daily creative practice

I made it- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge

 I did it, I made it through the 30 Faces in 30 Days challenge. All finished, and many of them winging their way across the oceans to their new homes. I have a few people asking when I'm going to do this again, but for right now that is furthest from my mind. I love doing it, and I learnt a lot, but right now I am ready to dive back into my other paintings, the ones that take days, weeks, to actualise, the ones that are dreamy and not on a deadline ;) as well as other things like my 13 Moons Readings, and a few other things in the work (teaser here).

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 28
There are still some available here

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Days 24, 22, 29

I loved the freedom to try new things that doing it this way offered, like the day I did a dot like painting (day 12)- I had been wanting to play with that idea for awhile, and like days 11 & 17 where I wanted to try different colour palettes with the same idea. I also enjoyed playing with colour, texture, mediums and brush strokes. In this way it was quite liberating. On top of which I had to mix it up each day to keep myself interested, I didn't want to repeat the painting from the day before.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 25
 There's also a few I would have got precious with, either not pushing or going in the next day to rework and fix things. The one a day freed me of that attachment, paint and move on to the next the next day with only a limited amount of time for each, what with life going on as well. There's a release in perfectionism with that, and it helped with the dance of knowing when to stop and when to push further, the limitations dictated and took my head out of it.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Days 21, 27, 23

 If I do it again, I think I won't share as I go. Even though there was a certain amount of holding myself to the task that comes with making it public, there is also  a certain constraint to the pushing and experimenting as I knew that at the end I would have to share it. There will be a different freedom in not sharing that will also be fun to explore.

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 26
It did serve its purpose (as did my sketch a day earlier) in keeping me painting (or sketching) while I was holding space for Camera Craft- I knew that  I would be able to disappear down the rabbit hole of a painting while Camera Craft was in session.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Lucky last- Day 30
That's all my sweets, now I am off to disappear down the rabbit hole of a few larger paintings that have been whispering and calling to me. Xx

30 Faces in 30 Days- Pt 2


Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 14
 Well apart from feeling pretty pleased that I've made it this far I'm not sure what else I want to say. I am learning things as I go, things that I do consistently that I need to be aware of. I'm also noticing how much I'm loving playing with colour as tonal value and I'm loving the freedom of trying different things and the surprise of just what shows up (for example, day 15 below was in response to Paris).
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 13
 On top of that I am loving that these are resonating with people, either for themselves or as gifts for others for Christmas- many are winging their way across the seas.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 11 & 12
 The two above were painted from the same reference image- I love how many different directions you can go from the same reference and essentially the same palette. The image below is a similar painting to Day 7 only I wanted to play with a softer palette.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 17
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 19
 Some are still available here in my shop
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Days 16 15 & 18



I'm on the home stretch now, 10 faces to go. Curious to see whats next? Me too :)




Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 20

30 Faces in 30 Days- a new challenge

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 1 & 2
I'm here, again, knee deep in the middle of another daily challenge/practice. I didn't plan to be here so quickly, but there it is, the energy drew me in and I began. I'm a third of the way through, learning lots, making mistakes and growing from them and wondering how to sustain the energy that kick starts these challenges- a practice needs to be a marathon not a sprint in order to build the muscles needed to sustain a practice and the growth beyond the challenge- because none of it is about the challenge, its about stretching, pushing edges, and sustaining that growth into a real challenge.

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 3
So the Rules:
  • Rule 1- there are no rules ;), only guidelines, an opening, an opportunity, a container for mark making and growth
  • Guideline 2- Paint a face a day
  • Guideline 3- Try new things, different ways, different palettes, different brush strokes, different feels.
  • Guideline 4- Try the same painting again, this time pushing it further, past that point you stopped at last time out of fear of losing it.
  • Guideline 5- Stayed aware and observant but detached.
  • Guideline 6- Offer them up daily (facebook & and in my shop) as part of the detachment practice, all of them and at a reduced price- release them, let them go.
  • Guideline 7- be kind to yourself, some days will be harder to show up, and then, of course, there is life, allow for life.
That's it- want to play- #30facesin30days  -I'd love to see Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 4

I'm loving playing with colour, under painting and accents and glows, using colours which don't usually make it onto my palette like the magenta below, so I want to play with that some more. It is the brush strokes that I really want to get more comfortable with- being more confident with their application and just leaving them, not blending,




Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 5 & 7
They are all available here, in my shop, $45 each, perfect if one is calling you or if you are after a unique and original artwork for Chissy presents.

And a big shout out to inspiration from Flowrsinherhair, who is on the home stretch for a Face A Day for a Year challenge, I can't even begin to imagine, and Gillian, who is always inspiring but specifically did her own challenge a few months back and planted the seed for my own. Thank you ladies for shining brightly Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 6
Let's see where the next ten take me- back in a week and a half :) Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 8, 9 & 10

And that's enough- a sketch a day

Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
The thing about challenges like this is, well, Life. I started out well, keeping up a sketch a day. Then I started to notice the other things that were dropping away to make time for this, for example a daily walk or yoga. I've always been frustrated with that saying "If you really want to do something you'll find time for it". It just doesn't allow for the creatively curious who really really want to do many things- there's still only so many hours. Oh if I could pause that precious hour when the house is quiet and the day hasn't come a knocking yet, then I would totally be doing all my yoga and meditating, I'd write, starting with the morning pages and then moving onto other things, both my journal and other projects, I would lay pages in my art journal, go for a walk in nature, tend my garden, paint, sketch and and and... Really I would, because I really want to do all those things but try as I might, I just can't bend time. An hour is still an hour and I have to choose.
And apart from all that there was also the day I had a migraine, the school holidays, a long weekend when the house was full of house guests and so on- Life. Not to mention that my palette was also calling with a few paintings insisted on being birthed even though part of the reason for this challenge was to keep my hands creating through a time I didn't think I would have either the time or the space to paint while I was immersed in Camera Craft.
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
All of this is why I am very clear that these challenges aren't designed to trip me up, to have an opportunity to fail, and get all self-loathing over it. Nor to stress through a day when I didn't find time to do one. No, this is strictly an opportunity for growth and expansion, to explore both practice and technique and to see what emerges. It is merely the container for things to happen in- not the destination. And things did happen, edges were stretched, things were discovered, inspiration did come a calling, technique was developed a bit further, threads were followed and ideas are forming. Onwards right?
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
So I'm now on a break from "challenges" but I already have the next one waiting in the wings, starting sooner than I think. It will be the same loosey goosey container to keep me moving ever forward creatively. And that's enough...
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge

Sketch a Day, week 3 and I'm still here

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

There's a constant pushing through that comes with the practice of daily showing up to these sketches. It's not necessarily that they are getting better but there is this space and freedom created which means that new things are tried, techniques, marks, mediums are all expanded out. Maybe it just comes from the sheer boredom that would come from doing the same thing for 30 days, maybe its from the accomplishment of having created "X" already so why not move on.

There's also an intimacy with oneself and process that comes from the daily practice, an exploration of themes and marks in a way that seems random until the daily practice stacks them on top of one another.

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

The preciousness is also removed. If I'm only doing one sketch every blue moon then there is this desire for it to be "good". When I do one everyday, that pressure is removed and replace with curiousity and experimentation. In a way the intensity of the challenge like this, one a day for an extend period, brings gifts that the spread out regular practice can not. I am keen to see this challenge through and then start the next one I have planned for later in November.

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

When petals fall...

sketch a day- Drawn to Expression

I have this tendency to focus on just one project at any one time, even though there are always a dozen or so on the go. It will either be the project that has the most energy around it, that's piquing my curiosity and has the muses showing up for it or it will be the one that is most current (i.e. time frame driven). I always circle back to the others...eventually, but this usually means life is somewhat "unbalanced". This is where practice steps in. Practice for the sake of practice. Practice for the virtues of just showing up, no agenda or inspiration needed, just a sprinkling of discipline.

I'm not very good at discipline, and so I allow myself wider parameters around this knowing that anything else will get the rebel in me offside. And besides who wants to set themselves up for failure. So I just start and see where it goes. I've done these before. Here when I was doing a face a day and although I didn't get far I saw some definite changes in the work. Here when I tried writing a paragraph a day (quite frankly I bored myself with this one). And here when I was sick with fevers for a week or two so I committed myself to just one quick painting (around an hour) a day to balance all the foreign films I was watching which became my Fever Ladies- Trail Blazers. Ooohhh, and there was the Water Colour a Day one I started last year until Spring came and paralysed me with her beauty.

So while I am knee deep in Camera Craft, working on future lessons and diving in with the students in the classroom (loving all the work by the way, so inspiring) and dreaming up another little project (teaser here) I thought I would set myself a challenge to do so that I could keep my hands moving whilst my attention was else where. I had planned something a bit different but then Gillian's class Drawn to Expression popped up and offered the perfect container for a challenge (she is a wonderful and generous teacher, and she will be joining us in Camera Craft as soon as her own class finishes). So drawing everyday for the next moon cycle is the plan (although you can see I am already 5 days in). Let's see how far I get and even more importantly, lets see how the work develops. I will post weekly in an attempt to keep myself honest ;)



Lotus - Galia Alena Photography
When petals fall
Seeds scatter, loosened from their fragile dream
birthed from dying beauty & spilled against the light.
Tiny tiny seed, what mysteries do you clasp,
When petals fall...

My moon sister Maya is weaving together some magic over at Empress Tides, part of a project raising money for some orphanages over in Nepal and I am doing monthly readings from my paintings so head on over if you are feeling the pull of the moon.

Meeting myself on the Page

Galia Alena Mixed Media Art journal
To celebrate putting my new website together, I thought I'd try to "define" Art Journaling in words- no easy feat. The new site is here: www.galiaalena.com
Art journaling is a sacred vessel, a container which willingly and lovingly holds all I wish to give it. It is a vessel for my brightest and darkest thoughts, for what I wish to shout and what I am barely able to whisper.
Art journaling is a gift I give myself, time to quietly be, to play, explore, make marks, move colour and shapes, collect words, to hide and reveal. Here process reigns. I am free from outcome, from the opinion of others, from the need to make it a certain way, to make it pretty, from the need to please anyone but myself. I can play and play and play and in doing so I give myself permission, I allow it to be enough.
Art journaling is a playground where I can play with new materials, new techniques and new ideas. It gently nurtures these young babies allowing them to grow and expand, to develop and to blossom.
Galia Alena Mixed Media Art journalArt journaling is a moving meditation connecting heart and hand in a joyous dance which allows one to breathe, witness, to silence monkey mind, to listen and to follow the threads.
Art journaling is a safe haven, a sanctuary from making mistakes- in the journal there are no mistakes, only lessons and layers of the journey to unfold. It is the freedom to fully express, in a tangible way, all that needs to be said. It is ever forgiving.
Art journaling is a bridge, connecting my inner world, heart, soul and spirit with my outer worlds, hands, body and cognitive processes. It is a bridge between my dreamstate and my awake time, a path through my shadows and a way into myself.
Galia Alena Mixed Media Art journal
Art journaling is a key to getting to know myself better, unlocking the stories inscribed on my bones.
Art journaling is contradiction, a place to empty out and to fill up, a place of light and shadow, a place of knowing and mystery.
Art journaling is a practice, and like any practice, the practice itself, the showing up, allows me to go deeper and becomes ever richer.


Galia Alena Mixed Media Art journal
The outcome is not found on the page but within- expansiveness, freedom, self knowledge, connection, discovery, release, completion, growth. It is the joy of expression, creativity and new wisdom.
You can scream and rage between the pages, it will take it all, or you can fall softly into its gentle and eager embrace. A way home to yourself.On the journal page I meet myself.

I would love love love to hear how you define art journaling or what it means to you- please share in the comments. Xx

Homage to Picasso & Field Notes

Galia Alena mixed media artist Picasso homage
Time for a quick check in with what's been going on here in this luscious corner of the world. I was happily working at my  One Watercolor a Day which you can see here when, having the watercolours out, I got sidetracked by my homage to Klee mini journal (here). Before I knew it I was back playing in my Picasso homage mini journal, my watercolour a day abandoned as I explored Picasso further. It worked in rather well with the four weeks of solid rain we had overlapping the beginning of spring. 
Galia Alena mixed media artist Picasso homageSuch a rich and varied body of work to sink into and I was lucky to be given this fabulous book: Je Suis Le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso to explore his work.


Galia Alena mixed media artist Picasso homage

Galia Alena mixed media artist Picasso homage

I had planned to start my fieldnotes journal with the beginning of spring. Of course the beginning of spring was covered with clouds and sprinkled with constant rain for a few weeks and sitting in the garden sketching was impossible. However I delighted in quick and magical strolls between showers. Then when spring finally burst to life through the clouds it was heart breakingly beautiful, overwhelming and intense. For a least two weeks I walked around in a melancholic daze of amazement and wonder. 

Galia Alena mixed media artist field notes

Every time I walked into the garden it was like walking through a thick haze of hum and buzz as the bees busily demolished whatever blossoms they could find, as if they knew of the temporary and fleeting beauty that visited with sweet nectar, they devoured and made drunk on the delicate blooms. There is not a single time that I go into the garden and don't discover some new bloom I've never seen before to the sound track of birdsong. Each visit is miraculous and full of wonder.

Galia Alena mixed media artist field notes


Galia Alena mixed media artist field notesEventually I picked up a little watercolour book and started to make some sketch notes. Of course it's turned out to look nothing like I had imagined and planned but that's okay, it just is. More special is the wonder and the cracks that Spring creates in my heart for this place I now call home. So for now I am just soaking it in. On Saturday, chasing shiny butterflies, and collecting blossom, I fell on a sleeper that gave way and broke my wrist. Sketching has been halted as the fates conspire to have me slow down and just absorb. Perhaps next year, when the garden and I have gotten to know each other better, I will begin the Field Guide, nature study I had planned :)
Galia Alena mixed media artist field notes

In Print and life

Galia Alena Artful Blogging

I'm delighted to have a copy of Artful Blogging in my hands, in which there is an article featuring my work and words. We don't get the Stampington range here unless you order it and have it shipped so it is brilliant to hold one in my hands old skool style. I was also featured in the last issue of Memories but my artist's copy never made it across the oceans sadly- I am scrounging for a copy headed for the recycle bins since the issue sold out (if this is you it is the copy in the sidebar and I would be ever so grateful). It is a beautiful issue and I am honoured to be featured with all the other wonderful artists. It is strange holding it though, even though I wrote the words I didn't think anyone would be reading them. Sure I write words here too, but they disappear into the cyber world and who knows if anyone reads them. In print though, it feels so much more tangible.

Galia Alena water colouring in the gardenWhat else is going on over here: I've been trying to keep up the water colour a day challenge but a sick child (including a trip to ER) has thrown a curve ball at that as things tend to go with children- c'est la vie. All in the right time. I did get a few more in but while the water  colour palette has been out I decided to start working in my Klee homage book (a peek into my Matisse one here). Love his work.

Galia Alena- Klee inspired journal
Klee homage journal
We've also loved getting out and exploring some of the amazing bush walks in our local area- so many gorgeous ones and we've only just scratched the tip of what is on our doorstep.

Galia Alena Leura Falls
Leura Falls

A Watercolour a Day

I've been so busy marking other people's photos (work) that I barely get time to make it into the studio these days, especially with the cold days and the sun fading early. So to keep my hand at creative play I am following along with One Watercolor a Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity Using Watercolor, Pattern, and Design (One A Day). This keeps me doing a little creative painting everyday.
Day 1 through to 6
So how does it work?
  • Firstly- no rules (so if I miss a day or stop altogether the art police wont come and cart me away and better still, I wont guilt myself).
  • Quick and loose- no attachments, no trying to make "art"
  • Exploration of the medium
  • Keep it fun and playful- no mistakes possible
  • Follow the books prompts but with my own twist as it unfolds :)
Day 7 through to 12
How does that look for me- well since we have recently acquired a fabulous eggshell blue dining table made of old Balmain wharf sleepers (I love it can you tell) I don't feel so guilty taking over the kitchen table (despite the fact I also take over the dining table- which is right now covered in beautiful sea glass waiting to be strung up and hung in the windows to dance with the light). I sit on one side of the table, mark a few photos, then pop over to the over side and lay down some more colour. While that dries I flit back to the other side and mark a few more photos. The effect is that at the end I feel like I've painted rather than worked and, since my patience for allowing watercolours to dry between layers is short, the work helps that. Its a win win (unless you want to use a table in our house to say eat at ;) ).
View from here (that's my studio through the window that I wish I was in)
The book and its prompts will take me through until Spring (or close enough, I think Spring will be early this year) when I plan to start a Field Guide or Nature Study to explore my new backyard and all the delights which I keep discovering out my backdoor. The daily watercolours are like a warm up for the Field Guide (with the added bonus that I will fill my current Fabriano Venezia Art Book and have an excuse to buy a new one fresh for my Field Guide, I love these books). The Field Guide will also be a lovely little break in my working day, wandering slowly through my garden, soak up some sun, bathing in fresh air and really noticing. The Field Guide will also be both research and a warm up for a couple of other projects in the dream/create stage (more on that later).


If you want to play along, here is the book along with two other inspiring watercolour books I love (click on the images for a look inside).