I am Marja-Leena Montonen
I was born in Northern Sweden to Finnish parents. When I was 3 years old we moved to a small village outside Stockholm, where I grew up surrounded by forests and nature. There I played and fantasized, creating a world of my own. I painted all kinds of things and often. The effect of all this deeply rooted me in my dreams and gave me the space and freedom to explore them.

Coming of age, I moved north of Stockholm and worked in many different jobs, but I painted only for myself. In 1999, I met my Australian husband Gregory and together we moved to a fishing village in southern Sweden where I opened my gallery, "Gallery Marja-Leena". The Gallery ran successfully until 2005 when we decided to experience other things in the world and so moved to England and then in 2008 to here in Australia, where I have just become a citizen.

The source of my pictures is a place I’ve never been to, but since childhood, have been deeply connected to. My characters show me what they want to show of themselves and I paint them because I love it, its my passion, and to me, that’s the most important thing to do. I love colours and I love to use them. Through my art I want to express movement, feelings of playfulness, closeness and inspiration."

I have driven "Marja-Leena" Since 2001 and have exhibited in Sweden, Denmark, England, Greece, Australia and New York. My pictures have been used for puzzles in the USA, Mobile phone accessories in Japan, cards for Hallmark and Christmas cards for UNICEF. My cards for the Swedish Asthma Society sold 1.5 million of them. My pictures have been used for dinnerware in Europe, yearly with Charity cards Canada, various card companies around Europe as well as wrapping papers and other stationary.

"We live on a globe that is quite amazing. I want people to understand that we need to play more for that little time we are on this planet. I want my images to inspire people to have the courage and maturity to be more joyful."