Introducing Mary Freeman
Mary, I am thrilled to have a Visual Journal artist featured this week. I LOVE the textures and messages that emerge in your work!
Jeniffer, thanks so much for offering me the opportunity to share part of my journey with your viewers. My desire is to share how visual journaling and the process of creating can be a catalyst for seeing, change and healing.
Please introduce yourself and your art a little bit.
I am 54 years old. I have been married for 33 years, to a wonderful, caring, warm, funny, exasperating at times, flawed (as we all are) man, who still thinks I look like I did when me met. (he’s blind) I was 19, he was 26. He likes my morning face; I told you he’s blind! We have three grown children, ages 30, 28, and 18, and we have one precious grandson. This means we have a beautiful daughter-in-law too. I love watching our family grow. Life is good, rich, hard, confusing, rewarding, and weary at times – did I mention hard?? We are all such a mixture of our past, our present. We struggle sometimes understanding others, and our own hearts.
I have not always painted. In 2007 I stumbled upon Sabrina Ward Harrison’s book “Spilling Open”. I was amazed at the depth of the questions she asked herself, and her artwork. I realized that at my age I had not stopped long enough or looked deep enough to ask myself those questions. I think we can get caught up in the dailies of life, work, and children and do not stop long enough to look in our hearts or our dreams, our hopes, our motives, even our fears. Thus began my journey into my heart, and visual journaling.
Where can people find you and your work?
In 2009 I began a wee blog. I would love for you to stop by and say hello.
To view my journal pages and other work you can click the flickr badge on my sidebar or go to
Finish this thought: For me art is…
First, I would say art is a gift – to all of us. It is a gift for both the artist and the one viewing it. Art moves us, stirs our emotions, it impacts our lives in deep ways. Art speaks to the heart. It certainly has been a gift to me as it has helped me see into my heart. Art has helped me heal some of the broken places in my heart. I want to clarify something here – I believe the healing is accomplished by God, but he uses the art in my life as one of the means to do so. I love this quote by J. Scott McElroy, author of Finding Divine Inspiration: “Art speaks to our intuitive side. God designed the arts to jump over our barriers, past our intellect, and to go into our hearts and souls”. Think about how a painting, photo, dance or music can move you.
How is your visual journal a “tool” as you have described it on your blog?
I believe visual journaling is more than making a pretty page. Journaling allows our hearts to “bubble up” to the surface to see what’s going on in there. I have used it to work through problems, to release powerful and distressing emotions, for relaxation and self-expression. In the process of creating a page I have discovered insights about myself that I would not have seen otherwise. Somehow viewing the emotions or questions down on paper helps me “see” better. The process of creating gives me the time and space to explore my interior world and the things that bubble up.
How would you describe your creative process?
I’m not really sure I have a specific process. I can tell you I begin with putting down gesso, then paint on the page or canvas. I usually work in lots of layers. Layers are such a picture of our lives are they not? We are made up of so many of them. Sometimes I will listen to music; sometimes I just want to be quiet. I don’t usually begin with an ending in mind. Sometimes when I am working on a page the process turns into prayer as I speak to God about what is going on in my heart. A lot of my journal pages “speak” to me after they are completed – even days after. I believe what’s inside comes out on them whether we are intentional or not. “Art can be said to be – and can be used as – the externalized map of our interior self”. – Peter London
What role does your blog play in terms of your creative life?
I love my blog. Or I should say, I love the people and the connections I have made through blogging. I am constantly amazed at how alike we all really are. All of us desire connection, fulfillment, love, acceptance and purpose. I get filled with vision, creativity, inspiration and encouragement from others, and I hope I deposit a little of those in others as well.
Your faith in the artistic process is inspiring! Who has inspired you?
Who inspires me? You know there are just too many fellow artists who inspire me with their work to mention here. You can find several of them on the sidebar of my blog. But for the most part, I am inspired by those who are not afraid to be honest with their struggles. Those that have or are in the process of removing the masks we all wear. Those who are living authentically.
What is the next step for you?
I have begun offering visual journaling workshops in my studio, and I will continue to do that. I have been asked to share visual journaling on a larger scale once a month locally, beginning in September. I want to be open to whatever God has for me. I get so much joy out of sharing what a wonderful opportunity for growth, healing and creative outlet visual journaling can be in our lives.
Are there any tips to living a creative life that you’d like to share?
Keep your eyes and ears open. Begin something you have always wanted to do or learn. Read books on things that interest you. Visit blogs, there is so much inspiration and so many people willing to give of themselves. Don’t compare – comparing can stop you cold. Slow down; take the time to be quiet. Examine what is important to you. Are you living on auto pilot, just going through the motions of day to day activities? Or are you doing what’s important to you?
And do something fun!
Those certainly are great tips that everyone can benefit from in their lives.
Mary, Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly with us.
“Inspiring Artists!” will be an ongoing series. It will run as long as there are inspiring artists out there wanting to share their stories. If you are an artist and would like to participate please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!!