” I started to paint with kids seven years ago. Before that, I was “just” an art teacher, who loved her job inspiring people of many ages. Somehow I came to love painting, which was the hardest thing ever for me alone. But with my own 2 and 6-year-old artistic kids, I had no hesitation.
One of our paintings was bought by an art collector, who made me look forward to being a social artist. And so I started to paint with many kids, soon with hundreds of kids, with young people and their families. While I have had more than 150 workshops in Finland and in Spain, there have been over 60 paintings in many different exhibitions worldwide.
The latest MeWeArt workshops have been mostly digital through Facebook. During this time 20-21 my connecting with other people and their creativity has changed a lot. Also, the purpose and need to place art in our lives have changed and increased. MeWeArt is right now a place to create wisdom for survival. In this reflection, I have called people of many ages and times to think through art with me. And I have finally started to process my work and the temes with researchers as well, who seem to think brightly like children.
And by the way, my best studio is nature <3 ”
Hello Sannamari! You say you’ve discovered your passion for painting while painting with your kids. Tell me more about that, and what was the moment of realization that you could turn this into a career?
Sannamari: I’d like to tell you It was easy to find my way of showing my skills in art, but it never was. While I was studying to be an art teacher, I thought it was fun to study the techniques, but I was never meant to teach. Well, it turned out the opposite. Even though I have always been more of a dog person, or a moose person (I like more animals than people), than a human person, the teaching and learning from people turned out to be the most inspiring thing. This is the click and the spin. I find my ideas and clarity on my thoughts through others, and also, I truly think we all need each other to remind us what is beautiful. And for this thought, I need to thank my own clever and creative children!
What artists of the past or present have inspired you?
Sannamari: Oh, there are so many. Because I have been teaching In primary and secondary school, highschool,
university and I have done many projects of all ages, I have lived vividly through the history of art… But the best of all and most inspiring are William Turner, Gustav Klimt, Egon Shiele, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O´Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Franz Gertsch, Anna Retulainen, Elina Merenmies. Most of them are my mentors because of their amazing thinking, some of them inspire me because of their desire and passion for their themes, and some of them are just like the power of nature when I look at their work. So there we have three main points in artwork: idea, inspiration/intuition/passion, beauty.
Also, you say your best studio is nature. Tell me more about that. And when you’re not in nature, what is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Sannamari: Well, I was born to walk and run in nature. That was the way we spent our time with my family when I was a kid, wandering and marveling at the beauty of nature. For me, a box-like house that has clear white walls is not a “tabula rasa”. For me, the “punto cero”, “zero point” is in nature and mostly near-natural waters. I love forests as well. In these places, I don´t need any other motivator. I feel I am just a piece of energy flow. And If I get lucky, after a day there will be some art with me.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Sannamari: Because I learned to be an art teacher, I need to expand myself with many materials. At first, like 20
years ago, I did not, especially like painting and painting material… Well, I guess I am a bit persistent. After specializing in pottery, I found painting easier. And when I realized I don’t need to work only with pencils, that I could draw and do whatever, I found myself a painter. Still, I do workshops and pieces with pottery and other material in 3-dimensional art. Always painting is the way I think.
What motivates you as an artist? Is it curiosity, the search for beauty, or meaning?
Sannamari: Art is an escape, but it is also a privilege. I would like to know more effective ways to influence, but this is my only effective way to make an impact. Even though I have many other things to do, I always find
myself picturing paintings and workshops with people. And in them, there is a discussion of what makes the difference.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Sannamari: Beacuse the world of art is so wide and deep with time and nuances, I feel as like Iḿ a different person and an artist depending on the day. I´d like to paint flowers alone, and after that, I´d like to have
hundreds of people making a big mural with me. When having lots of needs and ideas, I don´t have enough hours to finish my huge paintings. I have started with many people.
Is there a real-life situation that inspired your artwork? And if yes, tell us about it.
Sannamari: I think the most important social movement for my artwork was on the beach of Vattajanniemi, which is the widest gray dune area in North of Europe, in Kokkola, Finland. I convened several art students to
participate in an environmental event. I promised, the weather would be good, but we had a storm. While the art students sang and tried to make art in a shocking wind, I felt successful and ashamed at the same time. We made another “festival” together after a few years in the same place. That time we got northern lights.
What is the most recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on and why?
Sannamari: MeWeArt, which is the name of my community art, has been involved mostly with families and with
children. During the pandemic year of 2020, I started working more with adults in virtual workshops called Mustepäiväkirjat (ink diaries). In this project, I structured the tasks and themes with Jenni Spännäri, who is known as a wisdom researcher and non-fiction writer. The cooperation made me find a new way of discourse in and through my art. I do miss face to face working in crowds, where we can be influenced by each other without talking or writing, intuitively. Even though this time is horrifying to many and we have lost part of the basic security, we have also been given another opportunity to reflect on our values and find gratitude. This has affected my art and its future.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about?
Sannamari: I’m planning to have many exhibitions in 2023, bigger than ever. In these exhibitions, I will be assembling the best of MeWeArt projects from 2014-2022. Because most of my workshops take place in Finland and Spain, so will the exhibitions as well.