chinese surfer vase

Leaving the old town of Tallinn behind, you’ll find an area, calm and nice, with wooden houses. “I like this one, it looks like the one from the moomins.”
Liisa Kruusmägi studied painting and drawing and now works on various projects, among them: illustrations, comic and paintings. She likes doing all kind of stuff. Whatever comes along and tickles her artistic curiosity. She thinks it’s part of being an artist to not only stick to one technique. You just for different things.

Liisa_Impressionen3“It’s like you also give away a part of yourself.”

Liisas flat is half atelier, half storage room. The canvases that don’t fit on the walls anymore, are properly aligned in all possible corners of the rooms. Liisa fantasized about how to get rid of all her paintings. Best thing would probably be to sell all of them at once or leave them in the flat and move out. Though she admitted that it feels a little bit weird, when she sells something. “It’s like you also give away a part of yourself.” A part that will be in someones living room maybe.
Many pictures still decorate her own living room, which looks like one of her illustrations itself. The fabric of the curtains, the way the books are arranged on the wardrobe, funny little items and flowers on the window benches, but all in order, bright and friendly.

Liisa_ImpressionenThe sceneries that I find in Liisas images, are mostly drawn with fine lines, and layered with pastel colors like, pink, mint, bright blue and soft yellow. Mostly they show figures in some every day life moment; at home, at public places, the beach, some café, surrounded by plants, patterns and textiles.

Their decorative beauty, comes along with a wink of an eye. Liisa illustrates the people and moments she observes, slightly ironically, but caring.

There is a density, whether in the more graphic drawings or in the partly abstract and soaked paintings. They almost come along like patterns.
When I presented Martas marine painting from Warsaw, Liisa told me that she loves the sea and just had returned from Bali, where she tried out surfing.
Above her desk I even discovered a photo, with her laying on the baltic beach in the wintertime. That’s how me much she loves it!

“It’s so funny what people say sometimes! All you have to do, is listen to them.”

To find a concrete idea Liisa sat down and looked through her note book. Anything she observes out there in the world and considers as interesting, she writes down or draws it into the sketch book.

Liisa_ProzessShe told me that she likes to listen to strangers conversations and that she gets a lot of inspiration from that. “It’s so funny what people say sometimes! All you have to do, is listen to them.” When something occurs to be interesting or funny or absurd, she writes it down and there it waits for its’ time to shine. She uses the phrases for example to title her works, to add an unexpected or edgy twist.

Liisa_Prozess2“I just have to have it.”

Suddenly, with a flash of inspiration, Liisa jumped up and brought a small Chinese ink vase from the window bench. It came to her mind that she wanted to paint a surfer motive on the white porcelain vessel. She told me when she had such an incidence, she would have to go out and search for a specific item until she found it. “I just have to have it.”
So we decided to go out in order to find a white ceramic vase. We didn’t succeed to find a nicely shaped Chinese one, but we were limited with our time and could cope with some other object, hard to identify its’ purpose. We found it in one of those shops that smell like comfort and make you feel as if your life was incomplete, when you wouldn’t buy this design lemon squeezer or that fancy candelabra. Back home Liisa set up her working space on the floor. From -I don’t know where-, she digged out all kinds of markers, acrylic paint and brushes. There she sat in her pretty dress and started to paint pink ice cream colored waves on the vase. Although she never changes her clothes for painting, they would always stay clean for some mysterious instance, she said.


Step by step she would choose a color and put the elements on the vase, as if she had done it already a hundred times: First the waves. Then some tiny spots in a bright peach pink. Then little surfboards. Finally the surfers and so on. After each step she would observe the artwork and think about if it needed more details and which color to use. “I don’t want to use black with this.” So she went for a dark green to accentuate some darker spots. You also wouldn’t find any blue in her motive.

“If you study something, you should be interested in it.”
In the mean time I asked her about her studies and her experiences with the academy of fine arts. Liisa had been in the USA for an exchange program and was very pleased with the experiences she made there. She explained to me, that she appreciates an atmosphere in that people really care for what they do and dive into the matter. “If you study something, you should be interested in it.”
As most people I met on my journey, many artists seem to dream of moving away from their home country, or at least experience another way of life for some time. Liisa approved for a residency programme in Japan by the end of the year and I can perfectly imagine her there.
But for now she finished the “Chinese-Surfer-Vase”, the combination of completely opposite elements. Tiny people, surfing pastel-colored waves on a white ceramic vase. What the…? I love it and gladly take it with me up north to Finland.