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08/28/15
Photo Collages
Filed under: General, Collage, Photography, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Design, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 4:26 pm

Today I enjoyed a vacation day, the start of a 3 day weekend, and went to White Flower Farm in Litchfield. I wanted to see flowers,take pictures of flowers, and be surrounded by beauty. And it was so awesome to be there. Hard to imagine there could be so many flowers blooming at the end of August. When I got home I played with my new and all time favorite phone app, PhotoGrid. It is an android app to make photo collages and there must be something similar for the iPhone. But PhotoGrid is truly great! Here are my photo collages from several gardens (my friend Kate’s gardens, Ballek’s Garden Center, my brother Larry’s gardens, and White Flower Farm) and of course this blog post wouldn’t be me without some shameless selfies :-)


Mary MacIlvain

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08/02/15
Just for One Day
Filed under: General, Collage, Photography, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 5:40 pm

Here is what I created for week 4 of Inner Excavation with Liz Lamoreux - poetry and Photo Grid selfy collages.


Mary MacIlvain

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05/25/15
Transition
Filed under: General, Collage, Quilt Art, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Challenges, Design, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 3:58 pm

For a while now I have been thinking about where I want to go with my art and my life so I have been feeling my way through transition. I was feeling uncomfortable about where I was at and was unable to focus on any one thing long enough to work on my art. Instead I spent a lot of time just being and flowing from one moment to the next and taking an introspective look at what I was doing and why. I asked myself a lot of questions about my life and my artistic direction.

As suddenly as I had stopped, I got started on doing art again but this time in a more relaxed and contemplative way. I no longer felt driven to complete the weekly challenges in all the classes that I had signed up for in January as I was not enjoying the frantic pace very much. And I felt that I needed to be more self directed.

I started quilting again after a long haitus from needle and thread and found myself torn between art quilts and mixed media. Could I do both? Did I want to do both? The answer was a tentative yes. There is only so much time available and I work full time and want to spend time with family and friends. But I need my creative time and it is very much a part of my well-being. A lot of my work needs to be done at home. Still, there are portable projects like hand sewing aspects of a quilting piece or small mixed media pieces like ATCs or twinchies that can be done with markers. So off I go to work or visiting friends with a tote bag containing portable art and quilt items.

This is the opening spread for Book of Days 2015 Volume 2 Mixed Tape. It’s just a simple spread with a vintage photo of me and scans of CD covers of music that I listen to now. No, I don’t listen to oldies and like new music. I added some rubber stamping to unify the spread.

This is a spread for Book of Days 2015 volume 1, week 7. The theme was choices and I was inspired to write a spontaneous poem about choices. I used a simple collage approach to the spread.

Choices
We all make choices in life.
Some choices are small,
like what to wear today,
or what to have for lunch.
Some choices are not so small,
like who to spend time with,
where to work or where to live.
Some choices are not so clear,
like what is the right thing to do
in a complex or difficult situation.
You will choose many paths in life,
and it is ok to change direction
when you see new possibilities,
or when the truth becomes known.

This was from a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to look for a magazine. I have a lot of Art Journaling magazines at home and I have a previous issue of Bella Grace which is wonderful, but I wanted a magazine about art quilting and Quilting Arts was recommended to me by a friend.

This is my earth day challenge for the JAM Art Quilters’ April challenge. The only restriction was that the quilt had to be round and it was great fun exploring this format I made this 14″ round quilt at the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild retreat at the beginning of May and am very happy with how it came out. This Earth Day quilt, along with the Postcards from Iran quilt, will be in the JAM Art Quilters group display at the Newington Library in Connecticut for the month of June.

This quilt is a mariner’s compass wall hanging for Father John, St Mary’s retired pastor. He had seen a table runner in this pattern that I made for my son a few years ago and he liked it very much. So I made him a wall hanging this month.

This is a work in progress for the JAM Art Quilters’ May challenge, which was to use a poem or quotation. I chose the Rumi quote, “Open your hands if you want to be held.” It seemed only natural to trace my open hands for this piece. I am adding a few more things to the piece and then it will be ready for quilting. I am using hand applique techniques in this piece which makes it a portable project and it is also very relaxing to do hand work.


Mary MacIlvain

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01/04/15
January Week 1 Art
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Quotes, Documented Life, Life Book, Journal52
Posted by: Mary @ 7:05 pm

I was feeling a little under the weather this weekend and spent a lot of time on the couch reading. I am reading this fascinating e-book memoir called Sketchbooks by Lisa Sonora. She talks about her personal creative practice and she intersperses discussions about dealing with major trauma in her life. I usually read books in print but it has been hard to put my Kindle down, her story is so captivating. She shows such vulnerability and honesty it is truly heartwarming. She provides great inspiration for those of us who have experienced trauma in life and spend a lot of time looking inward. Creating art is a positive way of making sense of your life and moving forward.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates

I was discouraged tonight because it seemed like I had not accomplished that much this weekend. Weekends are my time for art and I felt that my time had been wasted. I didn’t work on the altered card deck that I started last week, I can’t get motivated to work on an art quilt, and I didn’t get through all of the Life Book class videos for week 1 so that I could start on the lesson. But when I looked around the house (and in my smart phone photo gallery) I realized that I had created some very thoughtful pieces. Sometimes I have unreasonable expectations of myself and push myself too hard. Sometimes? Often. That is just the way I am.


Mary MacIlvain

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01/01/15
New Year Abundance
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, ATCs, Book of Days, Documented Life
Posted by: Mary @ 1:51 pm

All of my online art classes opened up today and I am so thrilled to be continuing on with these year long adventures in creativity. It feels like such an abundance of joy. Yesterday I went to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme with a friend to see the Life Stories in Art exhibit. There were three concurrent exhibitions:  paintings by Mary Rogers Williams, glass art by Kari Russell-Pool, and sculptures by Mary Knollenberg. It was not that long ago that women were not recognized as artists in their own right and with time that has changed. It is interesting to note that the mixed media art circles that I currently run in are populated mostly by women. This type of art is not usually embraced by the mainstream art community. But you know what? We don’t care. We are coming together in community and we are expressing ourselves through art that is meaningful to us. We are breaking new ground and finding ourselves in the process.

Here are the classes I am taking, in no particular order:

Life Book 2015, with a lineup of 25 teachers worldwide http://www.willowing.org/life-book-2015/

Book of Days 2015 V1, art journaling with Effy Wild http://effywild.com/book-of-days/

The Documented Life Project 2015, with Art to the 5th http://www.art5academy.com/the-studio/the-documented-life-project-free

Journal52 2015, art journal workshop with Chelle Stein http://journal52.com/

Flow, 30 day journal project with Lisa Sonora http://www.lisasonora.com/

Radiant Faces, with 9 teachers including Effy Wild http://effywild.com/radiant/

And I have my own projects that I will be working on throughout the year, like canvas painting, altered card decks, ATCs, twinchies (two inch squares of art), small art quilts, and monoprinting with my new gelli plate that I got for Christmas.

This is the cover I painted for the Documented Life Project

This is the cover I painted for Book of Days

And a New Year’s post would not be complete without mentioning my one little word for the upcoming year. The tradition of choosing one word to guide you throughout the year was originally begun by Ali Edwards. Here is a link to my post for the new year two years ago Grow: Word for 2013 There is no post for last year as I had taken a 9 month sabbatical from blogging, but my word then was trust. My word for 2015 is illustrated here in collage from one of my altered card decks. I chose this word to honor my feelings inside for someone special who has come into my life.


Mary MacIlvain

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12/14/14
‘Tis the Season
Filed under: General, Photography, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 11:34 am

December brings the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. December brings holidays, family gatherings, and renewal of friendships. December brings a flurry of activities as well as a quiet contemplation of all the things in life to be grateful for, however large or small. December can also be a lonely time and it is important to reach out to others and let them know that you are there. It is also important to reach out to others when you are feeling alone as that will bring you outside of your inner world.

I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth and healing this year. From somewhat tentative steps taken over the past few years to make my life better, I have found self acceptance and self confidence that was not there before. I have been through a lot of very difficult times but I kept going and did not give up. There are a number of things that have made a difference in my life and I want to honor those here.

• Online art communities, online art classes, and art journaling

• Deepened, reciprocal relationships with my children as young adults

• My job, where I feel a sense of belonging and appreciation

• My friends, there for me even when I feel a need to pull back and withdraw

• My family, always there even when we don’t see each other often enough

• My doctors, who keep me healthy - can’t say enough good things about them

• My favorite person, for making it safe to open my heart and to trust

• The earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the water, the sky above us all

• My faith in God and my belief that everything happens for a reason


Mary MacIlvain

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11/22/14
Fall Quilt Retreat
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 7:21 pm

I went to a three day quilt retreat with the Greater Middletown - Heart of the Valley Quilt Guild at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share about my experiences there. I have not been able to participate in any quilt activities the past 6 months because of my cataracts. After the cataracts healed from the surgery in October and I got my new glasses, I was able to thread a needle again, so I was a last minute signup for the retreat and filled the last empty spot. I have been attending quilt retreats for well over 10 years (see Quilt Retreat and Friendship) and these respites from daily life with good friends are very important to me.

Usually I go to a retreat with too many projects to complete and I stay up late and don’t take enough time to relax and visit with friends. This time I was the first one in bed on Friday night instead of doing marathon sewing and being one of the last ones going to bed. I signed up for a chair massage by the fireplace on Saturday and that was wonderful as all the tension in my shoulders melted away. I worked on some small journal page size experimental art quilt pieces without having any plan in mind. I signed up for the art doll class with the talented and creative Pat Gardiner. Her dolls have been exhibited widely including Houston Quilt Festival, the biggest quilt show on earth. While this was not a doll I would have chosen to make on my own, it was a fun experience and everyone in the class enjoyed themselves in the process of making the dolls and sharing our own stories.

Friends are important - the good, healthy kinds of friends who don’t have a hidden agenda and have your best interests at heart. These are the friends who accept you as you are and don’t expect you to compromise your values or do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. They don’t cross or push your boundaries - they respect your autonomy as a person and your right to be who you are. That is what friends are all about.

Here are some photos from the quilt retreat. Enjoy!


Mary MacIlvain

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10/31/14
My Little Book
Filed under: General, Book Arts, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 9:21 pm

I finished my little book tonight. There has been an ongoing problem with the underside of my thumb and right now it is being wrapped in duct tape in hopes of solving the problem. My surgeon examined my teeny-weeny itty-bitty thumb and he said no, he does not want to do surgery on my little thumb, so let’s try something crazy instead, hence the designer duct tape. It has been difficult to sew, write, draw, and use markers for a long while now, although painting has not been a problem. Somehow things got easier with the duct tape wrap and I was able to finish this spontaneous project that I started last weekend.

The book is made of four 7.5″x11′ pieces of watercolor paper folded in half and stitched together with yarn using three holes that I made with my awl. I used my ink blot technique to create a background for each page. I did the paint dribbling process all at once in the book over my masonite painting board without waiting for anything to dry and made a big mess. It was a lot of fun! While the book was drying, I went through my selfies and printed a page of those in wallet size. Then I found quotations from one of the altered card decks I made and printed out a page of those. These quotations were from the book Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley. When the book was thoroughly dry I added the selfies and quotations to the book with gluestick. I outlined each item with my Tombow markers and tonight I added one handwritten word for each photo and another faint line with a white gel pen. Those single words came from another altered card deck so in a way I am recycling or repurposing my work. Here is my finished book!


Mary MacIlvain

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10/19/14
The Impermanence of Things
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 12:20 pm

Yesterday I went to the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) for my Connecticut Chapter meeting of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA-CT). It’s a wonderful museum and I love going there. SAQA-CT meets in various places around the state as we draw members from all over the state. The meeting was inspiring and energetic as usual with discussions about upcoming art quilting initiatives. We took a long break in the middle of the meeting to view the new exhibit, Let Me Quilt One More Day, with invitational quilts from Connecticut quilt artists as well as quilts that span the past 250 years.  The exhibit runs until January 4, 2015 and is a must see. Syl will be there to greet you :-)

It is always great to see the art quilt pieces that members have created. I am a fairly new member and was fortunate enough to meet several quilt artists yesterday who are working in mixed media as well. It is not that easy to find people locally who are doing this kind of work which crosses boundaries and spans different art media in one piece. Most people tend to focus on one type of expression and develop a body of work based upon that, whether it be painting, collage, photography, sculpture, art quilting, surface design, bookmaking, doll making, or something else. If you have a lot of interests it is difficult to limit yourself to just one thing and it is hard to choose. The good news is that you don’t have to choose - you can do whatever you want. It’s your art piece and your expression of what you feel inside and want to bring to life.

The wall of cups at the museum is gone. It has been there in the stairwell for a long while and I knew it was temporary but I was still sad to see it go. I found this picture I took of it the first time I saw it. It’s an installation piece and the entire piece was made of plastic drinking cups that are adhered to the wall in a swirling pattern. It was fascinating to walk around it and look at it and I wish that I had more photos but I don’t. But I will always have my memories of being in the same space as this beautiful work of art and what I was feeling at that time. It does speak to the ephemeral nature of life and the impermanence of things. All things must pass and nothing lasts forever. It is so important to enjoy what you have and the people in your life and be thankful.

You can see the edge of the blue Chihuly glass sculpture on the side of the cup photo. To fill the void left by the removal of the wall of cups , they have brought in a companion Chihuly piece to share space with the existing sculpture. The two glass sculptures are quite striking appearing together like this, as if in a dance of light. When two people come together with feelings of love they each bring their own light with them and together they make a greater light that is more than what was there before. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And yes, that is how I feel and I hope somehow you know this and understand.

It was a delightful day at the museum bringing warm thoughts and feelings to my heart. A day like this lets you leave worries behind and rejoice in being alive. It also makes you realize what is important and what isn’t worth getting upset about. I do fine hand work and like to embellish my small quilts with beads, buttons, charms, yarn, sea glass, shells, and other things, but I have not been able to sew with a hand sewing needle, except with great difficulty, for about a year now. I am finally facing up to the problem with my hand not being successfully treated by the regular doctor, so I am seeing a hand surgeon on Friday to talk about my options and schedule surgery. I need to be able to sew little objects onto things, not just quilts but paper too, so I am going for it! Glue is fine but stitching is more permanent, even in an impermanent world. SAQA-CT will be mounting a second Local Color exhibit in 2016 and I want to create an awesome piece that will get juried into the show.


Mary MacIlvain

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10/12/14
Altered Card Deck Flip Through + Tutorial
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Creative Every Day, ATCs, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 8:50 am

I love creating altered card decks based on ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)! I start with an ordinary deck of playing cards and by transforming them through art they become an inspiration full of quotes and ideas that can be held and flipped through.

I have created a tutorial to share with you. There is a PDF with step by step instructions to download here.

There is a flip through video with some of my favorite ATCs to view on my YouTube channel here.


Mary MacIlvain

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10/05/14
Fall is in the Air
Filed under: General, Photography, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Book of Days, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 12:43 pm

Fall is a time for renewal and rebirth,
for growth, change, and transformation.
Fall is a time for  examining where you’ve been,
where you are, and where you’re going.
Fall is a time for chili in the crockpot
and crunching leaves as you walk along outside.
Fall is a time for losing yourself
and then finding yourself once again.
Fall is a time for centering yourself
and for going deep inside to the wellspring.
Fall is a time for reaching out, seeking,
and connecting with kindred souls.
Fall is a time for lovers to know
the depth of feelings that they share.

Usually I write a poem on paper first with a lot of crossouts and changes, but this one flowed right out of my fingers through the keyboard. I have Pandora music on in the background playing the New Age channel. Fall is my favorite time of year and it brings such good things for me. I have always lived in New England with the cycle of the four seasons and it is a strong part of how I mark the passage of time.

I am spending some time in the kitchen today. My son is coming over and we are going to enjoy a variety of foods… chili, guacamole and chips, penne augustine, and apple crisp. Those seemed like the right things to make on a fall day. Spending time preparing food to share with loved ones can be a sacred, meditational act.


Mary MacIlvain

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Power Elements
Filed under: General, Photography, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal
Posted by: Mary @ 12:39 pm

In the Book of Days 2014 Volume Three art journaling class we explored four power elements as part of a mini-series in this 12 week class. The four power elements are illustrated in the following four art journal spreads. I chose to use selfies instead of painted self portraits as I do not enjoy painting portraits and I wanted this to be fun for me. The facial expressions of the photos I chose reflect the feeling of the element. One of the things that I love about taking classes with Effy is that she presents the lessons in detail and encourages you to do your own take on the ideas. She also lets you download the art instructional videos which is so generous. I have been taking classes with Effy for two years now and she is an inspiration. Effy is teaching in Life Book again this year, a celebration and honouring of you. Life Book is an awesome year long mixed media art class run by Tamara Laporte from the UK and there are 25 inspiring teachers in all. I love taking online art classes - the videos are great and I can go at my own pace and fit the classes into my life.

Here are my four spreads: To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Be Silent. Simple and yet powerful. Sometimes something simple says a lot more than something complex.


Mary MacIlvain

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09/27/14
Weekly Round Up
Filed under: General, Collage, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Quilting, Creative Every Day, ATCs
Posted by: Mary @ 7:35 pm

My art quilt group, SAQA-CT, is making small quilts to decorate the 15 foot Christmas tree at NBMAA, the New Britain Museum of American Art. At first I thought that I wouldn’t be able to participate because of my vision problems. But I am happily recovering and healing from two cataract surgeries in August and September and over the past 2 weekends I was able to put together a 7″x9″ improvisational piece for the tree. It is a wonderful museum and I love going there, so this fundraiser is a great way to show my support for the museum. All of the art quilts on the tree will be for sale once the tree goes up. It is a little early to be thinking about Christmas but it takes a lot of planning to arrange for members to make small quilts for this worthy cause and deliver them to the museum.

It has been a selfie week for me. Here I am with my hello kitty clock :-) I texted this photo to my kids this week with the message… “Do you know what time it is? It’s selfie time!” We like to text back and forth and it is a fun way to keep in touch.

I was unable to do much the first week after the cataract surgery, but I did manage to get out my Inner Excavation book by Liz Lamoreux and start on a collage journal spread for week 1. It took me another week to finish but it is OK to slow down and let yourself be in the moment and heal. I have been working primarily in acrylic paint for a while now, so it was refreshing to get out my art bin and pull out torn book pages and snippets of scrapbooking paper. The prompts included taking a photo of a cupped hand holding a small object which was a fun thing to do. I added washi/craft tape to frame the photos. Then I wrote a poem that fit nicely on the left side of the spread. I found the book’s companion blog piece from 2012, Inner Excavate Along, for more inspiration. Liz has such a wonderful approach and I enjoy her insight into the small yet special moments in life. She is also one of the top 100 pinners on Pinterest!

I have been thinking about friendship lately. Sometimes you have friends that you didn’t even realize were your true friends. Something happens and they are there for you and you didn’t know they would be. It is a wonderful feeling to have such a friend - like a hidden jewel. A true friend is such a treasure, more than any riches or wealth can bring. You may not see that friend for a long time but when you see each other again it is just like you saw each other yesterday.


Mary MacIlvain

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09/15/14
Welcome to Cre8ive Klatch
Filed under: General, Creativity, Inspiration, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 6:41 am

This summer I joined a group of creative women that has pulled together creatives from throughout the United States plus the UK and Australia. This month, after a lot of behind the scenes work, we launched the Cre8ive Klatch blog and there is a companion group that we invite you to join here on Facebook There you will find inspiration and connection in a growing creative community.

There are many creative groups out there and I am a member of a number of them. Why did I join Cre8ive Klatch? Although at times I have a push pull feeling about my involvement in online creative groups, there is a definite sense of community in this group. I have experienced tremendous growth in and support for my creativity here and I have been exposed to so many different ideas and ways of thinking and approaching things. People share so freely. Through the serendipity of being invited into the Cre8ive Klatch group, I am becoming more confident in expressing my own voice. Here I have an opportunity to teach mixed media instead of taking classes from others.

I have learned that creativity spans across international borders and language differences and that we are all one on this earth. If someone needs help with something, someone else will jump in. There is something magical about posting something in a group and getting a response from across the country or globe a minute later. More important, I consider the people I have met in my creative groups to be my friends, even though I have only met a few of them in person at an art conference. The most important thing about all of this is being open to new opportunities and saying yes.


Mary MacIlvain

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09/07/14
Art Journaling: Getting Started
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 3:10 pm

Today someone asked me how I got started in art journaling and after I thought about it I realized that a long answer would be better than a short answer. It is hard to come up with an accurate chronology of my art journaling development looking back in time, but I would have to say that finding a copy of Somerset’s new (at that time) Art Journaling magazine at Borders in West Hartford (a favorite place which is now gone) was how I came to enter the art journaling world. It seemed so decadent paying $15 for a magazine but I was totally enchanted with the artwork and that was my choice that day. When I got home I poured over the pages and I looked up the blog of every artist in the magazine and studied their blogs. Later on I bought a few art journaling books. I started to gather supplies. But after doing all of that, I still was not sure how to begin, although I knew deep inside that I had to do this.

After doing some research, I decided to take online classes, both free and paid. Seeing videos made by artists as they created art journaling pages and spreads was what I needed to get started. I am a visual person and for me the words on the pages of the books and magazines and blogs did not connect with the act of creating the art journaling page. My first pages were splashes of color and had no words. I was not sure what to write or even what to use to write on top of paint. Here is one of my earlier art journal pages, inspired by Journal Artista’s video channel.

Since then I have taken a number of classes and have learned and grown with these classes, both artistically and as a person. There are a lot of people out there teaching art journaling and it is good to be exposed to a variety of styles and teachers. Some classes offer a variety of teachers in one place, such as 21 Secrets or Life Book 2015 (registration coming soon). Other classes are offered by one teacher such as Effy Wild or Jennibellie. If you look at an artist’s blog and YouTube channel that will give you an idea of their art journaling style and whether or not you would enjoy taking a class with that artist.

You can learn a lot just by subscribing to some video channels. I have my YouTube channels synced with my Roku and I can watch YouTube videos on my TV. Here are some YouTube channels for you to look up and check out: Alisa Burke, artistsnetwork, Carolyn Dube, Cat Caracelo, Christy Tomlinson, Cre8ive Klatch, Cre8tiveCre8tions by Andrea Gomoll, Donna Downey, FollowThePaperTrail, france papillon, Gabrielle Pollacco, Gary Reef, Gone Wild: Art With Effy, itsaworkof art, Jane Davenport, jennibellie, Jessica Sporn, JournalArtista, Kate Crane, Kathy Orta Files, Laura Dennison, Luvleescrappin, MayNatasha, Mindy Lacefield, MsLiberty25, Pam Carriker, PringleHillStudio, RachO113, Roben-Marie Smith, Sandra van der Geest, suzi blu, Teresa McFayden, Tim Holtz, Vicky Papaioannou, willowing. My absolute favorite right now is france papillon from Belgium - she is awesome!

An important aspect of art journaling is going inside yourself and bringing that out onto the page. An art journaling class is the catalyst for this and you will find that as you get into the process, things will come out that you didn’t even realize were inside of you. This is a very expressive and freeing type of art and you are not starting out with an intention of what the art work will look like but rather are letting it come out of you. You are a conduit for the source inside of you. In some ways it is a meditative practice and you are making the space to allow balance and change to come into your life.

One last thing - I want to talk about supplies, because people can really get carried away with supplies and purchase everything under the sun. You don’t need a lot to get started and it is best to use things that you have on hand and then supplement as needed. In some countries there is very little access to art supplies and that is particularly challenging. Things can be ordered online but international shipping costs for packages are high. At a very basic level you need mark making tools (pen, pencil, crayon, charcoal), something to make marks on (paper), some sort of adhesive (glue, glue stick), and something to cut with (scissors).

What are the items that I use?
Strathmore Visual Art Journals
Hand Bound Art Journals (free workshop at Effy Wild)
Craftsmart acrylic craft paint from Michaels in lots of colors (cheap)
Cheap brushes (Michaels) - rinse them right away during and after use
Plastic food containers for water
Plastic disposable plate for a  palette
Plastic spray bottle (from makeup aisle at drug store)
Discarded credit cards for moving paint around
Sequin waste/punchinella (a splurge from Artfire)
Bubble wrap(to make marks)
Ranger heat gun (a recent splurge)
bottle caps and other round objects for mark making
Assortment of markers, pens, charcoal pencil
a few paint pens (I love white ones)
glue stick
scissors
washi/craft tape (I resisted this for a long while but gave in)
matte gel medium (liquitex brand)
gesso (any brand - no, I don’t buy $Golden)
brayer
stencils (have just a few)
rubber stamps and ink pads (from previous craft adventures)
paper towels
cutrite wax paper (to protect pages underneath)
art bin full of found paper items, old calendars, ribbon, brochures, pages ripped out of old books :-) etc
sheet of plexiglass for monoprinting (no you don’t need a gelli plate)
monoprint papers
scrapbooking paper (from my previous scrapbooking adventures)
rotary cutter and mat (from my sewing supplies)
several small sterlite plastic containers from hardware store to store it all


Mary MacIlvain

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08/30/14
Poetry/Journaling
Filed under: General, Collage, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 5:54 pm

I have been doing a lot of traditional journaling lately and have almost filled another spiral bound journal from Barnes & Noble. When I write poetry I usually use a pencil with a lined pad on a clipboard so that I can get comfortable, erase and cross out, and rearrange words. The poem on this scan of a page from my written journal was done in ink straight through with only a little correction tape in a few spots. It is a love poem for someone I think the world of, so it is too personal to share here. It is a nontraditional sonnet which is a format that I really like - 14 lines, it doesn’t rhyme, and it is not in iambic pentameter (a rhythm established in the groups of syllables) It was very special to have a poem spill out of my heart onto a page like that. I almost couldn’t write the thoughts down fast enough as they just tumbled out so quickly. That is how it has been in my written journal the past few weeks - the words just flow.

Words and books have always fascinated me. My father used to take us to the library on Saturday mornings and when I had children of my own I also took them to the library frequently. I have always loved being surrounded by books and was so happy when my son gave me these Ikea bookcases last year. I have a few books on my Kindle too but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands, and art books especially seem much better in book format.

What am I reading right now you might wonder?

Here is what is out on the coffee table:
The Poems of Hafez, translations by Reza Ordoubadian
Rumi Poems, pocket edition, selected and edited by Peter Washington
Journalkeeping by Carl J. Koch (library book)
Walking in This World by Julia Cameron (library book)
The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux
Art Journaling magazine by Somerset Studio
Pages magazine by Cloth Paper Scissors
(I submitted artwork to CPS for Pages in August)
SAQA Journal by Studio Art Quilt Associates
(I submitted artwork to SAQA for a book in August)
Marketer, the Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (brought home from work)


Mary MacIlvain

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08/17/14
Selfies: It’s Not What You Think
Filed under: General, Photography, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days
Posted by: Mary @ 11:26 am

What do all these selfies mean anyway? I am somewhat self conscious about myself and my appearance at times but I am certainly not self absorbed. I am a very introspective person and spend a lot of time looking inward and seeking answers to the eternal questions: who am I, what am I doing here, where have I been, where am I going, and where am I at this very moment in time?

My Book of Days art journal spread this week does not follow the class lesson but I prefer to use an art class as a jumping off point. This spread exuberantly shows what I am all about, who I am, and where I see myself in relation to the world. In a way, that makes this a defining statement about feeling empowered in my own life. If I chose to let my past hold me back, I would not be able to feel these wonderful feelings that have grown inside of me. It is the challenges of life that have made me become the person who I am today and I honor the lessons of my past while letting go and moving forward in life.

I created a planner page with my wish list for week 29. I could have made a list of things that i want for myself but that did not resonate with me. Instead I listed the intangibles that are basic to humanity. These are things that have no easy solution but they are important to hope and pray for, to add to the collective consciousness of all people on our planet Earth.


Mary MacIlvain

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08/10/14
Documented Life Planner
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Challenges, Creative Every Day, Quotes, Documented Life
Posted by: Mary @ 4:45 pm

On the way in to work one morning this week I spotted an incredible pair of spider webs on the split rail fence at the corner of the building. I got in almost an hour early that day because I had a lot to do, so the early morning sun backlit the top spider web and created a stunning visual effect. I often notice the little things that others would walk past and not see and that is part of who I am. People have differing opinions on spiders and some are afraid of them but I think they bring good luck and are industrious creatures.

This weekend I did not get a lot of artwork done as there were a lot of things I needed to do around the house that I had been neglecting. I don’t get down on myself for not accomplishing everything that I have in mind. My list of what I’d like to do is long and I need to choose what things need the most attention and let go of the rest. There will always be another day!

I spent some time working in my documented life planner and would like to share the pages with you. This is a year long project with weekly prompts that is run by the five inspiring women of Art to the 5th. There is a Facebook group and a Flickr group where people share their artwork and it’s awesome. No two journal pages are the same. You start with a purchased weekly calendar book and then add art to the pages using the weekly prompts. There were about 800 people in the FB group when I signed up in mid-December and now there are over 8,000 group members. News about the group has spread by word of mouth in the online mixed media art community. I am perennially behind but there are no time limits on when you need to complete pages.

For week 26 we were to choose either a bible verse or a line from a favorite book. I have a favorite Bible verse that immediately came to mind so here is my page. I am Catholic so this is from my Dad’s Cardinal Spellman (NYC) Catholic Bible that I have now and this may differ from other translations.

Week 27 was to add a crossword puzzle, suduko or word search to your page. I used to do pieced puzzles when I was growing up but I never was much of a one for word puzzles, hence this page. My aunt in New Hampshire who is 95 and sharp as a tack loves doing Sudoku puzzles.

Week 28 was to add an Instagram or other tiny photo to the page. I had a photo left over from my art journaling last week that was too small, so I used that here. I must confess I did not like selfies at first but I have become a big fan of selfies and take them whenever I can now :-)


Mary MacIlvain

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08/02/14
Art Journaling Day
Filed under: General, Collage, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 7:53 pm

Today I stayed home and had an art journaling day. It is peaceful to be alone with your thoughts and work in your art journals while listening to music alternating with periods of silence and an occasional trip to the kitchen. My art journals fill a bookshelf now and I keep adding to the growing collection of expressive artwork. They are a chronicle of where I’ve been and how I’ve felt about life’s passing, capturing little moments of time. When I work in my art journals I reach the place inside me where there are no words, only feelings. This is where I remove uncertainty and clarify what I am really feeling and who I am. I also come to terms with things that are troubling me, both here and in my traditional written journals, and can reframe my past in a more positive light.

A new Book of Days Art Journaling class with Effy Wild started on Monday. The theme this session is sovereignty, meaning to take control of your own destiny and life. You can’t control the things that happen to you but you can control your reaction to life events and how you deal with them. Having a positive attitude can get you through the most difficult passages in a healthy way. I can’t tell you how much art journaling has helped me to heal and grow over the past 4 years. When I come to the page, I may have an idea of how I want to interpret a theme or prompt, but I never know exactly what I am going to do or how it is going to turn out. It is both enlightening and cathartic to work through your feelings in your art journal. The act of art journaling is considered to be a practice, much like meditation or yoga. Art heals.

This spread speaks for itself: home is where the heart is. I had been uprooted when I came to live in this place and it took some time for it to feel like home. When I first moved in here I hung a small Celtic cross on the opening that separated the living and dining areas and had Father John come over and bless the house. That made me feel better. Over time I added little touches that made it feel more welcoming and I gradually imbued my spirit here. Of course the special people in my life make me feel at home wherever I am. Home is my sanctuary and my safe place, where I can be myself and be at peace.

I also added a sixth layer to one of my canvases today. It has been at least a month since I have touched it and when I walked by the art room today something made me want to add more brush strokes to this canvas. It was one of three started in a Bloom True painting class with Flora Bowley this winter where I discovered that I really love painting on canvas. This is very freeing and brings you to a special place in a spiritual and metaphysical sense.

I am thankful for my creativity and for the freedom to be myself. Every day brings wonder and joy. A long while ago my Sufi friend Mary Pat showed me her path at a time when I had not given much thought to the path I was following in life. She lives at Gobind Sadan in India now and wrote the book Every Day Miracles in the House of God about her experiences there, available as a free PDF. Since then I have been on a long journey, trying to shed what others have told me was true in order to find my own truth and my real self. At this point in time I have come to a better understanding of the things that she taught me during the times we shared before she moved half way across the world.

My favorite song is Pilgrim by Enya with the refrain “Pilgrim it’s a long way to find out who you are…” That song rings so true for me. It’s all about living an authentic life, about being true to yourself especially in the face of adversity, and never losing sight of the reason you are here on this earth. We are all here for a reason and everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand it at the time. Enlightenment comes to those who seek it.


Mary MacIlvain

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07/28/14
A Day in the Life
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 7:44 pm

Is there a typical day in the life? Probably not. I start the day with coffee and my smart phone. I end the day with art books, poetry, YouTube mixed media videos on Netflix or traditional written journaling. I have a great job in marketing and I enjoy going there every day and seeing what challenges await me. Sometimes there are after work get togethers like kickball or a visit to a local restaurant. When I am not at work I enjoy art journaling and splashing paint around while trying to avoid spattering paint or gel medium on the dining room chairs. My décor is eclectic and my art materials have a prominent place in the house – basically all over the place! My kids are my best friends and we have fun together. I like to shop, I like to cook, and I like to hang out with friends. I am always busy doing something!


Mary MacIlvain

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