And So I Pray

In every life, a little rain must fall so flowers can grow and hearts can learn to weather the storms and break open in Love. Pgs 28 – 29. Sheltered Wonder art journal

When I started this Sheltered Wonder art journal project, I wrote out the Wonder Rules to guide me. The reason for the journal is clear – to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the things I’ve learned, experienced, grown through, been challenged by and challenged during the sequestered solitude of Covid.

There have been so many moments where fear rose up, threatening to consume my peace of mind. It was through spending time in nature and in my studio that I was able to grapple with my fear so that I could find my calm even in its presence.

There have also been moments that absolutely took my breath away. Moments where the beauty of the world around me outweighed the sorrow and grief.

And, there have been moments where I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and grief. It has been here, in my studio, creating and writing, that I have found comfort, insight, healing, grace.

In this bubble in which I live, life flows as effortlessly as the river outside my window.

I struggle some days to align my world with what is going on in the world around me. And right now, that means how do I Share Grace, the fifth Wonder Rule, with my neighbours to the south where violence and death tolls continue to mount as the unrest boils over and Covid ravages lives daily.

There is little I can do in the physical world to change the course of events outside my own sphere of influence.

There is lots I can do in the metaphysical world, and also in this ‘cyber world’ where we meet up and share and learn and grow.

And that is, to practice every minute of every day, the art of sharing grace.

The issues that are impacting our US neighbours are deep and profound. Sitting here, north of the 49th parallel, it can tempting to sit in judgement. To cast aspersions upon those in leadership roles, those in power and control, those breaking the laws, those upholding them.

Grace means, I don’t do that. I cannot share darkness. I must share only light.

Light comes in many forms. For me, to add value (which is part of the fourth Wonder Rule – Find Value ) – my light must come in the form of my prayers. I must use my prayers to override any commentary I might want to make so that it is only my prayers that ripple out into the world for peace, understanding, compassion and healing for my neighbours to the south and all the world.

Just as the girl in the painting is carrying a bouquet of flowers to the tree surrounded by a field of wildflowers, I can only add my prayers to the millions of prayers going out to our US neighbours and to the world.

And so, I pray. In rain and sun, under grey skies or blue, I pray.

And I send my prayers out to the sky, the trees, the air, to the river of love flowing to those whose hearts are breaking, those whose lives are ending, those who are carrying burdens that feel too heavy and are falling under the weight. Those who are fighting for and against the turmoil of these times.

Those who are standing in confusion, fear, worry, sadness, sorrow, grief. Those crying in the darkness of their grief, those crying out for mercy, those calling out for the violence to stop, those calling out for change to happen now.

I pray and in my prayers grace finds me and hope embraces me. Hope for our neighbours to the south. For the world still struggling to come out from under the yoke of Covid. Those still struggling to come to grips with the loss of those they love, the life they had, the life they knew as normal. Those praying for peace. For change. For relief. For life.

I pray and send my prayers and my Love out into the world. It is the only way I can Share Grace.

May we all know peace. May we all know Love. May we all find the courage to heal what separates and divides us. May we all embrace our differences and celebrate our humanity as one people, one world, one human race.

And so I pray.


Words Matter

Tenth 2-page spread in the Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – I used torn pages from a dictionary for the collage elements. Watercolours, acrylic ink and acrylic paints and ironed the iimages on once completed using Jonathon Talbot’s collage technique.

When I learned I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was told I had to go to bed for the first three months.

Oh no! Whatever will you do? friends asked. This is awful.

I had to make a choice. Think of this enforced bed rest as awful, or choose to see it as a gift of life.

I chose gift of life.

Every day, I wrote in my journal about what a gift it was to have such splendid solitude alone, getting to know and love on “Baby Balthazar”, as we called her in utero. I filled each moment with loving thoughts of my unborn child so that she would know deep within her soul how wanted, loved and special she was.

These exceptional days of Covid are also such a ‘splended solitude’, if you choose to see it as such. You can use words that speak of your frustration and angst. Or words that speak of possibility, gratitude, hope.

The frustration and angst may still be there, but they wane in the light of words that illuminate your path with joy and love.

My eldest daughter turns 34 in June. She is expecting my second grandchild, a daughter.

No matter the circumstances of Covid, the words I use to describe her imminent birth are filled with all the love and hope I hold for her arrival and her life.

I wouldn’t want her to know anything else.

Life can be hard. To handle the hard times, she will need to believe in magic, wonder, awe, so that she will have the words entwined deep within her psyche that draw out her courage and love so that she can see and speak of the beauty in her life, no matter the times.

Choose your words wisely. Make them lift you up. Fill you up. Enlighten you. With joy. Laughter. Gratitude. Abundance. Possibility.

Make your words be the expression of all the wonder, awe and beauty you see in the world around you.

Let your words shine bright so that the darkness has no hope of dampening your light and holding your spirit down.


Creative by nature

We are all creative by nature. Everything about us, from learning to walk, talk, eat paint, draw, write, even think is unique to each of us.

Think about walking. As children, no one said, “Here is how you walk.” Nope. They helped us stand up. To stay on our feet by holding our hands. But they never said, “Walking consists of putting your left foot forward first, always first with the left and then, transferring your weight so that you can lift your right foot and move it in front of your left and on and on and on.

Nope. No one said that.

We learned to walk because within us there was a creative urge calling us to rise up and move our feet. In the process, we created our own unique style of walking. Very creative of us don’t you think?

Over our lifetimes we will learn to do many things. We’ll read, watch, listen to gather information and then… we’ll do it on our own. Sometimes, we might even attempt to imitate what others are doing but, own unique style/voice/essence will naturally imprint itself upon whatever we’re doing and La voilá! There we are being our unique creative selves.

Fact is, there’s no other person in the exact same spot as you, thinking the exact same thoughts, with the exact same images, words, emotions. There’s no one holding their pen, or computer mouse or brushing their hair in exactly the same way.

The statement “I am not creative”, which I’ve heard from many people over the years of creating and coaching others on their own creative journey, usually stems from the fear of believing creativity is just for a special few.

Remember. We are creative by nature.

It’s just somewhere on our journey, someone(s) put certain activities into a basket called, ‘Creative’ and all the other things in the basket called, “Not Creative’. And then we started living our lives as if the baskets were real (some call them boxes but I think ‘basket’ is more visually creative!).

There is no basket. And there definitely is no box.

Which is kind of interesting if you think about it. The statement, ‘think outside the box’ is designed to encourage people to find ways to see beyond what they know to find more creative solutions to a problem.

Creatively speaking, whether there is or isn’t a box doesn’t matter. Solutions to problems come from beyond the realm of what is known – otherwise they wouldn’t be problems needing to be explored.

Remember Einstein? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Think about it. You’re not going to get a different result if you do the same thing over and over again.

You have to ‘get creative’.

And here’s the deal. Have you ever changed anything in your life? Anything. Like trying a new food. Buying a new pair of shoes. Walking into a room full of strangers…

Somewhere in all of that you had to ‘get creative’.

See. You are creative.

Now the oportunity is to expand your ‘idea’ of what creativity represents in your life.

Like, throw out the basket. Get out of the box, kind of expansion.

Try this. Say (outloud), “I am creative by nature.”

Say it again. In your own way (because really there’s no other way for you to say it than in your own way.) “I am creative by nature.”

Own it. There’s a lot of freedom in owning your creative by nature ways.

Try it on. Taste each word. Dive deep within your body and see how your heart, your tummy, your baby toe is feeling at the statement. “I am creative by nature.”

After stating ‘I am creative by nature’, five or six times, you might even want to try saying, “I am not creative by nature” just to feel the difference.

Which one resonates?

Which one makes your heart feel light and airy. Your shoulders and back straighten.

The ‘I am creative by nature’, or the other?

Be lovingly honest with yourself. Which one soothes your heart?

I’m hoping, for the sake of all humanity, it’s the “I am creative by nature” that calls your heart out and stirs the blood running through your veins.

In this time, right now, the world needs all of us to awaken our creative natures so that we can each shine our own unique lights together to create a world of wonder, awe and possibility for all the world rise up and shine bright like a diamond.

Isn’t that Fascinating? I sure think so.

India Ink and Acrylics on Mixed Media Paper 11 x 14″ Louise Gallagher

In the quiet of the morning…

Leaves rustle
Traffic hums as it crosses the bridge
Birds sing in tree branches
Piano music plays gently in the background
Quietly, softly, I come home to my heart.

Outside my window, the river flows calmly. The BuaffloBerry bush that just a few short weeks ago was only as tall as the fence, now rises up above the railing on our second story deck.

Life flows. I flow with it.

In my heart, joy flows quietly filling in the cracks where life’s hurts have broken it open to experience the pain and wonder of being human.

My heart is stronger for the pain and healing that inevitably follows with the grace of autumn leaves falling and growing back again in spring.

A broken heart is an open heart. An open heart is a loving heart.

I let the joy flow freely, stirring my heart to beat wildly in Love with this life of mine, this world I inhabit, this place I sit in the quiet of the morning.

Yesterday, I played in the studio. I mean played. Really played.

I had no destination. No plan for what I would do. I simply wanted to play and experience the process of colours and ideas flowing. Plus, I had some new India Inks I wanted to try out. In the process, I learned something about myself that is amusing me, and exciting me.

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
11 x 14″
Louise Gallagher

If you’ve been following along on my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I love playing with alcohol inks. I love the vibrancy of the colours, the free-flowingness of the process. The unpredictability of the outcome.

But, here’s the thing. There are only so many pretty paintings of flowers I can create before becoming bored, or at least somewhat tired, of the lack of challenge in the art-making.  (a little self-confession – I was challenged by the flower in the middle when I created this painting. It wasn’t working so I really had to work at creating something out of the big blob it first appeared to be — which I admit, was fun and challenging, but it still became… just another pretty flower painting…)

Because that’s the thing my playdate in the studio taught me yesterday.

I like art-making where I’m challenging myself to create something with more ‘depth’ than what alcohol inks require of me. And yes, I could create ‘real’ paintings of scenes and things with alcohol inks — it’s not the techniques that inspire my imagination. It’s the process of discernment I experience when exploring colour, shape, texture, mood, ideas… that inspires my imagination to leap and my heart to run wild.

India Ink and Acrylic on Mixed Media paper
11 x 14″
Louise Gallagher

The art may not be as ‘appealing’, but the process is definitely more heart-enriching for me.

And so, yesterday I played and deepened my understanding of what makes me tick, not just in the studio, but in life.

I like feeling challenged. I like to feel like I am growing, shifting, experimenting with what I know to expand it into the cracks where I don’t know how strong or resilient I am to discover the more of who I am when I let my heart run wild and my imagination flow free.

I’ve always known I’m an experiential learner. I’ve just never realized, the experience of art-making ignites my soul.

Isn’t that fascinating?

I sure think so.



Intersections: my word for 2017


Intersections — Mixed media on watercolour paper 11″ x 14″

For the past several years, every December I meditate with the intention of being open to a word appearing that will be my guiding thought for the following year.

Sometimes, the word struggles to reveal itself as I block the process, pushing and prodding and trying to direct its natural appearance. In my desire to control the process, I test its strength, purpose, presence and put up roadblocks everywhere.

Sometimes, it appears and there is no getting away from it. It just is, and any machinations on my part simply affirm its presence more soundly.

The word for 2017 was such an occurrence. It appeared early in my process and wouldn’t leave. It stuck around, gently pushing me, instead of me prodding it.

As in past years, my intention was to meditate on the word and then, create a painting that represented it. I don’t ‘create’ it as much as it creates itself.

This past weekend was slightly different. I didn’t have an intention of creating a painting of the word. It just happened.

I was in the studio and started playing with my Gelli Print pad (a really fun rubbery pad that let’s you create prints of images – search for Gelli Print on Pinterest and you’ll find lots of references). I didn’t really have an intention for what I was doing. I simply wanted to explore, have fun and be open to whatever happened.

Using a pale yellow tissue paper as my substrate, I printed images on several pieces, experimenting with colour and texture. With some I used a bird stencil. Others, I used string and various shapes. Eventually, I decided I’d created enough prints and moved on to my canvas paper.

And that’s where the fun started.

Gelli Print image used in painting

Gelli Print image used in painting

Underneath the painting you see, is an old painting I wasn’t too fond of. It’s presence informs the process, creating interesting texture and background that would not have been as rich had I not chosen to trust in the process. Included in this painting are cut up pieces of one of my Gelli Print images as well as pieces of grey self-adhesive drywall gridded tape that I decided would be fun to experiment with.

See, often when I paint, I don’t really have a ‘destination’ in mind. I simply have a desire to express my creativity and be open to the process.

For me, that’s where the excitement, the joy and the contentment intersect.

The painting for my 2017 word, INTERSECTION, is the outcome of trusting in the process, leaning into creativity and letting it lead the way. There was no path, no guaranteed outcome, no sure and safe way to do it. There just was ‘the way’.

Which once again affirms that when I trust the process, the way appears.