Reflections

Ferocious beauty, New Year and a Giveaway

Mama Bear mixed media painting Galia Alena
Mama Bear
Belonging,
held,
to the ferocious beauty
of this wild world,
This is the last painting finished in 2014, although there are several WIP floating around both the studio and the rest of the house. It feels like it sums up 2014 in many ways (as does the painting I'm working on today sums up the feelings for 2015 which will be the first of the new year).

Mama bear is available here

Galia Alena Photography Do you believe in magic

2014 has been a good year, seeing us ensconced back home in OZ, nestled into the mountains, a delight of natural wonder and a gorgeous community. (Some highlights: Notes from the Garden, Paris and Course Correcting).  Babies are happy. The muses are singing. The mangoes are plentiful. Life is good.

Thank you 2014
And 2015 is going to be better (after all it will be filled with EASE).

Galia Alena PhotographyTo celebrate I am having a little giveaway- A Word of the Year Sacred Marks customised painting for your altar.
Galia Alena altar piece giveaway
To enter :
∞  tell me how your year is going to be fabulous or about your word of the year is.
For additional entries please share this around (facebook, instagram, blog, google etc etc and be sure to let me know in the comments).
If you purchase one extra extra entries and a refund if you win.

I'll be pulling a name from the singing bowl in a week.

Bisous                               

Course Correcting

 On Christmas Eve, my family and I flew home after a few years living abroad. We bought a house on line and were waiting to move into it. Many said it was a brave move, buying a house off the internet. I had heard that before, that it was brave to pack up your family and move to a new country with no real plans. For me it didn't feel brave, it felt like the only thing to do when that itch to break out of one life and try another, to jump- not jumping wasn't really an option. Buying a house on line wasn't brave either. What was brave was admitting that the move wasn't working, that the children were not happy. What was brave was releasing a dream (sometimes we hold them too tight and dreams are fragile things) and doing what needed to be done to bring harmony and make room for new dreams. What was brave was risking failing, and leaping anyway, and then doing it again. Course correcting.

Luminous Mandala word of the year journal page, Galia Alena
Luminous Mandala- word of the year page
We didn't go back, there is no going back, as the saying goes "you can not step into the same river twice". So we didn't go back- we made a conscious choice to go forward, to find a place where we could all flourish. Course correcting.

View from Couch Surfing
 So on Christmas Eve we flew out of the land of the Long White Cloud and returned to the land of OZ. We arrived, with no plans but in time to spend Christmas with family and friends. After a few days couch surfing with family and then at a friends place near the beach luck dropped a little boat shed to rent for a month and we spent a few weeks with the ocean lapping at our feet.

Travel journaling Galia Alena sketching boat shed
Scenes from the Boat Shed
 Literally an old boat shed which was down several flights of stairs into the rocks, the old boat shed had been converted into a studio flat right on the water, so much so that if you were a sleep walker you would be in dire trouble in the night. In the mornings I was woken by the wake of the passing ferries and would then dangle my feet down into the water at the end of the bed while nursing my morning coffee. We reacquainted ourselves with old stomping grounds, caught up with friends, enjoyed the warm weather and outdoor concerts while waiting until our new house would be available for us.

Travel journaling Galia Alena sketching boat shed

 When the month was up, it was time to move up the mountains so the children could start their new year, and a little furnished house serendipitously fell into our laps until we could finally move into our new house.

Picasso Inspired Journal Galia Alena
Picasso Inspired Journal
 So many elements of luck and trust were at work in our move home. I made the decision to bring my family home sitting in a sweat lodge at Esalen surrounded by my beautiful sisters all supporting one another in our truths. In the dark hot tent, to the singing voice of Pixie and others I knew what needed to be done. It took awhile from the initial knowing, to the later hearing and then the final breaking of the camel's back at which point having none of the details sorted or the means to do it, I threw myself at the mercy of the universe, opened myself to trusting and declaring the intention of going home and left so many of the details open. In so many ways I/we were supported by friends, family, chance, luck and serendipity and while all the details are still unfolding it has been a pleasure to watch the pieces fall magically into place. With gratitude I sit here and type from my new home where my children are again happy (I will share more on the new home in another post, although if you follow me on Instagram you would already have had some sneak peeks).

Fleeting Altered Book Galia Alena, mixed media journal
Fleeting Altered Book
Of course, while in between lands and homes, there was light sketching and playing in little journals, a different way of working for different circumstance, an extended travel kit and inspiration from Misty (fleeting altered book and Picasso homage journal) and Jeanne (pattern journal). I hugged my children, worked in my books, listened to the whispers of the muses and let things fall where they would.

Pattern journal, Galia Alena, art journal sketches
Pattern Journal
A word on course correcting, we should all always be doing it, looking at our lives and seeing what is working, what isn't and what is missing (what's still needed as my friend Maya says), risking mistakes to find our own way, making glorious and brave mistakes, and being brave enough to course correct, sometimes a few degrees, sometimes 180, always with quiet listening and fierce abandon for life.

With Gratitude

Making rainbows out of lemons- Journal as Metaphor

 The creative process is a process of surrender, not control. Julie Cameron

Galia Alena Spectrum mixed media journal page
It wasn't the journal page itself I was pushing against, it was myself, it was life. All  I could see was ugly, I wanted to screw the whole thing up, I wanted to toss it in the bin. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I layered and layered, more and more layers of ugly, not the ugly teenage stage, just plain butt ugly and I didn't see any way to escape it. I hated it, it showed me up as a failure who had not a clue what she was doing. I had no control over it. Disheartened, I did my Scarlet O'hara and decided that tomorrow would be another day.

The next day I went back in determined to make things work, lemonade out of lemons. Usually I love the opportunities that mistakes give you, threads for the imagination to tug on until something gives. I tell my son that I set myself up for accidents, and his face struggles with the concept "oh, no, that's just not logical". Accidents are opportunities, ugly means I'm not attached, not attached means freedom, freedom to push against my edges, freedom to try something new, freedom to discover.

When I journal I don't need to make "pretty" pictures, I don't need to make "art", there's a sense of journey and discovery, and while pages are never really "finished" there is a sense of that is how it should be, completion, almost fulfillment. Equally there is also this sense of not done, more to discover, not authentic and other such indicators which let me know to keep going, that the messages aren't complete, that the work is not authentic, that I have to dig deeper.

I know that life is beyond my control, but on most days there is a general illusion that I have some control over my life, that I steer my own ship. On this day I didn't feel this, I felt all was beyond my control, out of control, out of my hands. Life was in the air, free falling and I just didn't know how to juggle any of it. I felt helpless and lost. This is what showed up on my page. I didn't know what I was doing.


And as in life, the next day I picked myself and kept going, pushing through and squeezing those lemons, showing up, pushing though, risking. Is the page pretty, no, is it art, no, but what it is is LIFE, my life and I squeezed those lemons and got myself a rainbow.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” ― Mary Oliver

To learn more about Spectrum, which inspired this page, or to join on this journaling journey with some truly amazing guidess pop over here: SPECTRUM

Half way reflections {Just One Paragraph 15/30}


“My goal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I do not do it. No one lives up to his ideal.”
― Natalie Goldberg

I'm at the half way mark of this Paragraph a day challenge, although technically I missed a few days in there somewhere. When I decided to join in I was still in the delirious stages of the flu and I think it was the fever rather than my rational processes which signed me up for this rather public writing challenge. It's been an interesting exercise which I nearly gave up on by about day 9. I was overwhelmed with the difficulty of trying to say something everyday that wouldn't be total drivel for you my gentle reader. The posts seemed insipid, skimming the truth, never coming near it with their one a day deadlines and the random words that spilled out boring any poor reader who gifted my words their time.The banality of daily life during and post flu, has not provided much fodder for inspiration worthy of sharing with anyone else but myself and I thought that this challenge might be best served out in the privacy of my much neglected and dusty writing journal rather than in such a public forum as the internet, even if at my digs. However, the public commitment to the challenge has kept me (mostly) honest with showing up and doing it, and it is the showing up and doing it which is the point rather than the quality of the posts and reflections (hence the lack of editing and so on). To this I can only say to you both sorry and thank you for bearing witness to this process. It reminds me of Natalie Goldberg saying that the secret of writing is to just "keep your hand moving", eventually the drivel will bore you enough that you will be forced to go deeper and come up with something true. There is merit in this one paragraph a day, even if not good writing or interesting subjects, muscles are being built in the hope that eventually I will land at a gold nugget, something true and unique, something honest and worthy. I'm hopeful.
There's no such thing as a writer's block. If you're having trouble writing, well, pick up the pen and write. No matter what, keep that hand moving. Writing is really a physical activity.
Natalie Goldberg

A Choice in Every Breath {Just One Paragraph 5/30}


Galia Alena Prayer Flag, Textile Art
WIP- Medicine Wheel Prayer Flag
 Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help... an instrument of grace.
                                                                     May Sarton
The last two weeks, our mid year break, have been marked by cabin fever and a bug that gripped my daughter on the last day of school and swept through the house knocking us all flat on our backs. Even now my chest is held hostage by the grip of this monster cough and my head is weary of the violence that has ensued. The weeks have been spent curling up in front of the fireplace watching series after series of Merlin with the children, my head and energy levels way too low to stoke the creative fires. All this has made me grateful for the slow pace of my new "Shiny Butterfly", hand stitching fabric collages entirely inspired by the wonderful work of Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth. I discovered her work a few months ago when I was working on Of the Heart (a book project combining plaster, paper and cloth), and disappeared down the rabbit hole of textile art. At the moment I am working on some prayer flags. One thing that I'm loving about this is the slow pace of stitching layer upon layer allowing much contemplation as the textures and meanings in the work build.  Such a different pace from laying down paint which can be down with wild abandon, stitching requires intention, every stitch a breath. Of course paint strokes can be laid down in the same way but it is a choice, not a characteristic of the medium. Here is the beauty of where mediums collide and inform each other and I muse over the rhythm of work and life- a stitch/stroke in every breath, a choice in every breath.

Dream Casting {Just One Paragraph 3/30}


Bird Spirits, Galia Alena, mixed media art acryllic pastels collage wax encaustic
We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves. ”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road 
 
This morning was another lazy start to the day. The golden light streams in over the mountain tops bathing the kitchen in it's glow made ever more dramatic by the dark clouds engulfing the mountains from every other direction. The last official day of the school holidays, the last day I get to crawl back into bed with my coffee and catch my fleeting dreams before they disappear. Last night I dreamed I picked a white apple from a tree that grew outside my childhood home and this white apple lingers in my imagination. Whilst most wake to write their dreams down, I have been reaching for my sketch pad to quickly sketch the dream creatures who visit me before they fly away into forgotteness leaving my memory with only a shadow. I'm collecting quite a few characters which I couldn't have imagined and yet here they are formed in my dream state, (the painting above comes directly from a dream I had after I read the first chapter of Ben Okri's The Famished Road). This quite time of reflection, dreams and magic feels like a gifted spell, one I dare not move too fast least the spell be broken and the reality of the day floods in casting the dreams into the shadows until night falls again.
Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.
                                                      Ben Okri

Not much begins at the beginning. {30 days 30 posts 1/30}



This morning I indulged in the guilty pleasure of crawling back into bed with my coffee. It's school holidays and the children have been sick the whole time, and while I haven't had to do the grueling school run, my mornings have been marked by getting up to see who was sick in the night and to get the fire blazing so they will be warm. This morning though, they are on the mend and the winter sun is heating our loungeroom.

Galia Alena mixed media artist art journal

I'm always amazed how much creativity flies when I allow myself this "indulgence". I had my sketch book handy and before I knew it I was busily writing down notes for my next e-course, one I plan on starting to video next week when the children are back at school. Ideas I've been scrambling for for weeks are gently gifted to me in the space created when I stop "doing". Why is this such a hard lesson to learn? To stop calling "doing nothing" indulgent, to allow myself to loiter, to just be, to open? That work ethic dies hard, as does the sense of self that is tied to doing rather than being. And again and again I am back at this lesson...
Galia Alena mixed media artist art journal
"The night has eyes to recognise its own"- Whyte
Meanwhile, there are muffins baking in the oven, pumpkins roasting and the winter sun is beaconing me into the garden where the lavender awaits some care. This journal ends back at the beginning as so often is the case, not much begins at the beginning.
Just One Paragraph

Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep- Pushing against my painting edge

Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep, Galia Alena
Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep, Galia Alena
“I am still learning” Michelangelo
If a painting should stretch the painter, help them grow them in their artistic expressions, then this painting was a success. I just pulled it out from its hiding place tucked away behind a stack of canvases where I shoved it several months ago in frustration of not knowing how to finish it or what I think/feel about it. Forgotten, I moved onto other things like water colours, pottery and a lot of art journalling but decided to bring it back out into the light this week.
For quiet sometime I had struggled with this painting- a sense of freedom and joy and exploration danced across the canvas while my mind (you know the critical one) struggled with how to calm it down, tie it altogether, find some places for the eye to rest. I pushed against my painting edge.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to find it” Michelangelo
Sometimes my painting feel like the opposite of the Michelangelo story of how he chipped away at the marble block until he found the sculptures within. For me it feels like I add and add, layer upon layers of paint, obscuring hidden symbols and secret images, until eventually and hopefully a painting emerges. Its like I know its in there somewhere but I’m not sure where or how to coax it out. This is how I push against my painting edge- always looking for the magic, dancing between freedom, joy and intuitive abandon and that always critical, processing eye. What I learned from this piece is that sometime this is always going to be a fiery relationship and sometimes we just have to surrender to that dance rather than trying to resolve it.
Even now when I look at this piece, with all judgements aside, there is still this one little thing that niggles at me that I know is not finished, that I will always notice when I gaze on this painting- a reminder to just let it go... 
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo

Grounding

The earth below her feet was solid and deep and still, but she couldn't feel it, she was scattered above to the four corners of the compass, dancing a tango in the east and a salsa in the west, exhausted and out of step for who can dance without a body. Only a thin invisible silk tie held her to her center, a stillness waiting for her to return. And how she wanted to, she reached for it, hand out stretched, grasping, almost clawing and then an updraft caught her and she was gone.

What does it mean to be ungrounded? The experience is different for everyone but for me when I feel ungrounded I feel scattered and disconnected to my body. I also feel a real loss of centeredness and stillness. Being grounded does not mean no chaos, no juggling of life but rather  a stillness or center within all the whirling chaos. A wise woman friend used the image of a dried up leaf blowing aimlessly in the wind recently, and this image became the clue to my path back to feeling centered. Could it be as simple as staying hydrated? A tree needs established roots reaching deep into the ground, and those roots need to be fully hydrated to allow those far reaching leaves to dance along with the passing breeze without being scattered away. A simple exercise of hydrating, intentionally hydrating, has made me feel so much more grounded and centered and it is no wonder when our planet is the water planet, that to feel grounded to this earth requires water. So now when I drink, I drink deeply and I imagine the water reach right down to my roots and into the earth and this holds me to the earth and to the stillness at my center.

Some other ideas for grounding:
Eating root vegetables, and for me this means ginger, lots of ginger, and dandelion tea. Black tourmaline, "being" in nature, breathing, intentional breathing with my hand on that center where I feel that stillness, use your body with intention- yoga, Qigong, pottery, make something, garden. Intention is the key, connecting the body and the action to the center.

And atop a cloud she found a pond, clear and crystal, her face reflected unmoving as she danced above. Lured within she slipped deeply falling back to her center where she was once again able to dance in sync with the flow of the earths waters, still and calm within the movement.