Towards Tenderness

Towards Tenderness

Last month I visited Liisa‘s studio. While showing me her new works, Liisa spoke about the drawing process and the thoughts behind the upcoming exhibition. Even though she was talking about her own experiences, the thoughts were universal truths about the importance of the sense of touch between living beings. Liisa has experienced physical and mental loneliness and divorce, as well as the wild joy in finding a soul mate and falling in love again. The new drawings are spontaneous and lurid interpretations of these experiences, familiar to many. There are couples dancing, embracing, tongue kissing and unashamedly touching each other. There is a lonely person lying sleepless in bed, but also taking a warm shower and participating yoga classes. The picture of the Warrior One yoga position seems like a metaphor for inner strength; the healing has begun. The pictures are honest, tender and strong.

When I saw these drawings and heard the story behind them, I was moved, and convinced that they could move other hearts too. The works we selected together to the exhibition showed both the harmony of Liisa’s mind and the depth of her talent. We also talked about Liisa’s previous works and their relation to the new drawings. “Minä tykkään nyt” (I Like Now), is a children’s picture book about feelings, that Liisa has made together with author Eppu Nuotio. I was lucky to get to see Liisa’s early sketches for the book.

On that bright day in late February, we didn’t have a clue what was going to happen.


“Loneliness. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness is a kind of a hollow tree.”


The power of human touch and human presence cannot be overestimated in conveying compassion, care and tenderness. In whatever form, a welcome touch feels good, and the sense of touch is one thing that makes us human; it’s not easy to give a robot a sense of touch. But this spring, we have to avoid touching. Until we conquer the coronavirus, the human touch will be a memory of the past and a dream of the future. We are all truly unlucky to be forced to testify the deadly virus sweeping the globe. We’re closing schools and businesses and most of us are committing to social (really, physical) distancing. At the present moment I feel incredibly privileged to live in a developed country, where our social networks do not consist only of people we see face to face. Sending our the positive message and sharing the positive energy is the thing I do best. While avoiding physical contact, this seems more reasonable than ever.  As a curator I am also happy to see that the art exhibitions also no longer restricted to a specific place, moment or set period. The creativity cannot be stopped by any virus.


Liisa Kallio, Sleepless, 2020.


I want to believe that after the pandemic, we are more than willing to build more touch into our lives. The empathetic, meaningful life will be the only way out of depression and anxiety. But for now, the only way towards tenderness is unselfishness and patience. Beautiful words but hard to believe and follow? Very true. We’re all facing exceptional circumstances where we don’t have ready answers. How to deal with solitude, and how to comfort yourself when alone and stressed? How to deal with domestic abuse, whether it is physical, verbal or psychological? How to retain tenderness when you’re not allowed to hug and be hugged?


Liisa Kallio, In Bed, 2020.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

– Leo Buscaglia


At the moment, we still have five from six of the acts listed by Leo Buscaglia to choose. Liisa’s work may offer you a cup of comfort and joy. What can you do to begin turning someone’s life around?



Liisa Kallio, The Wind of Love, 2020.

Liisa Kallio, Warrior One, 2019.

Liisa Kallio, Hug, 2020.


Liisa Kallio (b. 1968) is a Finnish freelance illustrator, writer and graphic designer living in Helsinki. Kallio uses different kinds of techniques in her work, from charcoal drawings to digital renditions. She has illustrated several beloved children’s books and published several picture books. The “Tunto – Sensation” exhibit is comprised of original drawings of varying sizes, “possible illustrations” for an upcoming, adult-themed picture book.

To See

Liisa Kallio: Tunto – Sensation | Online Exhibition


Illustrator Liisa Kallio talks about her experience about working on a scholarship. In addition to illustration, Liisa talks about the sense of touch; the subject of her new exhibition Tunto.  By Galleria Kuvitus Podcast. Recorded March 8, 2020. (Duration: 37 min. Language: Finnish)

Further reading

Holland, Taylor Mallory: Facts About Touch: How Human Contact Affects Your Health and Relationships. Dignity Health. Apr 28, 2018.

Doby, Danielle: I am Her Tribe.