Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Faces in 30 Days- Pt 2

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 14
 Well apart from feeling pretty pleased that I've made it this far I'm not sure what else I want to say. I am learning things as I go, things that I do consistently that I need to be aware of. I'm also noticing how much I'm loving playing with colour as tonal value and I'm loving the freedom of trying different things and the surprise of just what shows up (for example, day 15 below was in response to Paris).
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 13
 On top of that I am loving that these are resonating with people, either for themselves or as gifts for others for Christmas- many are winging their way across the seas.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 11 & 12
 The two above were painted from the same reference image- I love how many different directions you can go from the same reference and essentially the same palette. The image below is a similar painting to Day 7 only I wanted to play with a softer palette.
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 17
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 19
 Some are still available here in my shop
Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Days 16 15 & 18

I'm on the home stretch now, 10 faces to go. Curious to see whats next? Me too :)

Galia Alena- 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge
Day 20

Thursday, November 19, 2015

all of us in circle, this earth, together

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

Dalai Lama

I took these photos on Saturday, I had been sitting with the pain of the wounded earth, Paris, Lebanon, Syria, the Congo, all of it, so many places, so much pain and I am determined to move away from the hate that these attacks are designed to stir. Instead I cry for the mothers, and the babies, and the wounded men and broken women, I cry for mama earth being stained with our ambitions and I check in to see where my responses are coming from, from compassion, from knowledge of the complexity and contradictions of things, from love.

A year ago I was in Paris, celebrating my mother's 70 turn around the sun. She says to me now "If I was born a year later..." yes we would have been there, and yes I would have been one to hug that brave Muslim who stood blind folded and trusting humanities ability to respond with compassion and love. We must keep our hearts, our minds and our borders open.

I dreamt these images, of course they changed in process as things do, but their intention is still the same- all of us in circle, this earth, together, fragile, broken, torn, but together- and at the center... there can be only one thing.

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

Mahatma Gandhi
And a shout out to Catherine Just whose prompt on Begin Deepening had me express it all in images.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Faces in 30 Days- a new challenge

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 1 & 2
I'm here, again, knee deep in the middle of another daily challenge/practice. I didn't plan to be here so quickly, but there it is, the energy drew me in and I began. I'm a third of the way through, learning lots, making mistakes and growing from them and wondering how to sustain the energy that kick starts these challenges- a practice needs to be a marathon not a sprint in order to build the muscles needed to sustain a practice and the growth beyond the challenge- because none of it is about the challenge, its about stretching, pushing edges, and sustaining that growth into a real challenge.

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 3
So the Rules:
  • Rule 1- there are no rules ;), only guidelines, an opening, an opportunity, a container for mark making and growth
  • Guideline 2- Paint a face a day
  • Guideline 3- Try new things, different ways, different palettes, different brush strokes, different feels.
  • Guideline 4- Try the same painting again, this time pushing it further, past that point you stopped at last time out of fear of losing it.
  • Guideline 5- Stayed aware and observant but detached.
  • Guideline 6- Offer them up daily (facebook & and in my shop) as part of the detachment practice, all of them and at a reduced price- release them, let them go.
  • Guideline 7- be kind to yourself, some days will be harder to show up, and then, of course, there is life, allow for life.
That's it- want to play- #30facesin30days  -I'd love to see Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 4

I'm loving playing with colour, under painting and accents and glows, using colours which don't usually make it onto my palette like the magenta below, so I want to play with that some more. It is the brush strokes that I really want to get more comfortable with- being more confident with their application and just leaving them, not blending,

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 5 & 7
They are all available here, in my shop, $45 each, perfect if one is calling you or if you are after a unique and original artwork for Chissy presents.

And a big shout out to inspiration from Flowrsinherhair, who is on the home stretch for a Face A Day for a Year challenge, I can't even begin to imagine, and Gillian, who is always inspiring but specifically did her own challenge a few months back and planted the seed for my own. Thank you ladies for shining brightly Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 6
Let's see where the next ten take me- back in a week and a half :) Xx

Galia Alena 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge, mixed media portraits
Day 8, 9 & 10

Sunday, October 18, 2015

And that's enough- a sketch a day

Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
The thing about challenges like this is, well, Life. I started out well, keeping up a sketch a day. Then I started to notice the other things that were dropping away to make time for this, for example a daily walk or yoga. I've always been frustrated with that saying "If you really want to do something you'll find time for it". It just doesn't allow for the creatively curious who really really want to do many things- there's still only so many hours. Oh if I could pause that precious hour when the house is quiet and the day hasn't come a knocking yet, then I would totally be doing all my yoga and meditating, I'd write, starting with the morning pages and then moving onto other things, both my journal and other projects, I would lay pages in my art journal, go for a walk in nature, tend my garden, paint, sketch and and and... Really I would, because I really want to do all those things but try as I might, I just can't bend time. An hour is still an hour and I have to choose.
And apart from all that there was also the day I had a migraine, the school holidays, a long weekend when the house was full of house guests and so on- Life. Not to mention that my palette was also calling with a few paintings insisted on being birthed even though part of the reason for this challenge was to keep my hands creating through a time I didn't think I would have either the time or the space to paint while I was immersed in Camera Craft.
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
All of this is why I am very clear that these challenges aren't designed to trip me up, to have an opportunity to fail, and get all self-loathing over it. Nor to stress through a day when I didn't find time to do one. No, this is strictly an opportunity for growth and expansion, to explore both practice and technique and to see what emerges. It is merely the container for things to happen in- not the destination. And things did happen, edges were stretched, things were discovered, inspiration did come a calling, technique was developed a bit further, threads were followed and ideas are forming. Onwards right?
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge
So I'm now on a break from "challenges" but I already have the next one waiting in the wings, starting sooner than I think. It will be the same loosey goosey container to keep me moving ever forward creatively. And that's enough...
Galia Alena- sketch a day challenge

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sketch a Day, week 3 and I'm still here

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

There's a constant pushing through that comes with the practice of daily showing up to these sketches. It's not necessarily that they are getting better but there is this space and freedom created which means that new things are tried, techniques, marks, mediums are all expanded out. Maybe it just comes from the sheer boredom that would come from doing the same thing for 30 days, maybe its from the accomplishment of having created "X" already so why not move on.

There's also an intimacy with oneself and process that comes from the daily practice, an exploration of themes and marks in a way that seems random until the daily practice stacks them on top of one another.

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

The preciousness is also removed. If I'm only doing one sketch every blue moon then there is this desire for it to be "good". When I do one everyday, that pressure is removed and replace with curiousity and experimentation. In a way the intensity of the challenge like this, one a day for an extend period, brings gifts that the spread out regular practice can not. I am keen to see this challenge through and then start the next one I have planned for later in November.

Sketch a day, mixed media Galia Alena

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week 2- Sketch a Day Challenge

Sketch a day, Galia Alena, mixed media
Week 2 and I'm managing a drawing/sketch a day, although I am not keeping up with Gillian and all her wonderful exercises. As you can see we are mixing it up with a variety of mediums, subjects and methods, although it is the face that draws me in again and again. I'm loving that these are just sketches, exercises and explorations- in letting go, in mark making, in form and tone, in looking, including and leaving out and on and on. No pressure to make anything, just an opportunity to grow, to watch and see. Already I can feel the growth from the daily practice.

Sketch a day, Galia Alena, Drawn to Expression

One of the sketches found its way onto a page in my journal tarot, my favourite book to work in lately. How I  just love to while away the hours working and exploring in here:

Tarot Journal, Galia Alena, mixed media

And I thought I'd share a little out take from shooting for Camera Craft- Into the Light, the blossoms are just so pretty...
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust
Cherry Blossom, Galia Alena, Camera Craft, e-course, online photography workshop

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When petals fall...

sketch a day- Drawn to Expression

I have this tendency to focus on just one project at any one time, even though there are always a dozen or so on the go. It will either be the project that has the most energy around it, that's piquing my curiosity and has the muses showing up for it or it will be the one that is most current (i.e. time frame driven). I always circle back to the others...eventually, but this usually means life is somewhat "unbalanced". This is where practice steps in. Practice for the sake of practice. Practice for the virtues of just showing up, no agenda or inspiration needed, just a sprinkling of discipline.

I'm not very good at discipline, and so I allow myself wider parameters around this knowing that anything else will get the rebel in me offside. And besides who wants to set themselves up for failure. So I just start and see where it goes. I've done these before. Here when I was doing a face a day and although I didn't get far I saw some definite changes in the work. Here when I tried writing a paragraph a day (quite frankly I bored myself with this one). And here when I was sick with fevers for a week or two so I committed myself to just one quick painting (around an hour) a day to balance all the foreign films I was watching which became my Fever Ladies- Trail Blazers. Ooohhh, and there was the Water Colour a Day one I started last year until Spring came and paralysed me with her beauty.

So while I am knee deep in Camera Craft, working on future lessons and diving in with the students in the classroom (loving all the work by the way, so inspiring) and dreaming up another little project (teaser here) I thought I would set myself a challenge to do so that I could keep my hands moving whilst my attention was else where. I had planned something a bit different but then Gillian's class Drawn to Expression popped up and offered the perfect container for a challenge (she is a wonderful and generous teacher, and she will be joining us in Camera Craft as soon as her own class finishes). So drawing everyday for the next moon cycle is the plan (although you can see I am already 5 days in). Let's see how far I get and even more importantly, lets see how the work develops. I will post weekly in an attempt to keep myself honest ;)

Lotus - Galia Alena Photography
When petals fall
Seeds scatter, loosened from their fragile dream
birthed from dying beauty & spilled against the light.
Tiny tiny seed, what mysteries do you clasp,
When petals fall...

My moon sister Maya is weaving together some magic over at Empress Tides, part of a project raising money for some orphanages over in Nepal and I am doing monthly readings from my paintings so head on over if you are feeling the pull of the moon.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Wild and Glorious Dance

Camera Craft- The Art of Seeing- e-course, online photography workshop
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
The Alchemical Magic of Photography- I've been thinking about this of late as I piece together the final pieces for Camera Craft. There is such an element of magic and mystery with analogue photography and moving in the digital world of photography takes some seeking to find but it is there in many many magical ways.

So much heart and soul has gone into putting this together by both myself and all the wonderful contributors. It is a glorious dance between rooting down with the bones of photography and soaring to creative heights with soulful inspiration- a wild and glorious dance.
If you're feeling the pull to be part of this dance of play, inspiration, rich content and joyous images then take your place in our creative circle- there is magic to be found.

I am loving (and surprised by) how many pieces of mixed media are being offered up, the intersection of the digital and the tangible, adding that tactile element to the digital, allowing for the raw and the real while still holding all the magic (who wants to live in a world without magic right?) and turning visions into touchstones. Yesterday I was adding Misty's lessons to the classroom and, as always, she has inspired me yet again. There are always ways to spiral in deeper with your craft, to find new inspiration and see things fresh, like a child, to see the magic and to hold it tenderly for even just a moment, a split second of grace ...

"A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety." Ansel Adams

And a sneak peek from Camera Craft-Into the Light:
Camera Craft- Into the Light- e-course, online photography workshop
To find out more visit here:

Or to sign up:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Camera Craft Guest Contributors

With less than a week until we begin I wanted to introduce all the amazing creatrix and photographers contributing to Camera Craft. Take a moment to sit back and drink in all the beauty they create. EnJoy...

Misty Mawn Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop


If you haven't already fallen in love with her and her work as I have, then start with this video and then head over to her website:
Studying photography many years ago, she has dedicated her life to growing as an artist, leading her to play in many mediums, like me that's means they all call to her to express her soul through them. Photography is one that allows her to hold the beauty of her family, her travels and her days, honouring both her love and life through her lens and heart's eye.
Everything she touches is steeped in soulful beauty, I can't wait to take her lesson myself where she will be sharing on portraiture.

Danielle Cohen Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop

Danielle Cohen has a sweet and gentle way about her yet her images hold depth and power. In her own words,"Mostly, I help people fall in love with themselves and their lives." Her work is all about helping people be seen and fall in love with themselves.
To learn more about her and see some more of her work visit here

Danielle will be sharing some of her lighting  techniques.

Ashley Fincham Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop

"I want to make images that resonate deep within...I know this life is like a lightening bolt; beautiful, electric and dancing. However it is fast and fleeting. I believe wholeheartedly it is worth every bit of documenting." Ashley takes beautiful images, but beyond that she is a creative through and through. When I look at her images I see soulful interpretation, I see the world as if through her eyes, I see her vision. She also is the curator of a wonderful series of creative INterviews over at her on line home A Global Walk, where you can read interviews on many inspiring creatives, exploring idea’s about sacred living, what helps with mending and what rhythm looks like, including other contributors like Danielle Cohen , Erin Faith Allen and myself.


Erin Faith Allen Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop
Erin and I first met many years ago when we were both active in Female Photographers of Etsy (fPOE) . I was particularly drawn to the intersection of her photography and her mixed media work. Over the years it has been my great pleasure to watch her work blossom and her creative practice become richer and deeper. I love her work and her soul that shines through it. If you are not familiar with it make your self a cup of tea and settle down with this video here and then explore some of her wonderful short films on inspiring creatrix, Soul Shakers, such as Orly Avineri and Jennette Nielsen. Its all good stuff, juicy stuff, inspiring stuff.

Stacy de la Rosa Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop STACY DE LA ROSA

Stacy's work is all about rising women up in their power and how they see themselves, working with story and archetypes. In her own words "I'm a photographer, advocate and instigator for creative women. I am a woman awakening her Queen within. I take photos, write words, and offer courses designed to reflect back to women their unique brand of beauty, magic, and joy. My greatest passion is to bear witness to women who rise into their power and create the life of their dreams."

She shoots like a girl... 
Ivy Newport Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop 

Ivy is a mixed media artist who is doing amazing work on the intersection of photography and painting in pixels. And she is such a generous soul that she has put together two gorgeous lessons for you, one on post production (making your images beautiful after shooting them) and another on encaustics and photography ( I love love love encaustics and it adds such a wonderful and tactile effect to photos). You can find her and all her wonderful work over here:

Eileen West Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop EILEEN WEST
Eileen is a photographer and a life coach, she use photography to explore her everyday world and she helps others to develop their own intuitive photography to express their inner creativity. You can find out more about her and her photo a day challenge here:

Believer in the universe…
Jeannette Le Blanc Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop

Jeanette LeBlanc is a writer, photographer and inspirationalist. She believes in chocolate and the ocean. She also believes in the artist in EVERYONE and the beauty in EVERYONE. She will be sharing a piece on the intersection of photography and words and will be doing so with a surprise guest. To find out more about Jeannette visit her here: & 


Liz Morgan Lamoreux Camera Craft Contributors- online photography workshop
"Self-portraits are one way I invite myself to feel deeply seen. How I give myself the gift of knowing that I’m not alone. How I remind myself that I’m not disappearing into the roles I play.
Through my lens I capture joy, grief, silliness, quiet, fear, exhaustion, stillness. I capture all the pieces that make up me. This is how I practice self-care and how I reach toward an understanding of who I am..." Liz, excerpt from Camera Craft
 Liz shows up fiercely vulnerable and true to herself and strives to give other women permission to do the same.
Have a listen to her talk about her own work. Be warned though, she may just make you tear up like she did me.
You can find her here

To find out more about Camera Craft visit here or  to try a sample lesson visit here. And, of course, to sign up, you can do that below :

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

There is healing in the light (and the winner is...)

Galia Alena Photography
Creativity is the type of learning process where the teacher and the pupil are located in the same individual. Koestler
I have this quote on my teaching page. It makes perfect sense to me. It is both how it should be and how I want it to be.  There is much to be gained from staying open to learn as you  teach, both from the process and from the students. Yet I wondered how that would play out with photography “101”, what would I learn in a field I am already  an “expert”.

Well class hasn’t even begun and I’ve already  learnt so much about my own photography (and myself), about how deeply to my core it is rooted, how it is a form of both meditation and prayer, how I honour precious gifts with it and how much further I have to go with it. Both the digging deep, through my own archives and my reflections in putting the lessons together as well as the beautiful cross-pollination  that comes from collaboration (not to mention the beautiful and heart felt comments on my last post), have cracked a wound open that I have with this medium (its complicated ;) ) to let the light stream both in and out. 

There is healing in the light.

I’m finding for myself all those things I’ve promised to the participants: connection, inspiration, light and shadow dances, seeing, magic, play, curiosity, delving deeper and then more inspiration. It has renewed my own dialogue with this craft, and the dance between technique and pure expression. There’s been some unschooling and some wide openings. It’s the edge where light and shadow meet, that magical place. And, as for so many women, it is the portal, the invitation into deeper creative expression and self discovery. The beginning of a new journey...

Galia Alena Photography

And so putting this together has been both a labour of love and a gift- now, go forth my little baby, and inspire…

And, the name pulled out of my singing bowl is Brandi, so pleased you will be joining us. Xx For anyone else feeling the call, join us here.

Galia Alena Photography

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Savouring Life Intensely- A Giveaway Xx

 “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
- Ansel Adams
Camera Craft Photography e-course

Photography is one of my first loves. I love the way it holds moments tenderly and how it can express what is precious, I love the way I am able to open a book of photos and suddenly I am holding my new born child again, I love the way I can be looking for something on my computer and am suddenly swept back to a magical day. I love the way it speaks that which has no words while leaving room for the mystery. I love the way it allows me to breathe in the moment, to drink it deeply, to savour it...

Camera Craft Photography e-course

I've put together an e-course to honour that love of photography and share it with others. It's part technical, part inspiration, and fully soulful AND I have some amazing collaborators joining me sharing their love for the medium (pop over here to see who these wonderful women are). To celebrate I'm giving away a spot in Camera Craft.
Camera Craft Photography e-course
To enter, all you have to do is tell me how photography has touched your heart, pop it in here in the comments and I'll write your name on a slip and toss it into my singing bowl from which I will draw a name in a week.
To increase the number of times I write your name you could do any or all of the following to spread the love, just be sure to pop back and let me know in the comments:
☆ share this competition or the class on your blog, twitter, pinterest, google, facebook page or other social network platform
☆ subscribe to my newsletter in the side bar here.
☆ like my facebook page (or invite some friends to)
☆ Tell me why this class is calling to you
☆ subscribe to this blog
I will pop back in a week to announce the winner, thank you and good luck. And if you want to join in this amazing journey click  HERE. We will be starting at the end of the month and I can hardly wait :)
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud
Camera Craft Photography e-course

Monday, July 20, 2015

Knocking down the walls of the Labyrinth

Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting
Through the Thinning Veil
I disappeared into the labyrinth of this painting. It is one I started ages ago, last year sometime. Perhaps it was about the second or third in this series. As often happens when I start more than one painting at a time, one pulls forward with stories to tell, paths to follow and I have naught else to do but to obediently follow. The result is that the others get abandoned, left to go stale. Quietly they taunt me from the corner of the studio. Several times I look at them in an attempt to find my way back in. Never to any avail.

WIP- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

The thing is that I'm no longer the same person that started this painting so trying to find the thread of where I was originally heading is no longer possible, like trying to step into the same river twice. The person who started this one had a child in primary school, and hadn't been to Paris or London for decades. She also hadn't painted the other dozen or so in the same series, a series which took an unexpected turn of its own. I thought I'm never going to finish this and that's ok, if I don't finish it, don't resolve it, I could leave it a question.

WIP- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

Contemplating this, I decide just to paint, to risk all, to cover bits I like in order to find others I liked better. To just watch and see. So the painting becomes a labyrinth, one which one must enter deeper, risking getting totally lost in the hopes of finding treasure and the way out. I also learned that sometimes the only way through a labyrinth is to knock down and rebuild the walls entirely.

And so I paint- layering and layering, burying and uncovering, risking and finding, detached and curious- just watching. Practicing the Practice.

Detail- Through the Thinning Veils, Galia Alena, mixed media painting

In other news, registration for Camera Craft is now open. If you would love to hone your Camera Craft skills and be inspired by some amazing photographers, pop over here for the details:

Camera Craft- Online Photography Workshop, e-course, Galia Alena


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