Miss Someone or Something? Saudade

Not just Feel Missing but Saudade

Someone recently moved away, and we had a farewell to say good-bye. Although we can talk via phone, text, or video, we will probably never see each other again in person. We will no longer share experiences together. Visiting online is great, but it never replaces physical meetings. Especially, with your loved ones or close friends.

This might be a similar feeling when you graduate from high school or college and no longer see many of your friends due to different life choices.

Physical distance sometimes affects emotional distance and vice versa.

I have a friend and a friend of my close friends who passed away because of COVID-19. It was unexpected. They were healthy and young. We felt so sad. We can no longer hear their voices or be with them.

It is always difficult to lose close friendships or relationships, and lose loved ones unexpectedly or expectedly because you know it’s their time.

You may not lose the memories and shared experiences, while also appreciating those times.

But the heart still aches.

It’s a simple but complex feeling. It’s not just a feeling of loss… It’s feeling ‘saudade’.


In (Brazilian) Portuguese, “Estou com saudades de você,” translates as:
“I feel saudade of you” meaning “I miss you,” but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, you can have saudade of someone whom you are with, but have some feeling of loss toward the past or future. You can have saudade about part of the relationship or emotions once experienced with someone, though the person in question is still part of your life, as in “Tenho saudade do que fomos” (I feel saudade of the way we were).*

When listening to music by City of the Sun the other day, I also felt ‘saudade’ of New York City where I lived for many years and consider as my second hometown. We have not been able to fly there in the last few months because of COVID-19.  I first encountered their guitar music on the street of Manhattan. Their melancholic guitar sound reminds me of Spain where I also feel connected. Their soulful music helped me ponder and continue painting with emotions.

All those facts prompted me to paint.

I have been busy with ongoing projects, such as [Stars and Desert] series of mixed media (encaustic, oil, watercolor), which are my familiar medium. However, I couldn’t resist jumping into canvas or paper to paint simply with acrylics. They are more intuitive works. And I decided to share on Instagram for the first time. 

Most of my artworks have been carefully planned or conceptualized. I use my left brain for research and even to create artworks, although I am probably more like a right-brain person. So, this series is a little different. Full of my right brain :).

In both cases, my aim is to keep creating from my heart and soul, reflecting on our time or visiting the past or future.

‘Suadade’ Meaning

Saudade (English: /ˌsaʊˈdɑːdə/, European Portuguese: [sɐwˈðaðɨ], Brazilian Portuguese: [sawˈdadi] or [sawˈdadʒi], 日本語発音はサウダージ, is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves while simultaneously having positive emotions toward the future. It’s from Portuguese.*

Saudade is the emotion caused by the distance or lack of “something” or “someone.”(*2)

It’s a simple but deep complex feeling to deal with. 

This is the first piece I painted with Acrylic for this occasion. As I gazed at the finished work, the title Saudade’ came to my heart.   

Saudade #1 by Misako Oba. Acrylic on paper.    [Saudade #1], Acrylic on paper, 2020, Misako Oba

Moreover, the meaning of ‘saudade’ often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again. It is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being, which now trigger the senses and make one experience the pain of separation from those joyous sensations. However, it acknowledges that to long for the past would detract from the excitement you feel towards the future. Saudade describes both happy and sad at the same time, which is most closely translated to the English saying ‘bittersweet’.*

I created more acrylic paintings, which resulted in the Saudade series. It is very personal but depicts universal emotions as being in the state of feeling saudade perhaps at some point in one’s life. This is also one of my responses to the pandemic circumstances, and social distancing during quarantine.

Saudade #3 by Misako Oba[Saudade #3 – Dream or Reality], Acrylic on paper, 2020, Misako Oba

As an artist, being in quarantine doesn’t change the solitude of working in a studio. However, maybe because of all the cancellations and postponements, it helped me focus and create in the environment with fewer distractions, such as preparing for events/exhibitions, social gathering, and meetings with friends and so forth. So, my brain has worked more clearly and keenly, and I have been more sensitive to listening to my inner voice.

I immerse myself to engage and use my five senses fully for the creative process, depicting a deep, emotional state of Saudade; nostalgic or profound melancholic longing or pathos by being aware of impermanence or transience of things.

Saudade #2 by Misako Oba[Saudade #2 – Deep Emotional State], Acrylic on paper, 2020, Misako ObaCommentOnSaudade02_Instagram_2




I am so glad to know that my art speaks for itself and moved someone’s emotion. He felt his past when seeing this image and responded before I provided an explanation. 

‘Suadade’ in Other Languages?!

Suadade translates as nostalgia’ in Italian and nostalgie’ in French. It is similar but not equal to ‘nostalgia’ in English. In Spanish, there is the word saudade. It is said that Saudade is one of the most difficult words in the world to translate into other languages.(*2)

As a Japanese, I noticed that we have the old Japanese word Mono no Aware, which we don’t use anymore in our contemporary society, but it seems to have a similar concept or meaning with Saudade. The word also has multiple meanings and layers. I also have the encaustic mixed media art series from this concept of Mono no Aware. So, I somehow get the Saudade with better understanding as I researched. In Japanese, it can be 懐かしさ、昔恋しさ、やるせなさ、孤独感、哀愁、郷愁….etc., but, still difficult to explain with just one word.

Saudade #7 by Misako Oba[Saudade #6 – Dream or Nightmare], Acrylic on paper, 2020, Misako Oba

“Que saudade!”
(indicating a general feeling of longing, whereby the object of longing can be a general and undefined entity/occasion/person/group/period etc. This feeling of longing can be accompanied or better described by an abstract will to be where the object of longing is.)*

I have been feeling ‘saudade’ toward many things/person(s) in the past few months. That naturally and organically contributed to building and developing this series.

How about you? Have you ever felt this complex emotion?

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More works are available on paper and canvas (larger and smaller).  I have already received some inquiries. Thank you! Yes. Don’t hesitate to reach me.

Most artworks from the Saudade series can be purchased starting July 1, 2020. Please check this [Behind the Scene] for updates.


Reference/quotes: (*) Wikipedia 
(*2) 世界で最も翻訳しにくい単語

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About misako

Artist/Author @misakoobaart on Instagram
This entry was posted in Acrylic Painting, art, Creative process, definition and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Miss Someone or Something? Saudade

  1. Pingback: Contemporary Abstract and My L.I.P.Y. | Behind the Scene, Misako OBA 大庭みさこ

  2. Pingback: 現代抽象画とL.I.P.Y.シリーズ | Behind the Scene, Misako OBA 大庭みさこ

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