28 day Practice in Presence :: Week 2

creative practice in art journal, detail, Hali Karla
creative practice in presence, in handmade art journal made with scrap papers and old painting, Hali Karla
creative practice in art journal, 28 day practice in presence, Hali Karla
28 day creative practice in handmade art journal made with scraps and old paintings, Hali Karla
detail of art journal spread from daily creative practice, Hali Karla

The pages say enough this week.

Smack dab in the middle of my 28 day practice, I’m in that interesting place where word and image are finding their rhythm together… on the pages and in my heart.

One technical detail to share, though… I started out with this as a morning page practice. Precisely because mornings are not my usual prime time for any practice. When week two began, I had already begun to easily reach toward a second session at the end of the day, though. A wind down session. A touching in. A time to finish or embellish the pages I started in the few moments in the morning.

This rhythm works well for me. I don’t have to give it my all in the morning hours – but I show up and receive enough breathing room within myself from just a little effort and commitment that I am centered as I start my day.

And then by the end of the day, I’m very naturally reaching toward my practice for all the right reasons to wind down.

In this way – two times a day – the daily creative practice becomes like a ritual of transition with my dreamtime and my waking consciousness.

I will never be a morning person, for the moon and I are much too in love.”
~ C. Poindexter

Holistic Creative Chat with Lisa Hofmann

Listen to a Holistic Creative Chat with artist, yogini, mother and Joy Warrior Lisa Hofmann at Hali Karla Arts

This week’s guest is someone I first encountered through the Fearless Painting tribe years ago, when I first started blogging myself… and I have to confess I was always a bit enamored by the way she emanates wisdom and wholeheartedness in her own down-to-earth, honest way. I was so happy she said yes to contributing to Spectrum this year, AND to taking the time to have a little chat with me to share here.

We chat it up about finding creative practice in how we live day-to-day, how accountability helps with our creative visions, presence and a topic near and dear to both of us – self-care. Grab a seat and hit play – or do some of those stretches you know you want to while you listen. We’re glad you’re here!

You can visit Lisa RIGHT HERE.

Join Lisa for her workshop Mandala Moon Meditations, in this year’s SPECTRUM Holistic Creative Circle, along with 24 other guest contributors. (Begins May 1, 2015)

Listen to artist, yogini and mother Lisa Hofmann share about creative practice, self-care, presence and healing... (Mandala by Lisa Hofmann)
by Lisa


For more Holistic Creative Chats, go HERE.

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In the In-Betweens

prayer page in moleskine art journal, Hali Karla

These are some pages that happened in the in-betweens over the past few months.

They are in my very first Moleskine sketchbook.
(which I like OK, but find I actually prefer this journal)

There have been a lot of in-betweens in the past few months.

Between the… holidays. traveling. family. friends. death. life. breaking bread. breaking sweats. working. waiting. inviting. offering. receiving. tending. listening. sharing. tending. sleeping. not-sleeping. loving. asserting. declaring. clearing. praying. making. missing. crying. laughing. dreaming. gathering. unraveling. remembering. seeking. giving up. holding strong. and not so strong….

The in-betweens are those almost stolen moments when I need my practice to look less like something diligent, disciplined, or with some agenda.
Different than the practice I’m in the middle of right now, even.

In the in-betweens, pages become a safe place to move any color, line, word true to my mood, or to just stare at in silence without making a mark.

To start something and never finish it.
To see something emerging and never find out what or why.
To forget about right ways to communicate
or use supplies or skills or composition
or anything we ever learned before
or even intuition.

To just touch in and feel the flow of a deeper truth that carries us
when we aren’t trying so hard to show up with a purpose…
but just as is.

daily creative practice pages in moleskine art journal, Hali Karla
daily creative practice page in moleskine art journal, Hali Karla
creative practice page in moleskine art journal, Hali Karla

28 day Practice in Presence :: Week 1

art journal detail, Hali Karla
handmade wirebound art journal with scrap papers becomes fresh art journal territory, Hali Karla Arts
28 day Practice in Presence in a handmade wirebound art journal made with scrap papers and art. Each page takes on a new life. artist: Hali Karla
detail of mixed media art journal page, Hali Karla

These pages are from a few of my first days in my 28 day creative Practice in Presence – where I get back into my art journal each morning for 28 days straight.

The first few days felt great. They always do. Finally back in the pages with paint, pen and determination to let nothing get in the way of this gift of sacred time just for me. This particular practice is more of a prayer and meditation practice than it is about art-making, per se. That’s why I enjoy the un-blank pages as starting points right now.

My mind is never empty when I begin anyway, and the marks there are like walking into a room to meet a friend – the sight of them shifts my energy and focus into something new and refreshing almost immediately.

Then after a few days – it showed up on day 5 and 6 this time – I start to feel the rising of discomfort. Not unlike a cleanse, this is a discomfort that has been sitting within me for awhile, like the sensations of toxins leaving our cells.

Stirring up all that pent up creative energy and giving my subconscious a place to land, free from cerebral merry-go-rounds, creates a clearing for my deeper truths.

Clearly, I sense: Something’s got to shift.

The source of the discomfort is change. At my unattached essence, I sort of adore the mystery of change – but my human mind and body still resist it so cleverly… keeping me distracted from my own need for it in the name of comfort.

That’s why I practice. With color and paint and pages. With associations in images and the ways compositions form and evolve in texture and line. With all the intuitive nuances of engagement that need only my presence and honest effort to get out of the way and listen to the quiet – so that I might lend a helpful hand to what is emerging… and in some cases, aching to be revealed through validation and action.

I have a hunch – a pretty clear one – what this whisper-sense and rumbling discomfort is all about, but I don’t need to get ahead of myself with assumptions or quick-fix reactions. Right next-steps reveal themselves when I observe the weather for awhile.

I’m grateful that the clarity is surfacing with 21 days still to go.

So for now, I’ll keep listening to the pages.

Holistic Creative Chat with Catherine Anderson

photo by Catherine Anderson - click to hear her Holistic Creative Chat with Hali Karla Arts, where we talk about her unlikely path into art after being an attorney, Soul Collage, and how she balances the desire to cocoon with the calling to share the creative practice
photo by Catherine


Today’s Holistic Creative guest, Catherine Anderson, is a photographer, artist, author and facilitator of many creative offerings (Soul Collage, Chakradance, Labyrinth work and more). She shares with us a bit about her unlikely path from being an attorney to moving to the US and becoming an artist, as well as how she looks at balancing the desire to cocoon in her creative practice with the calling to share the process with others.

Grab a journal and some art supplies to listen with or just slow down and sip a cup of something special while you join us…

I loved chatting with Catherine – and I’m looking forward to hopping over to Charlotte, NC soon to catch one of the workshops at her studio. If that’s not an option for you, she has beautiful books and online courses (including Spectrum this year!).

Visit Catherine and learn more RIGHT HERE.


Join Catherine for her workshop Connecting with the Elements through the Lens of your Camera, in this year’s SPECTRUM Holistic Creative Circle, along with 24 other guest contributors. (Begins May 1, 2015)


For more Holistic Creative Chats, go HERE.

To receive Holistic Creative Musings (a little note from me to you + updates + special offers) right in your inbox, 1-2 x per month, sign-up HERE.

A Practice in Presence: 28 days

creative practice art journal, Hali Karla

A daily creative practice can keep us grounded within our dynamic life experiences – an anchor to our truth and what we love.

And still, like all activities, over time, we may reach a point where we notice we are simply going through the motions – bringing to it less presence as it becomes more of an unconscious habit of repetition. Before we know it, it has slipped into a much looser thing-we-do, rather than a space-we-be.

I want more from my daily rituals and how I spend my time.

I want to inhabit my daily creative practice. Listen, respond and invite it into inquiry and new explorations. Engage it as if it has breath. Dance with its spirit.

Sometimes keeping the spark alive in my daily practice looks like loosening up and getting a little wild.

Or it might look like trying on a structure, approach or technique for awhile – going through the discomfort and discovery only limitations and studies can provide.

Both ways can feel fresh and liberating if things have gotten a little stale, or if my practice has fallen down the rungs of daily priorities. Both ways can show us new perspectives and next-steps.

I get cranky, impatient and inflexible in all parts of my life when I’m not tending the relationship of my practice as one of my fundamental needs. When I notice that, I know it’s time to switch it up with an intention or an assignment for myself to bring me back into presence.

Well, I had been noticing a bit of that creeping in, and that I wasn’t painting as much as I like to or want to. Moving my practice back to first thing in the morning is the first step in making sure I get to it… I can still come back to it in my beloved dark hours if there’s time for an evening rendezvous.

This past week, I started a new daily practice for the next 28 days to help re-align my anchor for this season.

It will be art journaling – which is nothing new – but this time it will be in my first handmade, spiral-bound journal, which contains an assortment of pages made from fodder, old paintings, calendars, books, etc. (I was inspired by Alisa Burke’s recent art journals, but put my own spin on it)

handmade art journal bound with upcycled and recycled papers and art, Hali Karla

The pages already have something on them to start – images, words, scribbles, photos, patterns, etc – and I am showing up to them each day to begin my morning.

The size is not so big that it’s overwhelming or takes too long (6″x 8″) – and with something already there to greet me, the interaction is different than if I showed up to a blank page. More like visual dialogue.

I’m calling it my Practice in Presence.

Four days in, and already I feel better, more like me, grateful and awake to the life within again.

I’ll be sharing updates of the pages here on the blog once a week on Wednesdays and process shots from time to time over on Instagram.


Holistic Creative Chat with Angelique Arroyo

free interview with Ethno-activist and Healer, Angelique Arroyo about the power of circle and witness, raw sacred truths, healing, spirit world nd anchoring in our creative practices. This and more Holistic Creative Chats at HaliKarla.com

Today’s guest is someone I’ve been curious about for awhile – in that way where I sense how inspiring it would be to sit in circle with her.

What a treat to get to share a conversation with healing visionary and ethno-activist, Angelique Arroyo, who is passionate about creative community building and circles. In today’s chat, she shares about the power of witness, raw sacred truths, and harmonizing times in the spirit world with grounding, intentional creative practices.


Visit Angelique RIGHT HERE.


Join Angelique for her workshop The Rise of a Medicine Woman in this year’s SPECTRUM Holistic Creative Circle, along with 24 other workshop offerings. Begins May 1, 2015.

Angelique Arroyo is one of 25 contributors to the SPectrum 2015 Holistic Creative Circle (begins May 1). Get to know her better in this interview at HaliKarla.com

For more Holistic Creative Chats, go HERE.

To receive Holistic Creative Musings right in your inbox, 1-2 x per month, go HERE.


In my Medicine Bag

Always carry Presence in your medicine bag. Click for blog post, HaliKarla.com

We all have a medicine bag.
Or maybe a few, if you’re like me.

For me,
One has paintbrushes and pigments.
Another – tinctures, feathers and stones.
A third carries tools for smoke, smudge and prayers.

OK, they might all have feathers.
And the contents of each become sacred when used in that intention.

Maybe yours carries a musical instrument….

I used to carry one to homes that had bandages, catheters, ointments and a stethoscope…
only to be amazed at how many times what was really needed was something else entirely,
something I found in my other bags.

Aside from the rituals and tools you may use,
there’s a medicine that is always with you,
that you, alone, carry.

And in it a remedy, a story, a salve, a song.
Or maybe simply silence and kind eyes,
a deep vision or wild dreams,
or the quick-wit that calls forth laughter.

The medicine you bring
without trying so hard
without fancy steps, techniques or recipes
without a license or certification or memorization
without having an answer, method, or plan,
without editing for profound words.

The medicine you bring just by being true
to the comfort or discomfort
before you within you beside you…
right where you are.

Some of our medicines are slow-cooked and simmered our whole lives long.
In the stories we live, the heartbreaks we endure, the joys we awaken to again and again.
Even your toughest times may be a piece of the divine care-plan for another soul one day.
(They are likely already on their way to meet you and receive it.)

Sometimes, the medicines we bring can taste like shit to someone else – it’s true.
They might look more like lines drawn or triggers pulled –
with an outcome on the other side we may never fully comprehend,
pieces of a story bigger than any one of us,
begging us to expand our comfort, forgive and release.

Other times, our personal medicine might taste like nectar to parched taste-buds,
in right timing –
the softening of being seen – not judged,
received without expectation,
loved within the innocence of love divine,
or the missing link for a chain of perspectives that have been elusive
in desperate attempts to relieve and get on with life.

Both ways of medicine – bitter or sweet –
can bring healing, solace and growth to others.

What I learn
–  with my paint, stones and smoke
with my stethoscope and all the tools that come and go,
speaking to me of what is sacred –
is to be a disciple of Listening Close
to rhythms and heart-truths not spoken
to the Great River’s source and Grandmother Moon’s coming and going, as she whispers,
the medicine you seek is seeking you….

Our personal medicines are not found in our magic bags or traditions,
or in our theories, proofs or knowledge.
And though they may grow richer with the tools and practices we ground with,
they are with us all along,
before and after we pick up the bottles, words and bones.

What I learn and remember
with my paint, stones and smoke – in the awakenings they offer,
and what I carry from them
– not in a bag or object, but in the moment I am creating a channel for –
is the power and intimate gift of our pause into Presence.

This is the Stillness where our greatest personal medicines grow and replenish.