The Beloved Teacher of Painting Retired

Tuomo Saali made a career of thirty-five years at the School of Arts and Design, Aalto University (Taikki). In his exhibition speech of the final painting course of Art Education, Saali said that he always taught love for painting. Indeed, love flowed through Tuomo's pedagogy into learners and learning experiences.
Saali receiving flowers due to his retirement
Tuomo Saali receaving flowers

Tuomo Saali's fb-update, in 28.8.2021, has received hundreds of likes, and no wonder. In his update, he announces that his 35-year career as a painting teacher at the School of Arts and Design, Aalto University (formerly Taikki), has just come to an end. The post is illustrated with paintings from his final course exhibition, in Herttoniemi. During his career, Saali says that he has received a huge amount of positive feedback and a lot of good friends, for which he especially blesses the students. Saali has taught many leading artists too, during his career, such as Katja Tukiainen, Maiju Salmenkivi and Samuli Heimo, and hundreds of others, and above all, students of Art Education, at Aalto University.

Marja Rastas, who’s been the responsible teacher of Tuomo Saali's courses for several years, appreciatingly recalls how Saali’s attitude was always open and curious towards any changes and challenges that he met in teaching conditions during his long career. Also, Rastas points out how the solutions he made where always gentle, creative, and professional. “Tuomo’s painting courses seemed to form special spaces for students, “home nests,” where one could forget the restlessness and uncertainty of surroundings and focus on the essentials. Pedagogy that valued students' starting points and aspirations created the basis for a safe and encouraging atmosphere where it was possible to strengthen one’s artistic skills and explore their own artistic identity, together with others.” She speaks.

Rastas giving a speech at the opening ofthe last art exhibition
Marja Rastas gave a speech at the opening of Saali's last painting course-exhibition.

Rastas highlights the exhibitions at the end of each course as a separate chapter in Saali's pedagogy: “Course exhibitions were set open-mindedly into variety of spaces for people to encounter: for example into a prison, an airport, cafes, shopping malls, etc. For many students, this meant their first opportunity to show off their artistic work in public and get feedback even from strangers."

Saali didn’t favour certain types of painting styles instead he focused into the artistic expression of each student in peace with them.

Säde Rinne, Student of Art Education

Alisa Horsmanheimo was one of the students who participated in Tuomo Saali's last painting course. Afterwards, she describes that to her it was no longer mystery why Saali was so praised among students. “Within a few weeks, Tuomo's specialty as a teacher became apparent. Together with the students, Tuomo created a deeply impressive experience of the course, full of learning, insights, overcoming fears and finding courage”, she describes.

“Saali did not favour certain types of painting styles, instead he focused into the artistic expression of each student in peace with them,” Säde Rinne warmly recalls. There’s one special utterance that Saali said about Rinne's painting that stuck into her mind: “Well, it's pretty weird, but that's what makes it great! Now we are interested in what you are going to do next!” Lauri Vase also recalls how Tuomo was always able to suggest various experimental solutions: “Under his guidance, I ended up paint oil-colours with gloves. It was releasing experience because the brush felt pretty hard.” Likewise, Saban Ramadani, who was on Saali’s final course, rejoices at how Tuomo’s final course was a turning point in his artistic work. “I’m going to remember this forever. It was an honour and a pleasure to be on his course.” he praises.

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