discover your created self

Crazy Idea No. 16: Go to the River


As part of my creative practice, I like to get out of the house and sketch or collage outdoors. Sketching used to intimidate me, but for some crazy reason “practice, truly makes better.” One of my crazy ideas is to invite others to join me on my creative adventures. I invited my souldare students to join me at Frontier Park in St. Charles, Missouri. My friend, Kathy, agreed to go. (In a crazy moment of dreading the cold weather, I almost cancelled, but she called and told me how much she was looking forward to sketching by the river, so we kept our date.) It was cold in the morning, but we bundled up, carried our art supplies and folding chairs to the riverfront to capture the scene flowing before us.

We alternated between chatting about life and sitting silently with our pencils in hand. After sketching, we each pulled out our portable watercolor sets to add splashes of color to our pages. We yawned and stretched, when the sun broke through the gray and warmed our faces. We took pictures of each other to document our day, as “real” artists painting “en plein air.” Which literally means we were painting outdoors.

We joked about what advice Bob Ross would give us. Kathy imitated his voice, and told me to add a happy little tree, and to make it my own. I sketched the scene before us, with my own little twists. And then a small leaf fell onto the page. I glued it to my completed scene.



After that I decided to collage using an old book page, and some more of those little leaves that were scattered on the ground by my feet.


After I pasted in my little grove of trees on the book page hill, I painted the rest of the scene, leaving the “sky” blank. I decided to write a little reflection on our day by the river. I noticed a phrase on the book page, which I used as a prompt to begin my free flow writing. Below are the thoughts that found their way on to the parchment sky:

“My dear, nobody asks you to believe in such a thing.” 

Such a thing as a little tree, a little tree of happiness to call your own, and maybe even a little grove of trees to hide and seek in the dappled sunlight streaming down, warming your face, knowing you can face the stark, gray winter ahead, if perchance, you could go back to the little grove of happiness across from the island of content; to be and to cease at the same time– to be alive

(found quote, followed by my words)

It was a good day to go to the river, to create and to imprint memories, which will bring us back to the joy of the moment, the warmth of the sun breaking through the gray and the company of good friends.

If you need more inspiration to go to the river, listen to this contemplative song written and performed by our younger son.

Where do you go for inspiration?


They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights. (Psalm 36:8 NIV)


3 responses to “Crazy Idea No. 16: Go to the River”

  1. J Gillian McCullough Avatar
    J Gillian McCullough

    I come right here for inspiration. Thank you!

    1. That means so much to me! Love you, sis!

  2. I love the spirit of this sketching session “en plein air”—especially the freestyle whimsy that developed, like the serendipity of the leaf landing on the painting, and becoming more, there and in the next one. Love that little grove. Delightful!

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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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