21 SECRETS Spotlight :: Mary Beth Shaw


Every Wednesday at Dirty Footprints Studio Tonia Jenny, the 21 SECRETS Creative Director & Course Manager,  is interviewing one of the talented teachers in our program.  Be sure to sign up for blog notifications below to never miss a spotlight — and CLICK HERE to check out past interviews. 

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Hello, Beautiful Dreamer!

Holy Moly, can you believe it? All of the yummy inspiration 21 SECRETS Paper, Glue, Scissors will be available to you in just 5 days! I know it’s so hard to wait, but hang in there; you’re doing great! Meanwhile, let’s get to know Mary Beth Shaw, whose workshop, HeartSwell Journaling, will introduce you to creating beautiful layers of not only mixed media, but of personal meaning. You may already know Mary Beth as the founder of Stencil Girl®Products, but I’m betting you’ll learn something new about her here.

How have your creative pursuits morphed or changed over the years?

I was very artsy up until the 8th grade when a teacher told me I would never be an artist. I took her seriously for years (yep, I really did) until I discovered rubber stamps in the early 90s and started making greeting cards and paper crafts. I became smitten with collage around 2000 and wanted to know everything I could learn, seeking out classes with Ann Baldwin, Jonathan Talbot and Claudine Hellmuth. I took classes at UC Berkeley (SF extension). I started focusing on mixed media paintings. I entered juried shows, and exhibited around town, then started doing outdoor art fairs, which eventually led to teaching. These days I focus primarily on my art journals although have recently started a new body of work that incorporates all my current and forever loves – collage, painting, fabric and vintage elements.

Name three words that sum up the three stages your current work goes through.

Background, Foreground, Integration – each stage could involve paint or collage or ‘parts’ I have made. The background tends to be more spontaneous as I seldom know what will develop. I move toward intent with subsequent steps.

Is there a “secret message” you often want your work to convey?

I always have a secret message in my work. Ranging from my own symbolism to something as simple as a play on words. I frequently embed hidden messages underneath layers of paint with perhaps just a snippet showing. Working largely abstract challenges me and I like for the viewer to also be challenged to explore a deeper meaning in my work.

In what do you find inspiration that it seems few others find inspiring?

Failure and mistakes inspire me to reach deep and figure out solutions. I guess that’s why I don’t mind ugly stages in my art. It simply means I’m not finished yet.

When are you most courageous?

I am most courageous if I have to stand up for a loved one.

I love that Mary Beth always embeds secret messages into her art! I also have known Mary Beth for years, and I “secretly” know she has a huge heart when it comes to giving back to other artists through her business. Learn more about Mary Beth and her many layers here:

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MaryBeth_Shaw_headshotAbout Mary Beth

Mary Beth Shaw swore off Art Journaling for many years until 2013 when she suddenly had little time to make her own artwork. She started slowly, but then found great solace in her journal. Today she teaches many types of workshops, but her heart swells when sharing journal techniques. She is author of Flavor for Mixed Media and Stencil Girl, is a columnist for Somerset Studios Magazine and a Golden Artist Educator. She is the founder of StencilGirl®Products, LLC. She has a tattoo of a shooting star on her right shoulder.


Mary Beth is teaching Heart Swell Journaling

Join MaryBeth as her heart swells with gratitude for an active Art Journal practice. She will share some of her very favorite techniques, from quick painted collage papers to uber-layered pages. We will discuss every bit of the process from starting a page spread to working on embedded meaning within your pages, along with some coverage of color and composition so that all your pages pop. Stencils will (of course!) play a leading role. Come along and let your heart swell for Art Journaling.

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