Artistic Growth

Love your Limitations


For the past week, I’ve attempted to live in too many worlds—the paint and podcasts of my studio world, the domestic duties of my family world, and the scanning and sketching that comes with the Analogue world. Pile on top of that a micro-obsession over edible plants living in my yard, and a newfound paper-mentor in Parker Palmer, and my inner landscape has been saturated, flooded by so many sources at once.

I cannot. There is only so much of me to go around.

So I am shifting my focus, pulling in to what is required of me right now. I’m deep-diving into the journal pages of last spring, to complete the pages and prompts and illustrations of Issue 2. And I’m immersing my mornings in that world until the draft is strong enough to be reviewed by other eyes.

I’m choosing to settle into my limitations, seeing this need for focus for what it is: an invitation to immerse my attention in something. And my attention will hold. There will be fresh ideas in the pickup line. I will keep my journal on hand when stirring tonight’s meal. And more will come to me before bedtime. This is how I do my best work, and I’m learning to lean into it rather than run away.

We are who we are, y’all. And we can only do what we can do. When we learn to love these limitations, our life becomes our own.

When life feels disjointed…

Aside from working on a series of feminine paintings (that's more than I was planning on saying, but I'm warming up to the idea of sharing them with y'all) parenting is 100% where I'm at right now. 

And looking at both of these efforts, I see that I'm shaping women on the canvas while doing some deep shaping of these two precious little women who call me Mommy. My life and art layered over one another with real similarities—but it gets clouded by the feeling that while I can see the potential in all of these women I'm just not sure if I have what it takes to help any of them fully achieve theirs.

So I edit, erase, study, learn, and try again. It's slow work right now, y'a'll, both in the studio and at home. But this is art at the, at the soul-level. There's something beautiful about living these layers. Something honest and real and raw. 

Something artfully integrated. 

Deeply integrated.

When we stop and actually look at it, life is not as disjointed as it seems. Ask for integration and watch how life pulls the layers together, sliding one on top of the other until you see it all as one beautiful picture—all the questions you carry, all the random tasks and conversations, all the hopes and dreams. It all fits. Hold it up to the light to let the layers show through. There's a synchronicity there waiting to reveal what your current days are all about.

Go get some inspiration.

I'm a die-hard believer that inspiration isn't something we must wait for while sitting on our hands until it comes. We can go out and get it. 

Take note of those things that spark inspiration and ideas. And return to them faithfully. This is the magic of Cameron's "artist dates" and the magic of the creative process in general.  

Shots from a recent trip to gather inspiration. Oh how my mind danced! 



Why we are raising prices in March:

To my dear Patrons and Supporters:

You have been an important part of my journey as an artist, and I’m excited to share more growth developments with you! As you’ve seen in the past year, MT Art has not only grown into a downtown presence at the Brunswick Stewdio, but my art is being displayed in many venues in our area. And with continued attention comes a greater community of patrons and supporters. We are also setting exciting precedents in how we use proceeds to invest in charities that change the future for women and children who are oppressed by human trafficking and/or abandoned by their families, as we donated all of December’s proceeds to the International Justice Mission. We want to continue to make significant donations to this cause and others.


Image courtesy M. Garman

Image courtesy M. Garman

To reflect all of these changes, as well as my continued growth and establishment as a local artist, we will be raising prices in March. This is an exciting development as it means that the work you’ve collected from me will be considered more valuable. Not only that, but your future investments in my art will fold into the charitable donations that MT Art will continue to make.

As an artist, my deepest desire is to create art that speaks to the soul and inspires change. I am seeing dreams come true more quickly than I can absorb, and the dream of being an artist has blossomed into something that is extending not only to your life but to the lives of others who’s names and faces we may never know.

Thank you for partnering with me and being a part of the art. You mean more to me than you know.

Your artist,


Finding the balance...

When I was in the music, the visual was my play.

Now I'm in the visual, and the music has become my play. Mostly, drums. But it's time to pull the guitar back out, dust off the fretboard, and rebuild those callouses.

2016 Is about balance. About the toggle between work and play. Rest and energy. Creating and discovering.

Returning to the guitar is a return to who I was, and who I still am. It's a return to an expression that has always held a sense of wonder and play.

Yes to your adventure?

"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." Joseph Campbell


As quoted from Brene Brown's Rising Strong. I'm slowly working my way through this book, digesting her words about our falling and rising, about integrating all aspects of ourselves from the good to the bad, owning our stories in ways that make us strong, whole, and wholehearted.

All of this comes at a time where I am working hard to embrace my adventure: to integrate aspects of myself that are not easy to own: my High Sensitivity and consequent social anxiety. Working within one, working my way out of another.

Do we want our own possibility?

"A significant part of the artistic challenge is to go beyond interpreting human experience to be an interpreter of human possibility. It is so much easier to create an authentic work of art informed by despair, so much more difficult to create a true masterpiece informed by optimism and hope. Yet these are the most compelling people—the ones who have overcome tragedy and found beauty; the ones who should have drowned in despair but found hope; the ones who should have forever remained trapped in this rubble of their failures and yet found courage and resolve to rise from the dead." 

from The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus

What happens when you come visit the studio?

We just might make a little video! :) Tamela Buttrey, a beautiful giving soul who runs a catering business in order to support underprivileged children in Guatemala, came by my studio to share about being creative in the midst of parenting, how to interact with others' artwork, and the foundation of our friendship being the conversation of art. [embed][/embed]

And part two, on mail art, the inspiration for my postcards, and the connection between the artist and collector? It's a fun one!!


I'm so grateful for Tamela's support and influence on my art. True collectors don't know how significant they are to me, but I'm determined to change that. It takes a village to raise an artist and I can't do it without you.

Finding the brave ones...

Find Your Brave These paintings call it out of me -- courage, bravery, honesty, vulnerability. And they are calling it out of you. We are gathering and talking and growing together.

We are the brave ones, the ones who wake up. Who face the day. Who reach and stretch and run. Who are running and living as best they can. Who find their brave every day and find it again the next.

Here's to the brave ones. You, in turn, make me brave. You make me a better artist.

Because creativity is a lot like Fight Club

This whole creativity thing works like the Fight Club. There's a battle our own self-rejection and creative acrobatics. We have extensive inner dialogs, working out the intricacies of a good/bad idea. It's all mush. It can get ugly. But OH the glory that comes when something comes to life. OH the glory. This is why we are in the fight.

Brene, the one who is changing our culture, has much to say about creatives and the arena. If you love Brene Brown, creativity, or self-understanding, this is for you.

Let somebody else be better?

do not stop "Let's just anticipate that we (all of us) will disappoint ourselves somehow. Go ahead and let it happen. Let somebody else be a better mother than you for one afternoon. Let somebody else go to art school."

Elizabeth Gilbert, a brilliant author and speaker, has the ability to call things out of me that I didn't know were there.

And did you see where she said I should let somebody else go to art school? Let somebody else be better?

My breath caught in my throat when I read her words, because I've convinced myself that I must play catch up. It's not acceptable that I didn't attend art school. It's not acceptable that 15 years of my early-adulthood were spent in another direction. (Yes, I'm choosing to brush aside the life lessons that have made me the artist I am today. Apparently they aren't good enough.)

The comparison has gotta stop. The what-ifs and why-nots. The demands to be better have got to go. Because I am only able to be my best self when I embrace who I truly am and what I have and haven't done. I can't afford to give up on my dreams because I may (or may not) be late to the artistic party. I can't just stop what I'm doing as an artist because somebody else's degree is more official than mine.

At least that's sort of what Elizabeth Gilbert said to me.

And you.

In this recent article Gilbert is adamant that women are doing enough, that we ARE enough, and yet we scold and punish ourselves for all that we think we aren't.

I want to invite you to read her words. For the sake of who you once were. For the sake of who you are now. And for the sake of who you are becoming. You can read the article in full HERE.

Do you talk to yourself?

I wonder It's the voices in our heads that cause more problems than any external sources of negativity. Twyla Tharp's "inner critics." Melissa Dinwiddie's gremlins.

Can you hear them? They are the echoes of old teachers, our parents, a harsh classmate, a coach, an insensitive professor, the boss that never understood you. These voices swirl around with your own sense of perfectionism or pride or fear and suddenly you're caught in an inner maelstrom of negativity and you have no idea how to proceed.

This inner maelstrom can stop me in my creative tracks.

And because I'm so quick to agree, to add my own fear-based perfectionism to their ongoing ticker-tape of negativity, I'm slowly and patiently working to be more kind and patient to myself.

It's hard, this self-compassion thing. I feel like I'm rushing to play catch up as an artist -- having given up on being an artist when I headed into college, and then falling back into it a few years ago. I feel so very behind, like I'm making up for lost time. But instead of being patient and understanding with myself, I push myself to work harder faster and more efficiently in order to catch up with this standard.

Who's standard, Mandy?


I'm going through a class with Melissa Dinwiddie right now and it is changing the way I nurture my own inner artist. It's SO hard, but I'm being challenged to slow down a bit and be more kind/understanding with myself.


I'm also reading Kristin Neff's Self Compassion book, in an effort to better understand why I work myself harder than any boss I've ever had. (While we're at it, can I just confess that I'm astounded at how hard I work myself. I'm not a fan. It's an impossible standard and it exhausts me and it's not healthy. There. I said it.)


So here I am wondering if the old adage still applies: "Kill them with kindness." Can we silence our inner-critics in such a fashion? Will this degree of inner-compassion actually soothe the fears that bring us to a place of self-beratement and impossible standards? Aren't we just wrestling with the scared insecure parts of us that are self-protective and perfectionistic anyway?


I wonder what would happen if I stopped expecting and started accepting... If I kindly joined myself where I am: Just a few years into life as an artist and mommy. Just a few years into this sort of rebirthing. I'm still toddling. Can I give myself permission to toddle? Can I give myself permission to not-yet-know? Can I be kind and compassionate?

I shake my head as I type out these questions. I don't know if it's possible to be this cooperative with myself, but I deeply desire it. I need to change the way I talk to myself, rewrite some inner dialogs, and work to be more of a fan than a manager.

Do you talk to yourself? Are you able to silence or soothe the inner critics, quiet your gremlins, and get to work cooperating with your own soul? How do you foster inner peace against perfectionism and impatience?

Want more? Sign up for Greetings from Mandyland And get free copy of The Pace Book: Finding and Setting Your Creative Pace, as well as other adventures in creative play and inspiration!

Want to go on a long walk with me?

IMG_0313-0.JPG If you were to ask me where my heart is right now, I would say it is here. In this little year long journey that represents relationships and conversation. In this opportunity to not only support, but speak deeply into my experience as an artist.

It is more than six signed prints of my favorite pieces, more than prints plus an original painting. It is an invitation to slowly sip art for a year... To witness the beautiful scary light dark side of being an artist. It's my commitment to inspire you and share a deeper side with you. It is my commitment to call you and me both to greater creativity and inspiration.

And by throwing your name into this group, you are committing to be a part of the art in 2015. You will play a real role in my creative development, with your feedback and suggestions. You will be my collaborative partner, my cheerleader, my witness.

Want to go on a long walk with me in 2015?

Sign up here.