Blog Archives

Wide Awake

I usually experience an opening or awakening in the springtime when my soul seems to wake up after a long troubled sleep. I see things clearly again. That didn’t happen this year. It started to. I felt a few moments of wide open clarity early on when I first saw the daffodils come up or on the first warm day, but I feel like I never really woke up. I’ve never had an awakening at this time of year, in the late fall or winter. This is usually when I feel my spirit darkening like tinted glass, when I close off and hunker down inside for a long period of deliberate unconsciousness where I try my best to ignore what’s going on around me.

Instead, I feel bright. Sure, I get tired and a little gloomy in the dark, early evenings sometimes, but most of the time I feel amazing. Something about these cold, clear days; the changing color palette; and watching the trees strip down to their essence is incredibly cleansing, as if the old ideas are becoming brittle and breaking away, leaving me sharp, clear, and wide open for the cold winds to whistle though. It’s like splash of cold water to the face to wake up in the morning.

I may feel differently in a few weeks, but right now I’m going to enjoy this. Maybe winter and I can be friends. Anything is possible.

Easing Into Change

I’m back! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I had a great time at Lake Powell! I got plenty of swimming, paddle boarding, and hiking done. I even got some sun color. I don’t actually tan, I just get slightly less ghostly. We got caught in some crazy storms, I ate way too much, I caught a giant catfish, and I slept under the stars on the top deck of the houseboat.

Though I had a great week, I always hate that flat, disappointing feeling of coming home after a great vacation. This time is particularly nasty for some reason. Maybe it’s all the chocolate ice cream I ate, but I feel a bit low. When we left, I felt excited to take some time away from responsibility and just play in the turquoise waters of Lake Powell, and I figured I’d come back all refreshed and feel ready to hit the ground running.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t.

I’ve noticed that I tend to expect a lot of myself sometimes, especially if I ever allow myself to “slack off”. I figure, “well, I’ve been on vacation, so now I should be able to go double time”. It’s as if I feel like I have to pay for resting. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I need a break, no strings attached.

So, instead of diving headfirst into a massive to-do list that I could compile for the week, instead of plunging into a new workout routine I’d promise myself I’d start when I got back, I’ll ease back into my daily life. No boot camp, no cleaning marathons or major lifestyle overhauls right out of the gate. I can take a vacation without paying penance later.

I think we all struggle with this sometimes. It’s like eating dessert and telling ourselves we have to run it off on the treadmill tomorrow. That’s no way to live.

So, though I have plenty to do this week, I am refusing to fill up each slot in my planner with activities I should feel up to now that I’ve had a week off. Sometimes it’s the white space on the calendar that really feeds us and moves us forward. We need time to think, dream, process, and take mini-vacations periodically to avoid burnout and stoke our creative fires.

I do have some new paintings in the works, so I hope to reveal those soon! Have a wonderful week!

Sunflower Inspiration

If I were a flower, I think I’d be a sunflower. They’re my favorite because they look so happy and they’re a symbol of joy and summer to me.

I saw a bunch of sunflowers down by the road near the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah when I went there for the annual Llama fest this weekend. Yes, Llama fest. Lots of fun. It’s like a big fancy dog show, but for llamas, and there are lots of crafts and good food, and the Krishna Temple is just a wonderful place to be because it smells like beautiful incense, everyone is happy, and it’s up on a hill with an incredible view of Utah Valley.

Anyways, Sam picked me a sunflower and I had a mini photoshoot.

I’m planning on using these in a mixed-media painting very soon!

Ok, I know. You guys want to see some llama pictures. Here you go:

And some more pictures, just for fun.

Thank you all for being such wonderful friends and readers. Have a fabulous day!

Beautiful Winter

If you’ve been reading Handprint Soul for more than a day or two, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of winter. In fact, this is the time of year when I usually begin my annual “daffodil mope,” where I feel dead and gray inside until the first daffodils pop up and fill me with hope.

I have to admit though, winter can be pretty sometimes. Though I much prefer sunshine, flowers, and green grass, it’s hard not to appreciate the silver and blue palette of winter.

I woke up to the first decent snowfall we’ve had all year, and I decided to get outside for a tromp through our famous Utah powder before it melted off the tree branches.

I love the way snow looks when it clings to the branches. It makes my neighborhood look like Narnia.

It just goes to show that there’s beauty in everything, even and especially the uncomfortable things.


First Snow

As much as I dislike winter, I’ll admit that this one has been pretty sweet so far. We finally got some of the white stuff after a bone-dry Christmas and lots of glorious sunshine. I can’t complain. January blizzards bring May flowers right?

I wouldn’t call this a blanket of snow though. More like a poorly-knitted afghan of snow. Still, it’s moisture and a beautiful part of nature’s cycle. I got out for a walk to enjoy this little dusting of snow while it’s still here. Maybe winter has finally kicked in…

Though I don’t mind the sunshine.

I love to see blue sky after a storm. It reminds me that nature is optimistic.

Inspiration Field Trips

Sometimes the best thing to get inspired is to take a walk or a drive with a camera and a sketchbook.

Last week we drove to a family Christmas party two hours away to Redmond, a tiny town in central Utah near where my mom grew up, and where I spent quite a bit of my childhood. It’s in the middle of nowhere and probably has more horses and chickens than people. I love the rolling hills and wide open fields.

Recently I realized the the surreal landscapes I often draw and paint are my own versions of this landscape, so I made sure to take a camera and sketchbook to hopefully catch some inspiration as we drove.

Winter and I aren’t the best of friends, but I love the way trees look without leaves, and I love this landscape any time of year. I watched these same hills in the car growing up as we drove down to Redmond to visit family, go to parties, or to camp.

It’s hard to get good pictures at 50 miles an hour (don’t worry, I wasn’t the one driving) but I did manage to get some decent ones. Please excuse the blurriness. I hope you can see what I see in these tangled trees and speckled hills.

I think I need to drive down to visit my aunt, and this time actually get out of the car to take pictures.

Autumn Walks

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is walk. I usually walk pretty fast, but sometimes I just take my camera for a nice, long, slow walk. Fall is so pretty.

Then, of course, I feel inspired to come home and paint.

Dipping my Toes in Photography

As I posted on Facebook last week: “Oh my goodness. I think I, McKella, hater of all things technology, am developing a love affair with photography. Oh look, a flying pig…”

If you’ve read some of my recent Saturday Links posts, you might have suspected.

I think that says it all. I thought I’d never been interested in photography before, mostly because the idea of creating art with a machine instead of brushes and paint seemed a little distant and scary to me. I know exactly nothing about how to work a camera and I haven’t the slightest idea of how to make art with one.

Painting and drawing I understand: if I want to change something, I just touch it with my finger, a brush, or whatever instrument I’m using and it’s done. With photography, I have to push buttons and adjust things. It’s not intuitive to me at all, and honestly no technology is. Just ask anyone who’s tried to play a video game with me.

Something’s clicked in my brain though. I always thought of photography as a way to document. You take pictures to preserve memories, end of story. I know, I’m a few centuries behind because that’s how painting and drawing started out, but look how far they’ve come.

I think two things contributed to this new-found interest:

1) I now see photography as a way of connecting the inner and outer world. My surrealist paintings and drawings have always been about my inner world. I had very little interest in a lot of things around me because I felt safe in my little bubble.

With all the emotional and creative work I’ve been doing lately, I’ve realized that the key to being a successful artist and writer is to connect and balance the inner and outer worlds, to bring our inner workings into the physical realm. Otherwise, we creators tend to stay inside our own heads where no one can find us. Photography is inherently the intersection of both worlds: it has to involve the outer world because that’s how the medium works. However, taking an artistic photograph is about projecting the inner world onto a physical image, filtering it through the artist’s perception.

2) I’ve been inspired. By four photographers mostly, and all for different reasons. They all have very different styles, but something about each one really appeals to me.

My Mom, and the loving curiosity of her pictures. I wish she had a page I could link to, but she doesn’t. I’ll feature some of her photos sometime.

My friend Mandee and her quirky, bohemian vibe. Also, check out her collaborative blog Three Thousand Words.

Color me Katie and her colorful, whimsical style.

And finally, Nirrimi and her raw, brutally honest edge.

I’m terrified to hit the Publish button on this one, but I thought I’d show you a few of my experimental photos. Keep in mind that I have no idea what I’m doing and that some of these were shot with a AA 5 megapixel POS from Walmart. Some of these are really recent and some are pics I took a few years ago and tweaked a little. If you have tips I’d love to hear them, but mostly I’m just trying to be brave. I honestly have no idea if they’re any good or not, but I had fun creating them.

I’d appreciate tips (comments or email) but I’m not looking for brutal criticism at the moment. I’m not sure where this new medium will take me, but I’m having a ball with it.

I know I’ve got some seasoned photographers out there. Tell me: what originally drew you to photography?

Saturday Links I Love-5/7/11

Four days of uninterupted beautiful weather: a record for Northern Utah. I hope everyone had da great week, and here’s this week’s links. Don’t forget to add your own links in the comments!

I love Tara’s post on laziness at The Organic Sister. It’s something I suspect I’ve always known but never really thought about.

This is an older post at Miss Minimalist, but one of my all-time favorites.

I discovered Creative Everyday this week and I love it! Full of whimsical art and great creative initiatives, so take a look!

Are you in the mood for gritty, edgy photography from a teenage gypsy? Check out We Live Young.

That’s all I have for this week, enjoy your weekend!