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!!

Where are you heading?

[caption id="attachment_973" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Your Journey Your Journey
Prints Available Here[/caption]

This life has many twists and turns.  It tends to take us in directions that we never imagined or didn't see coming.  Sometimes the destination is a place, sometimes it's a person, sometimes it's a feeling.     I want to visit beautiful places all over the world.  I want to paint again in Paris.  Ride in a red double decker bus in London - on the top level of course!  I want to swim off the Island of Capri.  Eat lunch and drink fine wine on the Spanish Steps in Rome.  Dine in a white washed patio in Greece.  And along the way I want my journey to take me towards freedom, peace and love - and luxuriate in the beauty of it all!

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!!

Introducing Angelina...

[caption id="attachment_948" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Angelina[/caption] Before I set off on my trip to Paris this fall I thought it would be a good idea to learn enough of the language to get around town.  I was introduced to the lovely Llyane of J'Ouelette who does French lessons via Skype (super smart way to do it!!!).  After the trip Llyane asked me to be a guest blogger on her site and to feature my art and to tell a story about my trip to Paris.  Click here to read all about it...its a story of falling in love!! This new painting, Angelina, was done while I was in Paris.  I took some canvas paper and brushes with me, and bought some paint at a little art store next to the Louvre.  I wandered the streets, painting here and there.  I started the canvas in a Patisserie...worked more in it sitting on the banks of the Sienne...and finished it when I got home to my art studio.  The name Angelina is from an amazing restaurant that I dined in while there, which I blogged about in this post.  I love this takes me back to my wonderful trip and the amazing experience that it was.  8X10 Prints are for sale in my Etsy Store!    

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!!  

Le Voyage Paris... Day 2

Aaahhhh...a day in Paris.  It is like no other!  I started my day in a Patiesserie.... and had a full on love affair with this chocolate eclair.  The food here is so amazing.  Every bite is like an explosion of flavor.  Each morsel something to savor.   It was raining out so my plan of painting in the streets was I decided to just paint right in the Patiesserie! [caption id="attachment_860" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The beginning of a page[/caption] I had been playing with my watercolors on the way to Paris.  This page got started on my layover between Omaha and Chicago.  I was just mixing colors and wanted to get a background down on a page in my art journal. [caption id="attachment_861" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Supplies out and ready to go![/caption] I got some of my supplies out and started to create.  Using paint markers, stencils and some ephemera I created the next few layers on the page. [caption id="attachment_863" align="aligncenter" width="225"] An Art Journal Page emerges.[/caption] Look closely at the middle of the page.  The part that says Brioche Doree was torn from my napkin at the very place I was eating!  I thought that would be a fun reminder of where I was when making this.  I still want to add some type of centralized image or overlay to this when I get home..... but for now it is complete. Just down the road from where I stopped to eat and paint was the Moulin Rouge!!  I am going to have to watch the movie again to see what little bits of reality I recognize in it.  I walked by singing the song "Voulez vous coucher avec moi?" in my head.  The funny thing is that the district this club is in is really a bit risqué shops literally line the street.  So I am pretty sure if I had sung that out loud someone would have turned around and said "yes!".  The attitudes about that are so different here.  I heard it described as follows "It's great to be Catholic here.  You fill your life with pleasure and sin, and then you go to confession.  Then you sin again!"  Hilarious!   [caption id="attachment_858" align="aligncenter" width="258"] Adorable shoes![/caption] After my breakfast and mini painting session, it was time to take myself and my cute new shoes for a walk around Montremarte. [caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="225"] UP many stairs...[/caption] Paris is not a city for the weak of foot.  You walk everywhere.  From Pigalle to Montremarte there are several giant staircases like this.  I wandered around and made my way closer to the artist village - what some would say is the heart of art in the city of Paris. [caption id="attachment_865" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Making my way there...[/caption] A few steep staircases later and I was about to enter into a fairyland of art.... [caption id="attachment_866" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Local artist painting a girl[/caption] I turned a corner to find an entire square filled with artists painting portraits of passerby's.  It was so fun to stand there and watch them work.  What amazing talent was right there all around me.  Even in the rain, they worked.  They simply set big umbrellas up over their work stand to keep their subject and their supplies from getting wet. [caption id="attachment_867" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The portrait of me[/caption] I found an empty seat and gave my poor feet a much needed rest as this portrait was created.  It was so funny to watch the people milling about watching the artist from my new perspective.  People would look at me, then look at the picture he was creating, then look back at me.  Some would pause and watch for a few minutes.  Some would barely glance at it.  And some even took pictures of me, just as I did of the little girl in the picture above.  It struck me as kind of cool that I will be in someone else's photo journey of Paris.  They will be saying "look at this girl getting her portrait done".  How funny to think that my experience will be something that a stranger mentions when talking about their experience! [caption id="attachment_868" align="aligncenter" width="225"] My artist - Steve[/caption] This is my artist.  Steve.  I was expecting something like Francois or Germaine....but no.  His name was Steve.  However, Steve was from America and now is an artist living in Paris.  Fascinating!! [caption id="attachment_869" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The Sacre Cour[/caption] As I made my way back towards a metro station to head back to my hotel, I looked up to see this wonderful sight.  The Sacre Cour in all of its glory. [caption id="attachment_856" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Shit Happens![/caption] I had my first Parisian experience with "pay toilets".  I got a huge kick out of the fact that you can purchase pretty toilet paper.  I was dying laughing to find this toilet paper as an option!! [caption id="attachment_870" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Ahhh heaven[/caption] My next stop was a local art store to pick up some paint.  I had stopped by the day before, only to find it closed and not open until 2pm!  (I want to run a store with French hours!)  Le Senelier was a little bit of artist nirvana.  Paint and art supplies were stacked floor to ceiling.  The place was packed with people, all crowded around.  I quickly realized I was not the only artist in Paris who feels like paint in many colors is like a drug in my veins. [caption id="attachment_871" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Artist nirvana[/caption] It was quite interesting to purchase things there.  If you notice in the pictures, most of the paint has only one bottle or jar out.  So you have to ask the sales person for what you want and they fetch it for you from places unknown in the back of the store.  I had not brought any acrylics with me as I had gotten mixed information about the ability to bring it on the plane - even in checked luggage due to flammability issues.  I also must be honest, the idea of buying paint in Paris was a bit fabulous itself! [caption id="attachment_872" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Master Perfumer[/caption] Our group then gathered at a perfumery, Jovoy.  This gentleman taught us the many nuances of perfume and how it is made.  In the picture he is spraying a scent on a paper stick for us to smell.  The amazing thing about a high end perfume shop is that it does not smell like perfume at all.  I was expecting to be overwhelmed and not be able to distinguish the different scents, but it was not so.  Part of the reason is that the tester bottles there are not for spraying.  You sniff the lid of a little bottle and that gives you enough of the scent without a spray and without burning your nose. [caption id="attachment_873" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Treats![/caption] As we listened to the gentleman talk about the scents he was showing us, we were treated to this lovely assortment of treats and champagne!  I learned that perfume has 3 motes to it...the top note lasts about 10 minutes.  The middle note lasts about 10 hours.  And the bottom note can las for a couple of days.  I also learned that people used to wear perfume on their clothing and not their bodies, so the game of perfume making all changed when it started being applied to skin and a person's body chemistry came into play. [caption id="attachment_874" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Beautiful bottles...[/caption] As in life, in perfume there is a difference between seduction and sensuality.  Seduction has bolder notes of vanilla.  Sensuality is a soft note of vanilla with a bolder note of amber.  I did purchase a new scent to wear.... I will leave you guessing what one it was! [caption id="attachment_879" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Divine chocolates[/caption] We gathered in the evening for a salon at the apartment Tonya Leigh is staying in.  Our discussion surrounded desires - what desires we have already created in our lives, and what desires we have yet to attain.  I shared with the group that one of my desires is to have my art displayed in a gallery in a major metropolitan city some day. What better to accompany a discussion on desire than an assortment of the world's best chocolate!  As I ate each piece I closed my eyes and let the flavor just seep into my mouth.  The succulent flavor washed over me - each piece with different tastes and texture then the last.  It was paradise in a tiny bite! What a day....what an adventure.....what a city!        

Le Paris Voyage....Day 1

[caption id="attachment_832" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bon Voyage![/caption] And we finally have lift off!  The trip from the States to Paris was oddly comfortable...I was able to upgrade to business class and the seats laid all of the way down!  They also had a menu - a real live menu - that they presented us from which to choose our dinner.  I got a chuckle out of that though, because you had to choose a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice.  The more frequent travelers got their first choice, and on down the pecking order.  I ended up with my 2nd choice, which was still delicious!!  Then it was lights out until we landed. [caption id="attachment_833" align="aligncenter" width="415"] Art Fair Le Marche De La Creation[/caption] When I got to Paris it was around 10am.  The hotel rooms were not available until 3, so I dropped my bags with the bellman and was off to start my adventures.  I decided to brave the Metros (subway) right off.  Buying a ticket was a little confusing but fortunately there was a nice American in the line behind me that showed me the ropes.  I made my way to this delightful little art market that is only open on Sunday's. [caption id="attachment_834" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Journaling at the cafe[/caption] After my feet got tired I sat down for a hot chocolate and to journal.  I have a journal challenge while I am here - I am only using the colors black, white and red.  That was inspired by the itinerary given to us for the trip.  I thought it would be kind of fun! [caption id="attachment_836" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lunch!![/caption] I followed up the hot chocolate with an amazing tomato and mozzarella salad...light, delicious and just right on the cool crisp afternoon!  Then it was back into the metro and heading towards the Louvre.... [caption id="attachment_837" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Louvre[/caption] When I got to the Louvre I found out it was free to get in today.  Therefore the line was WAY to long.  So I wandered around outside, taking pictures and just enjoying the magnificent architecture. [caption id="attachment_838" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The arch by the Louvre[/caption]   Beautiful statues are everywhere.  People are milling about.  I am surrounded by ground steeped in beauty and history.  It is a humbling place to be! [caption id="attachment_840" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Mary in the gardens outside the Louvre[/caption] I finally sat down in the beautiful green gardens, kicked off my shoes, and just sat for a bit.  I played a few songs on my i-pod....sketched a bit....and really just soaked up the surroundings.  I was among hundreds of people, yet completely alone.  It was a wonderful opportunity to just connect in with myself and be grateful for the opportunity to be right where I was at that very moment.   [caption id="attachment_842" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bridge over the Sienne[/caption] I slowly meandered my way back to the hotel, and was delighted to make my first non-food Parisian purchase!  There were street vendors selling old books and magazines.  For those of you in the art world, you understand that finding material that can be used in our art that is out of the copyright date ranges is HUGE!!!  I picked up a number of things and plan to create with them in my paintings all week long.  I am so excited about that! [caption id="attachment_843" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Welcome Reception for Le Voyage Paris[/caption] After a short nap and a long shower I was ready to go meet my travel companions!!  Tonya Leigh greeted us with champagne and macaroons....what a delicious combination!!  There are 12 women on this trip.  I intend to come home with 12 new friends!!  Tonight was the first time I have met any of them in person.  These dynamic women all had to apply to be chosen for a spot on this trip.  We are all here for different reasons - some are making changes in their lives, some had a desire to travel more, some want to embrace fashion and femininity in a whole new way.  I am just beginning to know their stories, and can not wait to form what I hope are some lasting new friendships! [caption id="attachment_845" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Dinner at Fernards[/caption] After the welcome reception a small group of us went to dinner.  It was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel.  Did I mention that you walk everywhere here?  I think it partly explains why the French are so skinny!! [caption id="attachment_846" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Dinner....Delicious![/caption] Over great conversation and a bottle of white wine I savored every morsel of my mung fish and rice.  So good!! Back to the room to crash for the night....and when I arrived I found this beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers in my room!  What a thoughtful touch from our trip coordinators!! The first day in Paris was amazing....I can hardly wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for me!!! Bonne nuit!  Mary      
October 07, 2012 by 1

23 Delightful Paris Experiences!

[caption id="attachment_795" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The Postcard
(Click Image To Purchase)[/caption] In 6 short weeks I will be packing my bags and heading out on a Parisian adventure.  My excitement is bubbling over into my art, and I am finding myself painting things that are rustic, antiqued and travel oriented!  Le Voyage Paris has been put together by the amazing Tonya Leigh (Check her out - you will be glad you did!).  Tonya's mottos is French Kiss Life!  How fun and flirty! The trip that she has put together is for 12 women to go EXPERIENCE Paris.  You had to apply and be chosen as one of the 12.  Part of my excitement is knowing I am going to meet 11 amazing and dynamic women.  I am sure that over champagne, french chocolates and vibrant conversation we will become great friends! Tonya challenged us all to think about what we wanted our Paris experience to hold.  To me that meant more then a list of places to go and tourist attractions to visit.  It meant doing some thinking in advance about HOW I want my experience to unfold....what beauty, allure and sparkle in Paris is calling me? So here is my list...what I intend to experience and delight in while on my Paris adventure! 1.  Soak in the beauty that abounds at the Louvre. 2.  Paint on the Siene in a lime green beret. 3.  Sit at the foot of the Arc De Triumph and journal about the next bold move I want to make in my life. 4.  Investigate the delights of the Sorbonne. 5.  Sip a cocktail at the Eiffel Tower. 6.  Dance with wild abandon at the Moulin Rouge. [caption id="attachment_798" align="alignright" width="296"] Fleur 44
(Click Image To Purchase)[/caption] 7.  Sketch with the artists at a streetcorner in  Montmarte. 8.  Boutique shop at the Quartier de la Bastille for the perfect shoes. 9.  Rent a Velib bicycle to ride between arrondissements. 10.  Say a prayer at Notre Dame. 11.  Sip a Cafe Creme on Les Champs Elysees while watching the Parisian women stroll by in high fashion. 12.  Kiss a dashing Frenchman at a club in Pigalle. 13.  Gallery hop at random soaking in color, texture and verve. 14.  Indulge in a relaxing hotel spa massage. 15.  Purchase custom fit french lingerie after consulting with a professional lingerie consultant - ooh la la! 16.  Create my own signature scent at a parfum atelier. 17.  Savor the gourmet tastes of delicious food at a soiree. 18.  Wander an open air market with a chef and watch them cook the fresh produce for lunch. 19.  Nurse a glass of Veuve Clicquot on a Siene River cruise while watching the twinkling lights of Paris pass by. 20.  Discover the perfect scarf to accentuate my femininity. 21.  Nibble artisnal chocolates - so divine! 22.  Befriend and connect with 12 dynamic women. 23.  Smell the bouquet of lovely flowers in a public Paris garden. Wishing you the joie de vivre the french carry off with such flair!!