Category Archives: Practicing

A New Direction

In January of this year I was introduced to photo encaustic work.  I immediately knew that this was a new direction that I wanted to pursue with my work.  Encaustic painting uses beeswax and pigments and is a very ancient medium.  Photo encaustics, combines photography with the warm beeswax medium creating very unique, layered, moody images.

In July, I was able to attend a 3 day workshop at R & F Handmade Paints  to learn and try working with photo encaustics.  I came away with a strong (that’s putting it mildly) desire to continue to continue to learn and work with encaustics and my photography.

Encaustics provides a more hands on way of working with my images, something I have been craving for some time.  While I enjoy computer work at times, I wanted to create more hand made pieces.  It also gives an extra dimension to the images with all the layers of wax and pigments.

I have plans to set up a dedicated encaustic studio where I can continue to explore this fascinating medium.  I’ll keep you posted as that progresses.  For now, here are a few images of me at the workshop and some of my practice pieces.  I have much, much more to learn!!!

Impressionism and Photography

One of my favorite art movements has always been Impressionism.  This quote sums up what appeals the most to me about Impressionism, the methods served to “emphasise the artist’s perception of the subject matter as much as the subject itself.”

It’s no surprise, then, that I enjoy capturing  the feeling of a scene rather than documenting how it looks.  One of the ways I do this is by a fancy technique I call “swooshing”.  There’s a more technical term for it, Intentional Camera Movement or ICM.  I much prefer to call it swooshing.

The basic technique involves slow shutter speeds, in the range of 1/30 of a second up to 1 second.  As you press the shutter you move the camera.  The results depend on how fast you move, what direction you move the camera, what the shutter speed is, your subject, the light, and more.  The resulting image depends a great deal on the play of light and color, just as in Impressionism in painting.

With photographic impressionism, there is skill to it but also a bit of serendipity.  You never exactly know what you will get.  I enjoy the combination of skill and surprise.

The more you practice, the better you get at judging what will work best but there are always surprises.  It’s definitely not a one shot and done technique. Often it takes at least 4 or 5 shots to get one that is pleasing.

For me, these images evoke an emotional response much more than static, documentary type images ever can.

This is not a new technique for me but I’ve been playing with swooshing a lot in the past few months and thought I’d share just a few of my favorites.

Fine art photograph of water reflections.

Reflections on a stream.

Fine art impressionistic photography of tree branches.

Looking up at the trees and swirling the camera while it takes multiple exposures.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of water.

Shoreline along the canal.

Fine art photograph of Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone Lake.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of fire ravaged trees in Yellowstone National Park.

Vertical swoosh of fire ravaged trees in Yellowstone National Park.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of aspens in Yellowstone National Park.

Dappled sunlight in a grove of Aspens captured with a vertical swoosh.

When you look at a scene, think of how it makes you feel rather than what it looks like, even if you don’t have a camera in your hand.  Record the feeling in your soul. 

Blue Reflections: Mandala Monday

The end of January can be a very blue time in many ways.  It’s cold, much too cold, and I get very weary of being indoors yet cannot make myself go outside much more than to rush from one heated place to another.  So everything looks blue and feels blue.    But as I said last week, blue is my favorite color.  I find it comforting and comfortable and actually cheering rather than “blue” .  (Well, there’s something I might like to follow up with regarding color theory. 🙂 ) January is often a time of reflection also, so blue reflections seemed to fit.  I shared this mandala with you last week with the promise of a peek in to the stages of it’s creation. Blue-Mandala-3_Gail-Haile


Blue: Mandala Monday

As I mentioned last week, I was in Phoenix recently and played around with some reflection images.  Here is another reflection that I captured while there:

Blue-Reflection_Gail-HaileAs I was sitting at my desk, shivering in this cold January air that has overtaken our part of the world, I was drawn to the blue tone of this reflection.  Blue is my favorite color despite the fact that it is considered a cool color.  So maybe both because it’s my favorite color and because I’m cold, the blue resonated with me today. (more…)

Reflections: Mandala Monday

Last week, I had the pleasure of being in sunny Phoenix for a few days for a professional photography convention.  I was busy with convention activities a good bit of the time but did get out and enjoy the warmth and the light.

I’ve been playing with reflections for a while now with my photographs and Phoenix turned out to be a great place to continue that. (more…)

More favorites from a Year of Mandalas: Mandala Monday

Last Monday I began a look back at a little over a year of Mandala Monday (MM) posts.  This week, I’ll share a few more of my favorites.

7. As I said in #6 last week, I spent several weeks playing with flowers and mandalas.  Before I started looking back through this year, I had completely forgotten about this particular mandala but couldn’t resist including it with my favorites.  It was the result of a good deal of experimentation and play where I just kept progressively building upon an image and it’s resulting mandalas,  One Last Tulip Trial.    It doesn’t have as close a touch with the original as many of the mandalas do.  You can just barely discern that it began as tulips,  but I just love the bright colors.

Tulips and Beyond_Gail Haile

Tulips and Beyond_Gail Haile

8. In the Blueberries was a real surprise to me.  I did it sort of tongue in cheek, not really expecting anything spectacular from mandalas of blueberries, but those mandalas seemed to touch people in ways I hadn’t imagined.

Blueberries Mandala_1_©GSHaile

Blueberries Mandala_1_©GSHaile

9. After 7 or 8 months of my regular mandala practice I began to see all sorts of possibilities for mandalas.  An evening in front of our outdoor fireplace inspired two weeks of fire mandalas, On Fire and More Fire.

Ring of Fire Mandala_6_©GSHaile

Ring of Fire Mandala_6_©GSHaile

10. Mystery Mandalas had everyone guessing but no one knowing what the source image was.  I’d been “playing with my food” on a recent retreat weekend with 2 other photographers and a macro image of a red onion resulted in some richly colored and patterned mandalas.

Mystery Mandala_09_©GSHaile

Mystery Mandala_09_©GSHaile

11. Two separate posts were about existing mandalas that I happened upon: Found Mandalas and Gifts.

Gift mandala_©GSHaile

Gift mandala_©GSHaile

12. Into the Forest had some light airy mandalas that, to me, had a very magical quality to them and to which many people responded.


Into the Forest Mandala_8_©GSHaile

Into the Forest Mandala_8_©GSHaile

That’s just a bit of the highlights of Mandala Mondays.  Have I left out your favorite?  Let me know in the comments if I have.

I’m excited to see what this next year will bring, not only in mandalas but in all things creative.  May 2014 be a creative year for you!




A Year (and then some) of Mandalas: Mandala Monday

October 8, 2012, just a few months more than a year ago, I began the Mandala Monday (MM) series.  I was new to blogging and trying to find a way to give myself some structure and accountability.  I knew that if I didn’t give myself a reason to write posts, they might never or only sporadically happen.  Mandalas seemed a perfect subject for a regular post.

One of the many unexpected results (there are always unexpected results) is that creating mandalas has become a practice for me. It has allowed/forced me to experiment with mandala source images that I probably would not have done otherwise.  I’m always on the lookout for potential mandala material and some very interesting mandalas have resulted.

Some weeks, when I’m particularly busy, for just a split second I think, “Maybe I’ll skip it this week”, but then I remember that there are people who are expecting their Monday morning dose of mandalas. So I show up again to do the practice.

At this start of a new year when we all tend to be  looking both backward and forward at the same time, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights of Mandala Mondays. This week and next, I’ll revisit some of my favorites as well as those that drew the most responses from readers.  ( Looking forward, I’m planning a new series that will be starting in just a few weeks called Re-Inspired.  Each week during my creative time, I will be digging in to my image archives and finding images that call me to breathe some new life into them. )

1. The first Mandala Monday  explained why I am so drawn to mandalas and featured mandalas created from an image of tree roots.


SwissRoots Mandala 5_©Gail Haile

2. Very quickly, my process changed and the third MM discussed this change. While I had often used images of trees and usually images that were already in my archives, I began shooting images for the potential they seemed to hold for mandalas. This grouping of stones and leaves on a beach created some very interesting and beautiful patterns.

©GSHaile_Beach Still Life

Beach Still Life_©GSHaile_


3. Rather simple images of the ice wall inside a glacier from this November post created some surprisingly beautiful mandalas.

Glacier Mandala_1_©GSHaile

Glacier Mandala_1_©GSHaile

4. One of my favorite mandalas of all came from photographing melting ice in my garden,  Ice plus Sun. It reminds me of Irish Lace.



5. In an effort to avoid going out in the cold, I photographed stones that I’ve collected from all over the world and that are lined up on my window sills. I found some amazing patterns within those stones, Rock Formations.   I’ve used stones again several times to find mandalas.

Rose Quartz Mandala_4_GSHaile

Rose Quartz Mandala_4_GSHaile

6. In the spring, I played with flower images for several weeks to find what mandalas might emerge from them.  There were daisies, sunflowers, and lots of tulips. This one comment posted for this MM with Sunflowers expresses so well how I often feel about working with mandalas, “It allows me to see the parts of this flower differently and in a new way. It’s like rearranging the furniture in a room and suddenly you see the room, and all the pieces in it, differently and from a fresh perspective.”   Yes!  Fresh perspective!



I’d love to know what some of your favorites have been. Have I left out yours? Please let me know in the comments.

I’ll continue next week with six more favorites from a year (and then some) of mandalas.

Frost Patterns: Mandala Monday


When it’s cold, very cold, there’s this lovely thing that happens on windows some times…frost, poetically known as fern frost for the fern-like tendrils that meander across the window.  I’ve been photographing these lovely designs lately and thought they might be interesting source for mandalas.

These mandalas remind me of this quote by the author T. A. Barron, “Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you.”

I wish you all holidays filled with wonder and peace!

©Gail Haile_Fern Frost Mandala 2 ©Gail Haile_Fern Frost Mandala 3 ©Gail Haile_Fern Frost Mandala 4

Sparkling Mandalas: Mandala Monday

Lately, I’ve been digging in to my archives of images.  I came across this one, taken after a 2 foot snowfall, on a bright sunny day (a rare combination in these parts 🙂 ).  The snow was particularly light and fluffy and the sun sparkled off it, almost illuminating each individual snowflake.  This one bush was still hanging on to it’s leaves, leaves that looked almost skeletal, and each leaf had a little sparkling snow cap.  These snowy mandalas capture a bit of that same feeling.

First Snowfall: Mandala Monday

A few years ago, I captured this tree after the first heavy, wet snowfall just prior to Christmas.  As I was getting in the Christmas mode yesterday, all of a sudden I realized I’d almost forgotten about this post.  And I hadn’t created any mandalas yet (at least not ones that I could share just yet).  For some reason I thought of this image of the snowy tree and began to play around with it.  I think I had used to make just one mandala when I was first figuring out how to make them, but have never created any more with this image.  As usual, some pleasant surprises were hidden there.