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

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

New Art & A New Website (plus a special discount for YOU)!

I'm so excited to unveil our new website at!  We have been working hard to create a site full of visual interest, explosions of color, and ways to get inspirational art right into your hands.  And I'm pleased to announce that it's finally ready!  To celebrate I am offering 20% off all orders from now thru August 1st.  Just use this code at your checkout - SXO4ETGQAUIM  You can even use it on brand new art that has never been see before - like the piece above, Create A Happy Life.

Create A Happy Life was born out of an art journaling experiment.  I love working in my journals and often create rings that I think are "canvas worthy"….but they are in the middle of a journal!  So I have begun playing with the idea of 3 layers of creation for one color palette.  I find the materials I want to use and do an art journal spread in my own journal, a similar one in a journal that I will eventually sell, and a canvas in the same color palette.  The result has been fantastic and fun…and has created this beautiful vintage looking piece above.

I hope it inspires you to Create A Happy Life!  Come on over to my website and check out the new and featured art, along with your old favorites.  Don't forget to use your discount code!!


My Little Art Corner In The Big Apple

A Just Mary Designs solo show in New York!  Who would have thought that one day I would be sitting in my studio in South Dakota reminiscing about my art show in New York City!


The day started out with a long anticipated meet up with the amazing Sydney Stone of Stylaphile, the sponsor of my show.  Finally meeting face to face was so fun, and let me tell you - she is even more fabulous in person!  

I packed up my art boxes and we headed to the Caelum Gallery in Chelsea to get things set up for the show.  It was so fun to walk into the space, scope out the layout, and then begin to arrange the art.  Sydney's husband, Carlos, helped hang the art and then arranged the lighting so that each piece was strategically lit beautifully!


By 6:30 we were ready to roll with champagne, white wine and dozens of bite size cupcakes Baked By Melissa - delicious little morsels that are all the rage in the city.


 Our first guest happened to see the sign outside the gallery, and to our delight enjoyed the art and visiting for quite some time!  As the night progressed we had as steady stream of people peruse the art and enjoy the exhibition.  I even was fortunate enough to sell a few pieces!


The most amazing part of it all, however, was not the show itself.  It was not the excitement of traveling to the big city and being fortunate enough to share my work in an up and coming gallery.  It wasn't even the making of a new friend in Sydney.  The most amazing part of the show was the likemindedness of the people who gathered that night.  These people were here to celebrate body positivity.  To encourage the world to embrace our bodies - curvy & thin alike - just the way we are.  One guest commented several times about how delighted he was to see such uplifting and inspiring messages in art, and that positive themes were not what he was used to in the art community.  What I walked away with Saturday night was more than just an awesome show on my art resume, I walked away knowing that we had made an impact.  That we had brightened a small corner of a big, big city.  That we had brought a bit of beauty and positivity into an often jaded and cynical world.  For one night, my art lit up a gallery in New York City.  And I hope the memory of it shines forever!


 (To find these images check out my Body Fab-YOU-lous Collection!)

All Geared Up...

Gears Gears

It's kind of fun to play with some new things, and the last two paintings I have done included gears!    I like the way they look on a canvas.  It makes me think about time passing and the mechanics of things working together.  Here is a close up of those lovely gears. IMG_0071 Playing with texture has become a hobby of mine.  I love it when a painting makes you want to reach out and touch it.  If there is enough texture, I think it draws the viewer in… makes you want to just graze the top of it with your fingertips. This next piece also features some gears, and it got me to thinking about how our minds work.  How the gears in our minds go round and round.  We can gear up for good thoughts and great lives.  Or we can gear down for depressing thoughts and loose the joy in life.  I certainly prefer the former!  And that is what this piece is all about.  These are the thoughts I hope that inhabit your mind!

The Gears In Your Mind The Gears In Your Mind

And of course, the close up for you! IMG_0078   Makes you want to reach out and touch - right?  Both of these pieces are available for sale.  Just click the links on the pictures to find them. I wish you a fabulous day and hope that the gears in your life are all turning in the right direction!!

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.

The Very Thing....

[caption id="attachment_817" align="aligncenter" width="987"] The Very Thing
Available for Purchase Here[/caption] The Very Thing You Are Trying To Avoid Is Exactly What You Must Face. (A Brand New Body Fab-YOU-lous Print!) So true. In this life we spend a lot of time avoiding things - negative emotions, changes in our jobs, relationship issues, internal conflicts, family dynamics....and the list goes on and on. Most of us have gotten really good at avoiding the hard stuff.  It's much easier to bury our heads in the sand and hope that things magically will change without action on our part.  Now don't get me wrong - I believe in magic...but I also believe that the magic lies within the process of facing down the things we most want to avoid. Most often we avoid things because we are afraid.  Afraid of the pain or hurt that may come with facing things.  What I have learned is that the fear of the pain I am avoiding is SO much bigger than the pain itself.  If you face the hard things - it might hurt.  But if you lean into that hurt, really concentrate on feeling it, the pain will soon subside.  And on the other side of that pain is a peacefulness that is beautiful. We also are often afraid of change.  If we face something, we may become aware of the need for change.  You can't un-do awareness.  Change can be hard.  It can mean loss or just as easily mean gain or success.  Either direction can be daunting.  I do believe that dealing with change is much better than dealing with avoidance.  In fact one of my mottos is: "This will make my life easier, more fun, and expand my possibilities". That mantra has gotten me through a lot of changes or situations that would have been much easier to avoid.  So to move forward or create any type of positive change, you must face the things you are trying so hard to avoid. A better future is possible, and it can start today by facing it head on!