12 November 2014

Back From The Realm

So very much missing my tribe today. What a lovely time was had at FaerieCon‬ 2014. It very much rejuvenates my spirit and renews my faith in humanity. The community there is filled with people who radiate kindness and acceptance (with the rare exception, of course - whoever stole those Amy Brown Fantasy Art Inc. wing sets intended to d├ębut there deserves to be excommunicated from the realm).

It was such a joy to reconnect with friends (hugs to Lithia Knopp, Jenny Davies-Reazor, Michelle Heffner, Simone Tomodachi, Suzanne Dobbs Mayer, Jane Starr Weils, Ash Evans, Kimberley Coffman, Meredith Dillman, Shane and Leah Odom, Chrissy and Marc Hudgins, Joanne Schempp, Ken Crampton...), meet long-time internet/facebook friends in person (high-fives Kayti Welsh, James Browne, Nicole Pisaniello...) and make some new ones (waves at Mindy Safire Morea, Ezia Leach, Rebbeca Wertz, Candalynne, Viviene...), say hello to inspiring people I've admired for years (Amy Brown, Stephanie Law, Bruce Coville...)

A few high points to mention: So much fun texting taunts to friend Brigid with Jenny. There's nothing quite like having men sprouting leaves and branches tossing acorns into your cleavage for luck and prosperity as they march by singing and drumming and jangling jangly things. Lithia and Suzanne are the best show neighbours a person could wish for, and I love them both dearly. Ken kept the beat, and gives marvellous hugs. I loved spending some relaxing time before opening everyday getting drawn and painted on by the lovely ladies in Michelle Heffner - Maryland Body Painter's booth. Likewise getting my hair tinseled in Dancing Hands' booth. The Mythical Designs by Miscellaneous Oddiments LLC booth is a portal to all sorts of faery magic. I passed by on my way to line up for Bruce Coville's signing on Sunday to find the man himself holding court there. I got to not only get my book signed without having to queue up (a blessing when you've got a table to get back to), but also got to hear some neat anecdotes about the series the book I wanted signed was part of (Philip Jose Farmer's "The Dungeon"). And, of course, meeting everyone who stopped by my table and said lovely things about (and/or purchased) my art.

Special thanks to my husband for watching my table so I could take a break now and then, and for helping with setting up, breaking down, and getting me there and home again safely.

I am already looking forward to next year!

04 August 2014

78 Tarot Deck is GO!

78 Tarot Pre-Order

After a highly successful KickStarter campaign, the 78 Tarot team is now preparing to publish our deck!  If you missed out on the KickStarter, it's not too late to reserve a deck.  For a limited time, you can pop along to the Etsy store (linked above) and pre-order a deck.  It is expected that the decks will be ready for shipping later this year in Autumn - and should be delivered well before Yule and Christmas!

I am so chuffed to have been part of this project!  This whole thing has gone over so well and garnered enough attention that the team have decided to do a 2nd deck!  The theme of the next deck will be voted on by the KickStarter supporters of the first deck, and there will be some new artists and some familiar artists involved.

If you are coming to FaerieCon, I hope to have a limited number of these 1st edition decks available (they will include the 1st edition extra wild cards - which won't be available in subsequent printings of the deck).  In the meantime, you can visit the 78 Tarot Official Site and Facebook Page to keep up with all the latest developments!

15 February 2014

Latest Artwork, "Justice", and a Tutorial of One Artist's Process

"Justice" by Mary Layton.
"Justice" by Mary Layton

Here is the final version of my latest finished artwork, "Justice", for the 78 Tarot Project, as it will appear in finalized-card form.

When I started, I kept iterative scans of my progress, since the artists organizing the project had asked that we do so as it was thought people might like to view our progress.  I'd thought maybe I'd do a tutorial blog about it when I finished, in case anyone was interested in how I work.  After posting one of my progress scans on my Facebook Page, one of the admins asked if I would be interested in doing a guest-blog on the 78 Tarot site about my process.  So, I said 'sure'!  The post went live last night, so if you are interested in how "Justice" came to be, clicky the linky, below, to have a look!  I show and describe the progression from the initial scribble-y thumbnail sketch, through digital colour tests, to the finished work.

04 February 2014

Low Carb Almond Shortbread

I've been experimenting again.

One thing that we low-carb folks tend to miss out on most are the sweets.  Well, OF COURSE - sweets are what got some of us into this situation in the first place (and some of us just can't tolerate carbs or high-glycemic foods, just because our metabolisms are under-performers).

I don't miss sweets mostly...but sometimes, you just want a biscuit (cookie), you know.  Luckily there are a lot of low-carb alternatives out there and there are plenty of shortbread recipes too. This is one I made up one evening, based on the traditional shortbread recipe in the Be-Ro booklet.


Obviously, no one can beat Walker's when it comes to shortbread, but if you are cutting carbs and still want a treat, this recipe should help. With less than 2 net carbs per 1" x 3" piece, you CAN have tea and biscuits!

Number of Servings: 16


    12 oz Almond Flour
    6 oz butter
    1/3 cup Splenda, or your favourite sweetener (more or less, to taste)


Using almond flour/meal produces a lovely, nutty flavour. These shortbreads will be softer than regular shortbread, and quite crumbly (as Carl Sagan might say: "Crumbly, but good"). I also like to add a few drops of vanilla essence.  In the batch pictured above, I also added 1/3 cup of dark-chocolate chips - and, it could do with more, actually!  I imagine you could add nuts or dried fruits as well, and have a really lovely treat.

Any almond flour/meal should work, but I've found Wellbee Super Fine Almond Flour to be most like regular flour, texturally.

If you're just doing the grain-free thing, you can use regular sugar* - this might alter the texture, so you may have to adjust the other ingredients to achieve the desired consistency.


Mix almond flour/meal and Splenda in bowl, rub in butter. Knead well. Normally, this would produce a smooth paste, but this recipe will be squidgier than using wheat flour. Pat dough out into a 1/2" thick rectangle (about 6" x 8") on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Refrigerate dough for AT LEAST 30 minutes so dough will be easier to manage. After refrigerated, carefully cut dough into 16 1" x 3" "fingers", and place about an inch apart on parchment-covered baking sheet. Decorate with fork markings, if desired. Bake at 325F for 20 - 30 minutes (25 worked for me, but ovens vary) until pale and golden.

Serving Size: Makes 16 1" x 3" pieces

©Mary Layton
Nutritional Info (base recipe - no additions)
  • Servings Per Recipe: about 16
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 138.6
  • Total Fat: 14.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 23.9 mg
  • Sodium: 66.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 2.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
  • Protein: 2.3 g 
 * A note about sugar vs Splenda - in my experience, Splenda is at least twice as sweet as regular sugar, so I use half as much Splenda as called for in recipes usually - so if you do this recipe with sugar instead of Splenda, you may wish to double the sugar amount.  This is why I don't even bother with sodas sweetened with Splenda - they taste overly sweet to me, so I rarely ever have soda at all, and when I do, I splash out for the regular stuff.

17 July 2013

Three-cheese Paleo Croutons

I've been on a low-carb kick again, because I had good success with it before, and for Bob's sake, I could stand to lose a stone or 10...  I slipped up with the carbs over the holidays and during a recent visit to the UK, and boy did I reap what I sowed...re-gained weight, osteoarthritis pain went into overdrive...felt bloody miserable.  So, I decided it was time to bid the carbs adieu again (mostly - I still eat low-glycemic veggies), because I'm getting too old to feel so old...Wait - what?....

Anyway, a few weeks ago, friend (and outstanding artist) Brigid Ashwood recommended Julian Bakery's Paleo Bread (Coconut) on her Facebook Page as a suitable alternative to naughty, carb-y bread, and since I value her opinion on matters of the palate (she's posted several wines that are lovely, and she's a fantastic cook), I decided I'd give it a try.  I did, and I found it to be....meh.  It's a bit too chewy for my liking and has a funny, chemical-y after taste (I tried it as toast, since morning toast drowning in butter is one of the things I miss most about low-carb living).  I got to thinking (because that shit's expensive and I didn't want to waste it) and it occurred to me that making it with something with a strong flavour might help to hide that funny after taste, and that perhaps baking it would make it more toasty.  I LOVE Panera Bread's Asiago croutons (as found in their Chicken Caesar Salad), so I decided to try to make something similar.  I used a Parmesan-Asiago-Romano blend, and I am very pleased with the results.  Here, then, is my recipe:

Three-cheese Paleo Croutons
Prep time: about 5 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes


Paleo Bread (I used Julian Bakery's Paleo Bread-Coconut)
Butter (to taste, but enough to coat bread - I used about 2 tbsps for 3 slices of bread - olive oil would probably work well, too)
Garlic Powder (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Cheese (I used about 1/4 cup of Parmesan-Asiago-Romano blend)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan, melt butter with garlic powder and pepper.  Cut or tear bread into cubes and place in a medium bowl.  Pour the melted butter mixture over the bread, and toss to evenly coat.  Add cheese and toss again.  Place on a baking sheet (I recommend lining it with a sheet of non-stick aluminium foil for ease of turning, and clean-up) in a single layer, making sure each bit of bread has some cheese attached.  Bake for about 10 minutes (ovens differ, so YMMV).  Paleo bread does not toast quite like regular bread, so after 10 minutes, I recommend flipping the bits over and baking for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, and eat 'em!

(ETA: This is several servings...depending on how you use them.  I had a handful as a snack, and have plenty left over for salads or more snackage!)

12 June 2013

It's an Oliphlump, because of course it is!

Cross-posted from my Facebook Page:

I found this whilst going through some image files today - this was from 2006 - I decided to be experimental, and see if I could create something out of a paint splatter. This was what I managed to come up with. The writing says "Note to self: Don't leave painting things out where the house Elves and their Oliphlumps can get to them."

Now I have the urge to create another Oliphlump. 

09 June 2013

Another Occasional Blog Post...brought to you by the letter "P" (as in "procrastination")

Well, lookit that.  It's only a blog post from me - Queen of the occasional rambles.

While it has been a moderately busy time of late, that's really no excuse.  In any event, here I am, typing at ya.

I most recently was busy preparing for, and then attending, Parisian Promenade in Greensboro, NC.  It turned out to be a really nice day!  Not too hot, although it was a bit humid, and even though we were under threat of thunderstorms, the weather held out and we made it through the afternoon rain-free.  I think this might have been one of the biggest turnouts at Parisian Promenade - at least in the 3 years I've vended there.  It was a busy day, and I had a really good sales day, as well, for which I am very grateful.  It's hard being an artist and making a living at it, and we artists are so thankful for our patrons and fans.  Every print sold means we can pay a portion of a bill, buy a portion of groceries, and can PAINT MORE!

I'm doing more shows this year than ever - after FaerieCon in November, I will have done at least 5 appearances this year (there may be a couple of other opportunities for shows locally between now and the end of the year).  I actually submitted work to DragonCon this year, and was accepted - but, due to the amount of artists applying, and space limitations, I wound up wait-listed.  Still, it was a nice opportunity, and it was good to get feedback from the jurors about what works, and what needs improvement.

The next event is in just a couple of weeks - Greensboro Summer Solstice which is such good fun!  Kids and adults alike come dressed in their faerie finery, and the mood is so light and joyful!  I am really looking forward to it.  If you're in the Greensboro, NC area - you should come check it out - it's free to get in, and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  It's on Saturday 22nd June this year, from 3pm until 8pm for the bazaar, and there will be fire dancing and live music afterwards until 9 or 10.

Hope you are all having a lovely late spring!

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