I stand by my choices

I just came back from Den Haag where I went to spend time with my friend Liesbeth, and to shoot her new catalogue. So many amazing things happened during the trip, and I think something just clicked in my mind while I was there.

I have a tendency to feel quite discontent, like I’m always wanting something I don’t have, usually work-related. I just keep moaning about wanting something different; more this, and less that, blah blah blah. And then In get really tired and stressed because it keeps me from enjoying what I actually do.

When I arrived in Den Haag we went straight to the woods to shoot and had very intense conversations all night, and when I went to bed I just couldn’t sleep. It was hot, I was sweaty, and my head felt like a washing machine spinning without any water in it. And then suddenly – bling – a thought came to me: I am content. I am OK with everything, this is a good place to be in my life right now. I fell asleep and I’ve felt awesome ever since. All that unneeded discontent just melted away.

I am here in my new studio right now. This is my garden and I’m going to water it, and then I’m going to enjoy the bloom.

I saw this in Liesbeth’s atelier and I just got it. I want to stand by my choices.

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It's always about life and human experience

One of the nicest thing about my job is meeting new people and getting to visit their lives and thoughts for a brief moment. It gives me new perspectives, it inspires, and it has definitely influenced who I am today.

One of the hardest thing when I started, was to step into other people’s territories, to get close to people either with with my camera or with my questions. Breaking those boundaries made me feel like an invader.

I can happily say that those worries are long gone. I feel no shame sticking my lens close to someone’s face or digging deep with my questions. I believe that a successful encounter is never just about the subject and always about life and human experience. And sometimes what started as work turns into a friendship.

A few years back I met Nina when I photographed her for the Helsinki – People Make the City book. She is one of the two founders of Nord-T, an organic tea company. Last week Nina invited me over to Fiskars, a little artisanal village about one and half hours drive away from Helsinki, where she had just moved with her family to start a new chapter in their lives in a very old and charismatic estate.

I love it how light lingers in old buildings. I love the presence of the past, the little chips and knocks that tell stories of the lives lived before us. And of course visiting the countryside makes me dream of my own garden with a greenhouse, a new old home where I could retreat to with my my family to potter around and make art all day long.

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Life as it is

Summer, oh summer. It was a bit strange to surrender into doing nothing. By nothing I mean just being and enjoying ordinary life as it is, sans any special projects. But now it’s been three weeks and I’ve taught my son to eat by himself, read a few books, baked a delicious carrot cake, taken sweaty cycling rides in the woods, and visited many new neighborhoods and playgrounds in my home town. That’s about it.

Next week my little boy starts daycare and I go back to work in my new studio nearby. I have a few projects lined up and a strong feeling that something completely new is bubbling under. Exciting times!

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Above: This morning in our kitchen

House of art and magic

My friend Maritta is a sculptor, painter, and a spiritual being. Her home and greenhouse atelier are both filled with beautiful objects, charming energy, and magical light. I visited Maritta’s house a few days ago and when I saw her beautiful flower arrangements, I had to dig out my camera.

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Photography: Laura Iisalo

A portrait of a dog

I’m on holiday. That means that I’m not working on any commissions in July because I’ll be reading, painting, playing with my boys, and chilling. I just dug out these two paintings from last summer: portraits of our two dogs. They turned out so bad that I think they are quite successful. That’s the thing – and it’s not the first time I write this – mistakes are good. Daring to produce stuff by trial and error is great.

This is kind of sad but looking back it feels like the second I graduated in arts school I lost a big chunk of my creative force. I wanted to be established and professional, and I succeeded in it too. But I lost something really really important: the playful side of me that just wants to create out of curiosity, because drawing and painting makes me feel like myself.

But now, finally! I feel like I’m out of that horrid rut, back to enjoying doing stuff just for the sake of it. That feels really good.

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Above: Lulu and Jekku, 2018

More self-creation

I spent one month without sourcing inspiration. That means no blogs, no social media, no Pinterest, no lifestyle magazines. I spent that time painting, reading books, trying printmaking, writing tanka poems and my blog, and just being. I also traveled to Holland and was inspired by the dunes in Den Haag, cheesy omelettes and beautiful old tiles.

I did this because I am addicted to the things listed above. I could just daydream looking at other people’s beautiful homes, art they create, and the lives they live. But I’ve noticed that for the sake of my own well-being I rather live my own life in my own way than let outside expectations influence my daily choices. I also tend to want more things when I see what I don’t have. But I don’t really need anything.

I’m not going to completely abandon the things mentioned. But I’m going to try and enjoy looking at beautiful stuff only occasionally, to relax and get a break. Not to replace self-creation. Let’s see how that goes.

To be a mother

Last year I became a mother to little Taiko. At 37 I was relatively old but it still happened pretty quickly. I used to think that I would be happy just working, traveling, experiencing life without children. And here we are, me and him, and in these past ten months we have become a great team.

Before Taiko was born, a friend of mine told me that life doesn’t change that much after having children. I have to disagree because life really does change – hello nappies, restless nights, and just generally looking after a little human being – but I somehow know what she means. I feel that I’m still the same me, even more so. With children there’s no space for faking. Becoming a mother has added a layer to my identity. I’m discovering a new, softer side of me.

Sometimes I’m exhausted but I’ve been more tired before. When I was younger I used to party too much, then work too much, or trying to achieve something with force that was just too much. I guess I’m one of those people who don’t always recognize their limits. Having a little baby staring at me has forced me to pause. This is probably the first time in my life that I don’t compare myself to others or feel inadequate.

I’m proud to be a working mama. Work feels more meaningful now. It feeds my little one and is another source of purpose for me, something that I don’t take for granted (anymore).

I never completely trusted that I could or would be a mother and life could have turned out differently. But I am a mother and I love it. Every day my heart melts a little bit more.

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Above: Me and Taiko in September 2018