Strong Women

Strong Women Strong Women

Strong Women - we all know some.  We all love one…. or more.  A strong woman can move mountains.  She can accomplish things that blow your mind.  She can be the CEO of a company, and tuck a little child into bed after scaring away the monsters in the closet.  A strong woman can be your best friend, your biggest advocate, and the backbone of your family.  She will tell you the truth - in a loving way - even if it hurts.  A strong woman knows how to be tough AND tender.  She might drive you crazy, she might boss you around, but she will always have your back. We want to raise our daughters to be strong women.  We want them to know that anything is possible and everything is achievable.  We want our daughters to know when to back down and to know when to take a stand.  We want our daughters to command respect, and to respect themselves enough to demand the right treatment from their partners, bosses and friends. This piece was commissioned last year by a dear friend of mine.  It was a gift for a strong woman in her life who had made a tremendous difference to her.  Just like in the paining, I raise my glass to the strong women out there "Here's to strong women - may we be one and may we know how to raise one!". P.S. - Look for details soon on a solo pop up show in New York City July 11 featuring Just Mary Designs Body Fab-YOU-lous line!!

June 13, 2015 by Mary Sterk

Come one, Come All!

It't that time of year - time for another amazing local art show at the Benson Building in Sioux City, Iowa!  Join us April 24th from 5-9 as 9 talented artists open their studios for one great night.  Come enjoy the art, snacks and wine.  Take home your favorite piece!  We have a variety of painters, stitch artists, photographers and even a filmogropher! Burner Show 2015 Spring Poster
April 12, 2015 by Mary Sterk

Getting Excited About Surtex!

Marketing Postcard It's less than two weeks away - the largest Art Licensing Trade Show of the year - Surtex!!  I will be packing my bags and heading to the Big Apple to see if any of my designs would be a good fit to go on products you might find in the store.  This marketing piece I did above shows you how some of my designs might be used - from bathroom products to baby clothes! I will be debuting a new line there - The Delicious Line.  It's full of fabulous food!  I will also be bringing designs from the Body Fab-YOU-lous Line and my personal favorite, the Paris Line.  Wish me luck!  Who knows - in a few months you might find a purse or a kitchen towel or a make up bag from Just Mary Designs sitting on the shelf of a store near you!!

It's A Surtex Blog Hop - Under the Sea!

The Surtex Show

The Surtex Show

A while back I had a crazy idea…. what if my art could be used on different products?  Could my paintings look good on a purse, or a tea towel, or a wall hanging?  What about a picture frame, or stationery, or a journal cover?  Would it ever be possible to have my designs leap off of the canvas and onto something sold in a store?  What if…..   And then I heard about Surtex.  Surtex is one of the largest (if not THE largest) expo for art licensing.  Art licensing is the pathway to having your art land on a product manufactured by a company and eventually purchased by someone in a store.  As I began to investigate the world of art licensing, Surtex kept popping up over and over and over.  So I decided to take a closer look.

My Little Seahorse Icon

My Little Seahorse Icon

Now let me tell you, Surtex is a pretty big deal in the art licensing world.  And it is quite expensive to be one of the several hundred artists exhibiting - all vying for the attention of some 7000 buyers who will pass through.  I am not someone easily intimidated by a new adventure, but navigating the world of Surtex was quite overwhelming…. not to mention expensive.  I began to consider the idea of collaborating with other artists who were like me - interested in testing the Surtex waters.  Lo and behold, into my universe popped an incredible group called the Cultivate Art Collective.  This collective started with a lot of like minded talented artists who were interested in the art licensing world.  And 10 of us took the plunge together and registered to exhibit as a collective at the 2014 Surtex show - May 18-20 in New York City!  I found my Surtex tribe - and wowza - these ladies rock! An example of a Surtex Booth An example of a Surtex Booth[/caption] Amidst the pre show flurry of creating lots of fresh new art for the show, we have been working together to build our brand for the big show.  Together, we are doing a fun blog hop today!  We chose a“Sea” theme to be interpreted, re-imaginedMy Crab Icon

My Crab Icon

and beautifully designed by each artist to showcase their unique vision and creative talents.  Our Blog Hop is a collaboration of these 10 diverse artists from the collective who will be exhibiting together at Surtex May 18- 20, 2014.  So after you have checked out my Sea Themed Art please keep the Blog Hop Hopping and scroll down to the bottom of the post to find links to the other 9 fabulous artists! I hope you enjoy swimming through some lovely designs.  And wish me luck at my Surtex adventure - I hope my art makes a *SPLASH*!!!

My Starfish Icon My Starfish Icon

Stunningly Strange by Kaitlin Goodey RiztyDesign Diane Hunt Studio Margaret Applin Designs Tatyana Starikova jami darwin Robo Roku Aileen Tu Design Rachelle Panagarry blog hop

The Artist's Way....

I recently finished the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.  A truly amazing book.  I read it within an online group - tackling one chapter a month for a year.  I learned so much about myself as an artist and what my artistic dreams are!

I learned that I want to paint in amazing places - and explore them for long periods of time!


I learned that the beauty of the female form moves me.

female form

I learned that music deeply resonates with me, and must always be a part of my life.


I learned that the sight of paint on my hands makes my heart thump.


I learned that running wild and free is of vital importance to me.


I learned that self connection is the key to all connection.


I learned that romance in my life is so very fun and energizing.


I learned to take little steps towards my big goals - layer by layer, piece by piece, I am building something amazing.

small steps

I learned that avoiding my studio means I am avoiding an emotional issue that I don't want to face.


I learned that creating with my hands is the same as connecting with my heart.

hands heart

An Art Retreat You Wont Want To Miss!

[caption id="attachment_575" align="aligncenter" width="597"]Believe In Your BeautyClick Here To Purchase Believe In Your Beauty
Click Here To Purchase[/caption] In six short weeks I will be packing my bags and heading to Lake Geneva to teach a class at the Creatives Celebrating Sisterhood Art Retreat. If you have never attended an art retreat and are looking for a couple of days away - this is the retreat for you! With several talented teachers, you will immerse yourself in creativity and come home holding the key to your heart's next creative step! This picture, Believe In Your Beauty, is what I will be teaching there.  Join me to learn how to create these luscious backgrounds, and to make a reminder for yourself that believing in your inner beauty is something to focus on every day! The first art retreat I attended changed my world. I had never even picked up a paintbrush - but I knew I wanted to try! So I took myself out to the retreat and learned HOW to do all of the lovely things I was drooling over on line and in art magazines. And along the way I collected a tribe of creative sisters who mean the world to me! Here are the details: April 17-19, The Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, WI, Click Here for pricing details and to register! As an added bonus, Linda Barutha, creator of the retreat, has graciously written this guest post!!  Read her unique journey towards developing retreats like this - and join us soon!!

Creative Strength: Honoring Your Inner Adventurer

Ever heard the saying “there’s strength in numbers?” I am one of those firm believers in the fact that alone time is great, but we as human beings are at our creative best when we are together in a group setting. [caption id="attachment_999" align="alignright" width="100"]Linda Barutha Linda Barutha[/caption] The energy of a group of like-minded individuals fuels passions and desires that may have been just quietly simmering within us for years. I think my desire to be with groups started when I was 11 years old and it was a big deal when my mom agreed to let me go on a Girl Scout overnight camping trip. Overnight and alone. Wow. I felt like an explorer or adventurer! Even though I didn’t know any of the other people going on this trip, I thought the whole concept of camping with a large group was so enticing. My intuition served me well because this truly was a trip that left me with lasting impressions. Once immersed in my camping trip, I was mesmerized by the way everyone worked so well together. It was fascinating to me the way the older girls were empowered to help the younger ones and the whole camp hummed smoothly like a well-oiled machine. Instead of the adults leading and telling everyone what to do or doing it for them, everyone seemed to fall into place and do their part. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were all following a kaper chart which divides responsibilities evenly for every task that needs to be completed. It was a process, a system, and a recipe for success. That fascination of teamwork and group achievement has stayed with me well into adulthood. Now, as I pour my passion into running my own creative retreat business Live, Laugh, Love Retreats, LLC, I feel the same satisfaction and empowerment as I did during that overnight camping trip so many years ago. Founded in 2005, Live, Laugh, Love Retreats started as a scrapbooking retreat business. As my artistic experience expanded into mixed media, so have my creative retreats. Again, I am drawn to the energy and passion of women in a group setting whom are learning and growing creatively together. [caption id="attachment_998" align="alignleft" width="119"] Linda's Art[/caption] But that’s not all. My inner “explorer or adventurer” was called upon again when I saw an incredible opportunity to own my own retail brick-n-mortar store last Fall. Calling upon the many friends I have made at the various retreats or group events for support, I took a leap of faith and started Linnie Blooms Shop & Create. To make it even more fun, I offer art classes to both adults and children, which always brings me back to that feeling of empowerment that I had when I was just 11 years. old. I firmly believe everyone should seek out peers and mentors to share in what they are truly passionate about. I am living proof as to how these connections with like-minded creatives have given me the strength and confidence to spread my wings and take chances. And it’s these emotions that I try to capture when I create a new piece of artwork. It truly makes me happy when I can share my passion with others and see how it improves their lives too. What have you done this year to honor your inner creative? Honor your inner “explorer or adventurer?” Is it time to spread your wings and take a chance on something new?
Linda Barutha is mixed media artist and creative retreat organizer. Her business Live*Laugh*Love Retreats brings like-minded artists, crafters and creative together for a weekend of love, laughs, learning, and creative growth. You can find Linda at her Linda Barutha or on Twitter.

If You Get The Inside Right....

[caption id="attachment_962" align="aligncenter" width="804"]Get The Inside Right Get The Inside Right
Prints Available Here[/caption]   "If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place." - Eckhart Tolle How true this is. In a world that places so much emphasis on the way our physical body looks, it is sometimes hard to remember that the real work is done on the inside. I know that I have spent many hours in my life trying to look a certain fit a certain standard of beauty.  I have exercised like a fiend to fit into a certain size.  I have worn my hair in styles to emulate the current celebrity look.  I have spent a lot of money on clothing that was "in".  In fact it took me until my mid thirties to even recognize what my own version of beauty was - until then I was trying to conform myself to whatever my husband or boyfriend thought was attractive.  What I learned was that until I could define what beautiful meant in my own eyes, then I would never feel beautiful in my own skin. I also learned that defining beautiful did not mean the size of my jeans or the number on the scale.  I found that the real meaning of beauty lay deep inside of me.  For a woman to feel she is beautiful, she must be at peace within her own soul.  She has to become confident in who she is and what she stands for.  I have learned that when a woman recognizes her own amazing worth, that she will begin to accept the body she inhabits.  And when you accept your body as it is, it creates the space for it to change in healthy and permanent ways. So when I saw this quote by Eckhart Tolle, I knew I had to turn it into a piece of art.  And I wanted that art to be all about love...loving yourself...loving your life.  For all of my Body Fab-YOU-lous friends out there....I dedicate this piece to you and your journey towards getting the inside right.

One Little Word....

[caption id="attachment_955" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Redefining Beautiful
(Prints Available Here)[/caption] One little word can mean so much.  This year my word is MAGNET.  I intend to be a magnet for all of the things I desire in this life. I want to draw things to me like falling in love, quality friendships, and deeper relationships with my family.  I want to attract more money and opportunities to grow.  This year I want to pull in more creativity, more fun and even more exciting travel experiences.  I want to be a magnet for increased passion, inspiration, beauty and a deeper sense of spirituality.  And I want my art to magnetically attract people who resonate with my message. I am a MAGNET this year for all of my dreams and desires to come true!!  I hope you are too!! This blog post is part of a Blog Hop I am doing with my artsy gal-pals.  Check out their One Little Words!!

Le Voyage Paris...Day Four 4.  A day built for wandering the streets, popping into small stores and cafes, and just taking in all the magnificence that is the City Of Love. Our group of lovely ladies had a challenge today.  We were each given a word and asked to bring a food item to a picnic that was connected to our word.  My word was "Powerful".  I had to do some thinking about what a Powerful food would be.... So I wandered around the St Germain area pondering the question of "What food is powerful?"  Along the way I saw some amazing and very powerful architecture!  I stopped into a bakery.  Popped into a butcher shop.  Perused an open vegetable market.  Even wandered the aisles of an actual French grocery store (really quite different than American grocery stores - no carts - everyone buys small quantities that they can carry in a couple of bags!)  After thinking about it I made my picnic purchases and set out to meet up with my group at the beautiful Luxembo0urg Gardens. At the gardens there were dozens of guys playing chess.  Some matches were slow and drawn out.  Some of them were a battle of quick wits - men making a move and tapping the timer - tap move tap move!  It was kind of like seeing a movie but it was unfolding in front of my eyes! We decided to spread our picnic out near this lovely statue.  We spread out the blankets and each woman contributed her food.  It was a gorgeous array of unique and delicious foods -  a feast fit for queens!! Oh my taste buds were dancing!  There was fresh salmon, currants, quiche, olives, figs, baguettes and more!  Paired with sparkling champagne it was a picnic never to be forgotten!  What did I bring you ask?  Well, I brought two things.  First I brought some meat - meat is a powerful protein that strengthens us. I also brought croissants.  I know that might sound odd - how is a croissant powerful?  I think a croissant is powerful because it gains strength from dozens of tiny and delicate layers.  Each layer builds upon the last one, until it is a strong and powerful bread - powerful enough to become the food symbol of an entire county!  I think the ladies in my group are this way too.  We, as women, are made up of many small and complex layers.  Our experiences, our beliefs, our emotions, our values....they all build into the strong and powerful women that we are.  Powerful enough to travel half way around the world to enjoy a picnic in Paris! At the picnic our Hostess Tonya Leigh gave us each a "Travel Card" to inspire us during the next 24 hours.  Here's mine.....and you won't believe how cool doing just this turned out to be the next will have to stay tuned for that!  Believe me - my Bridge Experience was awesome! We had the afternoon on our own so I had a massage at the hotel spa, then hit a cafe for some coffee.  This is a very relaxed Mary after the massage! During the evening we went to Tonya's apartment for an evening salon.  We had a guest come in to share her new journey she was setting off on.  Minda Lennon and her family sold everything they owned in Australia and bought a barge.  She and her husband are going to live on this barge for a year, home schooling their two boys, while they navigate their way through the canals of France.  What a cool idea - the modern day gypsies!  It was fun to hear about her plans, fears and excitement! After the salon a few of us strolled down the street to the Arch De Triumph.  Absolutely gorgeous at night.... We took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower.  The tower lights up at night - each hour on the hour.  It sparkles like diamonds in the night.  It is truly a moving and awe inspiring sight.  Watching it feels like you are caught up in this amazing rush of beauty and power and history.  What a delight to witness! After our tower visit we hit a late night restaurant.  This tomato and whipped goat cheese salad was not only like a piece of artwork itself, but it was also one of the most delectible foods I have ever eaten!!!  To die for!  Once again, the food...the sights....the company....another magical day in Paris!

Le Voyage Paris...Day 3

[caption id="attachment_901" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Journaling in Montremarte[/caption] Day three in Paris started out with my own private photo shoot with world renowned photographer Sivan Askayo.  Sivan is on our trip taking pictures of the entire group and all of our activities.  She offered us the chance to book our own shoot.  My first thought was "Well if I weighed 50 pounds less that would be really fun".  I realized what a crappy thought that was.  It made me pause and say to myself "What?  A photo shoot in Paris is an amazing opportunity ANY time...what girl wouldn't love that?!?!"  So I booked it - and it was magical!  Can you believe we found this fabulous cafe, with no one sitting in it.....and the chairs match my outfit just perfectly.  Talk about synchronicity!! One of the most fun parts of this photo shoot was the people around us observing it.  People assumed that I was some kind of important person or model since I was doing a shoot.  So strangers were stopping, watching, and taking their own pictures of me.  I think it is so funny that I will be someone elses's story and photo album of their trip to Paris!  When I pulled out my art supplies and was actually painting during the shoot, I hand several people stop and even get in Sivan's way so they could get their own shots of this artist in Paris.  Hilarious!! [caption id="attachment_908" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Paris[/caption] After the shoot I met up with the group for a lunch at the restaurant, Angelina's.  The food was fabulous and the Rose was sparkling! [caption id="attachment_895" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Adorable salad presentation[/caption] But....the food is not the best part of Angelina's.  It's the hot chocolate.  It's to die for.  Take a look.... They bring you a cup full of decadent whipped cream.  And a charming pot of chocolate syrup.  Thick, rich melted chocolate.  Gooey, flavorful, coats your mouth kind of chocolate.  Your only job is to pour it on top of the whipped cream in your glass and stir.  The hot pour of chocolate literally melts the whipped cream.  It might be the best chocolate taste I have ever savored.  If you ever go to Paris, you MUST make a reservation at Angelina's, even if for nothing but the hot chocolate! Now it was time for some girlie type fun!  We made our way to Le Bon Marche to meet up with our group French Personal Stylist for the afternoon! [caption id="attachment_899" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Cecile - our French Stylist[/caption] Meet Cecile - doesn't she just embody the essence of what we think of French Fashion to be?  Tall, skinny, tight leather pants, purple boots, gorgeous blond hair.  Listening to her is our hostess Tonya Leigh - equally gorgeous and glamourous!  Cecile talked to us about embracing our femininity through paying attention to the small the soft feeling of silken lingerie against your skin. Cecile took me around the store and pointed out what brands would accentuate my "assets".  She translated with the french speaking sales ladies and helped me find some gorgeous underthings that made me feel as beautiful inside as they looked on the outside.  There is just something alluring about knowing you have something amazing on next to your skin that no one else can see.  It's like a little gift to yourself - that you are worth the effort to create beauty for even if it just you that sees or knows it. Even the experience in the dressing rooms was totally fun.  First, they have a telephone IN the dressing room so you can call to request a different size.  Second, the sales people just walk in to your room and don't hesitate to grab your "girls" to see how things are fitting!  Yep - I totally got felt up by my sales the nicest way!!  Now I am pretty sure that my dear old dad is going to be reading I will close my talk on all things lingerie and simply leave it at this.  I made some purchases there.... and they are FABULOUS! Beauty is all around you in Paris - even in the Metro.  I saw this wall made of lettered tiles.  Gorgeous work... very eye catching. [caption id="attachment_903" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Oooohhhhh....Yum![/caption] I finished my afternoon with a little shopping...and of course had to stop and admire these amazing pastries. [caption id="attachment_900" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Macaroon Tower![/caption] Macaroons are very big here.  There may be some lucky ladies in my office back home that get to sample some soon!! For me, this third day in Paris was all about beauty.  Being a part of the beauty of Paris, feeling beautiful in my photo shoot, delighting in the beauty of a divine hot chocolate, and claiming my feminine beauty with the help of a Parisian stylist.  I hope my day's journey of beauty inspires something gorgeous in your own life!!