painting

Keeper of the Ways

Keeper of the Ways- Galia Alena
Keeper of the Ways

She is Grandmother Spider who weaves the web that holds our communities together. Taking rituals and traditions she spins them into her intricate web while singing ever “Remember where you came from” a question spiraling in layers… 

How far back do you remember, how deep, how high?

this body, 
ancestors, 
community, 
earth, 
the stars.
 

What sort of stardust are you made from?


She weaves it ever inward, ever stronger, ever richer- 

Remember, Remember, Remember-

Beneath it all ever the reminder that you are more, so much more & if you live those rituals instead of just doing them, then you will be pulled into the moment, the expansive sacred moment where all the strands meet. 
I walk with these ancestors when I remember what was taught, what was given, when my grandmothers stand by me and see me bake, sew, create, grow.
 Slowly, being present, stitch by stitch, the ritual brings you back always into that moment, that slowing down that allows the quiet breath to speak in silence and you listen to all that is, all that was and all that will be again. You see it all, quiet and rhythmic, like breath, like pulse, like ritual- and so she weaves. 


Heirophant, Grandmother Spider, Crone, Wise Woman, Medicine Woman, Medicine Keeper, Ancestor, Elders, Record Keeper, Keeper of the Ways

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

Knocking down the walls of the Labyrinth

Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting
Through the Thinning Veil
I disappeared into the labyrinth of this painting. It is one I started ages ago, last year sometime. Perhaps it was about the second or third in this series. As often happens when I start more than one painting at a time, one pulls forward with stories to tell, paths to follow and I have naught else to do but to obediently follow. The result is that the others get abandoned, left to go stale. Quietly they taunt me from the corner of the studio. Several times I look at them in an attempt to find my way back in. Never to any avail.

WIP- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

The thing is that I'm no longer the same person that started this painting so trying to find the thread of where I was originally heading is no longer possible, like trying to step into the same river twice. The person who started this one had a child in primary school, and hadn't been to Paris or London for decades. She also hadn't painted the other dozen or so in the same series, a series which took an unexpected turn of its own. I thought I'm never going to finish this and that's ok, if I don't finish it, don't resolve it, I could leave it a question.

WIP- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

Contemplating this, I decide just to paint, to risk all, to cover bits I like in order to find others I liked better. To just watch and see. So the painting becomes a labyrinth, one which one must enter deeper, risking getting totally lost in the hopes of finding treasure and the way out. I also learned that sometimes the only way through a labyrinth is to knock down and rebuild the walls entirely.

And so I paint- layering and layering, burying and uncovering, risking and finding, detached and curious- just watching. Practicing the Practice.

Detail- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

In other news, registration for Camera Craft is now open. If you would love to hone your Camera Craft skills and be inspired by some amazing photographers, pop over here for the details: www.galiaalena.com/cameracraft

Camera Craft- Online Photography Workshop, e-course, Galia Alena

The Wheel

The Wheel of Fortune, Galia Alena, tarot

What will you do with this one wild and precious life. Mary Oliver

There are two things I’ve learnt to rely on in this world- one is change and the other is contradiction and this card embodies both.

This card may throw up questions of destiny and fate vs free will, it may question your existential beliefs, it may have you wondering where your free will fits in and about your dharma and whether you have any control at all or whether it is all an illusion. You could chase your tail for a life time on those questions, many have, but what you can’t question is the cyclic nature of it all- of the days, the months, the seasons, the life times.

This card has such a feminine quality to it- the energy of divine timing. What this card embodies, women too embody. The ability to cycle and change and to let go is part of what it means to inhabit a woman’s body which ebbs and flows with the moon, which creates and nurtures life and then releases it into the world and which eventually ceases to release that monthly life force to turn it inwards towards sovereignty and wisdom, the stillness at the centre.

The wheel turns and what was is no more, there’s no stopping it, there’s no freezing those precious moments, those full to exploding moments you would like to inhabit forever like that moment when your baby girl, wet from being lifted out of the birthing pool and laid to rest on your bare and expectant chest, looks up at you with dark eyes as deep as lakes holding all the wisdom of the universe. You can’t hold onto that moment, you can only embody it and tuck it away in your heart just as it slips away. You let it go because this precious baby in your arms is destined to become herself.

So the wheel turns and sometimes you hold on so tight and sometimes you just allow it, going with the flow. That’s where you come in, choosing how you will live this change, these cycles, gracefully allowing or fighting, or both at once. Will you slip into the expansive calmness of the center or will you try to hold onto something which is already gone just as it arrives?
How will you walk your own medicine wheel? How do you embody your cycles?
What I learnt today is that even the act of writing itself is an act of letting go.
Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows.

Fever Ladies- Trail Blazers

Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelo, Virginia Woolfe, Dorothy Parker, Anais Nin, Georgia O'Keefe, Billie Holiday Painting Galia Alena

 These are my fever ladies. I call them such because I was running a temperature while I painted them. For the last 2 weeks or so, I've been unwell with a flu like thing. Since I'm not very good at resting I decided that I would stay out of the studio and do a few quick sketches with paint. That was the compromise to bed rest- to take over the dining room table, and to paint these. I did one of these a day and after that, still not getting any better, I decided to take rest a bit more seriously.
When my children are sick, rest and sleep is my go to remedy yet not a gift I find easy to give myself. As a few friends pointed out, it was fitting to include Frida Kahlo in the collection as bed rest never kept her down. So, without any further ado, let me introduce you to some HERos:

The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolfe, Mixed Media Painting Galia Alena

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou, Painting Galia Alena

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart

Dorothy Parker, Painting Galia Alena

The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.

Dorothy Parker

 I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.

  Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, Painting Galia Alena

 Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

 Anaïs Nin

Anais NIn Painting Galia Alena

 Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

  Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keefe Painting Galia Alena

If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all.

  Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday Painting Galia Alena

I made a little frame for Frida, out of plaster and Christmas baubles shattered thanks to my cat. She will serve as a reminder of all that can be achieved and expressed no matter what. Thank you Frida you are truly inspiring. A couple of the ladies have been snagged but if there is one here that interests you please let me know in the comments (they are roughly 5x7", I don't think they will get listed in Etsy.

Frida Kahlo Painting Galia Alena
Who are your HERos?

Recent work- keeping up with the Muses


"The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself." Rumi
Galia Alena- The Great Wings Beating were Her Own, painting
The Great Wings Beating were Her Own
"The garden of the world has no limits
Except in your mind.
Its presence is more beautiful than the stars
With more clarity
Than the polished mirror of your heart." -Rumi
Galia Alena- More Beautiful than the Stars, painting
More Beautiful than the Stars
“I am a garden of earthly delights.
I am the apple you would fall for a thousand times.”
― Diane Lockward
Galia Alena- In the Garden of Earthly Delights, painting
In the Garden of Earthly Delights
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
― Rumi
Galia Alena- Fly Towards a Secret Garden, painting
Fly Towards a Secret Garden
There is a morning inside you waiting to burst open into Light.
~Rumi.
Galia Alena- Dear Heart, painting
Dear Heart

From the Earth and the Fires

It's been a long while since I've paid my Etsy shop any attention, but I reopened it two days ago with a few original paintings and some of my blessing bowls (including custom made ones). And I'm loving how well my bowls are being received. They are perfect to sit on your sacred altar holding your sacred herbs or flowers or just your intentions.

Blessing bowl by Galia Alena ceramics pottery sacred altar

Working with the clay, the wait while things dry, or go through the kiln, the mystery and alchemy of glazes doing their magic in the fiery darkness, the christmas morning feeling when you finally get to remove them from their final firing. It reminds me so much of when I first started photography. The mystery of images lying dormant and mysterious until you processed them then magically coming to life on the film or paper with the blending of alchemy- predictable yet mysterious and magical.

Blessing bowl by Galia Alena ceramics pottery sacred altar

This week I look forward to shaping some more clay, marking with sacred symbols and mantras. Each bowl takes a few weeks to complete and I can only do a couple at a time but the muses have been whispering to me so marks must be made. When I went to the states, I made some personalised bowls as gifts, intuiting what to put on for each individual and I loved how they turned out and am really looking forward to seeing what people might like on their own bowls.
Galia Alena mixed media painting
 I've also added in a few original paintings. These are acrylic, ink and pastels on plaster and fabric. Each would look fabulous in a shadow box frame or hung raw to give a rustic look. It is the first time I have put any originals up for sale, and it kind of comes with a bitter sweet sensation, sending my babies out into the world. I'm sure they will find good homes.
Galia Alena mixed media painting
 I would love to hear what you would like to see me put in my Etsy shop next. I'm also working on my next e-course and would love to hear what you would like to see included in that. I've had many request to do a journaling course so I'm working on that- what would you like to see included?
Galia Alena mixed media painting of an angel and a mary oliver quote




Working in the Travel Journal



One of my pleasures of traveling is in making and working in my travel journal, both on the trip itself and also when I return as I recollect and digest memories. Its a beautiful way to extend the magic of the trip and also to give the memories and experiences a tangible form that I can connect back to again and again.

So many marks made on location giving me access right back to the scent and senses of the place and experience.
The raw memories demand to be laid down in strokes of colour and words that spill forth, sleep gives way to the urgency of committing those fresh memories to form. 
Next is to write up thoughts and to sort the 1000s of photos that I took, print some and glue them into the book. Such a delicious process.

It's also the first week of my on line class Of the Heart, and I am loving being inspired by what the students are all doing, bringing me back to my own book and where I left off before I set off on adventure. And I think one of the highlights of the week was when one of my students posted a video of her front porch strewn with the project as her hands were beautifully messy in the act of creation. I think this might just have been the moment I got addicted to teaching.

Bisous

Quiet Reprieve

Wip painting, Galia Alena Mixed Media Artist
Wip
I'm taking a quiet reprieve from the school holidays, and all the journalling, journal making and painting faces practice, to finish this (well at least this layer). Now I'm standing back, looking, dreaming, thinking, imagining and wondering what else this painting demands of me. The soft dreamy colours here make it a pleasurable task (as does the G&T at hand).  I don't know where this is going, I had some ideas a layer ago but I'm not sure they apply anymore- wondering what does.
 Happy Painting Everyone

New journal, new possibilities

mixed media art journalling
I've spent a few days putting together my new journal, a mish mash of what ever I could find,  from wall paper to beautiful water colour paper, from fabric to paper bags. Each variation a new possibility, a new challenge and a new inspiration, and together it all just looks yummy and inviting. Of course, once together, I couldn't resist working in it straight away (above is the first page, and below the inside cover).
mixed media art journalling
Inside Cover
mixed media art journalling
Velvet and drop sheet cover
mixed media art journalling
Yummy pages of cloth and paper

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

Water Colour Notes from Bali


Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Cafe Lotus View
Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Arma Museum
Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Temples & Mopeds

Bali is full of so much eye candy, no matter where your eyes settle their is inspiration, rich craftsmanship, luscious foliage, offerings to the many gods and goddesses and ripe fruits hanging heavy. The place is dense with detail and life bustling everywhere. There's a sense of being in a sacred temple everywhere in Bali, even outside, where the very sky itself seems to descend and complete this island temple with its rain bearing clouds.
You can find a photo of the temple in the first painting here.

Recent dippings in the paint box

 This is the piece I painted to contribute to a gift that a group of arts from around the world made to give to Misty Mawn. It is a portrait of a modern day Saraswati which Misty most certainly is, a goddess of art, poetry, music ♡♡♡
 This painting is based on one of Madelyn Mulvaney's gorgeous photographs which you can see here. I had the delightful pleasure of chatting with her this week about life, love and photography (and my home away from home, beautiful British Columbia). A kindred spirit, pop over and have a look at her gorgeous work.
  
The two images above are inspired from Amy Merrick's delicious flora arrangements.
 The above and below images are quick sketches (gouache) in my journal which I have been working in a lot lately.
 
A water colour study of what my work space looked like before I rearranged it to make it less pretty :( but a more functional working space (my desk no longer faces out to the beautiful, yet blinding view).

Portrait of a self-1

This night is alive, sadness & joy
It surges in its stillness
Light cast out by a shadow throwing moon
Reveals hidden lands beneath a transparent sea

One can no longer hold a
moment than a drop of water
Slip away or evaporate with
No trace but a kiss upon your memory

I wade so far, out to the reef
& still the sea touches only my knees
Month at a close
Full moon she pulls hard
The ocean is taken from me
& I return to a still calm within.
The first painting finished in my new home. It has taken me awhile to find my painting groove in this new space but I eventually worked out that the garage just was not going to be conducive to the creative process and so I've taken over the "formal" sitting room and that seems to be working. Hey, what can I say, as you can see it's much prettier- "have drop sheet, will travel".


Fast and Furious December

                                                          Lush Desert
 This is one of several canvases I am struggling to finish.

December felt like such an odd month, a limbo month as the year begins to wind down and the January break promises adventures and rest in the new year. Then the calm before the storm is over and December rears its busy head in earnest. This December has been especially busy with my son graduating Primary School and getting ready for High School, something I didn't except to be so emotionally battered by. Honestly I'm wondering who has time for Christmas. The only Christmas shopping I've done so far was for my son's teachers and they weren't really Christmas presents but more gifts of undying gratitude for those few teachers who protected my son's spirit over the last few years instead of trying to snub it (as some others did). Today when I went up to the school to say thank you to his teacher I couldn't even get the words out as the tears streamed- I wasn't expecting that.

Fast and Furious Still Lives:
                                       Gardenia Sketch 1

                         Gardenia Sketch 2

My garden is filled with natural bush which gives the impression of a rain forest and is as low maintance as it can get (except for the aftermath of the purple snow season we just had brought on by the beautiful Jacarandas). I have a tiny patch of garden to plant into and have jam packed it with Gardenias and one white Camillia for winter. This year with the deluge of rain we've had the Gardenias have bloomed early and I got to enjoy them (usually they bloom in Jan when I'm away). I am astounded and just how lush and magnificent they are. Though not the easiest to paint, I attempted two fast and furious paint sketches of them.
I also ambitiously thought I could make Chrissy cards this year but didn't get very far- not sure any will make it into the post at this late date :(  Longing for a quiet moment to curl up with this beautiful book by Angie Lewin, hopefully by March. Absolutely inspiring.
 
My Thai Mandala, collaged out of photos I took in Thailand and a few bits of memorabilia we brought back.

Asked Again

Asked again
I’m asked “How are you, what’s new”
Reluctant, I hesitate
stumbling to reconcile the triviality with
the enormity of the question.
“I’m good, not much” i answer
thinking of how I struggle to stop time,
how the light has changed as we move towards summer,
my days extended,
how the sweet ripeness of mangoes delights me
and the morning hours are never enough
how I cry, how I smile, how I love.

Come, sit with me by the pool,
hear the breeze ripple across the water,
watch the light move by and the shadows move on,
hear the stories of my days
in silent stillness
then you’ll know how I am and what’s new.
This is the sight and light of my life.