Art & Healing

simple mood-shifting visual journal practice (video) | Something From the Studio 13

In this short video, I muse and paint in an altered book art journal, sharing a very simple and uplifting Creative Practice approach… a sort of meditation, where I let the thoughts, pressures or agenda of my day roll on by for a little while.

This practice is not about making grand fine art or even an exemplary, layered art journaling spread.

It’s not about refining skill or challenging yourself or setting and meeting an intention even.

This approach is just about showing up to your practice, as you are - maybe even when you are likely to find a million excuses not to - but doing it anyway, because you know you feel better when you take that time to just breathe and let go.

It’s a pressure-free way to relax into a very simple approach - in my case, in an altered book.

Despite its simplicity, though, it can still spark inspiration, form and develop how you see and express in your visual language, bring a little beauty into your day, and shift your mood or focus from worries, tension or stress into the peace of the present moment.

At least that’s what I find. Even though that’s not the point. ;-)

This approach works well in altered landscape, nature or geographical books (like mine in the video), or you could easily do this with a magazine image - loose or adhered into another art journal or sketchbook.

Like in the video, try first finding and filling the negative spaces on your image with colors that delight you.

Try going thick with your paints or medium.

Or maybe fall into the flow of making a repetitive pattern for a bit.

See where that leads your interest or aesthetic desire on the page.

But most importantly, just move color and play around on the page for the sheer sake of enjoying yourself.

video demo of a simple art journal creative practice that can uplift and inspire | Hali Karla Arts

healing shame and painting true stories anew


Under the new under-painting on this board, lies a painting I haven't been able to look at for a few years now, because of an offhand comment - that was meant to be a joke - by someone I love dearly…

work-in-progress, painting over a painting (musing at blog about healing and transforming through art), Hali Karla Arts

In my family, it is always said that "laughter is medicine"... and this is, of course, true. At times.

But not in the wrong dose, at the wrong time. Not when the jokes or comments poke, minimize, or completely distort something that actually holds deeper value or is personally connected to someone else in the room, or their struggles, experience or process.

Am I sensitive? Absolutely. Too sensitive? At times, sure.

AND - sensitivity is the root of my strength as an artist and healing+caring soul, too. But it took me years to see that. Years to be told, to see for myself, and to believe that this is why so many say they feel seen by me. Because I see what others miss, overlook, neglect to consider.

I’m an artist - we see. I’m a healer, of the soulful sort - we get pain points. Because we have seen and been hurt and have had to transform, again and again.

In order to feel like I belonged, was lovable and wouldn't be abandoned or rejected (again) as a kid, I felt I had to laugh at what wasn't so funny to me (even if it was about me), deny my own hurt when others were insensitive or unaware or unable to see beyond their own perception/experience, let myself fade so others could live and think and laugh undisturbed, and hide my true feelings, interests, desires and needs. I have a fire in me, and this wasn’t always easy….

We all have some story like this, some variation of changing or denying ourselves in some way to fit in with the environment and people we grew up with.

This, on top of some truly shitty traumas in my childhood, was a recipe for some serious Shame. About who I am, what I've been through, how I did or didn’t respond, the weight I carry, what I'm worthy or capable of, have a right to want, and what I create.

I'm now ready to transform this painting in the right ways, for the right reasons. The perspective shift had to come first, though. And that took a few years, with this painting turned toward the wall of my studio, while I left the art piece to investigate what it had triggered in my life.

While the comment made about this painting was really more about the insensitivity of someone else's humor, it became an invitation back into a raw feeling I needed to revisit, remember and recognize as still untended - to get back to the root of unconscious conditioning, pain and disempowerment.

To Be With that Little Me, hiding away, feeling misunderstood and unseen, and in so much pain.

To get mad and NOT bury it… and then, by the gift of grace, forgive.
To bless, and not blame.

To disentangle from what was never my shit to begin with, and pick up what I always had a right to call my own and to feel.

To lay rest, set free, and rise up once again, a little bit lighter and true.
It takes time, and it takes the time it takes.

Painting over her now - the one who is peeking through on that board - is not an act of covering up or hiding in shame, in the ways I did to get by before. Or how it would have been if I had just covered her up in the wake of the comment that burned. Instead, it is composting what served its purpose, to grow a new story once and for all - my story, my laughter, my perspective and truth… with all my creative needs and vital sensitivity, too.

So, I say to the spirit of the first painting as she begins her metamorphosis: Rest in peace, sweet+unexpected instigator of healing, with your downcast eyes. Your creation story is much more than I imagined, and ready for its next life-cycle of becoming.

To you, dear reader, I say this: if you are a sensitive or intuitive soul, it is no accident or defect. This is how God made you to be, in this time. It is a medicine the world needs more of, and adds depth and attentiveness to your creativity. It is the maker of true strength and compassion. Do not doubt this power you’ve been gifted. Use it to see, feel, guide, express, engage, empower, challenge, heal and know others and Life beyond the superficial. Use it to transform every story or coping behavior that ever held you back or down or put you in hiding or unhealthy cycles of shame. See and Be Seen. Do not be afraid.

~ h

Violet Girl with Scars and Stars (a painting)

mixed-media painting on panel by Hali Karla

today I’m sharing this painting I made last month on a wonderful break from social media, and some of the words from my journal, mid-process with the painting.… the words are thoughts, musings, morsels of conversations + inspirations at the time, and process observations inter-mingling.

mixed-media painting on panel, in-process, by Hali Karla
mixed-media portrait detail on panel by Hali karla
mixed-media portrait on panel by Hali Karla

layers of stories
hidden beneath scars.
impressions made matter
over time.

there is peace, in a moment,
lids drawn blind. not be seen, seeing, open.

aqua-deep, sea-blue soaked
yet adamantly
saturated dry...

like real earth
with sighs that
hint that
stillness can shine.

violets heal trauma
(they say)
these ones
are rather large.

there were going to be stars in her hair.
there were stars in her hair.

but deliberate magic
can be so easily overdone

and is…


the truth lost in flashy gestures.

better, perhaps
to join the sacred care
of a broken world, found
fumbling and forming
within what IS.

it's not as entertaining as witchy spells
and heavenly bells
and stolen smoking prayers,
but it's...

Like earth.
Like each other's hands.
And tears. And laughter.
And the silence of not knowing
what we see.

Better, perhaps
to seek, to see
and knead our secret "magic" undeclared
in a day's infinite kindness,
in simple, shaking truths let rise,
in bread baking, broken, shared...

...or in a violet's quiet withness.

Better, perhaps
to re-member the deep medicine
that flowers have always known...

there is a humble, healing
holy Mystery
far, far greater than the stories
scars or stars may tell.

we are All still forming in Love.

and love
is always made visible.