Group Think - from my art journal

mixed media art journal pages, Hali Karlamixed media art journal pages, Hali Karlamixed media art journal pages, Hali Karlamixed media art journal pages, Hali Karlamixed media art journal pages, Hali Karla The most honest way I can share about the internal workings of my own creative practice is to offer some of the thoughts and connections I notice and see along the way... musings, as I think of them.

These might include thoughts once the intention begins, notes I jot down while a piece is in-process, or a journal 'purge' after a resonant piece or creative practice session is 'complete.'

Sometimes the musings are simple and light, on the level of sensations, or relatively logical and straightforward.

Sometimes they are deep dives into layers of uncovering associations and truth-seeking.

I am not an objective judge of my own process - whether that's the visual results or the musings that speculate meaning along the way. The layers of consciousness are what they are, and I am simply showing up to what flows through and out as best I can on any given day.

As an artist on a spiritual journey of some sort, my job is to be in my process. To be open to what I don't know and to honor what I sense to be inherently true and essential. Whatever relationship someone else may have with my efforts afterwards is between them and their creative process - because interpretation is a creative act as well.

As a 'recovering' art school graduate - and someone with years of healing work wrapped up in self-worth, confidence, and trust - devoting to my subjective process outside of a critique or outcome-oriented framework is an ongoing and fundamental part of reclaiming and owning my true nature as an artist.

For me, making art is about the experience, in practice.

To know my creative process - and myself - as completely as I can through my creative energy and expression, I must have a certain amount of solitude, sovereignty and, of course, experience actually IN it - the act of creating and being at least partially aware of what that feels like, in my own skin.

There lies the richness and beauty of being wholly ourselves, and as present as we can to our immediate, living experience as a participant and embodiment of life....

I've come to realize that my natural way of creating is very much a contemplative one. Both intentional and intuitive, thoughtful and spontaneous. A full spectrum of emotions and predicaments along the way, leading me somewhere intimately {un}known.

And I've found that keeping a written journal alongside my visual one is helpful for how I relate to and understand this dance. It is revealing and insightful about the patterns, intricacies and possibilities of how I engage my creative process and consciousness - where I get tripped up and how I shake free of what binds me.

It's a very personal sort of reflection practice. And it seems the most honest way to show and share what a living, contemplative creative practice might look like, in process.

So today, I'm sharing passages from my process{ing} notes that went along with the art journal page above (written a few days after finishing the page):

This was a messy page to start with. A darker, unpleasing palette. Raw marks and quick choices, to see what was already there to see - from the marks that came before. With witness to what couldn't be erased, and willingness to let it be seen.

I could have made a happier page, I suppose - that would have supposedly made me feel better in the wake of all these world atrocities that I don't fully know how to process or actively assist in. But it would have been superficial and fake for me.

Besides, I couldn't look away from what was there once I saw it. Thick layers, like scars and organic evidence... and promises of life, coming together, forming in the depths... where my fingertips had dared to touch the space between thought and what matters.

I couldn't look away from its multitudes of curious implications, however simple or obscure... and so relative, somehow, to what my soul could not find words for this week.

It's curious how pages like these seem to require a passage through time to form... layers of paint smeared haphazardly around for unpredictable backgrounds. A complete, unapologetic mess with a simple solution that I just can't see initially.

I flip through them later, many times over, and for a long time, they don't speak to me of much at all. But I know they will one day - if I dare to look again.

And then they {suddenly} have something to say. Something that pertains to a current happening... whether purely internal or an external reflection - often both. It becomes palpable to my awareness... and I wonder how I hadn't seen it before... and marvel at the right-timing of creative spirit.

I guess the pages sort of gestate until their time comes... until there’s an alignment between what could possibly be there and how I am capable of seeing - or willing to see - in the moment. A medicine that will not be dispersed until absolutely essential.

Nothing has really changed (between when I couldn't see and when I do). And also - everything has changed… or at least re-arranged elements into new clarity and form.

Then, it is almost easy - too easy - to help the piece be{come}... with paint, line and time. (Rendering it is another story, of course, but seeing is primary)

It may or may not look like much, depending on the page. But the alignment and presence with it is an act of liberation, acknowledgment and deep communication.

It captivates me, somehow, pages like this that seem to come from somewhere else inside me. A story without words. A declaration of a time. A showing, not telling.

There is a flow to it. A freedom from routine and conformity and old ways. A fresh lens.

And, often, a {not so} surprising result.

There are so many layers of our selves, in all the ways we come together and perceive, respond and retreat, offer and receive - don’t you think?

Ironic, that there is both power and disempowerment in groups, and in supposed objectivity.

May we find, tend and know our tribes, yes - but without handing over responsibility or losing our identities, stories and visions within them.

May we always see beyond the lines we draw today.