Mystery & Connection

why does art even matter on days like today


There are some days when you wonder what good is art and art-making for. Why does it even matter? Really. How does it help this world be a better place, in this time?

A normal day can have this question floating around on the periphery anyway, thanks to a culture with backwards values or families/friends who don't get art, can't relate and think you should have chosen something different/more financially sound/more clearly of service or 'helpful' or understandable to society (whether they say that out loud or not).

And then there are those days when, on top of that, the hate and bigotry of the world comes crashing in loudly, when the suffering just lands a little more palpably on your heart, for whatever reason.

Picking up a paintbrush to make something can feel deeply insignificant on days like that. Days like today for me, with news of the New Zealand shooting.

I am an artist who paints and prays most every day, and yet how does that really matter in the face of religious bigotry and murder… an issue that enrages my mind and completely breaks my heart…?

Ultimately, though, I believe this unsettledness and questioning as an artist is a good and necessary thing.

Here are a few reasons…

It can move us to the action and connection that we are able to take and make, to learn more than we knew yesterday about 'others,' using the voice we do have to speak up and out and for the causes that break our hearts in the world.

Also, we get the privilege to choose to pick up the paintbrush (or what-have-you) anyway, because there is still This, Now, Right Here for Now... and to feel our smallness in that, and our sense of helplessness moving us into the life before us, and the complete blessing of that breathing, living moment to choose to do what we have been called to do.

And because art gives hope and beauty and expression to the despair AND the interconnectedness of our souls. Sometimes in process, sometimes on our wall, or on a doodle we kept from 20 years ago to help us remember who we are.

Sometimes the art is for the artist, sometimes for the {audience}.

This is the Mystery of Creative Spirit and the creative process moving through our lives, if we let it have time and space to be seen, to bring perspective to the precious moments.

As long as we are not using our creative activities to bypass or just numb-dumb out to what needs to be felt and given attention, but rather as a means to feel whole, to re-activate, to feel more deeply all that We are… then maybe it is not so insignificant after all, to pick up a paintbrush and move into heightened states of processing and awareness, witness and focus, at the altar of Being.

Being part of this messy human family.

It can all feel so utterly destructive and hopeless some days, like today - or any day you stay tuned in to the news lately, it seems… but after picking up my paintbrush anyway this afternoon, I remembered something else.

I believe art and creative expression are part of the ancient lineage of medicine for all of that.

Some of us are called to it, even though its place in the healing and function of this world is not always clear or ‘productively’ measurable.

It’s even part of how we can connect more deeply to the suffering, loss and the inconceivable, to what is needed or missing moving forward, to our part in it all… while keeping our channels open to what is sacred, beautiful, hopeful, connective and healing.

And that is the kind of creative energy that gives momentum to meaningful change, perspective and relationships in our lives.

Update: You can see the process video and musing for the painting I worked on, on this day, right here.

why art matters on those days when it seems like it just doesn’t (Hali Karla Arts)

the spirit of creativity: seek, stay, share | Creative Practice Care (with new painting)

Creative Practice Care & Encouragement | Hali Karla Arts

Shortly after the first blue drip asserted itself on the page - an unplanned, but true-to-process happening - I stepped back, I had that feeling that I’d met this painting before. As if that even makes sense. Which it didn’t. Until it did.

Long before digital filters and effects made it all so mind-numbingly easy, I used to shoot 35mm photos of landscapes, sift through the hundreds, and then meticulously piece chosen ones together in new ways in the darkroom, and then eventually with various software - into double exposures, mandalas or mirrored images. It was a tedious project, looking back on it… but also a meditation of sorts.

This piece began in that old way of seeing and being. First, out in nature with my camera. Then, with the help of some more modern tools to expedite and play with effects and contrast until I felt inspired. The end point was never going to be the digital photo, though. That was just the beginning.

Then, there was sketching - the sound of graphite and pastel scratching on a lightly gessoed page. Then a pause.

Then ink and paint, layer after layer, with many moments of non-doing... maybe even more than the doing moments, ya know? But the painting hung out, a presence. She stayed, I stayed, until timing was right.

New painting + musing at blog (image: painting steps in-process, Hali Karla)

While I love a good energetic expression and lightning moments of gratification, I also love slow art-making. The being of it. The relationship that couldn’t be without that time invested, that shared space. The listening and tending and seeing it through. Maybe it is even the contrast of the two approaches in my practice that interests my creative spirit most. That’s likely.

There is spontaneity in both ways. Whether initiated by me or otherwise. Like that blue drip. It just happened, my mind was initially disappointed… but then, at this point in the game, I know to go with the flow. Quite literally, in this instance.

One became two, and I kept playing with the harmony.

{an emergence of spirit} prayer painting, mixed-media on bristol. 11”x14” Hali Karla

{an emergence of spirit} prayer painting, mixed-media on bristol. 11”x14” Hali Karla

I eventually remembered where I had seen or experienced that blue drip before in my art, and when I found that painting in the studio, that came long before this one, I was struck by the similarity in colors, as well. I’m using different paints and supplies altogether, mixing my colors more, it was an entirely different process approach - but even the core of the palette re-emerged in this very different painting, eight years later.

You can see that first painting HERE, an intuitive one, with a poem you may very well need to read right now if you have a moment. It seems to strike folks at just the right time.

As for the paintings, See the resemblance? It’s funny to me - and maybe only obvious to me - but not so surprising.

You see, you don’t have to find your style or voice or aesthetic. You just have to keep creating. It is already in you. It will take on new forms and voices in different iterations… but you can’t be removed or absent from what you make… because your creative energy and expression is unique to what makes you You. You can stifle it at times, for sure, with imitations or efforts to be what you think you should be or more like someone else. Sometimes it may be quieter as you learn new skills or methods or simply rest without trying so hard.

But ultimately, you are you… and your voice, style, mark-making (on art and life), aesthetic (what you love and have a knack for combining), and the way you see and bring light and connection will emerge and emanate in whatever expression your creative practice takes.

In truth, I find, it is really good for the soul to just trust that, and to let your roots reach down into the heart of today’s practice or focus, whatever form it may take right where you are at, without worrying so much about how the growth may look awkward at times on the surface or whether or not the fruit will appear and ripen in season.

So today’s Creative Practice encouragement is straight from my process to yours, a breadcrumb trail of reflection, including the painting above and then some.

Here is the take-away for your Creative practice Care, encouragement and reflection:

May your curiosity, heartbreak, love and deepest longing guide you when you SEEK. Don’t dismiss those potent calls from Creative Source… see where they lead.

May your attention and devotion help you STAY awhile when you land on something that resonates and asks you to be with your Creative Spirit. Whether it is spontaneously energetic or deliciously slow, trust the rhythm that makes you feel alive and all-in with your process each time you come to your practice. Don’t mistake impatience or frustration for spontaneity, or hesitance or fear for the richness of resting in slow, deliberate expression. Find the rhythm you hunger for in this season or project.

May your heart and hands SHARE generously what you see and discover in your process, as life allows and invites. Your creative practice is for you, yes - but not just you, love. Because it forms you, dwells in you, it moves outward from you. You can’t help that. See what you see, love what you love… even keep the art or writing to yourself, perhaps… but do let the creative spark it ignites speak into your life, choices, relationships, and the next direction you find yourself heading toward.

free introduction to astrology and your birth chart (with a creative practice invitation)

free introduction guide to astrology and your birth chart, with a Creative Practice Invitation from Hali Karla Arts

I’ve got a free Astrology + Creative Practice Introductory Guide to share with you, if that interests you.

It’s a 14 page PDF with video links, inspiration and an art journaling Creative Practice invitation to help you connect with your birth chart, intuitive creative side, and some astrological basics.

You can have that delivered to you right now, if you like:

    {Your info will never be shared. This ain’t facebook. Unsubscribe anytime, no hard feelings.}

    Want to know more first?

    Read on as I share some musings from the other day…

    Ever wondered why astrology has remained with us for thousands of years, despite the overly-generalized horoscopes and cliches about Zodiac signs, and mainstream efforts to suppress, shame or write it off as mere entertaining nonsense?

    It’s likely because there is way more to it than most people realize... and just enough people know that from an informed, experiential perspective.

    Because astrology is meaningful, nuanced and holds truth and possibility about the human experience and how we relate to ourselves, each other, the world, and our spiritual path.

    In case you’re totally new to astrology beyond magazine zodiac sun signs, let me share a couple basic starting points here…

    You do not have just one Zodiac sign. You get to have a little of all 12 actually, no matter when you were born. You just have more of some than others - and that comes through in how you go about things in your life and what motivates you. (Oh - and just because that magazine says you’re one sign by its general dates, it actually could be wrong depending on the year you were born. Seriously, I thought my sun sign was Aquarius for over half my life, thanks to every newspaper and horoscope I ever looked at.)

    And somewhere within those signs sit the core astrological ‘planets’ and other celestial bodies (based on where they were the minute you were born) - including the Sun and Moon - which just symbolize common instincts that all humans have to some degree and expression as well.

    And those planets and signs all fall somewhere on a map with 12 territories - called Houses - that represent areas of human life - and again, we each get all 12 of these, too.

    It’s all dependent on the moment, date and location of your birth, and there are literally thousands of possible combinations… so your chart really is quite unique to you.

    Even twins will experience almost identical charts in different ways, so it is not like a strict, definitive set of factors in the ways we often try to rationalize why something does or doesn’t work in a literal or formulaic way our mind can be decidedly certain about.

    Because there’s an unpredictable wild card to every placement in a chart, too… YOU.

    art detail, Hali Karla Arts

    Rather, it’s more like you were miraculously created, for a specific time, with a purpose, style and energy combination unique to you, but also part of an interconnected evolving story of consciousness and expanding realizations. About what it means to be alive, together on this wee little planet in the middle of a cosmic ocean beyond our imaginations and understanding. Or something totally (not) crazy like that. Something that so many other belief systems and mythologies point to.

    And your birth chart “speaks” to this somehow. As well as to your natural tendencies, patterns and possible inclinations or personality expressions.

    Maybe in a practical sense, the question to ask about astrology isn’t HOW does this work? (Because we actually don’t know that) But rather, DOES this indeed speak to my living experience, both within my inner landscape and my outer reality?

    And if the answer is Yes, then ask ourselves how the insights can impact our perceptions, decisions and relationships in meaningful, loving, reverent and transformative ways.

    See, astrology is not some locked personality or destiny description. That would be a wee bit insulting to the realities of human complexities, don’t you think? I tend to resist simplified personality systems and overt efforts to categorize us neatly into human constructs of classification or predictability, too.

    The actual depths of informed astrology speak to radical presence, shifting perspectives, and initiating changes in practical, meaningful ways right now.

    Your astrological chart is about how you best learn, perceive, focus, relate, shine your God-given gifts, create beauty and trouble (the good kind and not so good kind), and ultimately… about your highest expression and offering.

    It points to re-membering your True self - and choosing to live more closely and deeply with love, integrity and a sense of purpose right in the messy life you are living.

    It illuminates the processes of realization, release, healing, transformation, and the development of trust or faith in ways personal to each of us… a trust that accepts and makes way for that True essence of you to shine a little more every day, if you accept the invitation to remember who you were made to be, and navigate from that commitment.

    Personally, I have no doubt that Creator speaks to us in the languages and contexts we use, need and can be open to, at every given point in our life.

    And I have felt and witnessed many times how astrology is one of those languages. A language that allows for and encourages our individuality and self-honoring, while not letting self-interest overshadow the bigger picture of our small, yet important part in an interconnected, collective unfolding.

    I love taking deep dives into this sort of stuff - and how it can (in)form us and our lives.

    So I get a bit excited to connect with those who want to explore and learn for themselves, forming their own thoughts, questions and opinions about whether this language has meaning for them.

    Astrology can speak right to the heart and healing for many people, removing their accumulated doubts about who they are and why they are here, and lifting up within them what it means to be in the process of a life that we help co-create with our choices, presence and impact.

    People often describe a good astrology experience and understanding as one in which they feel truly seen - for who they are, inside and out.

    And I read charts, y’all - so I’m here to tell you… it isn’t ME, or the astrologer initiating the seeing. I just translate the symbols into meaning that is already there. I’m just a messenger. As if it truly was written on the stars by our Maker. Or impressed upon the stardust that became our cells.

    So, maybe you are someone wondering about this language of astrology, or your own birth chart.

    If so, I invite you to learn a little more by grabbing that download via the form above.

    Have a look at your chart for yourself, see if it sparks anything in your curiosity or intuition before you learn the nitty-gritty about it, and then become familiar with some of the language and see where it leads.

    Your chart - and the time you spend learning about it - just might speak something sacred or forgotten to you in unexpected ways.

    If it makes you feel a little more whole, vital, grounded and part of something mysterious and meaningful in this wacky world - with a life to be grateful for or aspire toward - then it’s time well spent, in my book. Decide for yourself if it’s your cup of tea.

    Or, heck it can just be fun to play with some of the symbols, which is what we do in the Creative Practice invitation in the guide.

    So, Want that free Astro Intro Download?

      if you KNOW this creative astrology stuff interests you…

      Along with this free gift, I have opened up pre-orders on short, focused eCourses with the astrological archetypes by planet and sign, as well as my immersive IN THE STARS program (now self-guided, with all of the mini-ecourse content, plus more), as well as a few other comprehensive guides for diving deeper with your chart, and ultimately in your life and relationships.

      I’m a busy-bee preparing these new offerings and formats over here.

      Here’s a bit more about these new offerings (plus, me on the screen, in case you’re new around here):

      You can save a few bucks by pre-ordering any of these new eCourse offerings before their release date, and your support is appreciated while I put the final touches on them. Learn more HERE.

      It’s the culmination of immersive work and content creation, to share with hundreds of students over the past two years - and I’m excited to get to share these smaller, bite-size options now for you self-pacing, self-guided learners like myself - along with a new self-guided version of the full IN THE STARS program.

      Start with that free guide up above if you’re totally new to astrology, though… and do let me know if you have any questions, stories or comments.