Thirty-one days in a row, I showed up to the canvas. And THIS emerged! I am overwhelmed with awe. I have learned that one day at a time really works. I am not as concerned about the rest of the year. Although I did find myself sad that January is over, a strange new emotion for me. Usually I rush this month and push through it to get to the warmer seasons ahead.

What caused this sadness? A parting grief, because the canvas will never be this combination again. Even though I am documenting each day, and even have plans to create something with the digital images, I come to like it the way it is.

Like yesterday, when the "door" was still white.
But now it's greenish yellow and full of texture and glitter, and it's still a door symbol. A door leading to February. And when I enter the room tomorrow, what new adventure will beckon me? What element will call out to be added? That is the joy that comes in the morning. Until then, I gaze at its form and enjoy what has become a companion of sorts.

To see the progression of the canvas follow me at Instagram and check out #souldare
playswithpurpose Such subtle changes have such dramatic impact (This comment from my friend, Kelly, on Instagram, summarizes how I have been feeling, as I add one element each day to the canvas)
day twenty-one
Each day presents its own challenge.

Sometimes exciting, sometimes daunting.

This daily canvas practice metaphor-izes before my eyes each day. I don't really think of the metaphor in the moment, but the daily accumulation of actions beckon me to think outside the canvas. It's more than a creative challenge.

The metaphor of daily change eases it's way into my consciousness with each choice.
Each day reveals how change subtly effects life. (Although some days, it is a bolder stroke that catches my eye, but mostly it's the subtleties that rise up with the wings of metaphor into my contemplative soul.

On day eighteen, I chose to glue envelope strips to the bottom; half blade of grass, half flames licking the edge. Open to interpretation.

Another awareness: while I practice my art in solitude, I intentionally chose to broadcast my progress to an audience. Those listeners, seekers, watchers of social media. And I welcome the interaction, for I am not alone. I prefer to work alone, but this project is part of the way I process life. How community matters to me, just as much as solitude.

But back to subtle change, and how it impacts the canvas, the artist, the audience and how it informs the experiences of life.

On the canvas it creates texture, dimension and interest. It's barely perceptible to the eye or documenting camera phone. But to the one who enjoys the pleasure of the canvas' presence on a daily basis, the small marks and choices bring unexpected joys. Today I added some blue marks on the "grass-fire" and then sealed them with glitter medium that dries clear and sparkly. I could not capture this with my phone, but later in the morning during my coffee and journal practice, a glint of light caught my eye. The blades were shimmering like the freshly fallen snow outside. Like ice crystals on blades of grass.

The subtle changes to the canvas, frankly scare me, the artist, each day. Because, I wonder if they are enough. It's funny how easy I begin to judge the process, rather than just witness the changes.

Mostly, I respond to what's on the canvas by bringing something from the surrounding environment to the day. But a subtle fear, desire or concern hovers in the back of my mind: how can I sustain a whole year of daily changes? That's when metaphor and reality combine to give me relief.

One day at a time! One change at a time. Being responsive to the change, rather than commanding it to work for me, frees me to enjoy the process and the outcome of each choice.

And learning that one decision does not have to control the whole. It can be added to or impacted by a new choice. Early on I chose to paint a blue square in the upper corner. It kept mocking me day after day. I was going to paint over the whole square with fuschia. But as I carefully cut the paint into the curve of the "S" . . . a heart presented itself. And then I decided, I would not obliterate the blue, just enhance it.

Some of the fuschia paint found its way down to other sections, adding a happy blush. And now the blue feels better, more at home where it started, now accompanied by  an infusion of fuschia joy.

How does the subtleties affect the audience? Only they really know, but when I read a comment, I know that the changes on the canvas are impacting them. And so, I extrapolate a principle.

One that goes like this: any change in my life or another life does impact the other.
Maybe for good, maybe for not. But either way, change is happening every moment and sometimes we are aware and sometimes  we are not.

To be subtle or bold is a choice that faces me each day, and sometimes the subtler ones make me the happiest.

Here is a slideshow of some recent changes:

I stand outside the canvas. An observer. A witness of what has been happening over the past seven days. But I am also on the canvas, marks made by my hand and ideas generated by my brain. Even underlying emotions, doubts and questions exist both on and outside the canvas.

This new found awareness surfaces, as I add a new element each day. Seven days in, and I find myself thinking ahead. What color will I add tomorrow? Now that most of the canvas has color on it, what else can I add? Should I add collage? Should I scribble with a charcoal pencil or write words with a permanent marker? These very questions alert me to a fact about myself. I plan ahead. Living in a moment is harder than I thought.

Then the  fears of the un-blank canvas crowd in. What if I run out of ideas? What if one thing obscures another? What if I don't like a certain element or color choice? I have to live with these fears and inner concerns. To live with them breeds other insecurities, like what if I can't keep up, what if I miss a day, what if I get stuck? While all of these are real concerns, it occurs to me that it is not unlike facing a new year, with all those blank months so conveniently boxed into  days on the calendar.

I don't know what those days hold, anymore than I can readily predict what will go on the canvas each day. I have to be in the moment. Live out each day and choice as they happen. And enjoy the process and the proceedings as I go.

This is freedom. This is good. Surprises and even disappointments are ahead, but there is no need to figure them out. I can relax. I don't have to brace myself for what may or may not happen next. I am learning to breathe deeper. And to exhale more completely. It's all part of being a witness to my own life and the work I choose. I am grateful.

Day Two



The new year is often likened to a blank canvas. A blank canvas rested in my art studio. This excited me, because I woke up thinking of how I might use it. In the past when, I had a quality canvas to create with, I hesitated. I didn't want to ruin it. I wanted to save it for something important or special. 

I pulled out my quality Italian easel that I got at a garage sale for mere pennies in comparison to its original cost. I placed my treasured blank canvas on the easel. I spent most of the day just sitting with it, watching the shadows play across its face as the sunlight shifted throughout the day. I took some photos. I didn't write about it until now.

About middday, I decided to paint with my leftover morning coffee. The liquid dribbled down the canvas leaving a subtle tint. 
What if I added one layer or element to the canvas for the next 365 days? And just like a whole year stretching out before me the blank canvas invites me to participate and practice. To wait and see what each day will bring. (If you'd like to watch what emerges follow me at Instagram: kelrohlf.)

Here's a glimpse at Day Two.
photo taken around 7:30am on January 2, 2016
an hour later the sun inspired me to trace the lighted shapes with a pencil
No promises, but I'll try to document the process here every few days or so for my own record, and possibly to inspire you to choose your own daily practice.