons are slowly changing outside my window, it’s unusual cold for being the last summer month. I enjoy the cool weather. The grey skies and the melancholy. It feels like home to me.

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I’ve been resting for weeks or perhaps for a small eternity, that’s how it feels anyway. I’m tired of resting and watching TV series. But I’ve been studying art and I’ve thought a lot and hard about my own art. It’s been good for me. I don’t want to overthink things or to overanalyze, but it’s like with everything in my past – I’ve been going through life without reflecting on what my true voice sounds like because I have been so busy pleasing other people. I know that at some point in my career, I started to make art for my fans, for gallery owners and collectors, instead of making it for myself. Something that was so private and intimate suddenly became corrupt and compromised in public. I know exactly when it happened. Even which painting I was working on at the time.

This struggle to get back to my art, especially painting, has been long and hard. Just like a trauma can happen in a second but will take a lifetime to overcome, it takes a lot of time to heal a compromised creativity and an abandoned inner voice. I regret the way I deviated from my path to go where I wasn’t supposed to go. I got so lost. I ended up so far from myself. From the expressions I had inside but didn’t allow to come out. I got used to the resistance, to the silence of it, to the feeling of being dead and buried underneath the fear and the doubts.

From my diary 2011:

“It is more natural for me now to not be creative than to create and make art. My paint tubes and brushes are stored away in transparent storage boxes and waiting for this mental paralysis to be dissolved so I can use them again. So I can go back to how things were before.

It’s like all of me is stored away in an invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. Like in a coffin, because I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling rooted in my inner core. “

I know how it feels like to be dead. I know that the real death is not and the end of our lives but comes in the same colors and textures as life itself, but without your own sense of vitality. It doesn’t happen when you stop breathing, it happens when you stop believing in yourself, when you separate yourself from your core. And the way back is awfully long and painful.

At least I know what it’s like to die and to be awakened and resurrected, all in a lifetime. I have many important things to tell. I need to use that in my art. This phase of finding my true artistic voice after letting go of an older version is so unbelievably scary – you have no idea. But it has to be done. This process is just as private and intimate as the creativity itself. I’ll let you be part of it, but please know how vulnerable I feel to share these things with you.

But it’s an important and genuine part of my art and should not be undisclosed or forgotten. It is part of the substance to my future paintings and who I will become as an artist.

Counting the days

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I woke up to a cloudy day. It’s still hot but at least the sun is not too bright. I feel somewhat cloudy too. I’m totally out of sync with my emotions, it’s been an intense month with a lot of emotional discharge. I feel a little worn out. Johnny will be here in a few weeks, so I want to feel centered and energized before his arrival. I need to isolate myself for a while, like I do whenever I need to find that perfect sync between mind, body and heart.

Even if my inner batteries are running low, I feel strong and in control of my own destiny. I know where I am going. I am aware of my own behavior and choices. And I’m still working on my art – and it means everything to me. I feel so inspired. I’m growing as an artist, I feel like I’ve reached a new artistic level. It doesn’t happen a lot, perhaps only a handful of times in a lifetime. But it has happened now and it makes me feel proud. I know I am without competition in my style (both here in Sweden and internationally) – and in the way I use my trauma to express female sexuality and the integrity of the soul. It makes me feel confident and like I really matter as an artist, like I make a difference somehow.

My creativity is leaking into every area of my life now days – even my relationship with Johnny is a beautiful creation that we’ve both been working hard to maintain and add to with everything we are and have. It’s our own little piece of heaven – our home in the world, even if we are separated by an ocean. I can’t wait to have him here with me. We are counting the days.

But first I need to meditate and recharge. I have so much I want to accomplish, so much I want to experience – but so little energy. I think that my art could be the perfect place to get in sync with myself. I feel grateful. Where would I be without my creativity? Even the thought of it is unbearable. I feel lucky – and I know my creativity will save me, every time I need to be saved. That is why I never need to be saved by a man or anyone else. This is what makes me strong. This is part of my core strength. It’s what will keep me going, no matter what. But I owe it to myself to keep it safe and in sync. So that’s what I have to do now.

My morning with Amadeus

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Tom Hulce as Mozart in the 1984 movie Amadeus by Milos Forman

I’m spending this morning in bed, watching one of my favorite movies – Amadeus (1984), trying to escape the heat wave as much as I can. Lately I’ve noticed that most of my favorite movies are about creative people or about the creative process. Amadeus is so much about the flow of Mozart’s creativity and mojo. The Commitments (1991) is a tale of the commitment to a creative project and its various phases of passion, hard work, focus, ambition and the battle between the primitive and natural drive of the soul to have a voice and the pride of the ego to be even louder. Little Women (1994) is about a young woman’s love for writing and her insecurities about how to use her creativity since she’s a woman in a society and time which aren’t really interested in what a young woman has to say.

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My favorite actress Winona Ryder as the talented writer Jo March in Little Women (1994)

One of my favorite TV series, Canadian produced Anne of Green Gables (1986) is dealing with a similar theme; a young and creative female writer with too much imagination and passion for her own good in a time where there’s no room for such a female personality type (only as the “crazy, hot tempered spinster” lady type). Even Inception (2010) is mostly about the creative process of planning, thinking and mentally constructing the “realistic” dream worlds like layers upon layers of dreams within dreams. There’s so much focus on the richness of the imagination and the power of creation.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and the complexities of the super advanced worlds of Inception (2010), created by human minds using intelligence, logic, creativity, imagination and philosophy in a powerful way

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The Game (1997) – killing the ego to let the id breathe using creativity to manipulate the process

One of my all time favorite moviesThe Game (1997) directed by David Fincher, might look like an ordinary psychological thriller at a first glance, but if we take a closer look, we can see that the theme goes deeper. It’s a journey through the stagnation and awakening of a mind. It’s about acknowledging the creativity of life itself – a reminder that we are the creator of our own lives, we are not the result (or victims) of what life is creating for us. We have to use our creativity, imagination and consciousness in every little decision, or we’ll be suffocated by life’s endless ruts, cycles and culs-de-sac.

If we surrender to a stagnated life we end up just as stagnated in our hearts and minds – and it’s only through our creativity and the primitive and natural instincts that we can break free and feel reborn (by killing the ego to let the id breathe), in order for us to appriciate who we really are and what we have. I love how Fincher is using the texture of sound design to illustrate the process – in the echoes of the metallic noises in the kitchen scene where the main character is spending his birthday alone in a cold and heartless house, decorated appropriate to his wealth and status but is without personality or warmth, to the loud and intrusive music of Jefferson Airplane in the scene where his home has been invaded and vandalized, as something threatening but I imagine that he used to listen to that kind of music as a young man before he became all ‘cold and dead’ inside, so it’s also liberating and nostalgic – a reminder of a time where he was enjoying his life instead of feeling like he owns it and being owned by it at the same time. When we have become ‘comfortably numb’ and lost touch with our true nature and the only creativity we use in our lives comes in a pretty box or with a price tag, then we feel threatened by that natural and powerful creativity – because it destroys the illusion of the comfort and makes us FEEL and become un-numbed. It is easier to look away than to embrace it. Because our natural creativity requires raising uncomfortable questions, making hard decisions, letting go of things we are used to, being the leader of our own lives instead of being part of the massive herd of ‘sheeple’.

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Nazi ‘sheeple’ without their own creative juices flowing, following the creative visions of a leader with really bad ideas about most things – an extreme example of the danger of being ‘comfortably numb’ and uncreative 

Creativity is so much more than the act of creating a piece of art, music, a dance or writing a story. It is the very foundation of life itself. It is in everything. As long as we are brave enough to withstand the comfort of going with the mainstream flow of ready made lifestyles and pre-made ideas and visions which are for sale and can be consumed through our TV screens, at the mall or in the magazines on our coffee tables.

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They Live (1988)

To be a waterfall

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I’m just about to watch the last two episodes of Stranger Things and I’m absolutely in love with it. I can’t even remember the last time I felt like this about a series – which is funny because I’m not that into sci-fi anyway and I never learned how to appriciate Stephen King. I have never even watched The Goonies for crying out loud! But I feel inspired. I want to use that inspiration in my art.

It seems like everything around me is floating around like a river without any clear shape or substance. I’m in a transitional phase in many areas. And I’m changing. Again. I have outgrown so many things, so many truths and so many mannerisms in my art. I feel like I am just starting over all the time. I am tired of starting over. I just want to BE. But I shouldn’t complain since growing and changing are both part of my self-empowerment process and that means everything to me. Of course my art has to change as I am going through an inner metamorphosis process. It’s only natural, but I’m tired of feeling like I have to let go of things in order to make room for something new. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, over-analyzing it – perhaps I just have to let things happen without thinking about it as much. I guess I’m just insecure about these things since I was struggling with blockages for a long time. I am always scared that I will get blocked again. But I am full of ideas. Over full actually. At the time of my creativity blockage, a friend told me: “As I see it, you are not blocked because you don’t have any ideas – you are blocked because you have TOO MANY ideas and you don’t know where to start and it paralyzes you and you end up blocked.”  I think he was right.

I am still a little ‘artistically constipated’ – it needs to come out. And I’m still a little unsure about in which order. I have to many ideas inside me, if you only knew. I have a list of ideas for paintings, another list for ideas for short stories, books and lectures. I have created a mythology based on my traumas that I want to use somehow, but I don’t know how or where to put it. In words. In pictures. Or both.

For a long time, I thought painting was my main artistic expression but my recent decision to make it secondary to my digital art has been a sense of relief. But I still don’t feel satisfied. Something is missing and some things are too much to hold inside, it all wants to come out. Maybe I’m just scared to lose control. Because I know if I would let it all out – I would not be able to stay in the ‘real’ world – I would be all consumed and swallowed up by my inner world. But I need to let it flow. I need to dare to let it flow. The last time I let it flow, I got sucked into it and ended up all burned out. But I won’t allow that to happen now. I know more now. I am stronger now.  But I’m also more cautious now. A little wounded. It is a difficult balance to lose control and to let my creativity flow without resistance – and to hold back so I don’t get too carried away in my ambition and passion. It’s like wanting to jump from a cliff into a waterfall but dressed in a diving suit. It’s not very graceful or liberating. I think I just have to be the waterfall.

I just have to keep going. I am on the right path even if I am too restless and eager at times. I just want to flow. Fall. Float. I want to be on fire. To fly.

But first I want to watch Stranger Things! (I get goosebumps every time I watch the into!)

Winds of change and understanding

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It’s been a windy week. I love the wind. It’s fresh and always moving in a clear direction. I like the energy of the determined movement. I’m spending the weekend thinking about my art and writing lists and notes about what digital art/painting really mean to me. I’ve found some surprising answers.

During the years of trauma treatment, I understood how I’ve been separating myself from the girl I use to be in the destructive relationships (the victim, the submissive Lolita, the sacrificing girlfriend etc). It’s like I’m doing the same separation in my art as well; I use my paintings to give the trauma a voice, and my digital art is more an expression of who I really am – a reflection of my dreams, fears and desires. My paintings is a collection of portraits of my demons, rage and pain. I make it all visible to be able to let it go.

This realization makes me look at my art and my creativity in a new way. I can see how I can use the two artistic expressions to tell a complete story – the story about myself. I use to believe that my paintings were my main artistic expression, but now I see that I can express more through my digital art but the raw core expressions comes out through my paintings. I guess I’ve been kind of conservative in the way I’ve been judging “physical” works as an art form with a higher value than digital works. What kind of a pioneer am I if I think like that? I have to be a warrior and to stand up for the digital art to make it as accepted as painting in the art world. When my friend and digital artist Joe Myers was still alive – we were planning to revolutionize the art world with a “digi wave”. I guess I owe it to him to go on fighting for the integrity and acceptance of the digital art.

These wild winds have brought me clarity. I feel like I can breathe again, without inhaling the haunting self doubt.

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 editing process

The preparations for my Laura Palmer shoot with Domenique in 2009 (collecting pebbles, rocks, sand and other things you can find on a beach to recreate the scene in my studio)

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Domenique (wrapped in plastic) and the homemade beach

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Original photo (untouched)

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The end result – “Laura”, 2009 (edited in 2013)

I’ve spent so many years editing the photographs of my collaboration with Domenique from 2009. In only one summer, we created almost 20 different characters together. The camera was our love child. We were like lovers in the creativity process – using intuition and instincts as our langunge, we did’t need to speak, we knew exactly what was needed in order to bring the characters to life. I loved working with Domenique but sadly her life started to fall apart at the time and rapidly slipped into a destructive lifestyle of drugs and drama. So I ended it and moved to Stockholm, stopped working with photography – and sold my camera. I am still without a professional camera. But when I have more money I will buy a Canon instead of going back to Nikon. I am a Canon kind of gal.

Me and my old Nikon, 2011

I have evolved immensely as an artist since that summer. I know more about photography editing now, my PhotoShop skills are more advanced and I collected new knowledge about retouch and portrait editing during the two months I spent as an intern at a photo studio last fall. So I can go back to my photo projects and make totally new pictures now just because I am so much better at the editing process.

But what does it mean to edit photographs? It’s so much more than to adjust light and shadow or cropping. It’s about bringing the photo to life  – and to create harmony and a balance in the colors.

Here are two versions of the same photo, first the original picture and the newly edited version where I have played around with both colors and expression. The original photo is softer, more stylish – but I wanted to say more than that – and I wanted the expression to be more powerful and direct.

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Sometimes, I see new potential in already edited photos, I go back and start over, like this:

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Original photo from 2009, edited version from 2009 and my latest version from 2016

Other times, I use the projects with Domenique as a base for my digital art – like I did in “The Crash” (2012):

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The stories behind my art: “My Secret Lover”

Untitled work, 2008

Untitled work, 2008

It happens that I never finish my digital pieces. I don’t know why, perhaps they’re lacking a good composition, or the storytelling doesn’t work. But sometimes I steal one or two details from the unfinished works and put them in a different context and then everything just works. They come alive. This is what happened with ‘My Secret Lover’ [2012]. It was originally part of this chaotic composition [above]. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking while I was making it, but it just didn’t work out. It’s too busy, too cluttered and the story doesn’t make sense at all.  A giant Pinocchio wedding cake with bugs, Batman, toy soldiers, cocks in the sky, eyeballs and some strippers?  What was I thinking?

So I stole the stripper with purple hair riding the tin chicken [placed in middle/right area of the piece] and put her in a much more serene space. And it worked.

"My Secret Lover" by Mia Makila, 2012

“My Secret Lover” by Mia Makila, 2012

Here it is, framed, hanging on a buyer’s wall:

"My Secret Lover"

“My Secret Lover”

One step at a time

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My very first day at the gallery was amazing. I really need this right now. To be part of the world outside my own studio again. I’m sure this will inspire my work as well.

But I’m worried about my new collection of paintings. The painting process is so much slower than I first expected. It’s not that easy to build a whole new life for myself, to improve my self-esteem, overcome PTSD and trauma, while starting a new serious long distance relationship – and at the same creating a new body of work to restore my art career. I have to give it more time. I understand that. But with this speed of the painting process, I won’t be able to promote a new collection of artworks in at least 1-2 years. So far, I have three paintings and maybe 15 digital pieces to show. But my goal is to produce 10-15 paintings for the next show, that I’ll probably make in my hometown or in Stockholm.

When I’ll get more used to this new routine of working in the gallery, I’m sure I’ll find a way to balance the creativity with self-discipline and fun time. I know I have to work harder than this to make it, but I have to continue to take one step at a time. Otherwise, I’m just gonna end up being overwhelmed and exhausted. And I won’t allow that to happen again. This time, things will be done in the right way, in the right order. This time, I know so much more about myself and  about my creativity than I did before. I’ll make the past failures work as a guideline for my future success.

Meditation

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It’s a day of rest. I’m trying to gather new energy because I think I’ve used it all up on my creativity lately. The pollen season is also reaching its climax right now and it makes me feel drained and drowsy. Some allergic Swedes are even fleeing the country to “survive” the predicament. I will continue painting as soon as my health improves. The creative process is taking much longer than I first expected, I’m sort of rusty as a painter but I’m also much more thorough and precise now. Working with digital art has definitely turned me into a perfectionist. I used to be spontaneous and splash paint on the canvas. Now, I can work on details for hours and everything is very controlled and planned. I think it’s probably a combination of being more present since I’ve overcome the disassociating state of PTSD and having my shit together for the first time in my life. That’s why it’s frustrating to be this damn tired – I have so much I want to do! But right now I need to be focused on my breathing and letting go of any negative energy or any doubts. I find my meditation in laughing, at the moment to the Swedish TV and podcast duo Filip and Fredrik.