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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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01/25/15
January Journal52
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Art Journal, Quotes, Journal52
Posted by: Mary @ 7:29 pm

Journal52 2015 is a free continuation of Journal52 2014. There are creative prompts each week and there is a group on Facebook for sharing work with over 9,800 members. You can sign up to get the Journal52 prompts via email here. I am having a lot of fun with this and the prompts are great. I am doing my art on a 4″x6″ postcard size piece of watercolor paper and then taping my art into a Japanese woodcut art planner that I found at Barnes & Noble. Here is what I did for the first three weeks.



Mary MacIlvain

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January Life Book
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Art Journal, Quotes, Life Book
Posted by: Mary @ 7:23 pm

Life Book is run by Tamara Laporte from the UK and there are students from all over the world. The lessons are challenging but it is very wonderful. You can learn more about Life Book and the 25 awesome teachers and sign up for the year long class here. Life Book is quite reasonable priced and there are free classes here too. There is a Facebook group for sharing your artwork and there is a Flickr group too, with over 3,200 people taking Life Book this year. These are the 9″x12″ pages that I did for the first three weeks. I did not do every lesson presented this month as there was so much there. I chose to do the lessons that most inspired me.



Mary MacIlvain

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January Documented Life Project
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Art Journal, Documented Life
Posted by: Mary @ 7:11 pm

The Documented Life Project 2015 is a free continuation of DLP 2014 but this year there is a dedicated classroom and learning space and you can sign up to join at the Art to the 5th Academy. There are weekly prompts with inspiration/ideas and photo sharing in this social network. There are over 6,000 members in this worldwide group! Here are my spreads for the second and third weeks of DLP. I am working in the recommended large Dylusions journal which is quite nice but you can use any art journal that you like.


Mary MacIlvain

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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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01/01/15
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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10/31/14
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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10/12/14
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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09/07/14
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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07/04/14
The Art Opening
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Design, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 6:00 pm

Last Friday I went to an art opening at the Spectrum Gallery in Centerbrook. It was one of those spur of the moment things - I saw an email notice about it while I was having my morning cup of coffee and it sounded interesting so I went after work. It was awesome and I was blown away. The work just spoke to me and inspired me on my art journey. This is the art journal page I created and poetry I wrote to express my feelings that night.

The Art Opening
Capturing the feelings from Friday night
just being inside the art gallery
the lithographs of trees on rice paper
stretched gossamer-like from ceiling to floor
swaying gently as i went walking through
looking up with wonder and amazement
i felt myself come alive with feeling
in the presence of art that spoke to me
whispering my name softly in a dream
i heard you calling me to come closer
and felt peace as you gently touched my soul
knowing that you bring much joy to my heart.


Mary MacIlvain

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06/29/14
Inspiration Deck Swap
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Design, Creative Every Day, ATCs, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 1:22 pm

I am currently participating in a card deck swap with the Facebook group Inspiration Deck Divas & Dudes too! Everyone chooses a different quote for their card deck and the decks are shipped to one location for sorting and shipping back out. I can’t wait to see everyone’s cards! Here are the cards I created for this swap.

Here is a close up of one of my cards. A playing card is 2.5” x 3.5”, the same size as an ATC (Artist Trading Card).

Here is more info on how to create your own card deck:
Inspiration Deck
Inspiration Deck – A Tutorial


Mary MacIlvain

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06/23/14
Love
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 8:39 pm

I did an art journal spread about love this weekend. It was inspired by a blog post about Love vs Fear by my friend Kathryn Antyr. Except when I did my journal spread I talked about love and left fear out of the equation. Yes it can be scary to open up and love again after you’ve been hurt, but you can’t hide behind those walls of fear forever.

To love and be loved is the greatest joy on 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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05/24/14
Unfinished Canvas
Filed under: General, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration
Posted by: Mary @ 3:44 pm

It can confuse people when I show unfinished work but unfinished work shares a lot more about me and my creative process. This piece is actually the first canvas I started in the Bloom True workshop and the finished piece I showed in the previous post was the second canvas started. There are 2 other canvases that I am currently working on as well, one larger (24″x30″) and one small (9″x12″). This one and the previous one are 24″ square, larger in scale that I have worked with paint before. And this is my first time painting on canvas instead of watercolor paper, bristol board, foam core with a crumpled tissue paper base, or fabric. I make quilts as well and have worked on a large scale primarily on traditional quilts although I now prefer to work on art quilts on a smaller, more intimate scale.

The finished canvas progressed naturally and with ease. I have struggled with this piece and almost gessoed over the whole piece to start over about half way through. I’m very glad I didn’t do that. And do you know why? Because my personality is coming through at this point, showing joyfulness, spontaneity, perseverance, courage, and so many other things. Is it finished? Almost. How will I know when it is done? It is intuitive and hard to put into words. I will listen to the voice inside… my voice… and then I will know.


Mary MacIlvain

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