how you interpret your creativity through time forms you | Creative Practice Care

How You interpret your creativity through time forms you | Creative Practice Care with Hali Karla Arts

It can be extremely nourishing and revitalizing to your creative practice and process to take the time to revisit and reflect on what you have created in the distant past and not so distant past. Markers in your own creative timeline, so to speak.

If you’ve taken a creative practice class with me, you know we often reflect at all points in the process to remind us who we are, who we were, where we come from, where we are right now and how we’d like to move forward.

When we finish filling a journal or art journal or sketchbook - it can be insightful to flip through and identify what themes, patterns, interests or subjects keep coming up for us, for instance. Or what colors, textures, shapes, media and imagery.

One thing leads to another… and how we root (or uproot) our focus really does matter. By doing a little conscious retrospecting, we can often see what has been right under our noses, so close… too close sometimes to bring into focus unless we do so intentionally, with a posture of openness to surprise.

Because it is so common to forget or lose sight of those inherent things that make each of us who we are, or to find our focus and energy diverted while those parts of us go unnourished.

Or to interpret our journey so critically or one-pointedly, or from such a big picture, that we fail to see the shining golden threads of who we are (becoming) woven into our ordinary marks, encounters, perceptions, makings and scribbles of our daily life.

Even in those stolen moments that can so easily feel like ‘not enough’ at the time, but are part of the bigger tapestry of our creative energy emerging and forming into something yet unseen.

How we see our practice and process matters.

Every act of interpretation
is also an act of formation.
— (unknown source)

So today, I invite you to take some time soon to recall and reflect on what you have created in your practices and life - in the distant past, the not-so-distant past, more recently… and what you’d like to remind yourself moving forward.

Don’t search too hard or make a big ol’ project out of it, though - I want you to actually get to it! You are worth it, I promise.

Just look around, flip through some of your boxes, stacks, photos, books or what-have-you, to trigger your memory. See what wants to be seen again, to be remembered and acknowledged.

Maybe you have a lot, or a little… just give it a go.

Notice what you finished, what felt good or not, what surprises or resonates now, and what wants to be picked up again... or what new leads you get just from considering. And always feel free to thank and release anything that does not serve who you are moving forward. Marie Kondo approved.

As you do this, don’t discount all of the creative energy that you put into the art of showing up and engaging with your actual life and relationships either - this is not just ‘art’ or craft or productive results we’re interested in, but in how we see creative spirit alive in all aspects of our lives, backward and forward in time.

Below, I share just a few of the paintings I was revisiting and reflecting on in January to center in the New Year cycle. They range from awhile ago, to more recently.

Then I share a reminder about guarding the tenderness of beginning and bringing something to life in our creative process and awareness.

This first is from seven years ago, not long after I made my way back into art-making…

mixed-media prayer painting on paper, Hali Karla

This painting rests on a top shelf in my studio in a large cardboard folder, with some other pieces from a gateway time of returning to art after some intense years in grad school and end-of-life nursing.

What I found when I returned, unencumbered by the weight of art school and 'fine artist' connotations that weren't helpful for my path, was an unleashing of creative energy in connection to healing, joy and intuition, and a grounding, sometimes trance-like zone or state of prayer.

This is still a strange thing to put words to... words will never touch it. Nonetheless, in the midst, I woke one morning with a sort of 'directive' in that state between sleep and waking. To ask for prayers... to listen, trust, pray, surrender... and paint what came of it. So even though it made me nervous as heck, I asked a very small readership online at the time if anyone wanted to submit a prayer from their life, for me to hold with them and pray over, and to add to a collective prayer painting.

And much to my surprise, over 40 women responded with in-depth stories and prayers.

I printed out those prayers and prayed for every one submitted, collaged them onto this 18x24" paper and began to paint. This is what came of it.

Some of you may remember this, or contributed, or may have one of the limited simple prints from that time. If so... (((thank you))).

It is just one intuitive painting, but it is a collection of prayers given lots of love and something visible to show for it, and it was a resonant turning point within my heart and direction.

Something in me began to see more clearly, wake up a little more, to parts of myself I had lost touch with and denied or had yet to express, to trusting that inner voice within, Holy Creative Spirit herself.

{this was my musing from day 11 of Tara Leaver’s #21daysinmyartworld challenge in January}

Here is another, a piece from 2017:

a commissioned intuitive birth chart mandala, mixed-media, Hali Karla

I sort of stumbled upon making these intuitive birth chart mandalas a few years ago because I was translating more birth charts than ever before for people.

(If you're not that familiar with astrology, it's not just memes, fortune-telling, cookie-cutter horoscopes or personality descriptions at all. It is a nuanced and dignified language that speaks quite well to the human experience and our interconnectivity with all of creation and Creative Source. Some call astrology the parent of modern psychology.)

Anyhow, I was in my head space with the analysis a lot, and needed an intentionally creative, intuitive approach to drop into my heart process with the bigger picture and get out of the way of what really wanted to be seen and shared via the tool of the chart.

So I would make these mandalas for each chart I was looking at. I didn't think much of it, but then when I shared them with others, people really seemed to like them, so occasionally I offered custom orders and sets for individuals.

They feel like little surprise 'celebrations' of each beautiful, unique, wonderfully made person that the respective chart speaks to. Each is one-of-a-kind, by the nature of my process with the chart that inspires it.

This one was a custom order.

{day 18: "celebrate" in #21daysinmyartworld}

And another, finished at the beginning of this year:

mixed media prayer painting on paper, Hali Karla

creation and contemplation. transformation. presence and seeing. withness. listening.

the moment of connective resonance, forgetting myself just long enough to be moved beyond myself and into the rivers of participation, emergence, expression, insight, unity.

inspiration (the noun) IS everywhere as our senses and associations delight and respond accordingly to what is before us in our inner and outer experiences - backwards, forwards and right here right now... we know inherently that everything is connected.

but INSPIRE is a verb... and this is what fills and fuels me most. the breathing of it - to be inspired, a reciprocity of sorts, between the observer and the observed - no matter the object of its incarnation.

i am inspired when i remember that all life and love done well and given our all is a sort of prayer like this. and that creative practice and prayer or contemplation is so often, for me, the ground where stillness breathes honestly, no more and no less, vibrating with the whisper of creation and Creator, into the moment of my own participation and activation.

the layers of inspiration and wholeness and engagement are infinite... what a gift to be alive to this.

{form day 8 #21daysinmyartworld challenge, over on Instagram}

Finally, a reminder for your practice and process, just in case this is the balm or nudge your creative heart needs today:

Creative Practice explorations with Hali Karla Arts

Your creative process, practice and art is first and foremost a sacred gift between you and Creative Source, worthy of healthy boundaries in honor of just how precious its incubation, first expressions and initial moments of formation can be.

Get a feel for the energy and relationship before you invite outside perception, perspective and distraction in. Let the true message or revelation of the encounter show itself.

I learn - and have to remember to remember this one - again and again, and find the dance to look different in different seasons, but mostly I feel best when I treat the whispers of my ordinary practice or unfolding creative vision and work with great care and respect, no matter how excited I might get to share in the early stages.

{from day 13: #21daysinmyartworld}

How you SEE and interpret your Creative Practice and energy matters, my friends. Backwards and forwards in time.

Who you let see and interpret your creations - and when - matters as well.

We get to learn about this with trial and error, as we figure out and evolve our own personal WHY for what we feel called to explore, experience and breathe life into.

How do you keep your creative heart, eyes, mind and spirit guarded with the care it deserves, and yet still wide open to what wants to be seen anew or for the first time in your process and life?

Easy Framing for Paintings on Paper (video) + Intuitive Mandalas | Something from the Studio 8


In the video below, I share an easy, inexpensive way to frame paintings on paper, as I frame a set of three custom, intuitive birth-chart mandalas for a family.

Just a little something from the studio...

I used this frame in the videos:

I've been so touched by the joy and response that my mandala making process seems to bring others - it is a bit like eye-candy watching one come to life - AND they are so fun for me to make!

I usually share any peeks at the process over on my IG account.

In the process, there is a combination of letting the actual astrological chart inspire decisions about how I will begin and end the piece, but in the middle it is all creative energy and flow - and letting go of control to open up to the blooming of the mandala.

This particular set (in the video) was for my sister's family, but I have made several rounds of these commissioned mandalas over the past year for various families, couples and birthday gifts. That make beautiful sets.

Personalized commissions take a special kind of attention and time in the studio, so I don't always have these available to order.

However, I have some space to make a few custom mandalas as the summer is wrapping up, for anyone interested, and for a limited time. See the details to order yours on my new shop page.

As for the framing, I love simple... and hope this little idea inspires some of you with your creations and collections.


Before I go, here is an old photo just for kicks... a young, but-oh-so-tired Hali back at the art school exhibition I mentioned in the video - where I received an award for a set of drawing 'meditations' - no frames, just pinned to the wall like little art specimens, evidence of process, as-is.


A Birth Chart Mandala Set (my process, a video and commissions)

A video, plus images, of a family set of birth chart mandalas Along with creating IN THE STARS this year, I have also been doing birth chart readings for my participants and others.

I knew, going into this year, that I would be doing a lot of studying, analyzing, content creation and teaching when it comes to astrology... which meant a whole lot of brain work.

I don't know about you, but too much head-space does not make a holistically happy Hali.

detail of intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

For many of us creatives, learning is more thorough and long-standing if we have time for spontaneous contemplation, observation in the field of life, and plenty of our creative practice + play time - whatever that may look like.

detail of intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

A little challenge I gave myself, to break the potential rigidity of information overload this year, was to make a simple intuitive mandala inspired by each chart I was interpreting for awhile. A low-pressure, fun-to-make body of work, you might say.

I wanted to be sure to shake my focus out of my head and into my body and the movement of color. Just because.

Because it helps center me and keeps my intuition and instincts fresh and nourished.

detail of intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

That little creative practice exercise I gave myself ended up cracking open my process of seeing and reading birth charts in a way I didn't fully anticipate.

I spend the time studying the chart and making my notes, of course - in all the logical, mindful ways - and then I get out my water, colors and mixed-media paper and let all the specific astrological details fade away for awhile.

detail of intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

More often than not, something crucial about the chart and its messages becomes clearer to me in those few moments of creative play and surrender, when I open myself not to looking for anything in particular, but to seeing what I may not already be seeing.

It all sort of falls into focus, in the beautiful living mystery that it is.

intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

I find it to be like praying, communing, remembering that something greater is always unfolding through us when we show up to how we best do what we do in our own skin - even if it's an approach that might not make sense to anyone else - or even to our selves, at times.

It goes beyond the words, beyond what can be seen or controlled or mentally deduced. Just beyond... into that realm where what IS shines with the spirit of what ever was and the breath of what is possible.

And I don't know about you, but that's the kind of stuff that stokes my creative fire of hope and motivation within, and warms the ol' engine for any good act that might have a chance of coming through this body and life I am living.

With the world as it is, and so much coming to a head, we each need our ways of reaching that sacred connection more than ever.

May we remember to use, visit and share those tools and ways that ignite our sense of interconnection, as we navigate our actions, decisions and the power of our choices and voices.

intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

Aside from the soul-passion rambling above...

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen me share images and videos of quite a few of these intuitive birth chart mandalas this year. The warm response has meant the world to this artist's heart.

intuitive birth chart mandalas on the studio table - by Hali Karla (process video at link)

The process with them has taken on a life of its own, and has evolved into several stages for each, including a session or two with more detail, layers and line work. That's something I often do in my art journaling pages that feels like a meditative practice in presence.

A relationship of listening and responding really forms with a piece when we meet more than once.

I've been blessed with the pleasure of doing several unexpected commissions for the mandalas this year, as well - like the ones on this post -  and people often message me asking me if this is a possibility. I didn't really see that coming from my practice either, and I'm grateful and happy others feel connected to them.

Here is a video of making the three you see here...

I do *love* making these, but I have a lot of other commitments right now, so I'm taking on commissions at a slower pace than I would if I had magical powers of productivity. I'll continue to offer these to those who contact me through email to be on my waiting list, and my newsletter subscribers first.

I've come to really love making sets for couples and families... I love all that color together, with each so unique.

a family set of intuitive birth chart mandalas by Hali Karla (process video at link)


I will have to share a flip through of all of them that I've made this year at some point. Maybe as an end of year retrospect. There is a progression in the level of detail, for sure... and I just may be getting more adept at playfully wrangling the water and inks as time goes on.

You can see a few more mandala samples right now on my homepage.  And this one below may be one of my personal favorites (for another artist soul in love with mystery and healing)...

intuitive birth chart mandala by Hali Karla (video at link)

... though overall, I really do have a soft place for each of them, because I get the gift of connecting with the unique birth chart that belongs to the Soul the mandala is singing to.

No matter what our journey, behavior or life might look like on any given day, we truly are all Creator's beloved children, with the spark of spirit alive in each of us.

Oh, and the number one technical question I get asked by curious creatives inspired by the mandala videos so far?

How do you keep the color in the circle?

That's the easiest part, and a good rule of thumb for a free-flowing creative practice in general:

Start with the container or form (in this case, a circle of water), and then just let your colors flow within.