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a letter from ivy

Dear creative friends,

Welcome to Issue No. 3 of the StudioWorks Journal! I’m so delighted you are here and I can’t wait to share with you. So this issue came about a little differently, let me explain.

The past few months we have discussed discipline, creative practice and then began to learn how to nurture our inner artists. I had a few logical ideas of how to proceed, however my muse had no interest in logic.

What I had planned out in my head for this issue was contradicting what my heart had already decided. When I pushed a little harder, I was met with a firm resistance. I had to stop, back up and take notice of what my heart was saying.

She whispered “Let us play..let us delight in magic. Let’s run away to far off shores, dance in forgotten castles, run through a sunlit forest, listen to sweet music, taste the sea air.”

It was then, I knew that this month, it was time for us to take an adventure together.


So you may be wondering, where do I start? To that, I say, wherever feels right to you. Each month we will have a theme, a creative affirmation, a power word, a color palette, sketchbook exercises, art projects, articles, recommended reading and access to wonderful inspiration and resources. I want you to think of this as a delicious new magazine, you know the ones you occasionally splurge on, with soft, velvety pages, beautiful images and inspiring content!

Each issue will invite you to explore your creative practice in whichever way works for you. Experience each issue at your own pace. Take what resonates with you and put the rest aside for another time.

Grab a cup of something lovely and dive in.


Practical Magic
Savor life and all it’s magic.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Magic is all around us right? We hear this all the time but what does it truly mean and how does it connect to our creativity?

Close your eyes for just a second and remember yourself as a child. Think back to a memory when you experienced “magic”. It could have been Christmas morning, watching your first Disney movie, walking in the forest, reading a special story, anything! Can you remember? Do you remember that tingling excitement, that fullness in your heart, the beautiful swelling of joy. That is real magic. That feeling. Your inner child knows it well and can connect with it easily. Your inner artist is the same!

Your inner artist delights in color and sound and touch and experiences of all kinds. She marvels at a bird alighting on a branch or the blazing sun slipping beneath the turquoise waves. A sweet melody. A choir of children signing. Light streaming through the trees. The delicious taste of freshly baked bread or biting into a ripe peach on a warm summer day. Magic right?

This tingling, buzzing, electric wonder is magic and it fuels us. Magic is sister to joy. Without it we can feel apathetic, closed, resentful and far, far too serious! When we lose our connection to magic we lose our willingness to play.

So how do we stay connected to this beautiful energy? How do we embrace it and bring it into our everyday? Well, I’m happy to share that it requires a playful attitude, a child like curiosity and a departure from the very “adult” world around us.

Of course, working in your sketchbook and on your art is a practice of working with magic but there are other ways to actively engage in it. Here’s a practical magic making list to try…. 

  1. Walk in the forest, look at everything with wonder.
  2. Go to a local museum, marvel at all the creations.
  3. Take yourself on a picnic. Find a beautiful place in the grass to lay out your blanket, to eat delicious treats and stare up at the sky.
  4. Light candles, put on your favorite music and cook up a favorite meal, taking special time to taste, sip and deeply inhale the aromas.
  5. Go to a book reading at your local library, experience the story like a child being read to.
  6. Wake up before dawn and then watch as the whole world lights up with the rising sun.
  7. Take a walk in the rain….delight in being impractical. Splash in a few puddles along the way.
  8. Make a favorite dessert, wrap it up beautifully and then surprise a friend, neighbor or loved one. Bringing magic to others brings magic to ourselves.
  9. Sit and listen to your favorite music. Don’t do anything other than listen. Enjoy how the music feels in your body.
  10. Light candles all over your bedroom and read by candlelight just because it’s beautiful!

Try these and think up and share your own! Embracing our magic and seeking it out in the everyday will forever change your heart and your art.

Take a break from reality. If only for a day. No news, no social media, no negative people. Take a day for you to play, read, rest and enjoy pleasure. Negativity is pervasive in our time and can tear magic away from us.
join us in the


creative academy

Did you know your Studioworks membership unlocks full access to over 80+ CREATIVE CLASSES? No more waitlists or wishing you could join a class.

In addition, you will receive a monthly issue of the STUDIOWORKS JOURNAL. Here you’ll find articles, creative prompts, curated resources, downloadable artistic affirmations, sketchbook explorations, a full-length art lesson AND MORE!





Definition : A quality of being beautiful and delightful in a way that seems remote from daily life.

While, there are several definitions for this word, we are focusing on this simple explanation. To see beauty and delight in our everyday world as a way of connecting to our inner artist and fueling our creativity. It’s easy to pass through our days unconsciously, seeing only the mundane but this is not the way of the artist. It is our natural way of being to see magic in the world around us. It is a necessary part of being creative.


As previously mentioned, our first magical experiences, often happen in our childhood. Take a moment and write down any magical memories you can recall. They can be simple or elaborate. Make a list or write in descriptive paragraphs, the choice is yours, however the more you can recall, the more magic you will feel. What can you see? Hear? Smell? Where in your body do you feel the memory? Your heart? Your belly? Remember, your inner artist is sensual. Tap into all of your senses.

For example, a memory of visiting a tiny seaside town on the East Coast that I just loved is often recalled when I smell a raspberry perfume I wore when I was only 13. One whiff of that perfume and I’m transported to the shore – watching the boats, smelling the sea air, the waves gently lapping at my toes. I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the sky was the purest cerulean blue. Gulls cried out over head. My lips were sweet from vanilla ice cream. Everything felt enchanted that day.

Close your eyes for a moment and breath deeply. Then, write freely, don’t judge what you write down…it may not all makes sense…just let the words come. Don’t worry about punctuation. You may just list words…whatever comes…let it flow. You may choose to look through childhood photographs or listen to music that might take you back to a time in your life. These can be good ways to jostle your memory. Be playful with this exercise. We are simply reacquainting ourselves with what is truly our natural way of being – experiencing magic and joy with an innocent ease, free of constraints.

What memories came up for you? Could any of them be sketches you could make? Or even paintings?

Magic Muse Prompt : Take an evening or afternoon to watch a favorite childhood movie. Re-engaging in this simple act can coax our inner child & artist into a state of delight and surrender. Allow the movie to sweep you up and carry you away, if only for few hours.

Monthly Affirmation

Each month we will have a positive affirmation. I recommend you print out this affirmation and put it in your sketchbook or somewhere in your studio. Recite the affirmation out loud each time you show up to create. Saying words aloud is powerful and can begin to re-write some of our own limiting beliefs or calm our fears. Try it now…

join us in the


creative academy

Did you know your Studioworks membership unlocks full access to over 80+ CREATIVE CLASSES? No more waitlists or wishing you could join a class.

In addition, you will receive a monthly issue of the STUDIOWORKS JOURNAL. Here you’ll find articles, creative prompts, curated resources, downloadable artistic affirmations, sketchbook explorations, a full-length art lesson AND MORE!


Color Palette of the Month

This month, I was deeply inspired by a full range of luscious greens, teal and sweet shades of lavender. I mentioned that we would take a magical trip together in this issue and these colors speak to that place. Sweeping landscapes in emerald, turquoise waves crashing on sandy shores and purple heather blooming in the hills. Can you guess where we are going yet?

Of course, you don’t have to adhere to this color palette, but you will see it reflected in the exercises and projects I share with you.

Color info – I used Arteza Real Brush Pens*** to achieve these colors – from left to right – 120 Seaweed Green, 126 Crocodile Green, 146 Olive Green, 138 Teal, 180 Periwinkle, 188 Wisteria Purple, 136 Eggplant Purple & water, 136 Eggplant Purple no water.

*** Please don’t feel like you have to purchase these markers, use greens, teals and purples you enjoy in whichever medium you desire.***

  • Create a magical shrine. Gather together a few special, pretty objects that make your inner child delight. It could be a shimmering crystal, a colorful pebble, a favorite jar of rainbow beads or a vial of glitter. It could be anything that you love, just because. Arrange these things in your creative space or even on a window sill. Add a candle or stick of incense if you like, or grab a strand of fairy lights! (I’m a big fan of those!) Visit this pretty little magic shrine often and let yourself enjoy the beauty of it.
Journey to a Magical Land

Travel and exploring new places has always been a way to experience magic for me but obviously, we can’t always hop on a plane BUT we can always read, research and learn about cultures and lands we’ve never been to. There is so much inspiration to be found in this practice! If a place calls to you, there is a good chance that it will hold some magic for you, whether or not you get to actually go there physically.

When I authored my old blog, I created a series of posts called “Vicarious Vacations”. In these posts, I would extensively research a place in the world that fascinated me and then I would share images, recipes and even sounds from these locations. My readers would comment and delight in the virtual journey. It brought me so much joy to create these so I thought I would do one with you now…

Many of you know I’m heading to Ireland for the first time in June to teach at Lora Murphy’s Essence of Mulranny Studio. As you can imagine, I’m very excited but of course only a few art friends are coming with me so for this issue, I wanted to virtually teleport you ALL to Ireland with me through words, images, music and art.

While Ireland’s history has deep roots, reaching back to 8000 BC, as artists, I would like us to focus on Ireland’s sweeping landscapes, the many mystical stories that originate from this land and of course all the gorgeous Celtic artwork! These elements are made of magic – Nature, Story & Art.

To read more about Ireland’s history click the button below.

Now, take my hand and let’s journey to the Emerald Isle…

A Thousand Shades of Green

Ireland has truly exquisite natural beauty! Let us begin here. Upon a velvety green hilltop, heather blooming, wind whirling around us. The sea glimmering in the distance. Whispers of ancient spirits, dancing druids, mystical mountains. Enjoy this video that embraces the true magic of Ireland!

View more magical landscapes of the Emerald Isle here:

A Culture of Artisans

Celtic art is old, very old and actually spans many countries. However, the Celtic influenced art that was created in Ireland is referred to as Insular Art (insular comes from the latin for island) – thus Island Art.

The most famous are the illuminated manuscripts from the Book of Kells, created by monks in 800 B.C. This Irish relic is now housed at Trinity College in Dublin. The book boasts intricate designs and incredibly detailed patterning. It is considered one of Ireland’s most beloved treasures.

The Celts were also highly skilled metal, wood and ceramic workers, creating beautiful and masterful designs, many depicting nature and symbolic patterns. Celtic art, ultimately, was influenced by many cultures including the Vikings, Romans and other ancient civilizations.

Of course, modern Ireland also has its share of celebrated painters including, Charles Jervas, Walter Frederick Osbourne, Sir John Lavery, William John Leech, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness, Rose Maynard Barton and Letitia Marion Hamilton.

Enjoy this slideshow of Ancient Celtic art moving forward to some of Ireland’s most loved painters. I encourage you to research the ones you love further and even do some master studies in your sketchbooks.

Learning about other artists that inspire you is the perfect way to refill your well and inspire magic! Make note of what you love about the artists work, is it the colors they use? The brushwork? Their compositions or interpretation of a subject? How does the artwork make you feel?

You can view more art on our Pinterest boards:


Interview with Lora Murphy

How did growing up in Ireland affect your understanding of magic, myth and story?

I grew up in the very center of Ireland close to a place called Lough Derravaragh. This lake is associated with one of the most famous tales of Irish imaginative literature – Oidhe Chlann Lir – The Fate of the Children of Lir.

It was impossible to escape the story and it was something we thought about a lot as we splashed and swam in the lake and somehow it always seemed very real. Ireland was (and to some extent still is) a very superstitious land and we take care to not anger the Fairy Folk who can be a capricious bunch! I grew up hearing about incidents of tragedy that happened to people who did not respect the magical folk that shared our Island.

What is a magical childhood memory you would like to share?

When I was really young my friend and I would play outdoors,near our homes,in a place we called Glennenaar. I can’t remember why we called it that but we loved that place. It was a stone circle surrounding a small depression and was shaded and sheltered by trees that seemed really old and magical. We would run there after school in the spring and spend many summer days there drawing with pencils in our notebooks. We would often picnic there and we were very careful to keep it our secret. No one else visited it and we told no one about it. One summer both of us were away for the entire summer and we didn’t visit Glennenaar for months. The next spring we set off with our picnic and couldnt find it! We never found it again..and I have looked many times since, even up to adulthood. I can’t explain this and I cannot imagine that it was bulldozed or that the standing stones were taken away as country people were very careful about disturbing sacred sites. Which is why so many survive to this day. The last time I looked for Glennenaar was about 15 years ago and there was still no trace of it!

How has Ireland influenced your artwork?

The influence has been tremendous! Being Irish is a huge part of my identity and I have always really loved our Myths and stories.

I studied Archaeology and History of Art at University and specialized in Irish Studies. I was the site artist for an archaeological dig called Ceide Fields in Belderrig County Mayo, so I was always very connected to Irish art from ancient times and really appreciated and loved our heritage. I used Celtic motifs in my work from the beginning although they are not always obvious.

In later years, I became fascinated by and very saddened by the stories of the Women of the Magdalene laundries and I have based years of my work around their plight. My ongoing series of works, called The Lie of the Land was based on these stories and was an attempt to give these women back their beauty and identity.

What does magic mean to you in your creative life?

Magic is critical to how I live, how I paint, how I think and love, and really who I am. I see Magic and beauty, in the people I meet and especially in our natural world here in Mayo. I try to think in a way that is distinct from rigid beliefs and be open to the possibilities of the unexpected. I like to really connect with the sea and sky and go to the beach at least once a day, whatever the weather. I also study the stars and am a member of an Astronomical society. We are so fortunate to have Dark Skies here in Mayo so you can really see the beauty of the stars.

How do you seek out and actively work with magic to help fuel your art?

Ok, you may laugh at this and it’s something not many people know about me but I play music for trees and animals! I am currently helping to run the Old Irish Goat sanctuary here at EOM and I have the task of feeding the Goats every day. I bring my speaker and play all kinds of music for them and they love it. These are wild Goats that live in the mountains but are not protected by law yet and so sometimes there are hunters trying to shoot them.

They are really endangered and have been in these mountains for thousands of years so I want to do all I can to help. When they see me coming, they stand in a circle like an audience waiting for the music. They really like Opera but are not so fond of World music (which I love!! lol). Since I was a child,I lamented the fact that trees could not have music (I have since realized that they make their own!) so I would bring music into the forest to play for them. I still do it! In a way, this is a kind of magic to me and a way of stepping outside the humdrum life into a special place or state of mind.

I love Egypt too and I feel a very strong connection to it and some of the ancient Egyptian goddesses, especially Sekhmet. I have a statue of her in my studio along with some of the sacred Egyptian oils, crystals and various stones and every day when I get there I greet her, ask for inspiration and acknowledge the magic and mystery of Egypt and Ireland , put a little perfume oil in my burner and start painting! Pure magic!

To learn more about Lora, go visit her website, Facebook & Instagram

join us in the


creative academy

Did you know your Studioworks membership unlocks full access to over 80+ CREATIVE CLASSES? No more waitlists or wishing you could join a class.

In addition, you will receive a monthly issue of the STUDIOWORKS JOURNAL. Here you’ll find articles, creative prompts, curated resources, downloadable artistic affirmations, sketchbook explorations, a full-length art lesson AND MORE!


A Bevy of Goddesses

Like all cultures, Ireland has a vast and unique cast of mythical characters. Gods and Goddesses, heros and villans. I have always loved mythology and of course, who doesn’t love the idea of powerful Goddesses, fierce or gentle, wise or passionate, these archetypes have fascinated artists for centuries and a great many beautiful pieces have been created from their inspiring tales. Here are a few of my favorite Goddesses from Irish myth…

  • Aine – Goddess of love, growth, cattle and light. Her name means bright as she lights up the dark. Celebrations for this goddess were held on midsummer’s eve.
  • Brigid – Celtic goddess of fire (the forge and the hearth), poetry, healing, childbirth, and unity, She is known by many names, including that of Saint Brigid who is, perhaps, the most powerful religious figure in Irish history.
  • Danu – She is mother of the earth, the gods, fertility, wisdom, wind and of all the Celtic people. The story of Danu lingers with her offspring, Tuatha De Danann, or people of the goddess Danu, who in Irish folklore are known as the fairy people who are skilled in magic.
  • Epona – The meaning of her name is “great mare” she is the protector of horses. She is usually portrayed as riding a white mare side-saddle, sometimes with a foal, or standing while surrounded by horses.
  • Flidais – The woodland goddess, protector of wild animals and livestock. Her name means “doe” and she rode a chariot drawn by deer.
  • Morrigan – She represented the circle of life and was associated with both birth and death. Her name translates to “great queen” or “phantom queen”. She was a shapeshifter and looked over the rivers, fresh water and lakes. She is often represented with a raven.
  • Rhiannon – Moon Goddess who is known as the Divine Queen of Faeries. She is the Goddess of fertility, rebirth, wisdom, magick, transformation, beauty, artistic inspiration and poetry. Rhiannon manifests as a beautiful young woman dressed in gold, riding a pale horse, with singing birds flying around her head. The singing birds can wake spirits or grant sleep to mortals.

These are only a few of the Goddesses from Celtic lore. Which ones fascinate you the most? I encourage you to learn more about them!

I have complied a Pinterest board filled with mythological Celtic illustrations, drawings and paintings to inspire you.

Sketchbook Explorations

Before we begin our explorations, I wanted to provide a cohesive theme for us to focus on. This will help unify our explorations and provides us with a simple place to start when approaching a VERY white and VERY blank sketchbook.

Our sketchbook theme this month is magic and story. While these will mean different things to everyone, I encourage you to explore this theme. We will be doing some Irish themed work but if another culture, myth or story calls to you, please do learn more and sketch, paint and play with all the beautiful inspiration you cultivate!

Magic Muse Prompt:

Take a magical bath. Light candles in your bathroom, play soft music – I highly recommend the music from this month’s playlist if it resonates with you. Add your favorite essential oils or bubble bath. You can even scatter lavender or rose petals into your bathwater. Soak, listen, relax and marvel at the beauty of candlelight. Read a favorite book or magazine. Take time to cultivate magical self care moments like this.

Please remember, our explorations in our sketchbook are really just access points to get you into the flow. However, they can also be seeds for new ideas, concepts and themes in your art. Some of them will be more about writing and others more about drawing and painting. You will see below three prompts and exercises explained and photographed from my own sketchbook. You are welcome to expand upon, invent and experiment with your own concepts too. Use our color palette if you want to. You will see I stay in that theme for my explorations. These may feel silly at first but let your inner artist play.


Celtic Illumination Coloring

Celtic drawings and designs are so very beautiful and complex too! They are layered with symbol and meaning. Take a moment and look through our Celtic design files and print out a design that inspires you. Now, simply color it in! Yes, coloring recalls childhood memories of coloring books and crayons! Delightful right? But now, take your time and meditatively color your Celtic design. Imagine what it would have been like to hand draw and painstakingly paint these designs like the monks who created the Book of Kells. Enjoy the simple act of using color and playing with mediums without the additional task of drawing or composing. I loved using my Arteza Brush pens and gold paint to work on mine! Play music and daydream!


An Irish Landscape

Enjoy the Pinterest board, I have created for you of Irish landscapes. Pick one you love and do a small painting or sketch of it in your sketchbook. What do you love about it? Make note of this. What makes it feel magical to you? Hint- this is a bit of practice for our final project.


Myth Inspired

From the stories we listened to or the Goddesses mentioned, sketch, collage or paint a scene, character or element of your choice. Listening and of course reading stories can cultivate such beautiful imagery for our inner artists, rich in wonder and magic. If these stories didn’t resonate with you, find one that you enjoy and draw from that. Hint – I used carbon paper to transfer that Celtic design onto my goddess sketch!

I curated some copyright free portrait images that I thought might inspire you…

Other Ideas To Try

FAIRYTALES –  Draw from the images in your mind from your favorite fairytale or do a study from a famous piece of artwork based on this story.

MAGICAL CREATURES – Draw or paint favorite magical creatures…mermaids, unicorns, elves any delightful mythical being that you enjoy! What creatures did you enjoy as a child? I had unicorn and pegasus posters all over my room as a young girl!

TREE OF LIFE – This beautiful symbol is very powerful in Celtic lore. Sketch, paint of collage your own tree of life. Full of your own beautiful symbols and patterns.


emerald isle

Oh this one was a delight to create! What began as a somewhat abstract landscape unfolded into a tranquil and magical scene complete with my sweet dream stone cottage, nestled among the emerald green of Ireland’s landscape.

I found it so helpful to print out a few inspiration images and then draw from those some elements I enjoyed. Try this! Also, let the piece evolve on its own, don’t contain the magic of creating, try letting go of control. I could have resisted the path this piece took, but instead, I stayed open, full of wonder and allowed myself to be guided. Remember, co-create with magic. Let your inner artist play.


join us in the


creative academy

Did you know your Studioworks membership unlocks full access to over 80+ CREATIVE CLASSES? No more waitlists or wishing you could join a class.

In addition, you will receive a monthly issue of the STUDIOWORKS JOURNAL. Here you’ll find articles, creative prompts, curated resources, downloadable artistic affirmations, sketchbook explorations, a full-length art lesson AND MORE!




March: issue three

You can also listen to this month’s issue of the Studioworks journal. I find I love listening to books, podcasts and music while I draw, paint or go on a long walk. Enjoy.

inspiration: curated

One of my favorite things to do is to curate inspiration. From Pinterest boards to books, resources, playlists and more – I love to share anything that might facilitate learning, expansion, and sparks of curiosity! Being an artist, we naturally crave these things so here are some of this month’s picks from me to you.


I had so much fun curating this list. It’s a bit eclectic but overall has a celtic, magical, story filled vibe. I hope you enjoy!!


These feeds capture our mood of the month and reflect the beauty and joy of flowers.




Here are some copyright free Celtic clipart, coloring sheets and designs you can print out and use in your sketchbook if you choose: