Layl McDill


Mentor Philosophy

My main goal as a mentor is to guide and encourage you to become the best YOU you can be.  I want my protégée to find the thing that make her soul sing and push that to the furthest degree possible.  I will encourage you to dive into things that are a bit scary but only if they are a direction that brings you closer to creating the art that excites you and motivates you.

I find that the most important part of the program is to examine what it is that really makes you get excited about creating and making your art, and to help you hone your skills.   I am all about positive feedback and encouragement.  I won’t force you down a path that is not for you.  I feel that if you find the elements of creating that you truly love, you will be driven to practice this art form, learning from the mistakes and pushing yourself to higher levels.

If you are interested in making money from your art or showing your art,  I also feel it is important to find the form of marketing that you enjoy.  I have made a living from my art for over 20 years and have tried a wide range of venues.  I look for ways to sell and show that are enjoyable and fit my personality.  I have had experience at art festivals, galleries, and on the web.  I also make part of my living teaching and doing “clay parties”.  I market my art in many venues, including facebook, e-newsletters, etsy, and much more.  I am happy to share my learning experience in all of these fields and pass on numerous opportunities that come my way.

Though selling my art is one outcome I strive for, the most important thing to me is that my art is seen by as many people as possible.  I have recently built a large body of work which I am showing at art centers and other locations.  I am happy to share my research on various venues and details about the best ways to apply.

I am the mother of two daughters (age 17 and 14) and have worked full time as an artist all of their lives, so I can relate to the challenges and importance of balancing life and art creating.  I think it’s important to work really hard, but to also know when to take breaks and when to slow down.  This is always a struggle, and it really helps to be involved in programs like WARM, where you can at least commiserate with others who experience these same challenges.  Being a mentor has been a very rewarding experience and I look forward to working with artists that are devoted to the journey of finding their true passions and going where ever that may take you.

The mentorship program can offer a structured setting to explore and learn about yourself as an artist.  I see myself as a guide and a support to help the protégée find their path to becoming the kind of artist they are meant to be.  It is very important to me to listen and hear your passions and desires and help you reach towards the small goals and the large ones by sharing my own experience as an artist.  The process is a thrilling unwrapping and unfolding of yourself.

Artist Statement

Once upon a time each of us was a little kid.  Everything was nonsense. We tried to figure it out.  We wondered about everything. We wondered what was in the cupboard, the drawers, and boxes.  We wondered how the calculator worked, or the dishwasher or a watch.   We wondered what our stuffed animals did at night. We wondered what all the symbols at on the top row of the keyboard were for.  We wondered what it would be like to live in a tree, underwater or in outer space.

  For me making my art helps me keep this magical doorway to wonderment open. I am drawn to imagery that sparks that feeling of unknown and mystery like cupboards, drawers or placing everyday objects (like a keyhole, a lollipop, a chair etc.) in an incongruent setting (a flower, a fountain, a fish etc.).  My latest series of “Flying Machines” starts with shapes of real animals and then they grow mysterious appendages, openings, fins and propellers.  When hung in groupings they create an alternative universe yet upon closer look there are tiny pieces of our regular reality hidden in the patterns and shapes.

     My technique and materials are also very mysterious.  I use primarily polymer clay with the ancient technique of millefiore.  Tiny images that cover every surface of my sculptures inevitably make the viewer wonder “How did she do that?”  And even though I have been doing it for twenty years it still seems amazing that I can create a tiny picture can be inside a chunk of clay.  

      As I am creating I am asking all kinds of questions that entertain my imagination and when the piece is complete the viewer can start asking questions: “What happens next?” “What do all those magic potions do?” “Why is there a puzzle piece in the cupboard?” “What kind of vegetables do they sell at an underwater farmer’s market?”.

      But once surrounded with my seemingly nonsensical world you start to recognize reality.  As I was working on “Blingo Flamingo Adventureland” I happen to be listening to a podcast about shrimp farming and the way flamingos are an integral part of the process.  This prompted me to add the shrimp in the basket and I liked the way the “playground” and the “neighborhood” on the bird seemed to symbolize a sort of circle of life effect.

       Some people come to my work thinking it is great for children but I really make my work for adults.  I make it for everyone that loves to revisit that feeling of wonderment, magic and mystery that we all had as kids. 



"Blingo Flamingo in Adventureland," polymer clay sculpture

"Scribble Scape: Doors Beyond the Pillows," polymer clay sculpture

"Scribble Garden: What to Keep in Sky Drawers," polymer clay sculpture

"Giraffe's Flying Machine, polymer clay sculpture

"Contemplating in the Garden," polymer clay sculpture