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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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04/12/15
Art Journaling
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Art Journal, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Documented Life, Life Book, Journal52
Posted by: Mary @ 6:52 pm

There have been too many things going on in my life the past few months so I have not made a blog post for a long while. I wanted to share some of my work now before more time slips away.

This art quilt celebrates my return to quilting after a long hiatus (I had a wart on the underside of my thumb for over a year and that made it difficult to sew or even write). Last month I joined an inspirational art quilt group and they are doing monthly challenges. The March challenge was architecture and I chose to design Postcards from Iran to show the rich history of this country that dates back to the cradle/birthplace of civilization. The architecture is beautiful and so are the people.

This is a spread from Book of Days 2015 V1. The prompt was feathers. I painted a background and did pen and ink drawings and then colored it in with markers. Besides the feathers, I also drew some simple dream catchers and stamped with two of my hand carved stamps. I left two of the feathers uncolored because I liked the way that it looked.

This is from the Documented Life Project and the challenge was to use layers that you love and to see how many layers you could use. I had fun with this!

This one is also from DLP and the challenge was to use under papers. I chose to use papers that I had printed with my Gelli plate. I had a marathon art journaling session on Valentine’s Day and although I was alone, art journaling was a very nice way to spend the day in a snowstorm. It made the day special for me.

This page is from Journal52 and I am doing quick and easy postcard size art and taping it into a calendar planner. This must have been done on Valentine’s Day too and yes I am an incurable romantic and no I don’t want to be with just anybody which is why I have been alone a long while.

Another DLP piece and the challenge for this one was to use a repeated shape. I photographed previous work and glued it down for this page, then added the small dream catcher like circles as ornament and the words that I was feeling at the moment. The work came from a circle book I made with round pages that I had painted with watercolors, written an inspirational word on each page and then stamped them with my hand carved leaves stamp. It is fun re-using your work in another art piece.

I did this today for DLP and wanted to show my work table - the dining room table covered with a vinyl tablecloth. The challenge was to use 5 layers and I did something simple - paint, paint, and more paint and then I used punchinella (sequin waste with little holes) followed by an interesting circles stencil. I didn’t use any water, which is something I really like to do, because the Dylusions journal does not like getting wet and the pages really buckle when you work the paint wet.

This piece was from Life Book and it doesn’t look anything like the lesson seeds of love but I enjoyed doing the layering and used my awesome tree stencil over the layers to give it a floaty look. I added some sideways writing along the trees.


Mary MacIlvain

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01/25/15
January Book of Days
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Art Journal, Book of Days, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 6:58 pm

Here are my week 1 and week 2 spreads from the Book of Days 2015 V1 Ordinary Beauty class with Effy Wild.This class is really resonating with me. I have been taking art journaling classes with Effy for three years now and each year just gets better. Effy shares so many techniques and ideas and she is really awesome. There are both free and paid classes on her ning network and this is a wonderful and supportive social network with over 2400 members. There is a group on Facebook too. Art journaling helps you to sort through things in life and find your true self. It is very empowering.


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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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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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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06/15/14
Art Journaling: Self Care
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Design, Book of Days
Posted by: Mary @ 4:46 pm

I have been art journaling for 4 years and have taken classes with Effy Wild for 2 years now. This spread is from week 5 Book of Days 2014 V2 which is going on now. This doesn’t look anything like the class sample as I like to watch the videos, absorb the ideas and then do my own thing.

My work was rejected from the juried art show last week and that was not really a surprise as it was a traditional, representational art show with very little abstract or groundbreaking work. But it made me question again what I am doing and why I create art. The answer came quickly: I paint and create art for myself. My motivation is to explore what is going on inside of me, to express myself, and to push past my boundaries and explore new ideas. Painting/mixed media/art journaling makes me feel very good inside. It’s a transformational experience for me.

The what am I doing question addresses the fact that for many years I have been immersing myself in a number of groups and running from one to the next, looking for something that is not there. I am not going to find my true creative voice in a group. It is only in introspective time alone that my self can emerge. So I have begun to disentangle myself from the distraction of too many things and am trying to focus on a few things that resonate with me instead of a lot of things that are just not me. My interests have changed and I can’t be everything for everybody. And yes, I am spending more time at home and not running around after work every other night and I am loving it!

Flora Bowley, the wonderful creative I took the painting (and way of life) class with this winter, recently announced on her blog that she is taking a sabbatical. What a great idea! I am not taking a sabbatical but I have been examining the what am I doing question for a long while now and so I am changing it up, letting things go, allowing space in my life to breathe, and being open to new things/people/ideas/fun. And I want to go on record here and say that I love my career job! I work hard, not because I have to, but because I want to. I truly enjoy what I am doing and take great pride in my work. At the end of the day it feels so good to look at what I’ve accomplished. Making art  when I have time at home balances that all out and makes me feel whole.


Mary MacIlvain

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12/25/12
Gratitude at Christmas
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days
Posted by: Mary @ 8:04 am

I would like to express gratitude for my two children, for my favorite friend, for my family, for my friends, for my cat, for my creativity and artistic ability, for my job, for my nice house, for my good car, for the Internet, for my smart phone, for my health, for who I am, for my faith, for my spirituality, for healing, for healthy boundaries, for my doctors, and for being alive.

I was alone with the cat Christmas Eve and after making the lasagna for the Christmas Day gathering I set up my art supplies on the dining room table. My art journal is my friend and I carved some new stamps using Mastercarve and was happy with the results. As always I felt awe and wonder at the Christmas Vigil Mass at St. Mary’s and renewed my connection to the light which as a light bearer I carry with me wherever I go. Peace, joy, and love to you all in this season as we welcome the birth of the Christ child. Christmas is not about the parties and the presents. Christmas is about the light brought into the world to bring us out of the darkness.



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03/30/12
Book of Days - March
Filed under: General, Book Arts, Mixed Media, Creativity, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days
Posted by: Mary @ 8:22 pm

I am taking a year long mixed-media art journaling e-class called Book of Days with Effy Wild. It is a free class generously offered by Effy and there are tons of inspirational videos plus live streaming. She shares techniques and an outpouring of ideas as well as her unique approach on this art form. Several e-newsletters per week act as a guide to help you keep track of the many offerings and everything is archived on the password protected website. It is truly awesome and there are over 1200 member artists at this point. I chose to alter a used book to contain my work but you can also use a plain composition book.


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02/10/12
Book of Days - Reflections
Filed under: General, Collage, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 7:50 pm

Here are some simple pages for Book of Days with reflections expressed in a few favorite quotes. The first quote is from Father Ed Dempsey’s homily at the Christmas Eve vigil mass this past year. The quote says…

No matter the past
No matter the present

The future can be different
There is always
        the possibility
                for change.

The second quote is from an old calendar from the month of February.

Look out at the stars
Watch the moon
Know you are loved.


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01/21/12
Book of Days
Filed under: General, Book Arts, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Book of Days
Posted by: Mary @ 9:09 pm

Book of Days is a yearlong art journaling adventure in an altered book. It is run by Effy Wild and as she said in one of her videos “This rocks my pop tarts!” The class is free and you will learn so much about mixed media and art journaling from Effy. Here are the front and back covers for my book.


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