Carl Larsson was a Swedish painter who lived in the mid-1800 and has always been one of my greatest inspirations. He’s also one of my remedies for anxiety attacks. I’m a very visual person, and sometimes a pretty peaceful image will calm me more than a session of meditation.
I discovered Carl Larsson on a terrible day. I was about twenty years old and still living with mom, my evil stepfather, and all the drama that came with it. All I can remember is that I was really depressed that day. It was a sunny afternoon in late spring and I felt I needed inspiration, a kick to get out of that mental black hole I was in. I took my scooter and went downtown to my favorite store.
The Fiorucci store in Milan was full of crazy colorful things, and I often used it to boost my mood. Their accessories department was super fun. Knowing there was someone in the world who made a living out of designing, producing, and selling crazy, fun things made me feel like anything was possible, like the world wasn’t just a gloomy place.
They also had a book department where I often found books that weren’t sold anywhere else.
That day, a little blue book caught my attention. I took it in my hand out of curiosity tickled by the image on the cover, and I was instantly in love. It was like watching a great movie with a great story. I was completely absorbed and taken away. It was quite an expensive book for me but I bought it, anyway.
This version is now out of print, but Taschen, the editor, has other titles available. And I think I bought them all!
I love how he could find inspiration from the little things of everyday life. The kids making butter, a family dinner, his wife stitching, his little girl playing in the snow. His paintings are delicate, intricate, and simple, yet full of details and life.
I’m a big fan of Scandinavian interiors. Carl Larsson painted the interiors of his house extensively, dedicating an entire book to it. His wife Karin, who also an artist, decorated the whole house. I had dreams of living in a house similar to his for years.
Note the sign on top of the door: ‘Karin, Aug 1894’. She painted the decorations on the walls, too.
I’ve been in the company of anxiety for a few weeks now, and the last three or four days have been quite difficult. Just looking at these images, I’m already feeling better.
I know I’m not the only person in the world who finds images to have a soothing effect, and if you are one, you’ll probably love Carl Larsson as well.