In The Mood For Color

Playing with bold and dramatic color schemes

A Big Tropical Project!

I decided to go a tropical route and combine the skills of stenciling, layered die cuts, and adding shine.  My recycled element was using the acetate from the packaging as an element in a shaker card.  Throughout the cards, the central them was the tropical leaves and flowers.  
February 10, 2024 by Mary Sterk

Introducing a new collection & a big sale - Elegant Handmade Greeting Cards!

Creativity can ebb and flow for an artist.  Somedays I long for paint to cover my fingers as I hop from canvas to canvas, adding details and texture.  Somedays the paintbrush doesn't leave the jar and the paint tubes stay capped.  It was during one of these painting lulls that I started playing with paper.  I haven't stopped since!  If you see a design or two that captures your heart, you can use this link to get a discount - 3 for the price of 2 during the month of August!  

Prepare To Live

Prepare To Live - the second painting in my new series The Beyond Cancer Collection. This painting is a tribute to all cancer survivors, as well as to the surviving family members of those whom we have lost to this disease. When you have cancer, your mind is often filled with thoughts of preparing for death. But many people fight the battle, beat the odds, and go on to live long and wonderful lives filled with passion and purpose. I hope this piece inspires you to prepare to live.

For those who have lost a loved one, it can be hard to imagine life without them. Grief can chip away at our own will to carry on. It's not easy to put the pieces back together after a loss, and learn to thrive once again. I hope this piece inspires you to prepare to live.

Yesterday, an amazing woman I recently me lost her battle with cancer.  Her name was Katie.  I recently wrote a book, and the publishing company that I worked with often publishes around 10 books at a time.  Katie's book launched when mine did.  I felt like I knew her before I met her because I had a chance to read her story in the book she left as a legacy in this world.  I was blessed to sit with her for 3 days during our launch event.  Katie touched my life for a brief time, but will stay with me for years to come.  You can see in the painting near the picture of the queen there its a K inside of a heart.  That's for you Katie.    

I am sharing the link to her book below - The Courage Club - Katie's own courageous journey through cancer.  Good words to live by.

Prepare To Live - a bit a beauty in the stark world of a devastating illness.  (A special note - 50% of all proceeds from sales of The Beyond Cancer Collection will go to our local cancer center for research.)

Hope - The First In My New Series About Cancer

Hello friends.  I am delighted to share with you my new painting entitled "Hope".  Hope is the first in my new series about cancer.  Most of you have either had cancer or have loved someone who has had cancer.  It's a devastating illness. I wanted to create a bit of beauty to counteract the stark reality that is the disease of cancer... and Hope is my initial canvas to lead the way.

My little sister fought lymphoma twice...and won.  My friend fought lung cancer twice...and is winning.  I know dozens of people who have beat this horrific illness, many who are entrenched mid-battle, and so many more who didn't survive the fight.  This series is dedicated to them - all of them.  


Each aspect of this little 4x4 canvas is packed with detail.  The sides are elegantly crafted with blacken and white designs.  The front is a mixture of collage, micro bead art, a jewel & tulle embellishment, and the inspirational message complete with a little glitter.  

My new series is entitled Beyond Cancer.  For people who have survived, there is life beyond cancer that when cured or in remission, may still not be simple or easy.  Cancer forever changes you and I hope my art helps inspire your journey as you prepare to keep living.  For those who are going through treatment, I hope this series is an uplifting message of hope that there is more to you than the fight against cancer, and beyond your illness is a life filled with spots of beauty.  To my dear readers who have lost a loved one to cancer, let this evoke a special memory that makes you smile as you move forward.  

As a special note, 50% of all sale proceeds from my Beyond Cancer Series will be donated to our local Cancer Center for research.

August 07, 2016 by Mary Sterk

Your wild, courageous, brilliant self.

This week I finished and mailed off this commissioned piece for an 8 year old girl named Tori.  Her mom had sent me a color scheme of Tori's newly decorated bedroom and asked me to paint something for her daughter to treasure.  She sent me the following quote to incorporate into her painting - "Have only one rule.  Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day.  No matter what." (Quote credit to Curly Girl Designs)

I asked Tori's mom why that quote resonated with her.  She said she wanted to give her daughter a powerful quote inside of something beautiful as she watches her grow.  That brings tears to my eyes.  Don't we all want our daughters to be their most powerful, brilliant self?

I had them send me a list of things that Tori was into - things she loved.  This ended up prompting a great conversation between mother and daughter, and Tori's mom found out something new.  Tori loved cheetahs.  She loved watching videos of them run, and looking at pictures in books about these fierce, beautiful cats.  Tori also loved the movie Frozen.  I thought that was so amazing - a love for Frozen right next to a love for cheetahs.  And then I realized how perfect the quote actually was for this little girl.  After all, what do the movie Frozen and cheetahs have in common?  Wild, powerful courage.

I hid this quote underneath the layers of the painting.  You can't see it but Tori knows it is there.  

When she lies in bed at night and looks at her painting, I imagine her smiling to herself and connecting with her inner cheetah.  Go Tori. Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self.  

No matter what.

February 20, 2016 by Mary Sterk

I've been published - and a giveaway to celebrate!

I'm so excited to share that my art journal was featured in Stampington's Art Journaling Magazine!  

It was the first story in the Jan/Feb/March issue.  You can read the article here - Out of the past and into my future.  I featured this journal in a former blog post where you can view the pages more closely if you wish.  Here are a few fun pictures of it.


Getting published in a Stampington Magazine has been an artistic goal of mine for several years.  In the mixed media world, they are the  bomb-diggity of magazines.  I have spent many hours drooling over the beautiful artwork featured on their pages, learning new techniques from other accomplished artists, and drawing creative inspiration from the varied styles of work.  To have work of mine adorn their pages is an honor and a dream come true!

A note to other artists - I was nervous.  To even consider submitting my work filled me with anxiety.  I felt like it was crazy to even read the submission guidelines, much less send in my work.  I somehow felt like if they published it, then I really was an artist.  If they didn't, well than I might just be a woman who "dabbles" in art but not truly an artist.   I finally got sick of this kind of thinking and decided that regardless of their opinion - I AM and artist.  So I gave it a try.  After all, the worst thing that could happen was that they said no!  But they said yes - and I wouldn't have gotten there without facing my fear of rejection.  

To celebrate this exciting news, I am doing my first ever giveaway!  

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, so the prize is this beautiful Big Book Of Mandalas Coloring book.  It has more than 200 mandalas for your coloring relaxation pleasure.  

Here's the rules:

1.  To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.

2.  Giveaway ends January 31.  I will notify a randomly drawn winner then, and ship you the prize.

Easy peasy - and while you are at it, feel free to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest if you don't already!

25% Off Holiday Sale!

It's that time of year!  Families are making Thanksgiving plans, Christmas lists are being drawn up, Black Friday is approaching, and Santa is getting his sleigh flight ready!  Gear up for your holiday season with a print or an original piece of art from Just Mary Designs.  Use code HOLIDAYSALE to get 25% off of your entire order now through December 20th.

A big THANK YOU to all of you who attended the Benson Burner show last night!  It was good fun, good food, good people and lots of good art!  Congrats to D Benson who was the winner of the Holiday Magic print giveaway!

Happy holidays!!!


November 14, 2015 by Mary Sterk

New Yoga Art & A Fall Show!

Breathe. Inside the whirlwind pace that we live our lives today, it is difficult sometimes to find a place to slow down. To self connect. To breathe. I find that space while doing yoga. I recenter. I take a moment to simply breathe.  I hope this new painting transports you to a place of peace. 

You can stop by to see this new piece - and several others - at our Fall Benson Burner Art Show!  Join us Friday, November 13th from 5-9 pm in downtown Sioux City at 705 Douglas Street.  7 artists will have their studios open for your to enjoy the art, have a glass of wine and some treats.  One of the best things about this show is the variety of artistic talent by these artists - from painting to drawing to film making the Benson Burner Art Show has it all!

P.S.  If you love this piece, it comes in both the original canvas and 2 sizes of matted prints (5x7 and 8x10).  You can buy it here.  The canvas is 8x10, and 1/2 inch thick. It does not need to be framed to hang on your wall. It will look wonderful anywhere you want a reminder to slow your pace and just breathe. 

October 31, 2015 by Mary Sterk

Well Behaved Women

As women, we often worry about how we are viewed by judgmental eyes of the world. There are so many pressures to fit in, to be this way or that. But living life in such a limited way will also keep us from exploring a much more exhilarating existence. What might we do, what might we experience, who might we be … if we just broke all the rules and followed our true calling or our hearts desires? After all, “Well behaved women rarely make history” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

This piece is available as a 10x8 canvas, and is 1/2 inch thick. It does not need to be framed to hang on your wall.  It is also available in limited edition prints in both 8x10 and 5x7 and comes matted in black.   This piece will look wonderful anywhere you need inspiration to go out there and be who you truly wish to be!

Find Well Behaved Women right here!