Art Journaling for Relaxation

This week I am trying to create order in my studio, which is hard to do after sifting through storage units last week. I seem to have reached my organizing quota.

I am looking forward to replenishing my musical pendant inventory and creating some Valentines for February when order is restored.

Next week I hope to refresh the shelf at the Pop Up Gallery. Until then my ornaments are still $5 off.

Meanwhile, I am part of an art journaling Facebook group that has been fun.

Mostly I see my pages as backgrounds for future musings, but some might remain as standalone art works.

We get various prompts, like drawing circles, doodling on strips of collaged paper, stamping with various random items found around the house, using colors we don’t normally choose etc.

It helps me to settle to do something like this, and is also fun to do with friends and family.

At a The Collage Cafe drop-in I made a collage from paper scraps.

It got me to dig out some templates I had never used.

Sometimes it is good to have a project that takes me out of solopreneur mode where the outcome doesn’t have to be sellable.

Plus it is fun to see what everyone else does and how other people express themselves.

I had fun with the word cloud challenge when I was in Houston.

Self care is good, and pausing from the daily grind with a bit of coloring is therapeutic.

Some collage snippets even offer wisdom and humor.

We’ll see what these two get embellished with in the future!

Assemblage at The Collage cafe

I joined the Grown*UP Girls Club this year at The Collage Cafe and I am loving it. While I have my own studio where I can create, there is something about gathering around women, being in a different space, and having someone else prescribe a project that soothes the soul and takes me out of my head.

This month we did assemblage art. We started with a small chunky canvas to embellish with anything we wished.

The Collage Cafe owner Lindy Stockton has gathered numerous objects over the years, from buttons, ribbons, vintage clothespins, paper scraps, game pieces, puzzles to metal objects like washers and rivets, chunky safety pins, keys and a plethora of other things.

Clearly making a mess is part of the inspirational process. I found a lovely pencil that had to be mine, and gathered a variety of other embellishments that spoke to me.

I put a layer of acrylic paint on mine for starters.

Then I added scraps of decorative paper from a scrapbook paper stack.

With glue guns and drills and super-powerful glue we had a blast making our pieces.

Waiting for paint and glue to dry was the hardest part, but gave an opportunity to walk around and see what everyone else was working on.

It is such fun to see what people pick and how they use it in the end.

I snapped this picture as inspiration, and saw the piece being used by someone else.

I am really happy with how mine turned out, especially since I had no vision at all in the beginning.

Sometimes not knowing what could or should be is very freeing, and leads to results you don’t expect.

Playing with dimension is such fun.

The front addresses the writer in me.

The back clearly needed to sparkle.

You can catch a glimpse of the other pieces here.

Go check out this lovely play space and get your inner creatrix going!

Collaging Dragonflies

“Dragonfly is the power of light.
The dragonfly inhabits two realms:
air and water 
the influence of both these elements will
be felt by Dragonfly people.”

~ Lin’s Domain

This is the last week of the Encaustic Nature in Art exhibit. My Damselfly-Dragonfly Diptych will be up until April 1 and then the gorgeous exhibit is taken down to never be seen in that lovely company again.


I started capturing Dragonflies in 2008, when one settled on a journal while I was on a birthday trip. Since then, they’ve posed for me sporadically on summer trips, garden walks, and in parks near Lake Michigan.


I didn’t know how hard they were to capture on camera until later. I’ve been lucky that some were willing to pose for me for minutes on end, like this one in Bluhm Park.


Dragonflies are a totem for transformation as well as light and color. Unlike my favored Butterfly, Dragonflies are both water and air beings.


Dragonfly eggs are laid in the water, which hatch into naiads. They feed on mosquito larvae, and at times tadpoles and fish, and remain in this stage for 2 months to three years, some even up to five years.


It then climbs up a reed above water, where it begins breathing and emerges from its split skin into an adult dragonfly, to live for up to six months in this stage.


The musculature of Dragonflies is quite fascinating, which I learned at Backyard Monsters.


A fabulous explanation of the mechanism is below:

I snapped the 12-spotted skimmer at Emily Oaks Nature Center ‎where I often go to observe dragonflies. They feed on mosquitoes so creating a dragonfly habitat in your garden might be beneficial in summer.


The damselfly, a bluet, settled in my path at the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Damselflies have the same life cycle , except that their wings are parallel to the body when at rest. They also have separated eyes.


The colors of these inspired me to make a diptych after reading Hilda Simon’s painstakingly researched and illustrated Dragonflies book that I recommend to anyone interested in these creatures.


I lifted some quotes from her book and also looked up other dragonfly symbolism.  Then I pasted the base paper–with varying terms for Odonata–onto the wooden substrate.


I layered on encaustic medium and made sure no bubbles formed. Then I added layers of blue encaustic paint, alternating with the translucent medium, and scraping here and there.


I added more layers of paper and checked the position of the photographs.


After another round of encaustic medium, it was time to add the photographs, also coated in encaustic medium for durability.



Voila, the diptych is complete, along with another companion piece, the Ruby Meadowhawk.


Visit the Art Center of Highland Park at 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park this week-end to get a final glimpse at Encaustic Nature in Art and Primal Awareness.


“When the dragonfly shows up in your life,
it may remind you to bring a bit
more lightness and joy into your life.”

~ Elena Harris, Editor


 You can find desktop minis of the 12-spotted Skimmer in my Etsy store.

BUGS!!! Open House and a re-opened Etsy Shop

As I mentioned, a few pieces are going back up on Etsy, and so is Red Hot Love.

 I made this prior to the Arts of Life Square Foot Show in Glenview.

Speaking of the Arts of Life, the BUGS!!! Exhibit has another open house with live music on Friday, September 7 from 6 to 10 pm at 2010 W. Carroll Ave., Chicago, IL.

I was exploring embedding and creating texture with paper as well as marks when I worked on Red Hot Love. First I stenciled love onto paper.

Then I played with the layout a little bit.

encaustic collage

After a few layers of medium, I embedded the paper into encaustic medium. Using a page of the book of John which I picked up at a thrift store, I tore out a page and inserted this quote.

Adding another layer of medium, I played with mark-making by writing and scratching into the warm wax.

I also tried painting and writing with pigmented wax, which is harder than it seems. Watching the tissue paper react to the wax was fun.

What do you think of this departure from nature-based photos and collages?

studio time and another upcoming show

I’m back in the studio again, yippie. Since taking a variety of workshops over the spring, I have not spent time making encaustic pieces.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

It doesn’t mean I haven’t created anything. I learned encaustic techniques from Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Crystal Neubauer and Shawna Moore; bound books at the Chicago Print Collaborative, had two sessions of Metal Clay classes, and started a drawing course with Lauren Levato.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Each of these sessions has inspired me and I have lots of ideas to implement. The time to do so has been scarce, however. So spending time in the studio this week is quite exciting. I finally get to experiment with some of the techniques I learned, and also play with new photos from my recent nature excursions.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Meanwhile, my ‘old’ work will be on display at Bugfest on August 3. Bugfest is a two-day festival celebrating insects and other critters. My work will be up at the Kinzie Corridor Community Gallery, which provides a space for artists in the Kinzie Corridor to network, workshop, and showcase their work. They show the work of neighborhood artists as well as bring in artists from all over the Chicago area to increase exposure and opportunities for our local artists.

copyright The Arts of Life Studio

This Gallery is attached to the Arts of Life Studio, which is operated by artists with and without disabilities. Mark your calendars for two evenings of bug-appreciation. The gallery, located at 2010 W Carroll Ave; Chicago; IL 60612, will host our works through September 21.

Candy Gala Anticipation

This promises to be another fabulous week. 2011 was wonderful, but this year I’ve had numerous “pinch me, I must be dreaming” moments. Artrageous has opened, I attended a very inspiring studio visit, and the Red Admirals obliged me a little bit in posing for me on Sunday. I’m not sure my adrenaline-meter can keep up with all the goodness and joy, and sometimes wonder if it’ll explode into sparkly pieces.

Tomorrow, the sparkles and excitement continue with the Women’s Innovation Network’s Candy Gala. We’ll be surrounded by sweets and a candy museum in the 3,000 square foot store. Fig Catering will be providing a more hearty buffet to round out the sweetness provided by Candyality.

Women's Innovation Network

The event includes a silent auction benefiting Sweet Beginnings, so of course I set out to create a piece.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I don’t have bees in my photographic repertoire yet, so I pulled photos of my current favorite butterfly, the Ricepaper butterfly also known as the Large Tree Nymph, Paper Kite or Idea Leuconoe.

Image copyright Maike's Marvels

Per David Carter’s Eyewitness Butterflies and Moths handbook, this translucent-winged creature lives in Indo-Australia, from Thailand to Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. I have the privilege of observing these at Peggy Notebeart’s Nature Museum.

I layered colored wax on the substrate.

image copyright Maike's Marvels

This piece also became a practice in the photo transfers I learned with Bridgette Guerzon Mills.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

burnishing and peeling

 photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I’ve picked out my dress and shoes (black tie/cocktail attire), and will be wearing my sparklies from Swarovski. It is going to be such fun. Candyality is located on the 7th floor of Water Tower Place. The party begins at 7 pm.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Last Friday we finalized the program for this event during a very energetic WIN Committee meeting.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

How can one not get giddy while savoring cake, pikante hot chocolate, mint capuccinos and discussing gowns and jewelry?

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

You can still buy tickets (online and at the door), so please join us Tuesday evening.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

And yes, this earworm is in my head:

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.

North Shore Square Foot Show

Yesterday evening marked the opening of the Arts of Life North Shore’s first Square Foot* show. 70 artists submitted 100 works, including the resident artists and mail-ins from seven states.

I submitted to this call for art without having seen the studio (technically a no-no, but hey, I’m a newbie at this). I poked around on the web site and saw a lot of very vibrant art, which prompted me to create Red Hot Love, a departure from my usual color scheme.

Red Hot Love by Maike’s Marvels

Because it felt so different, I also grabbed Migrant Danaus on the day of submission, in case Love didn’t fit in. (Later, Radar Love by Golden Earring played on the radio when I drove over to the opening reception.)

Migrant Danaus by Maike’s Marvels

What I found when I submitted my pieces (in person) was a bright and large space in an unassuming suburban commercial complex. Walking in, you see the gallery space, which would be a storefront in other settings. But then toward the back a much larger area is revealed. One half is studio space and the other is a multi-purpose room. For opening night, that space was converted to a theater area, with a stage and seating. I dropped off both works, letting the staff decide which one to choose during the curating process.

Arts of Life strives to empower people to “create an amazing artistic and personal vision for their community”. The organization “is a community of people with and without disabilities creating an artistic culture to realize our full potential.”

Arts of Life Square Foot Show

Works by Laura McManus, AJ Abbott,
Alexis Ortiz, Peter Bullock and Katie Schofield

In addition to hosting quarterly art exhibits, the studio space is offered to people with special needs. Between 9 am and 3 pm on weekdays, artists can hone their visual arts, performance arts and musical skills. Some residents come daily, and others every other day. The North Shore Studio is a fairly new space, while the Chicago location has been in operation for 12 years.

I met resident artists, their friends and relatives, bumped into recently made friends, and made new connections. A few people were drawn to Migrant Danaus, and I even got nice comments about Red Hot Love.

Collages by Maike's Marvels and Arts of Life contributors

Rainbows, castles and bunnies next to my works 🙂

After mingling, noshing on snacks, having wine or juice and having artists introduce their work, we were ushered to the other room for an open-mic performance by the resident artists.

These performers showcased solo songs and group songs including: Light my fire, I believe I can fly, Come together, and My girl. We were also shown reenactments of the Lion King, Peter Pan and Twilight. The North Shore Music Ensemble has a web page here.

I found that the vibrancy of the visual art work is a true reflection of each person there. The theater space may have been dark, but everyone (including the audience) shone as they got caught up in the music and the acting. We laughed, we clapped, we sang along, and there was pure joy in the act of creative artistry. The environment was so inclusive, supportive and empowering. It is an honor to have my work among such creative spirits.

Art of Various Dimensions 

Apparently a Zombie Prom is next, a benefit with live bands at The Empty Bottle. What will I wear?

 *It is called a square foot show because all pieces had to be 12 inches wide x 12 inches tall, which is equivalent to the American “foot” measurement.

Art submissions

In the spirit of stretching and challenging myself, I’ve submitted some pieces for calls for art.

I’m awaiting news on HVNSTN and the Kedzie Admirals for a Civic Center submission.

Maike's Marvels submission to civic center

HVNSTN was fun to do. I was inspired by Katsy Johnston’s work to actually paint onto a photograph with encaustic. First I wrote some words describing what the town means to me. The purple is a nod to Northwestern University.

HVNSTN layer 1 by Maike's Marvels

I snapped the license plate in my neighborhood a few years ago. It stands for Heavanston. That layer went on top of the words.

HVNSTN layer 2 by Maike's Marvels

Then I painted over the letters with pigmented beeswax.

Maike's Marvels HVNSTN painting phase

It got a bit sloppy—wax dries fast—so I broke out the dental tools for a bit of scraping.

It isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it for a first try. With more time I would have created a better one for the submission, but the deadline was looming and I had to enter it as is.

HVNSTN encaustic collage by Maike's Marvels

I also wanted to continue with my butterfly theme that seems to be emerging, so I browsed for pictures of local butterflies. When I did research on the Red Admirals, which I had snapped around the corner from my home, I learned that they like to settle down in one place for a week or so. I cut out the photos of two different admirals.

Red Admirals cut-outs by Maike's Marvels

Then fusing the layers began

fusing Red Admirals by Maike's Marvels

I enjoyed giving the biggest butterflies a little ‘lift.’

We’ll see what their journey holds.

Kedzie's Red Admirals by Maike's Marvels

Artrageous was the most nerve-wracking for me. It is a juried show, so there is no guarantee that I’ll get in. I attempted to create some spring-themed art with Violas, but am not happy with where that went. So for now those pieces are ‘resting’. Instead, I submitted my Swift Swallowtails. I’ll know in April whether they are actually flying off to the exhibit.

Swift Swallowtails by Maike's Marvels

Sassy Aphrodite

“With her, beauty comes.
The winds flee before her and the storm clouds;
sweet flowers embroider the earth;
the waves of the sea laugh;
she moves in radiant light.
Without her there is no joy or loveliness anywhere.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

There she is, in LOVEly company at Dick Blick Art Materials.

You can view these melancholy, humorous, inspirational and beautiful art works until March 18.

love show at Dick Blick Evanston

What I love about the Agora’s Aphrodite statue is that the sculpture has such an aura of confidence and contentment. This is a Goddess who is self-aware. She is proud and knows her place in the world. As the embodiment of love and beauty she channels that love and beauty. She has wonderful curves and embraces her femininity.

Greek mythology portrays its pantheon as very human, prone to mood swings, at times quite selfish and with extreme (often ego-driven) fluctuations in morality and its enforcement (I guess not much has changed with regard to people in power). Aphrodite was no exception.

“In later poems she is usually shown as treacherous and malicious,
exerting a deadly and destructive power over men.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

That is what I like about the statue though. She is so human. Her form may be exquisite, but beauty would not be recognized without contrast, and we often have that contrast residing within ourselves.

I started my Aphrodite with a background of hearts. The wedges of those flower petal stamp pads make fun shapes. The Mini Hearts stamp from Impression Obsession added pattern. The words were written with a fountain pen ink-dispenser.

background of Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

Then I typed words that I associate with love and a happy relationship and printed those out. They are an affirmation of self-love and the growth and joy that comes from being loved by another. I fused them onto the canvas with encaustic medium. I also added some purple I had left from the Swallowtail project.

text for Sassy Aphrodite by Maike's Marvels

“The Goddess of love and beauty, who beguiled all,
gods and men alike; the laughter-loving goddess,
who laughed sweetly or mockingly at those her wiles had conquered;
the irresistible goddess who stole away even the wits of the wise.”

~Edith Hamilton, Mythology

I used letter stamps to stamp the word aphrodite onto a sheet, along with a butterfly stamp from a bargain bin. Paper scraps were fused with a pink encaustic paint.

exquisite, elegant, extraordinary--Maike's Marvels

Exquisite, elegant and extraordinary are my words for the year.

A friend called me elegant recently, and I realized I needed to hold that thought and embrace it as I move forward. It embodies grace and luxury at the same time.

Exquisite is how I want my art to be perceived, and myself too; why not?

Extraordinary represents every day. I am no longer living a life of conformity, nor am I an ordinary person. I need to embrace that transition and the flux that comes with it.

love is within by Maike's Marvels

Because Aphrodite is so self-contained, and because not everybody (yours truly) has a partner on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to convey that one does not need someone else to have love. “Love is within” is something I hold true.

We project loveability onto others. We seek approval from the community to validate our being. But ultimately true love comes only from oneself. It is a huge burden to make another person the source of one’s self-esteem. The power you give that other person can be abused and mis-used.

Because a Goddess has a higher power, I wanted to give her a bit of an aura. The purple glow was applied with a sponge that had purple ink on it. I then ‘floated’ Sassy Aphrodite onto the collage with mounting tape.

floating aphrodite

The key is to accept oneself as one is. Aphrodite didn’t have a perfect life. She was blamed for many things. She influenced situations for better AND for worse. The love and beauty she doled out didn’t always lead to a happily ever after. There was pain, manipulation and death. But per this representation, and all the other confident hip-jutting statues of her, she owned who she was and didn’t apologize for it.

So stand tall, embrace your beauty. And love who you are.

believe you are special

You too, are exquisite, elegant and extraordinary, and you should celebrate every aspect of your uniqueness.

sassy goddesses from 400 B.C.

“I prefer the title Goddess. 
Queens have realms that are entirely too limited.”
~Demeter in P.C. Cast’s Goddess of Spring

I submitted my love-themed collage to Dick Blick, which had me perusing my photos from Greece, where I photographed the Goddess of Love a few times.

This one, Sassy Aphrodite, will go up on the store wall February 6 to March 18. The Blick staff was very kind about her and treated her with reverence. Positive feedback is always a boost when putting art out there.

Sassy Aphrodite mixed media collage by Maike's Marvels

Sassy Aphrodite by Maike’s Marvels

I ‘met’ Her Voluptuousness at the Agora in Athens. She is from the fourth century B.C.

4th BC Aphrodite, Agora, Athens

The draping and the detail in fingers and toes is exquisite.

My collage is a companion to this one, which was a bit too personal to put on display (plus I didn’t think it would come out well 4-6 feet above eye level).

Pact with self mixed media collage by Maike's Marvels

Pact with Self by Maike’s Marvels

I explored several museums in Athens, Mikonos/Delos and Santorini last May. The art work created in ancient times is astounding. I was especially struck by the confident poses some of the statues had.

Nike statuettes had wonderful flowing energy.

Nike statuette in Athens

I soon learned to recognize Aphrodite. She always seems to have a hip jutting out. I love the sassiness!

Hellenistic Aphrodites in Athens

 336 to 31 B.C. ‘realism’ statuettes at Athens’ National Archaeological Museum

Hellenistic Aphrodites in Athens

It would be lovely to know what her face(s) looked like, but without her head she does become everywoman.

“All the spiritual teachings emphasize
that the only place we will ever find God
is right here, right now,
in our unfolding present moment.”
~John Selby, Kundalini Awakening

How gorgeous and realistic is this sleeping beauty?

Sleeping Maenad, Athens

Sleeping Maenad in luxury residence, also kown as
Reclining Hermaphrodite from 138-117 B.C.

 Sleeping Maenad, Athens

Intricate coiffures indicated beauty in 400-100 B.C.

Sleeping Maenad, Athens

On Delos I noticed these cuties. There is so much realism and expression in these poses.

Delos statuettes of women

Statuettes in the Archaeological Museum of Delos, possibly 2nd-1st centuries B.C.

The oldest goddesses could now easily feature in a museum of contemporary art.

Cycladic Goddesses in Athens

Cycladic Goddess figurines, 2800-2300 B.C., at
National Archaeological Museum of Athens 

Speaking of Sassy Goddesses, Julianna Hudgins just announced the release of her line of Goddess dies for Spellbinders.

 Julianna Hudgins' Spellbinders Jewel Goddess Dies

Jewel Goddess image pulled from Julianna Hudgins’ web site

I love the voluptuous shape of these beauties and very much enjoy the energy around her product release, even though I haven’t gotten into die cutting (“forming material in a press or a stamping or forging machine”) myself. The creations her friends made for a blog frenzy are very inspiring.

“‘Enthusiasm’ means ‘of the gods’.
When you are enthusiastic,
You are working with divine support”
~Sonia Choquette, Your Heart’s Desire

All this product launch energy and female empowerment is very affirming to me. We are all divine goddesses (or gods) and should treat ourselves as such!