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Artist Feature: The Transformative Power of Art with Mary Jo Davis

June 06, 2024 4 min read

Art has always been associated with glamour, aesthetic allure, and perfection.

Each brush stroke or penmark is done in pursuit of an ideal.

However, amid this facade, there exists a perspective that transcends the superficial perspective of art.


Mary Jo Davis (@maryjokovarikdavis) sees art beyond the glitz and glamour.


For her, art is an avenue to express the depth of her emotions or better yet, her reality. 


In this month’s feature, we will go in-depth into Mart Jo’s story of how her simple sketches transformed into life-changing discoveries that redefined her artistic journey.


Being exposed to art at a very young age, Mary Jo was able to develop a more mature perspective on the realm and eventually discovered how it can help express her authentic and unfiltered emotions.



She explains,
“Art has become more intimate and more about personal expression as I’ve gotten older…A very important way that art helps from time to time is using it to work through a problem; to intuitively release a burden I’ve been carrying around.”


The term“art therapy” has been receiving recognition in recent times and is also used by medical professionals.


This form of therapy is proven to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, and even cultivate emotional resilience.


She shared a turning point experience where art helped her overcome her circumstances.


“A few years ago I had terrible insomnia. I tried so many natural cures but eventually in desperation, I turned to an over-the-counter sleeping pill. My sleep improved after a while, but I was so afraid of not sleeping through the night that I kept taking the pills even after I knew I didn’t need them any more.”




Mary Jo further explained,

“Then one day in my studio, I had a feeling of being done taking the pills. I opened up my sketchbook and drew a dramatically scaled up version of the blue sleeping pill. Then I cut out a little Lino stamp of an actual sized pill and stamped all around that drawing of the large pill and filled another page full of rows of stamps of little blue pills. Something about stamping that pill over and over; of looking at this sleeping pill problem head-on, resolved the issue for me. It gave me a visual understanding of just how much medicine I’d been taking.”


Through her drawings of the pills she depended on, she recognised the toll they were taking on her health.


This illustrates how art can visually represent the consequences of our choices, prompting us to address our circumstances.


But, Mary Jo also shared how art helps her cherish precious memories she creates with her family.



“Another way art is helpful is keeping a sketchbook of the many sailing trips I take with my family throughout the Salish Sea. To help keep track, I’ll sketch out a page or two of little vignettes about things we did each day.”


One may wonder, why don't you just take pictures of your trip?


Wouldn’t that be easier?


Although photos are indeed timeless, she expresses her insight on why sketching some scenes from her trip will always be her priority.




“This type of nature/travel journaling adds an extra layer of happiness to these trips for me. It has the added bonus of not only sharing the memories with my family but providing a more interesting way to share the stories with friends. As one friend said, anyone can take a photo but journal pages are unique.”


Seeing art through Mary Jo’s lens, we were able to see a new level of depth and maturity rarely talked about in the community.


Art is not just a medium for expression, but a profound mirror reflecting our innermost struggles and triumphs, guiding us towards growth and understanding.



Mary Jo also kindly shared some tips on how to become a better artist, and most importantly, a better version of yourself.


“Try and draw on a consistent basis. Remember you don’t have to share all of your art. So many top artists and illustrators have sketchbooks where each page looks like final art, ready to be framed or printed as a product. This can be so inspirational but it can also feel intimidating. It goes without saying, but your art doesn’t have to look like their art.”


It’s common to compare yourself with other amazing artists, but coming from Mary Jo’s story, art shouldn’t be centred around perfection but rather authenticity.


“Keep a sketchbook that is just for actual sketches, not finished work. Maybe keep a totally separate and private sketchbook just for thoughts, quick sketches, charts, ideas, colours, observations.”


If you are still in doubt or struggling with your artistic self, look into Mary Jo’s reminder for you:


“I will start where I am” - it means it’s OK where I’m at as an artist, even as a person. But it also means that it’s time to sit down, get the paints out, and start improving my skills and start exploring all that art has to offer.




Mary Jo's story reminds us that real art isn't about being perfect or comparing ourselves to others.


It's about discovering attributes we haven’t realised and expressing who we are in our own way. 


Trust yourself, follow your instincts, and let your creativity shine.


Every mark you make is a part of your own story. 


Keep creating, keep exploring, and believe in the magic of your art.

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