discover your created self

Shadows and Reflections

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:25 NIV)

Trusting our creativity is a new behavior for many of us. (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

Affirmations are a powerful antidote for self-hate, which commonly appears under the mask of self-doubt. (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

As an artist, I notice things. Noticing expands awareness. During this particular time away from our normal surroundings, I have been quite aware of shadows and reflections. Being in the sunshine state allows for this, and living on and near the water lends itself to these observations, too.

Every day, I contemplate many ideas and objects. My heightened awareness of the way light creates shadows, and using that light enhances the way I see objects. Of course, I’ve noticed my own shadow before, but this time, I realized that I could create shape, layers and texture in my photographs depending on how I composed the photo.

Here are some examples below.

I find these shadow “portraits” to be an interesting study of the self-portrait. What is a self-portrait? Why did the masters create self-portraits? What benefit can an artist or anyone derive from contemplating the self-portrait? Self can be a volatile subject, but self is important.

Self often gets assigned a bad reputation, because it is considered selfish. But a true appreciation of self can prevent great harms like self-hatred, self-doubt and self-sabotage. Healthy self-love can promote meaningful love for others.  We were made for love and creativity. When we consider the love offered to us by the One who made us, we can better love ourselves and others.

When I contemplate the creative power of the ocean, and the variability of light offered each day that I walk the beach, I am overwhelmed with the greatness of it all. I recognize how fragile a self can be, and marvel that the Great Creator notices me. And delights in my fascination with it all.

Yesterday, I went to visit the sanctuary of the the north beach, where the I-beams reside. I wanted to see them again in the morning light, to study the effect of light and shadows. As I walked near them, I spotted a shiny object bobbing in the seaweed. As I drew closer, I noticed a large light bulb. I figured it would be broken on one end, but it was intact. It had survived the crash of the surf. How could something so fragile have made it through the recent storm? I was mesmerized. I picked it up, thinking I could dispose of it properly. I set it down by some debris by the street, and went back to the beams.


After taking several photos of the beams, the idea popped into my head to photograph the light bulb in various places. I was delighted, when I noticed my own reflection in its mirrored glass. Then, I took it over by the I-beams to try to capture their image in the reflection.

As I walked home, I couldn’t help but show another beachcomber my find. I kept saying, can you believe it’s whole? He shook his head in disbelief. For now, I am keeping this artifact, because I can’t dispose of it. I want to protect it, and keep it safe, just like the Creator of the ocean did.






How would you describe your sense of safety these days? Try completing this sentence stem: I feel safe when . . .

6 responses to “Shadows and Reflections”

  1. I LOVE this post! The shadow image interplay, then the Wonder Bulb, your train of thought and its permutations.
    I feel safe with my nose in a book, or with both hands in the soil—most of all, though, when I focus on the Creator.

    1. Laurie- I can relate to all of your safe places…even though I have an adventurous spirit knowing our Creator is near gives me the greatest sense of safety.

  2. i thought I’d commented on this, but guess I forgot to. I was so impressed with your photo study of shadows. And that reflection! You have really been doing some great stuff on this vacation. I think getting the space to be quiet and not be pressured and interrupted not only gives us a chance to notice what surrounds us, but also gives those creative juices a boost. Your writing and visual artistry during this time certainly evidences it!

    1. Sylvia- I agree my expansion of time has opened a stream of creativity that I wasn’t expecting. Thanks for your insights here in the comments above. I am thankful for such a rich time of inspiration. I am blessed from head to toe!

  3. I love the reflection in the lightbulb. It gives me something to think on, What do we really look like to others?

    1. Cecelia- great question? I have wondered that myself at times? I hope I am reflecting God’s love and grace.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Kel Rohlf. I am an intuitive mixed-media artist, creative writer and performer. Life is a performance. I often attend.


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