Grandma Linnea was a storyteller. She entertained her grandchildren by telling tales she had come up by herself. After grandma Linnea passing away her granddaughter, Sanna-Marja Suojanen realized how Grandma’s stories actually encouraged to use imagination and compassion towards other people and animals. Grandma Linnea’s stories exude the same warm atmosphere, kindness, and justice as Grandma herself. Luckily Grandma’s stories were found in written from the chest of a drawer.
On the following day of grandma’s death, painted Sanna-Marja her first painting. She sat on the floor the canvas on front of her, and she let the brushes fly. She felt grandma’s spirit while painting, as if Grandma had encouraged her to paint.
After the first painting, a year went by. Sanna-Marja was busy taking care of children and working, just like Grandma did back in the days. But the doctrine of the grandma were strongly involved in everyday life, through painting had to wait. On the first anniversary of Grandma’s death, a new painting finally saw the light of the day. Sanna-Marja realized that there was a message. She should find time to paint and to become a visual artist inspired by her late Grandma Linnea.
At the same time, much more happened. Publishing house Reuna got interested in Grandma Linnea’s stories. An old-fashioned, but timeless style of fairy tales, where good wins and justice is believed, returns us to simple basic virtues. Every grandmother would love to read these fairy tales to their grandchildren.
Linnea became a posthumous writer. Sanna-Marja is painting now abstract artworks, intuitively with lot of emotions. It can be called compassion art created under the guidance of Grandma. Sanna-Marja thinks that compassion is a real superpower. Superpower, which will increase the atmosphere of goodwill. Compassion is what Sanna-Marja wants to pass through with her paintings. Paintings are also here to remain about things, which are valuable in this life.
Hello Sanna-Marja! Your art is very much influenced by your late Grandma Linnea’s art. Can you tell me more about that? Can you recall Grandma’s first influence on your creativity?
Sanna-Marja: My Grandma told me and my sisters her own stories when we were children, she was so good storyteller. I remember that I imagined and visualized stories and characters in my head while listening, stories left a warm and comfortable feeling. Kindness and justice were always winning, her stories reminded which are valuable things in this life. My Grandma was a kind person, there was always a good atmosphere around her. She made everyone felt equally valuable, no matter what. I think my Grandma has been affected by my creativity and imagination more than I can ever understand.
Can you tell me more about your realization, that you should pursue painting?
Sanna-Marja: We found all of Grandma’s stories written from the chest of the drawer after she passed away. I read them and I realized how Grandma did deal with her things and feelings by means of stories. I also noticed that Grandma used her imagination as an asset and that encourage me to start using mine too. I’m really sensitive person with strong feelings and I have often difficulties to talk or deal with my feelings. I kinda stopped everything and turned to inside, talked to myself with kindness and compassion and I found things, powers that were already inside of me. I found things that I actually REALLY enjoy, things that make me happy, things that I don’t have to force they are just coming out because I found the way to express them. That way is painting, I realized I need to paint my inner world, paint feelings like compassion. My dear Grandma wrote compassionate stories and now I’m painting compassionate artworks and I cannot stop.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from Grandma Linnea?
Sanna-Marja: She always said to us that “pride comes before a fall”, I will remember that forever.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art and is it the same as Grandma Linnea’s?
Sanna-Marja: My grandma was a really compassionate person, she was so good to me and I want to share and pass those compassionate feelings trough my art. I see too much that people are not doing well, they treat themselves and others so bad. I think compassion can be a real superpower. People should be more compassionate to themselves and that way to each other, I think and hope that would increase the atmosphere of goodwill. I often have a feeling that people are not listening, they don’t want to hear certain things. I kinda hope that people could listen to my art, realize and receive empowering feelings from them.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Sanna-Marja: I’m not the most patient person, I think many times it would be best to take a step back and breath, not just “banging head to the wall” and manically continue doing. I have been asking where I can buy some more patients. Now I paint many works at the same time, so I can change if I don’t know how to pursue it. I also paint by sitting on the floor, that calms me. I feel that publishing new artwork is always so scary, then I feel myself so vulnerable, but at the same time so great and proud of myself.
Share some interesting facts about your and your grandma’s art with us.
Sanna-Marja: I painted my first abstract painting the day after my Grandma passed away, after that I didn’t paint. Exactly one year after she passed away I had so huge need to create inside of me, I felt so restless, then I painted my next work. Now I have painted almost every day since then.
Now tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like for you? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?
Sanna-Marja: I study service design and I’m doing my thesis now. I have two little girls and they are also keeping me busy, I think I’m living my “jam years” now. I try to paint as much as its possible, mostly night times after the girls have gone to sleep. Art is now part of the picture, but I’m hoping it would be more someday.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Sanna-Marja: I enjoy so much with every piece. But I think the most rewarding moments are when I have struggled a lot with some work and then finally when it’s ready it appears to be perfect.
What are you working on right now? And what is next for you?
Sanna-Marja: I’m painting works now for my first exhibition in Finland which will begin 4.10. I also have my works exhibited in International Contemporary Bruxelles Art Fair 20-22.11.
To learn more about Sanna-Marja and her art, please check: