Category Archives: Artsy Stuff

The Soulful Art Journal

"Earth" from My Art Journal

“Earth” from My Art Journal

I hope you will take a peek at my new blog, The Soulful Art Journal. For a number of years, creating art journals has been one of my favorite forms of self-expression. It has been an outlet for the creativity I didn’t realize was waiting to be born. Working in a journal is really play, but it is also serious work. Art seems to be the junction point between work and play where the two can join in a satisfying and joyful mix.

Mixed media helps me to express myself in so many ways that surprise me. Today, there are so many wonderful artists who have been creating personal art journals or who simply enjoy looking at them. They feed my inspiration and their creative spirits help to keep me focused on my creative work.

I’ve been inspired to begin a workshop, The Soulful Art Journal, for women. I plan to post entries of my journal, entries about the process of creating my workshop. If you are about to embark on this kind of adventure yourself, I hope this blog has something to offer you in the way of ideas and inspiration.

I’d love to share the art journal pages of other journal enthusiasts on my blog. Also, I would love your feedback.

Love and peace,



Filed under Art Journals, Artsy Stuff, Topics I Love

Kandinsky: The Artist Who Listened to Colors


The Artist Who Listened to Colors

Colors produce a corresponding spiritual vibration, and it is only as a step towards this spiritual vibration that the elementary physical impression is of importance. (Wassily Kandinsky)

If you have fallen in love with the works of Kandinsky, you may be inclined to be mystical and musical and perhaps mathematical. You may also consider yourself an outsider, someone who finds a comfort Zone outside of the box. You may be fascinated delving into the esoteric or hidden teachings of philosophers and mystics. You may be a seeker, someone willing to consider alternate realities, and like Neo in the Matrix, willing to take the “red pill,” or like Alice, quite happy to venture down the rabbit hole. You probably asked lots of questions as a child (or wanted to), such as, “Is there a God? Why are kids starving in China? Are my teachers always right? How many stars are there in the sky? Why am I here?” I always found myself asking and wondering and living in my imagination. But, if you only like representational art and believe real art must imitate real things, that one must draw a cat to look exactly like a cat, Kandinsky is not your cup of tea, or coffee, or in my case a latte.

Kandinsky is my soy caramel latte.

Kandinsky, one of my favorite artists, speaks to me even though he died before I was born. He was part of an artistic revolution that took place in Europe before World War 1 in Europe, and spanned several decades. Unlike me, he was born into an Orthodox Christian family in a small town in Russia, and drew upon the Jewish and Christian stories of his childhood and the mythic themes and symbols of his heritage. He was a genius who drew impeccably and was a brilliant master of his craft. He took art and his insights as a spiritual seeker and mystic to a level where his inner vision fused with his art. He redefined the prevailing world view of what it meant to be an artist.

His paintings resemble the stuff of our dreams and imaginations rather than actual renderings of nature. To me, they look like sacred geometry. They look like language, like sheet music, like communication from outer space. He uses line and color as instruments and his work feels musical. Perspective is manipulated and the archaic laws of art making broken, as Kandinsky continued to experiment with new forms of expression and engaged in cutting edge artistic movements (such as the Bauhaus in the 1930’s), and with other artists of his time.

Gallery Heart by Kandinsky

Kandinsky is believed to have had synaesthesia – a gift that enables a person to appreciate sounds, colors or words with two or more senses simultaneously. He was able to hear colors and painted marks that triggered particular sounds or musical notes and vice versa. Synaethesia is supposedly a brain wiring issue that is found in one in twenty people. This ability to hear color, see music or even taste words informed Kandinsky’s work. To those of us without this exceptional perception, this is miraculous, mystifying, and sparks our yearning to go beyond the limits of our own senses. Kandinsky brings us into contact with his extra-sensory perception.

The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes or dark lake with treble… (Wassily Kandinsky)

The Artist as Revolutionary

Like many of his contemporaries, some of his works were confiscated in a Nazi raid on the Bauhaus in the 1930s. They were displayed in the State-sponsored exhibit “Degenerate Art,” and then destroyed (along with works by Paul Klee, Franz Marc, and other modern artists). It saddens me that so much beauty gets lost or destroyed by zealot political leaders – tyrannical dictators fear that freedom of expression (art forms not created to support their propaganda) threatens their power. And, they are correct because art in its various forms – from the written word to painting – is powerful, and ideas are catalysts for change. A society is diminished without freedom of artistic expression. Without the joy, excitement, and energy of the archetypal artist energy, culture dies and the spirit languishes. Artists and intellectuals are always targeted as anti-social, subversive, and dangerous to the totalitarian regimes. Those of us who know this need to continue creating and making a stand to support the role of art and artists in society. And most importantly, be true to our own muse

Artists always push the envelope and must continue to break their own boundaries to evolve. Kandinsky believed the avaunt-garde of today will become common knowledge tomorrow. He saw himself as a kind of modern artist prophet who must often stand alone at the apex of a new discovery in order to usher in tomorrow’s reality. In this way, artists of today stand on the shoulders of the pioneers of the past who broke with tradition, whose work was often ridiculed, who were sometimes imprisoned or persecuted, but continued to remain true to their visions. These artist were visionaries who inspire us to follow our own visions, be true to ourselves, and follow our hearts.



Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, and the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul. (Wassily Kandinsky)


Filed under Artists I Love, Artsy Stuff, Topics I Love, Topics I Love

Bloggers for Peace: Art is a Universal Lanquage

Art for Peace

Art for Peace – Collage by Kartika

Bloggers for Peace

This week, I decided to take up the “Blogging for Peace Challenge,” and have committed to blog once each month on a topic that I feel relates to peace.

While for me, art making is a way to enter into a peaceful state because I can temporarily let go of the restraints of daily living, I believe art enhances human relationships and can build connection and communication between people. I also see art as a way for humans to connect with and appreciate the natural environment. Just look at the fields and sky painted by Van Gough – we can see he was in communion with nature. Artists have this gift, this opportunity to share such visions, to move us into states of consciousness where we may not ordinarily go.

We are united in this need to experience beauty, and through human history, the arts have been a universal vehicle for us to both appreciate the creations of others and to create our own unique visions of what is meaningful and beautiful.

Art is timeless

I find it fascinating that we can admire and be moved by the works and artistic expressions of artists from all over the world, from the beginning of time – we can feel connected to the Navaho women who weaved rugs and the Greek artisans who made drinking vessels centuries ago.

Those simple cave paintings created thousands of years ago still move of us. We find them beautiful in their elegant simplicity. And contemporary and modern artists borrow from the styles of all generations of crafters and artisans and artists to inspire their work.

When we visit museums and see artifacts from around the world, whether from Asia, Europe, Africa, or elsewhere, we get a glimpse into the souls of our ancestors. They have all been creators, they have all created beauty from the depths of their souls. They are like us, they are our family. They share our wonder when standing in front The Pieta, they share the need to experience and express the sublime through beauty in all of its forms.

Art is not a luxury that humans can live without. It is a necessity and the artist will go to any lengths to bring his visions into form.

Making art is part of our human DNA – humans are designed to create and to share their creations with others. In this way we come together to appreciate one of our common denominators – our creative potential and the joy of making things, the need to be inspired, and the impulse to follow the muse wherever she takes us. This is the way art can be a bridge to peace and harmony.



Filed under Archetypes and Symbols, Artsy Stuff, Bloggers for Peace, Spiritual Musings and Conundrums, Topics I Love

Fairfield Iowa’s Mosaic Murals by Karla Christensen

A Winter Garden
A Winter Garden Mosaic Mural Installation (6 x 10 ft.) by Karla Christensen

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
Jimmy Carter

Artist Surplus in Fairfield Iowa

We are artist rich in our little town. We are big on talent and abundant in creativity. It takes lots of courage to go public with one’s creations or to start a new medium or a project born of pure inspiration. I just love people who go for it and start from scratch – the untrained, the outsiders of the art world. I was so happy when my friend Karla became inspired to create art using mosaic tiles. Her creations were inspired by a mix of traditional themes and symbols and her own whimsey. She didn’t have training, but she just started anyway and, step-by-step, began to learn the ropes. The ropes of her new found artistic focus included lots of tile, lots of grout, lots of tools, special paints, and even a kiln. Installing murals downtown required lots of hauling and lifting and standing on ladders and drinking lots of water in the summer heat.

She began in an apartment, in her living room where she set up a large table and made messes everyday. The joy increased and the products produced delight. She eventually rented her downtown studio space overlooking the downtown Fairfield square across from Cafe Paradiso (a convenient walk to get a latte).

Then she was invited to install murals in several downtown locations: The Winter Garden is on the side of Revelations, Fairfield’s iconic restaurant and bookstore, on the alley and around the corner from the front door. The Winter Garden gives us flowers year round. It gives us the image of a girl riding a flying bird in the sky. It helps our imaginations soar. It reminds us of Spring. It transports us to a magical realm.

Sipping Tea and Scenery

Tea and Scenery Mosaic Mural Installation (6 x 10 ft.) by Karla Christensen

Tea and Scenery captures Karla’s two favorite pastimes – the delight of sipping a cup of tea and looking at the Iowa landscape. And, she includes an image of Fairfield’s wonderful bike and walking trail, a project that involved a team of dedicated people to fund and bring to completion.


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

Abraham Maslow, American psychologist known for “a hierarchy of human needs.”


Filed under Artsy Stuff, Iowa, Life in Fairfield Iowa, Topics I Love

Happy New Year: A Meditation on Time

Collage - Time
Collage: “Time” by Kartika

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay

Happy New Year

It’s time to get clear on my intentions for this New Year. My big brother has offered me some wise words about time. Here it is: Time can be our friend or our enemy depending on how we use it. If we think it is too late to make positive changes, to learn something new, to take on a challenge, and we do nothing, time is not our friend. If we think we are too old or too busy to learn to take pictures or study French, or to start painting or to learn to dance, we let time slip away from us.

Time flies and it is unrelenting, out of our control, leading us into dark and scary places where we are forced to confront demons and battle with the physical world.

If we think it is too late to change, we make the choice to do nothing, and time bears little fruit. If we see time merely as the grim reaper (and, yes it is that too), only as a river of change leading to our ultimate disintegration and demise, it is easy to resent it, to lament its brutal ways. We cannot control it and certainly cannot stop it. As the wise say, “the only constant is change.” Every day offers proof that time can take away things we love, people we depend upon, what we hold most dear.

And so, my intention for the New Year is to remind myself that each moment in time counts and offers opportunities to discover my amazing potential, to express myself in meaningful ways, and to share my gifts with the world – to make time my friend. I may not have the power to stop time from aging my body, from wreaking its challenging havoc that seems chaotic, but is in fact, orderly. I can use it to become wiser, more creative, and more soulful, and try to dance with it, to embrace it as an ally.

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Filed under Artsy Stuff, Collage, Spiritual Musings and Conundrums, Topics I Love

Art Journal Therapy: Dealing with Pain


I created these pages in my art journal during the painful breakup of a relationship. During this period, I used collage and writing in my journals as a way to move past grieving. I understood that artists have an opportunity to deal with their demons by turning to the creative process – so, I would show up at my art collage group with a broken heart and leave with a sense of relief, as if some part of the wounded me had started to heal.

Having done some work on dealing with emotional pain, I realized denial would not be an option for me. I was hurting, and pretending otherwise wouldn’t change that. However, expressing myself in a way that was beautiful to me and reflected my honest experience could have a transformational power. It’s as if the energy of grief can be redirected and used as fuel for self-awareness and ultimately used to heal the heart. It doesn’t happen instantly or even by itself, but it can be a powerful part of the process of moving forward. And only by going through the suffering, and that process can be facilitated by the simplest forms of creative expression, can we re-emerge as somehow more complete, more compassionate, and more human.

The connection between pain and art is undeniable – human beings have throughout time expressed their emotional, mental, and spiritual despair through some form of artistic expression, whether it’s by singing the Blues, writing songs about love lost, creating fiction that tells stories of the trails and tribulations of the human condition, or by putting onto canvas the extreme difficulties of inner and outer life. And so while it is true that suffering and pain are inevitable in life, there are endless choices we have on how to deal with them. I choose to go to my art journal, drink lattes and watch streaming Netfix.

One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Even in the midst of extreme physical pain and emotional disappointment, she was able to develop her work and become one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Her paintings bring tears to my eyes.

two fridas
She has said,

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
– Frida Kahlo


Filed under Art Journals, Artsy Stuff, Collage, Topics I Love, Topics I Love

Art Journals: A Spiritual Practice

eGYPT kat
Art Journal Page: The Underworld by Kartika

…through writing we connect our journeys to the experience of a multitude of life travelers before and all around us. We can learn tremendously from these others and their writings, and still–we have to make our own way.
Christina Baldwin

Yesterday morning while grabbing a bagel with egg and cheese at Revelation’s, Fairfield’s used book store, coffee house, and restaurant, I found an inspiring book on art journaling as a spiritual practice – “Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest,” by Christina Baldwin. As usual, when something is on my mind or needs my attention, books on the subject tend to fall from the shelves of Revelations (like a revelation) into my hands. And, although the book was a bit tattered, it was a great deal at two dollars.

There comes a journey…and there also comes the urge to write it down, to bear witness to our experience, to share our questions and the insights that come from questioning. The spiritual journey is the one trip we are all taking together. You may be in a bookstore, a grocery store, at a restaurant, or home in bed. Whatever you think your doing, whatever else you identify as happening, you are also somewhere in the middle of your Spiritual quest.
Christina Baldwin

Christina Baldwin talks about the value of journal keeping in helping us to define and articulate our personal narrative as we take up pilgrimage and engage is the intimate dialog with self.

It took me a while to discover my tools for expressing and recording my journey toward more consciousness, or more self-awareness, on this mysterious and perplexing path of life. And even though I had meditated for many years, and had experiences of the quiet space of awareness within, I didn’t feel I had brought my inner experiences fully into the manifest world. So, I joined a fantastic writing group of wonderful, creative people who were dedicated to self-discover through creative writing. My insecurities were overridden by enthusiasm and the joy that comes from allowing oneself to free write and to keep a journal where I could record my thoughts and feelings.

Later, I took up the painting and collage – I had wonderful mentors who offered inspiration and guidance – and discovered the freedom of that wonderful medium – the art journal. The art journal gives everyone permission to be creative. The art journal invites us to think outside of the box, to be imperfect, to cross out mistakes, to use any medium we like, to experiment with the unknown. They can become our diaries where we express our thoughts, feelings, and stories in our own style, in a place we will not be judged. We never have to show anyone our pages, but we can share if we choose to. We can then find others, all over the world, who are enthusiastically engaged in a similar yet unique process of self-discovery. And, we can meet them on line or in our communities. We can find books on the subject that inspire us to move forward and become increasingly in touch with our creative muse. We can find and join in with art jounalers everywhere.

So, even if we have never thought of ourselves as creative or articulate, the truth is we can easily enter into a conscious journey of self-discovery. We can begin to explore that universal creative potential that resides within. We can pick up a pen or a simple pencil and begin. We can put pen to paper and reflect on our thoughts and feelings along the way. And, as we observe and articulate our human experiences, we get in touch with the what the author calls, The Watcher – the part of us that is separate from it all – the place of pure consciousness, the Observer.


Filed under Art Journals, Artsy Stuff, Book Reviews, Topics I Love

Art Journal Page: The Guardian

girl in door
The Guardian by Kartika (gouache medium)

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.
George Santayana

This is a page from one of my art journal pages, done in gauche and colored pencil. Somehow working in an art journal feels less risky than working on a canvas or a single piece of paper. I’m more able to let go of expectations – after all, it’s just a little journal – and allow myself to simply play and enjoy the process. An art journal is where I’m free to have a personal dialogue with myself – no one has to see it or read my words unless I decide to share. It allows me to experiment with ideas and different media – so what if I make bad art or no art at all, that is not my purpose. Most of all, spending time with my art journal is like being with a friend who helps me heal and work through my demons and sometimes come out the other side. It’s possible I may feel that serotonin rush when a color or a line feels right or the words make sense out of senselessness. I may even feel in synchronicity with my muse, the creative spirit that gives my life meaning.


Filed under Art Journals, Artsy Stuff, Topics I Love

Art Journal Pages…

Sometimes I ask myself why I feel so enlivened and connected when I sit down with one of my my art journals – my inner critic starts to harp and nag, telling me I’m just being a bit silly, dabbling around with glue and paper, paint and scissors. Real artists are busy perfecting their craft, my critic chimes in – they are honing the skills that allow them to create real art. But, deep inside I know that is not my truth because my journals connect me to my journey, to that spark inside that can become a bit dim doing real life. “To thine own self be true,” is an adage I try to live by. And of all of the millions of other people who are telling their stories in their art journals, who sit down to enter bits and pieces of themselves in their personal diaries of images, words, and colors, not one of them will ever create a page exactly like one of my pages. So just as each snowflake is a unique expression, every art journal page is a one-of-a-kind expression, like a thumbprint or the structure of a budding flower.


My art journal – Dream

My Art Journal – Ananda Mayi Ma
My art journal – Questions


Filed under Art Journals, Artsy Stuff, Collage, Topics I Love, Topics I Love

Archetypes: Understanding Ourselves and Our Art

Painting in gouache from my art journal – Fire

Bringing spirit into matter

“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
― Joseph Campbell

I’ve discovered I both consciously and unconsciously use archetypes in my art. And, I’ve found that increasing my awareness of symbols and archetypes makes me more conscious of the themes and ideas that spontaneously arise in my own art making and helps me appreciate the work of other artists. It helps me get in touch with the energies within my own psyche. I see us all as composites of a variety of archetypes. Archetypes are the “generic versions of a person, and they represent the types of energies and patterns of behavior the person embodies or expresses throughout life or at a given time.

One of the tools I have used to help understand mine is, “The Voyager Tarot Cards,” created by James Wanless.  Tarot card decks typically contain the Major and the Minor Arcanas that represent the range of human archetypes. These types are universal and exist in all cultures and traditions. In the Voyager deck there are 10 Major Arcanas.

What are your archetypes?

Here are the Archetypes in the Voyager Deck—I see myself as a composite.:

Fool Child – Typically called “The Fool,” the fool-child represents the intuitive inspiration of genius. It symbolizes those who puts faith in the universe. The fool is able to relax and trust, to go with the flow of life.

Magician – The Magician holds the tools of transformation and materialization in any area of life. This energy can also be use to help others in your world manifest their vision. It provides opportunities and solutions to problems.

Priestess – The Priestess symbolizes the law of inherent wisdom, and is in touch with the subtle levels of reality, such as intuition and wisdom. This is the energy of the wise elder that is revered in all traditions—represents balance and clarity.

Empress – Represents the law of preservation and is the guardian of life and of the earth. This energy is in charge of protecting the earth and honors every aspect of creation for its inherent richness and beauty.

Emperor – Symbolizes the inner fire that builds and achieves professional recognition and monetary reward.

Hierophant – Symbolizes the law of life-mastery. This is the energy of meditative awareness that views all of life as an opportunity for growth—Life is your teacher. Use the lessons of life as a stepping stone to the top of the temple.

Lovers – Represents the union of male and female energies—the union of heart and mind, inner and outer. It represents to force of attraction between others and the embrace of opposites.

Chariot – Represents changes and growth and the movement to create, achieve, and evolve. The charioteer searches for self-realization.

Balance – Represents balance amidst the dance and continuum of life, between the left and right hemispheres of the mind. Balance is moving lightly with the wind like the flute to blend in with the leaves.

Hermit – Symbolizes the sage who shuts out distractions to complete the spiritual pilgrimage. This energy is about the completion of wholeness and using our work in the material world as a spiritual path to achieve our life purpose.

Fortune – The new physics shows us that all foretelling is never certain. Future projects are only projections. This is the energy of looking at life as opportunity and understanding our consciousness creates our reality.
Artists share their personal mythology with the world.

When we make art, we draw energies from the universal field of archetypes and symbols and our creations bring them back into the material world in a personal and unique from of expression. When I look at or experience the work of other artists, when I see a film, hear music, watch a play, or when I read a piece of literature, I get a view into the artists personal storehouse of symbols and archetypal energies. This enlivens that artist’s energies within me. Sharing art is a way of sharing the depths of our personal mythology and psyche with the world.


Filed under Archetypes and Symbols, Artsy Stuff, Spiritual Musings and Conundrums, Topics I Love