I ship worldwide but if you would like to see my artwork in real life, you can find it the Grove Bookshop, Ilkley, the Picture Framer Shop in Knaresborough, on the Railway Station platform and at Michael Cohrt, Lumsås, DK. My home studio is open by appointment only. Contact me via livsmalerier@gmail.com or via direct message on Instagram: sussi.louise

At the moment there is a short waiting list for commissions. Contact for more information

onsdag den 7. december 2016

Hygge – the Danish Art of Making Happiness Matter in Everyday life

Hygge has become a word of wonder - a weird and wonderful, some would say untranslatable, Danish concept describing the art of being happy.  But what is Hygge really? How does one do Hygge?  Why should the people of Britain take notes about being happy from a small, usually cold and mostly dark, country in Scandinavia? In other words, why has hygge become so popular in the UK? Well maybe you shouldn't?
My take on hygge explores the ins and outs of the phenomenon is based on my research into and experiences with living in Denmark. Over the next monthd I will reflect on the possible rewards as well as challenges one can expect when trying to adopt the Danish Hygge into British life.
So,  what is it? 
Hygge is such a simple thing. Finding joy in everyday life. Cherishing sharing and togetherness. Showing you care by investing your time, not necessarily your money in the people and the home you care for. It's authentic, unpretentious and real. And you can't do it ALL the time. Nobody would get anything done. Simple. And yet, so very very complex to explain. Like beathing. We can say how it sort of works, air in, air out. But if you were to explain exactly how it keeps us alive, how the heart and brain reacts if you don't get enough air. Enough of the right kind of air. Then what? The moment we go all medical autopsy chik ... the magic disappears. It is no longer a marvel, but a series of interconnected actions and reactions that may or may not keep you alive.
It is the same with hygge.
I urge all new Hygge lovers. Please don't kill it by amputating it, dissecting it, oversimplifying it or over-analysing it. Use your heart as the compass. Hygge is about finding something or someone you care about, then care hard. Show it by investing time, emotion and let your self or ego if you like, go. Hygge is not not about you. A hyggelig situation requires you to let go. Not take centre stage. And not be impassive either. It is about engaging, helping each other, not trying too hard. Cut the love down to its bare essentials.
This is where I reckon the English can learn a bit... They are fabulous hosts and hostesses. They serve amazing drinks and three course meals. And it is lovely.  And it makes me happy.  But for the person running the gauntlet in the kitchen, is it Hyggeligt?  I don't think so. And the amount of preparation and time spent alone before guests arrive.... Gosh i hear English friends say all the time "I'm so knackered after doing a dinner,  I swear next time we'll just go out".  I love dinner parties. But they're a gauntlet and a marathon rolled up and topped with drinks and a ton of dishes.  It's great, but in Denmark it wouldn't constitute Hygge. A great time,  a happy time,  but not Hygge. Hygge is informal, relaxed, a joint effort, simpler good, more booze :) 
This talk I do when asked, tries to maintain the fantasy and the magical moments that hygge can bring, and it argues that it's not just about (breathing) hygge - it is about HOW we hygger. We need the right kind (of air and hygge) to live and not just survive.

Where there's is hygge there is always happiness, but when you are happy it doesn't necessarily mean you are hygging!
I try to bring the joy, colour and calm Hygge into all my art... and the fun.

For me, Hygge has always had that perfect mix of not being afraid of being a bit ridiculous and the complete trust that if you are, the people around you still love you. Fun is a key ingredient in that show. And if I were a real Dane, Snaps, lots of it. Or, well any kind of hooch. I'm more of a coffee and Champagne girl. Not together, obviously, nobody messes with my coffee.

Dad was one of the most involuntarily funny people ever.
I miss him. He passed away March 30th 2016 but on the 27th he left Mr Right a fantastic and so funny voicemail. I shall treasure that forever.

As keen followers know, I have a little thing about Raindeers and what I call my Rudofo Character. My lovely English friends went all out for my birthday on winter Solstice and bought me my very own. Obviously he had to be at the head of the table. Megahyggeligt
For me personally, one of the most hyggelige things I know is reading. It's the perfect way to hygge on one's own but also a great way to spend an afternoon next to a loved one. Just reading and relaxing. And no, the stove doesn't have to be lit. You just have to not be cold. Or hungry.

Rudolfo and I are getting cosy. He's almost as big as I am. Love it.

For some reason Knaresborough station, at the very end, where the picture framer is, is my place of complete calm. Just sitting on the bench, painting, watching the trains go by. It's a real treat

I read a lot when I prepare for lectures or talks. The Almost Nearly Perfect People had me in stitches. So did the My Year of Living Danishly, Signe Johanssons book How to hygge, didn't have e laughing but boy, it did make me want to either, A. move to Norway or B, Adopt her.

I absolutely love nature. The trick to real hygge is to go outside and get really windblown. Use your eyes to trail the horizons and get stuck in to nature, THEN go inside. That's the stuff. Wear yourself out outside, then Hyg inside. Easy peasy and free too

I love the dark nights and lit up train stations

I have recently taken up knitting. What do you think, should I change careers?

Staithes. I am serious. Yorkshire is literally God's own country. So beautiful. Everywhere I go I see scenes I need to paint. The colours are fabulous, the light unique and the villages and towns are like time warps . . . making friends in Yorkshire can be tricky, but if you pay attention and make an effort. You have the most funny friends EVER.