A Conversation With Amy Maricle


Hello Sweet Friends!

I am excited to share with you that Natasha Reilly, the new Creative Catalyst here at Dirty Footprints Studio and co-host of Art Journal Jam, will be sprinkling some inspiration here regularly with a new interview series starting today!

Recently the artist Amy Maricle, who teaches Add Play & Wonder with Doors, Pockets, and Windows in 21 SECRETS Tools & Techniques published a very helpful blog post titled: Art Journaling For Anxiety where she shares how working in abstract has been an important tool in her own self care, especially around anxiety and Amy also provides useful steps on how to use art journaling to address anxiety.

Not only am I proud to introduce you to Amy, but also to introduce this new, exciting interview series that Natasha is stirring up as well.

Enjoy — and as always, feel free to share this interview with those that you feel could benefit the most.

With So Much LOVE,



NATASHA :: One of the things I love about your work is that you use your art journaling as a form of “creative self-care”. How do you define “creative self-care”? How has it become a practice within your art journal?

AMY :: Creative self-care is using the arts to express and understand your feelings, and to explore your inner (and outer) world. Arts are the natural way we understand and deal with the world as children. I like helping people reclaim that innate ability to draw, write, dance, and sing about their experiences.

Art journals are the perfect medium for exploring feelings. It’s contained in a little book that you don’t have to ever show anyone if you don’t want. In my journal, I give myself permission to just explore and play with art materials, or vent about my feelings; it helps me immerse myself in the process and achieve a state of “flow” which is part of what is healing in art.

Even when I get frustrated with the art process, that’s okay, because life is like that – an ebb and flow of challenge and ease, learning and coasting.

Lately what I like to do most in my journal is paint. I haven’t been doing it nearly as much on canvas and I’ve loved exploring how working on a less “precious” material opens me up to take more chances artistically. I see the whole art process as a metaphor for my life – so having courage in my art is good practice for having courage generally.

NATASHA :: Often people will have symbols within their work that have great meaning for them. I noticed that you are drawn circles. What about that shape inspires you? What meaning does that symbol have for you and how does it change and/or expand within your pages?

AMY :: I discovered mandalas in grad school when I was studying art therapy. A mandala is any circle in art and what is contained within it, often with a pattern of some sort. Mandalas occur throughout the natural world – from the large scale – the sun, moon, and planets, to the small scale –trees, fruit, flowers, bubbles – to the micro scale – cells and atoms. Because mandalas are pervasive, they are a universal symbol for wholeness, unity, and the sacred. Those are qualities that I hope to invite into my art and life.

With the recent trend in art towards pattern-driven art, circles or “bubbles” are a wonderfully easy invitation to create abstract art with pattern, color, and a focus on mindful, meditative drawing. Traditional, highly patterned mandalas, are also a great way for people who are new to art to experiment with using creativity to find focus and calm. As a teacher, I love offering these techniques to people who would like to practice using art for healing.


NATASHA ::  The element of playful surprise is a thread that runs through your process and your work. Whether it’s creating a surprise beneath a flap or letting the art surprise you by allowing it to show you where you need to go, you always trust in the surprising path. What do you believe are the greatest gifts of letting go and allowing surprise to move you forward?

AMY :: Of course there are times I create an art piece in a planned way, usually on canvas, but I find the most exciting work is when I show up to the page with absolutely no plan, or a simple idea. For example, the other day I was drawing a repetitive pattern in gel pen over a two-page spread. My mother in law admired it, asking whether I’d cover the whole page with these shapes. It was fascinating to hear myself answer, because I’ve been mulling over these questions. I said, “I don’t know, it depends what it [the art piece] wants. I have to just wait and see what it asks me to do.”

When I work this way, I really don’t plan, direct, drive, or control. For someone who has been described as “Type A” at times, letting go of the need to control and perfect is a wonderful vacation! It opens me up, lets me play, and forces me listen to what my soul and spirit need, instead of what I think I need. It slows me down. And I believe that when I slow down, I can open myself to the deepest beauty in any of the arts, which is the mystery.

If you listen deeply to artists, writers, musicians, dancers, and creative of all types, many of them will tell you that they do not feel they are in charge of creative outcomes, and the minute they try to be, it all goes south. Creative energy is a force that flows through you, you are a part of it, but the creative energy that flows through you is not something you own. Our job as artists is to open the channel and get out of the way – let the energy flow through your hand and onto the page. When I get out of the way, it’s like a scrubbing for my soul – and much of what appears before me on the page is a surprise and a delight. Sometimes it’s not very delightful at all, but it’s like life, it teaches you to deal with the good and the bad alike. This is the beauty of soulful, playful art making, it makes you like a child again, full of wonder, but with better coping skills! That’s what makes me feel alive.

NATASHA :: At one point, while talking about flaps within your art journal you refer to two of them as butterfly wings which was wonderful. I love how you intuitively knew what those flaps wanted to become. How do you come to see or understand the metaphors in your work?

AMY :: This is a part of the surprise and wonder of working without a plan. Metaphors emerge from my unconscious or from the “art-ether” as it were, and I can let my imagination run free. Perhaps the butterfly wings are a symbol of the freedom I’m feeling in my art or some other part of my life, or perhaps they speak to a transformation in the way I’m feeling about something. The key for me is to be in an open state where my imagination spontaneously narrates a little story. Often I take it further by allowing that narrative to influence what appears on the page, and sometimes I also write down a narrative or “dialogue” with the art piece. These symbols almost always have insight to offer me about my life in a way that makes my experience more meaningful and a bit lighter.


NATASHA :: You speak about layers and relationships between pages when you create. In looking at the journals you share in 21 Secrets Tools and Techniques, the relationships you create between pages are beautiful. Why do you feel it’s important that your pages have a relationship?

AMY :: I have only recently begun thinking about the relationship between pages. This seems sort of strange given that books are not a collection of random pages. Using holes in my pages was what got me thinking about it. When you “open” one art piece to another by creating a hole, you make them dependent on one another. Suddenly there is a conversation between the two pages, because what you create on one page changes the other. An art journal can be a collection of confessions, a collection of art from a particular period of your life, an ever-evolving piece that changes as you do, or an interactive art piece that pulls the viewer into an experience. This flexibility is the beauty of the art journaling form. You get to choose what kind of journal you are creating, or perhaps, discover it.

NATASHA :: Do you listen to music when you are creating? If so, what artists do you listen to? Does listening to music increase or decrease the intuitive playfulness and freedom within your process?

AMY :: I sometimes create in silence, sometimes with music, and sometimes while surrounded by others. I try to squeeze in art time as often as I can, so sometimes that means in the car on long trips, art with my kids, or in certain social gatherings that permit it. When I create on my own with music, I love listening to a lot of music in Portuguese and Spanish. I’m into Bossa Nova, some Brazilian pop artists, Flamenco, and many Latin artists generally. Some of my favorites are Antonio Carols Jobim, Djavan, Maria Rita, Marisa Monte, Kevin Johansen, Rodrigo y Gabriela. If I listen to American music, I really enjoy Sara Bareilles, John Mayer, Ingrid Michaelson, or Fiona Apple when I’m creating.

Answering these questions has been such a rich experience of dwelling with my art in a reflective way, thank you!

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Amy-MaricleAmy Maricle

Amy Maricle is an artist, art therapist, blogger, and author in the Boston area. Amy’s approach to art journaling is playful and intuitive. Working in layers, her pages evolve slowly over time, with a variety of painting, printing, drawing, sewing, and creative writing techniques. Amy is dedicated to empowering people to live a full creative life and use art as a form of self-care.  To learn more about Amy CLICK HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE

Tash_CircleNatasha Reilly

Natasha Reilly is an artist, writer, visual storyteller, and the 21 SECRETS Creative Catalyst who stirs the magic and throws inspiration around like stardust on the 21 SECRETS Playground and here at Dirty Footprints Studio. You can learn more about Natasha in our weekly Art Journal Jam with Connie & Tashie and follow her on Instagram HERE


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