The Art on My Walls

The other week, I wrote a post on the collaboration between a writer and a reader, and argued that it´s often what the writer leaves out that the reader is invited to add. It occured to me later, that I have some of that same thing happening with the art in my livingroom.

The first painting, real painting, that is, that I ever bought, was this one:

It´s "Green Venice" by Anneli Simonander (Hedström at the time), and it´s a view from a real place in France. She had made a whole series after a visit, and these paintings were, at the time, perhaps the best thing she had done. She is also a skilled frame maker, and the carefully selected frames were also something that set her apart from other local artists. She often managed to pick something that communicated with the painting, adding something to it, either in agreement or in opposition. It may sound silly with a painting arguing with it´s frame, but sometimes, that´s how it worked.

When people comment on it, and they often do, they say it makes them feel calm, or puts them in an introspective mood. Some have suggested that it would be a great motif to meditate on.

I have collected a number of Anneli´s paintings over the years (and we have become good friends), but I will start with showing you the last one, to tie up my argument:

I´m not sure this one has a title. Scribbled on the back of it, it says "The flamingo in my garden", but I´m not sure it is related to the painting. Anyway, this one is painted almost ten years after the first one. A lot had happened during those years, like three years of artschool, which had contributed a great deal to her maturity as an artist, I think.

It´s abstract, fairly large for a livingroom artpiece, and the kind of work that will jump at you, stick out, pretty much anywhere you place it. When people look at it, they often start looking for shapes, something tangible. Very often they see contours of a face or some such thing. But I never heard anyone talk about what it makes them feel.

I do believe that both readers of literary novels and viewers of art, as they become more experienced (reading and looking actively is certainly an artform in itself, a skill), become more susceptible to all kinds of impressions, both from within and without. Our first gut reaction, seem to be to compensate for something that isn´t really there, to make sense of it, or to make it whole. But if you engage in art, you engage in a conversation with the artist, and the more you practice, the more you grow in skill and maturity. You will find more to see, and you will contribute more to the work, which will make it more interesting. The viewer, or the reader, is part of the creation. If no one read, and no one looked at art, it wouldn´t be made. The impulse to make something, is a desire to communicate. Even if it´s just getting mum´s attention with a drawing you made as a child. Our motivations, our reasons, develop too.

If it is human nature to put things in order, find patterns, and try to make sense of it all, then it must be in the artist´s calling to reveal that any such order is done according to an idea, or a set of ideas, a paradigm. One way to do that is to reveal the chaos that our ordering gaze hides from us. Another is to demonstrate alternative ways to organize and explain things. No wonder artists are drawn to the destructive, sometimes creating disorder themselves, consciously or not.

I am a strong believer in re-reading, as well as spending much time in front of an image that speaks to you. Repetition, and trying to improve on one´s analysis, is what builds muscle, if cognition and intellect can be said to be a muscle. I suppose that in actual fact, we rewire our brains, increase our levels of dopamine and create more neurons or whatever. We learn and mature. And the world as a whole, becomes a more interesting place. If you are in the mood, you can look at any expression of culture as a piece of art. That is the best gift of art, and why it is so addictive. It turns the whole world into a magic place.

Some other works of Anneli Simonander that I´m lucky to have:

Above is a watercolour of a house in Mockträsk. The house is of a traditional type to the region: a norrbottensgård. I like it so much because it is kind of bleak. Often, landscapes are made out to be pretty, they can be ingratiating. Here, she let´s it be just as barren, and a bit dirty, as it really is in late winter. I like the honesty of it. And there is that warm indoors light, that sign of life and comfort, that invites you in, and gives you hope.

This is an early work, an oilpainting of Kaprash, a farm she owned in the 90´s. Compared to what she has done since, it is almost naïvist. It reminds me of an old sepia coloured photograph. And I have a fondness for houses.

This is a student work, one of three amazing enamels made for a school exhibition. At first, I wanted one with pretty poppies on it, but she sold that one straight away. I´m actually grateful for it now, I think this one has more in it to discover. 

A tiny piece that I got for a gift, perhaps made more to advertise creative framing, than to express something profound. I love it, though. The cheerful dog is a reminder to stay positive and choose happiness when you can. The piece as a whole has also has taught me that sometimes the packaging is the content. And that that is perfectly all right.

Not a typical Simonander, a fun diversion and experiment with techniques. If I remember correctly, this was part of a trade. I had made a stool that I think I brought to an outdoors art show (to sit on), where we both exhibited, and she fell in love with it. We just swapped.


  1. i've heard that an artist's decision to title or not title a work is sometimes based on how the artist wants folks to interact with the work. now that i have flamingos in mind, i keep trying to see flamingos in the painting. lol

    it sounds like fun to watch an artist develop over time.

    1. Yes, you are right. I only just now discovered the scribbling about the flamingos. But then, I already have a relationship with that painting.

      It is fun. I have learned a whole lot from her. Art is fun!