What made Mr. Reidar Särestöniemi such a great artist? I got closer to the answer after visiting the Särestöniemi-museo (Särestöniemi Museum) and hear what director Ms. Anne Koskamo had to tell about Reidar. There is a number of things one could make a point of. The important questions to answer is who, why, how, what and when.
In no particular order I will pen stroke some of the layers behind his artistry:
- When Särestöniemi was painting he would marinate himself with what he was painting. He would wear seal skin when he was painting seals. He would dye his beard red when he was painting red. He would try to immerse into the things he was painting as much as possible.
- As a child he was always drawing. From an early age he was exploring and practicing making art. This is perhaps a key reason why he would become such a revered artist.
- A prodigy artist he was creative in many ways. He didn’t express himself in just one way.
- In the early days, they did not have any materials. Reidar would have to make his own paint. For instance, he could use flowers to make paint. He knew the process from A to Z.
- His parents must have been instrumental for his development. It was mind-blowing to learn that they would arrange their humble quarters so Reidar could paint.
- Reidar would use the nature as a source of inspiration. He would walk in the nature and explore tiny details of the nature.
- He projected nature upon man. He would describe himself or others with nature. He regarded the river as his brother. When he built his gallery the main philosophy was that it should blend in with the nature. In his gallery there is work illustrating a bobcat (lynx). It is a self-portrait.
- He had higher art education. He would learn the trade from professionals. He started to study at the Finnish Art Society’s Drawing School in Helsinki in 1947. In 1956 – 59 he studied art at the Ilya Repin Institute in Leningrad.
- He painted alone. He didn’t tutor other painters at his residence, for example.
- He never got a driver’s license. However, he loved traveling.
- He loved good food, a good drink, and didn’t exercise a whole lot.
- He had a dog.
Points 10 – 12 are added to include a sort of personality outside the mere art aspect.
He had a fascinating dedicated way of working. He was trying as best as he could to catch the feeling and essence of what he was painting. He sought to project his personality and humanity by painting it into other familiar subjects and objects. The vivid colors in his work are awe striking.