Get to know Maja, our newest addition to the gallery


"In collaboration with the Red Cross, I have started a painting course for rehabilitating drug addicts."

What inspired you to begin painting?

I have been painting and drawing since before I could walk and have always had a great interest in it. Every notebook and piece of paper I've had on hand has always been covered in scribbles. More recently, I have been diagnosed with ADHD, and learned that drawing, painting and visualizing the world around me is how I learn about the world and how I process my own emotions to prevent being overwhelmed by all the impressions I take in. Being able to distill reality down to something tangible on canvas has made my life much easier to live. I started actively painting in larger mediums in 2009 when I started high school, and that's when my interest went from a hobby to something I wanted to do on a more serious level. I also have a civil engineering degree in Computer Technology on the side to satisfy my need for a logical understanding of how I visually see the world.

What inspires your art/you?

My art is largely inspired by what gives me joy and strong experiences in my everyday life. I often explore themes such as body and mind, and what contrasts and similarities you find between them. The difference between how a situation or a person can be perceived by others, and how it feels to the individual can be big or small, and this is something I think is incredibly exciting.

In addition, I love to draw inspiration from nature; how colorful it is, as well as nature's perfect imperfection. Anything that isn't "just right" makes me want to immortalize it. The uniqueness of nature and people is, in my opinion, incredibly beautiful and deserves the spotlight.

Which method do you use?

I work in a semi-realistic style, and paint pictures with both abstract and realistic elements. I often incorporate elements from drawing and ink drawings, to preserve the history and development of the image over time.

How does a creative day look like for you? 

A typical working day for me when working towards an exhibition or project is to eat dinner and sleep an hour after my day job before starting. I move into the workshop around 5pm and check if I have a canvas in progress, blank canvases that can be used, or if I need to assemble new canvases, depending on what I want to do that day. If I am going to start a new picture, I have usually gone and taken a number of inspiration pictures and reference pictures in advance, and sketched out some design proposals. I'd say half the time I'm sitting in front of a canvas with a paintbrush in hand I spend looking at what I've painted so far and assessing what works based on what I have in mind, what looks surprisingly good and I want to keep, and what I want to change. Towards the end of the completed project, most working days are spent varnishing images and making sure that painting edges and canvas corners are tight and arranged to the extent that the image indicates. I finish a workday around 11:30pm, after making sure that images dry properly and are not in the way or in any danger of being disturbed by others overnight.

How do you know your painting is done?

To tell when a picture is finished is probably the most difficult part of the entire painting process. There is no definitive answer, some images are finished after 20 minutes, some I spend hundreds of hours on. As mentioned, I spend most of my time looking at how my painting looks and evaluating it. Sometimes a picture can give me the feeling that something is not right, but I can't put my finger on what it is. Then I hang it up in the living room and set it as the background on my phone and my PC, and suddenly after a couple of weeks I know exactly what needs to be changed for the picture to "feel finished". Often it can be a finger with the wrong shade, an area that has too much or too little content, or a color combination that doesn't do what it should. In the end, I have to just say to myself that now I don't want to be unhappy with the picture anymore, now it can be allowed to live with its good parts and ugly parts. As a rule, this coincides with a new image starting to take shape in my brain.

How would you say art have influenced you from the day you began until now?

My art has been a big part of managing my own emotions and managing to get through studies, everyday life and work. I don't paint because I want to, I paint because I have to. Fortunately, I also want to paint, and my brain is always thinking about how to paint what I see around me. The paint has helped me to open up to others, and to take in and accept parts of reality and myself that I have had a hard time with. In recent years, my art has gained more legs to walk on, and a larger audience, which has taken art further from self-therapy to being able to share my experiences and reality with others. As part of the meeting point between mental health and art, I have also, in collaboration with the Red Cross, started a painting course for rehabilitating drug addicts, where we explore how paint can be used as a tool to deal with everyday life and oneself. This work has also made it easier for me to see the beauty of how my own brain works.

Maja Kirkerød