Anneli Haataja Janssens
Born in Finland, I have traveled and lived abroad for much of my life, making Lethbridge, Alberta my home in 2009.
One of my favorite quotes is by Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” There is a definite truth to that statement. As a child, I drew horses a lot, but only because I loved them so much; not because I had any idea that it was art or that it could be a career aspiration. I just loved to draw what I cared about. This led to a desire to start painting later in life and my motivation has stayed true to my inner child. I paint what I love.
Although I haven’t had any formal art education, it has not inhibited my continuous learning through life experiences. Attending workshops, entering contests, volunteer painting and various art classes have all provided a platform to learn and share knowledge with other artists. Connecting through social media has also been an amazing opportunity to reach out to international artists and seek their expertise. Never missing a chance to learn by visiting art galleries and museums worldwide; I love studying brush strokes, composition, light and colour applied by all levels of artists.
As a former board member and artist participant of many art clubs and organizations, I have exhibited my art work in both juried and non-juried shows in Alberta cities: Airdrie, Calgary, Waterton, Picture Butte and Lethbridge. One of my pieces has won a People’s Choice Award in a group showing and another piece was voted into the top ten portraits of a travelling portrait competition. My clientele reaches abroad to Australia, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland, USA, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and of course, Alberta. But selling art isn’t my only goal. I’m passionate about sharing my skills in the community and am one of three muralists in our volunteer group dubbed “The Muriels.” We paint murals in various wards of Lethbridge care centres throughout the year. Some of our work can be viewed at St. Michael’s Health Centre and Edith Cavell Care Centre in Lethbridge. I have also taped a few TV shows on the local Shaw Community Channel, called Art in 30 which introduces art in a simple and easy manner for paint-along instruction to anyone interested in picking up a paintbrush.
When I reflect on myself as an artist, I envision diversity, freedom of spirit, flexibility and adaptability. Having moved so often throughout my life has had a significant impact on me: I’m flexible and adaptable to any situation; I’m diverse and also grateful for the freedom to express myself. However, a type of restlessness can also accompany my freedom of expression, which is often the result of frequent change in one’s environment. This is also evidenced in my artwork, as I change themes often to align with my inner-self.
I have always believed that art is the expression of your most authentic self, and that’s why Picasso’s quote has made such an impression on me. Everyone has a little artist inside of them. You just have to find the courage and vulnerability to open up to the canvas.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up."