December 6th, 2018 - January 1st, 2019 // Favorite Things

As we start the new year, I wanted to quickly look back and share some of my favorite finds of 2018 - some of these are artworks, some are tools, some are just things I liked. A few of these are not necessarily new in 2018, just new to me. Enjoy!

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These Jörmungandr studs by While Odin Sleeps. I'm obsessed, as is everyone around me when I wear them. Anything Lauren makes is gorgeous; I can't wait to add more to my collection.

I took a lot of inspiration from Florance and the Machines "Big God" video this year, directed by ever creative Autumn de Wilde. Choreographed by Akram Khan and Florence Welch. The color of those veils is just perfect. I can't look away.

These pencils. I have these stashed throughout my home, studio, and backpack. I even found one I accidentally buried in my garden a few months ago. What I love about them is how simple they are to keep around, and the red/blue gives me just enough options to sketch out ideas and use the contrast to note essential details I want to come back to. They force you to quickly get the idea down and move on. I can't live without them.

My friend Ellen decided to teach herself how to fix up her father's old moto some years ago, and after that project finished she decided to tackle another sentimental vehicle, and this time she's documenting the process via her blog as well as her Instagram. It was a joy to watch her finish the moto, so I can't recommend following her new adventure enough.

This summer I was lucky enough to attend the Ayatana Artist Research Residency, where we made our own bat detectors. And I am obsessed! This little thing is so much fun. I had no idea so many bats lived around me, even in the middle of the city. (Linked is a recommended bat detector, as you can't buy the ones we made.)

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My new friend, Clare Celeste Börsch made a collage installation this year that has inspired me greatly. Titled "The Mushroom Hunters" it's just ... dreamy. I want to live in it. And I can't wait to see what she gets up to in the new year.

I'm not a fancy candle person, but when I came across the Illume Woodfire candle, I had to pick it up. Many years ago my husband was constantly overseas (ahem, five and a half deployments in six years) but he was able to get his hands on this body wash over there that smelled exactly like this, and I adored it.

When he finally left the military, that was it, as we couldn't find anything like it. So when I walked by this candle display my nose immediately took me back to a time in my early twenties where I would soak in his scent and be so thankful he was home.

THIS MUG. So my friends Oda and Kit gifted me this mug by artist Angela White-Wenger, and I simply adore it. With what I can only assume is magic, Angela is using real webs to make them, and I just keep looking at it and admiring it. And it's made all the better by the surprise gift from my friends.

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And last, but certainly not least; meet my new little friend Isla Joy! Her mother and I have been close friends for most of our lives, and it's been a joy to watch my childhood friend become a mother and oh my goodness look at the perfect little human she grew from scratch! I can't wait to watch Isla grow up and, yet again, be the weird aunt who teaches her how to cuss like a lady.

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November 8th, 2018 - December 5th, 2018 // Mistletoe and Wallpapers

I am a notorious grinch this time of year, the result of working retail before pursuing the arts.

But I'm a sucker for any plant that has symbolism attached, especially if that symbolism holds through to today, so I decided to swing by my local flower market and pick up some mistletoe (and other lovely winter greenery) to photograph for my collages.

Mistletoe picked up is romantic symbolism in ancient Greece, where it was often used in marriage ceremonies. And later the Romans would hold peace meetings under it, a sign of good faith.

However, I prefer the Norse symbolism. Baldur is the doomed son of Odin and Frigg. Frigg, being the goddess of love, decided to do a grassroots campaign to save her son, and petitions all the plants and animals to never harm him. Unluckily, she forgot to catch up with Mistletoe, and Loki fashions a spear from it and fulfills the prophecies.

Depending on who tells the story, she is able to revive Baldur, and thus rewards Mistletoe by declaring it a symbol of love.

In reality, Mistletoe is merely a parasitic plant that grows on a variety of trees. I was lucky to find a great bunch at the market, and I look forward to weaving it into my artwork in the future.

If you need a bit of a festive update for your laptop, I updated my free wallpapers to include some of these more wintery vibes. Just click here.

I'm looking forward to the new year; I have some big plans and a new gallery to work with. Thank you as always for keeping up with me and supporting my artwork.

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September 27th, 2018 - November 7th, 2018 // Favorite Books

I can't share the specifics of why yet, but my last few months have been a season of recognition; meaning that my efforts have become something significant and when I make and share my work, it no longer feels like it's me screaming into the void. Seasons like this make me especially proud of the fact that I am a self-taught artist.

But while this path is entirely valid, it does mean you might have to bumble around with figuring out what goes on a CV or how to structure invoices a bit more as you begin as an emerging artist.

Over the years I have collected a few gems of resources, that I have relied heavily upon and found success.

I know many of my followers who also are pursuing the arts, who like me, are doing so without an academic background, so I thought I would quickly share the books I keep with me at all times.

Nothing beats just trusting your gut though. So take all of these recommendations with a grain of salt. What works for me may not work for you, and that doesn't mean that either is wrong or right.

"Nature and Its Symbols" written by Lucia Impelluso, translated by Stephen Sartarelli.

This is part of the "A Guide to Imagery" series of books I have been slowly collecting over the years, in my experience, this particular title has been the most difficult to find. But if you use natural motifs, it's worth the trouble, because this book is tailored to you. So often I flip through this book to find inspiration. And while someone working outside of this subject matter might not find this particular book valuable, I bet any artist will find something useful in any of the other books in the series, which vary from everything to the depiction of magic in art to symbols of power.

I love this book so much I buy it any time I find it and often give it away.

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"The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing" by Gigi Rosenberg

This book is a bit older, but non the less, incredibly useful. (All though I do wish there is an update) If you are an artist and are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the grant process, this book will walk you through it and by the end of it, you'll have a foundation that will be useful for the rest of your life. I became a better communicator after reading this book, in every way.

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"Art/Work" by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

The holy grail.

Get a request for something you have never done before?

Look it up here for best practice.

Don't know what insurance to get?

Look up what to look for here.

Curious to know how to make a living?

Yeah, it even goes over how to do that.

The brilliance of this book is that is simple, straightforward and allows room for growth and for YOU to make informed business decisions. I value this book so much that I take it on vacation, just in case I get a tricky email and need to reference it quickly. I'm getting a second copy just because I'm a worry wart and I don't want to ever be without it.

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I've linked each title to where you can find them to Amazon, and these are not affiliate links, if you can find them in a local mom and pop shop, please do.

Enjoy.

August 9th, 2018 - September 26th, 2018 // Summer Details!

The last few weeks have been frantic as I am finishing up shooting late summer blooms and finalizing my schedule for this fall and winter.

I don't have much to write about today, as I just wanted to highlight some of the beautiful things I have been privileged to photograph this summer. I couldn't wait to collage them before I shared them with you.

The next time you see these images, they will be in the finished work. And hopefully, I'll remember to update this post with links to where ever these end up!

-MJ