maanantai 23. maaliskuuta 2015

Nightmare before graduation

Hello blogging world

In my previous post I wrote about my current project to make art from subjects and things that I've personally found very difficult to talk about, handle and to understand. I hope to get inner peace by doing this kind of personal art therapy by writing and painting.

Also things that I love, respect and need. People I love and people who I miss and people who have made great impact on  my life.

Looks like this spring theme is bullying and how it has affected on self-confidence.

Something quite unfortunate happened few days ago. In my previous school I was very badly bullied by the teachers and school staff. So I sent an e-mail to my previous group leader. In good spirit I told about my current life situation and also asked why she didn't took any actions back then. She e-mailed back to me and denied the whole thing.

Needless to say I was very dissapointed to her behaviour.

When I was in elementary school I was very shy and introvert.
In school drawing was my favorite past time.

It easily took 5 recesses for me to finish a spread like this :)

Me and my small circle of friends was bullied at school. I wasn't never physically bullied but emotional bullying was just as bad.

One particularly nasty girl bullied pretty much every person she didn't like. I remember once there was a running contest in the school and she made my friend trip. There was bunch of teachers in the audience. They all saw it but nobody cared. I was so pissed.

There also was notebooks where the "mean girls" wrote lists like who are the most ugliest girls in this class , who is the girl you don't want to make friends with and so on.

It was really hurtful.. especially when I heard that my name was there quite often.

When I was 10 my father died. If I had been shy and introvert before I became even more shy and introvert after that. I never had very close relationship with my mother and after father died we became even more distant with each others.

I vividly remember going back to school after my father died and I have very clear memory standing in the school yard and all the kids were looking at me and whispering with each others that her father is dead  I didn't get any help at school. I don't even remember being offered any help.
We also got a new teacher at that time. When the previous teacher was always very supportive towards my drawing hobby and let me do drawings on the recesses this new teacher always told me to stop daydreaming.

As the years went by I became more and more anti-social and I tend to block all the negative things from my mind. It was a survival mechanism. It did fail eventually because I started to have panic attakcs when I was 15 and that lead in to deep depression.

Here in Finland there has been lot's of suicides done by teenagers because of bullying at schools. Just last summer Finnish police shared story of one 14 year old girl who had committed suicide because of the school violence and bullying. Note she had left said: At least I wont be bullied anymore

Such a terrible thing and It was very close that I didn't end my life when I was in that age.
Panic attakcs got so bad that eventually I started to be afraid going to school. It became fear of social situations. If I went for a walk outside I used to think all those people who are passing by think bad things about me. Of course that wasn't true it was all in my head.

Here is one of my paintings I did back then. This one is called Lullaby and I think it's one of my ugliest paintings.

Girl is a demon and she has killed her human-self. When I was suffering from deep depression I saw the world as one big black hole. Only feelings I felt were anger, hate and sorrow.
I stopped exist and I was only a shadow.

After looking at this 12-13 years later I think it captures the essence of depression very well.
Colors are so bright they are almost toxic.

I started therapy when I was 17. I didn't really get a long with my first therapist. I didn't find good connection with her. Afterwards I think I should have started with art therapy straight away. That would have probably been more helpful.

I think when I was 18 I spent a month in a hospital and that's where my healing process began and I started to see things in more positive light. Eventually I started to pursue career in the arts and I've been on that road ever since.

Then few years ago when I was studying to become an art and craft instructor history started to repeat itself. School lasted two years. In the first year there was one teacher who I didn't get a long with but other than that school went fine. Then the other year started and I heard that particular teacher had gone into another school I was like yes!

But the second year was the most horrible experience. When I started I listed my ideas about instructing and teaching and all that. I really believe that if I work as an art and craft instructor I will focus on the subjects  that I know  by heart. In that school we were supposed to study every possible handcraft technique there is from metal work to crocheting and the shortest courses lasted one week. We were expected to become masters in every technique and create perfect products for teachers to judge.

You know what was the most common comment I got from every single reviews?

I always got complains about being too creative.

Sounds ridiculous especially since if I teach art and handcrafts I want my students to embrace their creativity. It's extremely important especially here in Finland where people overall can be very harsh on themselves and I've heard so many stories people giving up pursuing artistic careers because lack of supportive feedback.

There was also very unprofessional behavior among the teachers. One of my classmates was on working period in a place where her boss was giving her jobs that weren't really meant for her to do. She sent tons of e-mails to our group leader who didn't reacted to them. In my class 4 people beside me got sick with exhaustion and 2 ladies stopped the school completely because of the teachers unprofessional behavior.

At one point I had enough and sent a note to the educational government of that area and wrote about all these things. I got into interrogation because of this note (which was very politely written). 
Vice principal was doing the interrogation she was know for her very sharp tongue so I wasn't very exited to meet her. Another of my classmates had huge stress because of the school. Once this vice principal had called her and on the phone called her names and complained about her attitude.

So I got into interrogation and she criticized my attitude, my actions, my previous studies on art subjects. After 10 years without any panic attacks I got the worst panic attack of my life and started to cry like a waterfall. 
I was so mad. I sent the same note to all students that studied to become art and craft instructors and all the school staff and teachers and left just few weeks before my graduation.

I got sickness break because of exhaustion. I went to see a therapist few times. He thought I was in my right mind so to speak and it was justified to feel hate. Still it was very hurtful experience. I had very bad nightmares from the vice principal. In one dream she executed me. Sometimes If I met women who looked just like her I easily started to feel anxiety and quickly left that kind of situations. This happened once in tax office. I actually had to change the clerk because she looked just like that terrible lady. This happened in the summer 2013.

Because of what happened in that spring I also contacted this girl who bullied me in the elementary school. I told how bullying had affected me. She did apologize and told about her life back then and bad family situation.

You know what. I forgave her. Because she did regret her behavior.

Then few days ago I contacted this previous group leader of mine. I told her about my current life situation and asked why she didn't took any actions on the bullying incidents. She denied the whole thing. I think I deserve an apology from them as well but I don't think they are brave enough to do it.

 I don't think it is acceptable that small group of teachers and people working in school environments use mental violence on students and use their autocratic position as excuse for it or that other people silently accept that kind of behavior. Teachers are the ones who should understand that students are all different and all are individuals.  That is why I share  my experiences and relies all this negative energy away and really hope no one needs to go trough similar experiences. 

This is my mixed media painting called Vereslihalla.

(In Finnish when it's said that someone is  vereslihalla it means that person is in the most vulnerable state both mentally and physically).

This one represents a personal journey.

All those who know me know that I never wear any mask or pretend to be something that I'm not.
What does it takes one to become themselves?

Trough art I can handle feelings of hate, my past and present, my good sides and my dark sides
and I can forgive.

Submitted to Paint party friday and Teemakuu

I wish lot's of strength for those struggling with the same issues

Love and light to you all

lauantai 21. maaliskuuta 2015

Creative Tuesday: Flower Bouquet

Flower bouquet

Hello blogging world

Above you can see my entry for Creative Tuesday challenge.

At work I was asked to try some new marbling techniques so some of the flowers are made from paper that was decorated with nail polish marbling. I think they came out pretty.

I need to try more this nail polish marbling. It's very easy and not expensive. My mom who is  a  hobbyist nail artist and really likes nail art always gives me some old nail polish to use on art projects.
You can find bunch of videos about in YouTube.
Thank you Michael from another great challenge. Flowers reminds me that spring is coming soon. We still have some snow in the ground here.

Then for Finnish teemakuu challenge I have more new mixed media art pieces

Here is Snowy night. All those snowflakes are stickers from holiday card envelopes

This one is called Woman, dumb as a boot 

Since start of this year I've been doing lot's of soul searching and made art from things that I find difficult to handle and understand also things that I love, things that are important also about people and things who I miss (but who I can't get back).

Yesterday happened something so bad that I'm now making art from the worst bullying experiences I've had.

I contacted teacher that was my group leader in the previous school and told about my current life situation and asked why she didn't took any actions when school staff was bullying me.
She e-mailed back to me and denied that all thing ever happened.

So I'm going to make art based on  these bullying experiences and hope to get inner peace that way.

This woman who was dumb as a boot She was a student counselor in this school where I was being bullied (I will make a separate blog post about all those things that happened back then)

She said to me that I should reconsider my future profession. I won't survive by making art (or teaching art) and I should quit making art completely. There isn't any kind of future for me in the artistic professions.  Then she asked do I like to read. I said shore I like to read ...sometimes. Then she said to me that I should study to become a librarian. 
Only thing that was on my mind at that moment was: that woman is a dumb as a boot (Finnish expression someone is utterly stupid)

Me and a friend of mine (who is indeed a librarian) did have a good laugh about this afterwards.
It takes bit more than love for reading to become a librarian.

Also submit to these to Paint party friday

Thank you all for visiting and the comments :)

Love and light

maanantai 16. maaliskuuta 2015

Creative Tuesday: Flower

colored pens and felt-tipped pens

Hello blogging world

Above you can see my entry for Creative Tuesday. Newest theme is Flower. My flower came out pretty simple and colorful and next page is waiting for the bouquet.

Finnish art challenge Teemakuun taidetta March theme is Mixed Media.
Here is my first mixed media piece for it. Continuing with floral themes :)

sunnuntai 15. maaliskuuta 2015

Ocean Gypsy WIP and sketches

Hello blogging world :)

Here's my Ocean Gypsy painting work-in-process.
I love the bright colors makes me feel all springy :)

Here are some sketches I did during the weekend at sketch fest.

"Cheeky mermaid"
(c) Niina Niskanen
graphite on sketchbook

"Painting eggs"
(c) Niina Niskanen
graphite on sketchbook

"Spring Angel"
(c) Niina Niskanen
graphite on sketchbook

I have bunch of my easter and spring themed paintings on special sale at my Facebook-page. Take a look :)

Artworks submitted to Paint Party Friday

Here's a photo I took yesterday evening. Sunset and the cracking ice on the river.

Happy spring days to you all!

lauantai 28. helmikuuta 2015

Two detectives and one agent

Three faces for Teemataidetta  and 29faces challenges and paint party friday
Today I have detectives and agents to show you.

First one is Agatha Christie's famous belgian detective
Hercule Poirot

 "Hercule Poirot"
colored pencils
(c) Niina Niskanen

Botswana's most famous agent Mma Ramotswe from ladies number one detective agency

"Mma Ramotswe"
Colored pencils
(c) Niina Niskanen

 Agent Seeley Booth from my favorite tv-series Bones.

"Agent Booth"
(c) Niina Niskanen

maanantai 23. helmikuuta 2015

Creatures from the forest

Hello blogging friends!

I have some great news. Back in last August- September I applied to few universities in UK to study illustrating and just recently I found out that I was accepted to one of the schools. 
I still look forward to hear from the rest of the schools as well before making the decision but now it is for shore that I'm moving in the end of the summer.

I'm very exited about this opportunity to get a BA-degree on illustrating.

Lately I've continued with illustrating characters and stories from Finnish mythology.

"Forest dance"
watercolor and felt tipped pens
(c) Niina Niskanen

Dancing girl in the middle is nature sprite called Tellervo. She is daughter of the forest god Tapio and nature/animal goddess Mielikki. 

Tellervo is known of her special connection with animals and her wild and free spirit. She is also sometimes called as "child of the forest".

Here she is dancing with her animal friends.

"Birth of the cat"
Watercolors and acrylics on acid free watercolor paper
(c) Niina Niskanen

Birth of the cat according to ancient Finnish mythology and folklore.

"I know of the cats origin
the incubation of Greybeard
The cat was gotten on a stove
as a girls nose
a hares head
a tail of "Hiisi's plait of hair"
claws of a viper
a tail of snakes venom
Feet of cloud berries
the rest of it's body
is of the wolf's race"

Greybeard (halliparta) is known as a Finnish nature sprite, an elf-like creature (in common Finnish  known as "tonttu").

Hiisi has many meanings it can be an old worshiping place (stone, natural circle, a small hill ect.) '
It can also be a giant or 
an ancient nature god or both.

Greybeard  goes to the 29faces challenge being first one with total imaginary face :)

also going to Teemakuu and Paint party Friday

Thank you for stopping by

sunnuntai 22. helmikuuta 2015

Featured Artist Interview of February: Maat Silk

"Egyptian collection"
(c) Maat Silk

Hello blogging friends!

February's featured artist is great artist and a lovely person Maisie aka Maat Silk.
I adore Maisie's beautiful, imaginative designs and colorful palette.

Tell us about yourself. Who you are and what kind of artist you are?

I am an English artist based in Southern Spain. I am primarily a pattern designer (although I do work in different styles as well). I work mostly in watercolor, designing and painting patterns as works of art and I also hand paint my designs onto limited edition sets of silk scarves and cushions. I have as well recently begun to print and use my designs on other products, such as gift cards, writing sets and fabric.

The patterns I design are often not a repeating sort, which you might find on wrapping paper for instance, but are contained within a boarder and always radiate out of the center. I will draw abstract shapes and swirls to design a pattern, but I also love using objects. I am designing at the moment a pattern based on the movie Frozen, using snowflakes, a crown and other objects and design elements from the film. Thi si more for fun than for sale but I love figuring out which objects to use and planning  how to display them in the pattern and how they would look best. I have done several custom orders like this, making one of a kind pattern paintings from peoples' favorite movie, book or even cherished memory. They tell me the objects and I do the rest.

Another aspect I bring into my pattern designs is writing, particularly the silk scarves where I always write a narrative piece of writing to accompany them. Trying to explain this is harder, but I'll give it a shot. For me, painting on silk and for that matter all my work is art and more. It's thought, an idea, a feeling, and most importantly is a story. Words accompany me as I design and paint the patterns. They are part of it all. The colors and design blend in my mind and an idea forms: an image, a place, a time. Why? I'm not sure but the narrative writing that accompanies each scarf is as important to me as the colors themselves. It's the setting and completes the scene. So each set of scarves tells a story, often  with a beginning, middle, and an end.

"Along the Nile"
Silk scarf
(c) Maat Silk

"Arizona evening"
Silk cushion
(c) Maat Silk

How did you get started in your artistic hobby/career?

I've always had a thing of drawing patterns and color, bright, cheerful colors. I am always doodling shapes, swirls, lines, circles, and various shapes of all kinds. I drew every night, usually whilst watching a film and soon I had several large sketch books full of these coloured patterns. Then one birthday I was bought a set of silk paints, and well, the rest just happened. Although not very smoothly! It took me many experiments and really horrid looking scarves before I came up with one I was happy with. With those scarves I open an Etsy shop and I am now constantly finding new products and ways to express my style.

What are things that inspire you?

I am inspired by everything: art, fashion, the natural world, book, films. As I live in the countryside, nature is very important and plants, especially flowers often end up in my designs. Ancient history is one of my largest inspirations. I love the art of Minoan Crete, Egypt, China, Greece and Celtic Britain. I only have loot at a book full of Minoan temples or Egyptian tombs and I am reaching for my sketch book. And of course movies and books.

Do you have message in your art?

I've never really thought about a message and I have never meant to put one in. I think if there was any message in my art I would want it to be happiness. Bright colours are happy. I feel happy when drawing and creating so happiness would be my art's message.

Silk scarves
(c) Maat Silk

Do you have any tips for aspiring artists?

It seems so strange to be answering a question like this when I still read tips from other artists. Based on my experience I would say the best advice to give anyway is practice. Practice and practice. You will make progress, even if you can't see it. I only have to look ate my sketches from last year to see how much I've improved (well hopefully :)). Another tip would be find your own style, I know this can be very difficult, particularly as the world is full of wonderful art. I think that an artist's individual style come from within them. So I've found that the best way to find your own style, is to try and forget about everything you've seen on the web etc. and look within you and find what you love drawing, what comes naturally and what makes you happy.

"The Ball"
Silk scarf
(c) Maat Silk

"The Minions"
20 x 20
(c) Maat Silk

Where can we find your works?

Thank you so much Maisie for this interview! Lot's of ideas and success for you

Love and Light