Newsflash: Local Artist Turns 40 and Feels Stuck or Uninspired…

It’s been a funny month.  Without going into too much detail, I basically lost my mojo for the last few weeks.  Normally I don’t have to look too far, or too long, for artistic inspiration.  This was different.  I was feeling truly stuck.  I had no desire to make anything at all, except dinner.  (I kind of love making dinner).


Things are now turning around and I’m starting to feel better.  I’ve made some progress in the way of creative advances.  I accomplished the above journal page which tells part of the story for sure:  A skinny-armed woman stuck in a metaphorical snowbank.  I don’t like how the end of our Maine winters seem to drag on forever.  This one is no exception.  I’m sick of the cold and the snow.  I’m impatient for warmth and sun.  For flip flops and bees and flowers… Happy first day of spring, by the way!

I did something else the other day; I turned 40.  On the day of my birthday I latched on to an isolated glimmer of inspiration and I made a book.  An art journal filled with the best paper under the sun: Fabriano Artistico 120 lb. cold press.  The idea didn’t emerge out of no where.  It was simmering on the back burner for a while.  A couple months ago a dear friend had given me a most awesome vintage “Kalamazoo Binder.”  It had a front and back cover connected with two heavy straps.  It also had a mechanism that allowed you to contract and expand the width of the spine.  There has never been a more perfect cover assembly ever in the history of cover assemblies for my all time favorite binding: the bind-over-tapes method.


The first signature is always the hardest.  But through perseverance, and in keeping my eye on the prize, I accomplished what I set out to do.  And I made some progress climbing out of my snowbank.


Here’s a close up of that glorious stitching:


I even hand carved a stamp for the cover.  A celebration of my milestone.


Call it what you will; stuck, feeling blue, or winter doldrums.  We all know those are just softer words for depression.  I’m not a stranger to end-of-winter seasonal depression.  Self care, herbal tea, Vitamin D supplements and brisk dog walks all help immensely.  “This too shall pass” is a fantastic mantra during these times.


This most recent page is full of happy color; I guess I’d call it a bright abstract landscape.  There’s a little bit of my late mother thrown in there too.  She was a lover of birds and a very creative woman who didn’t live to see 41 years old.  I miss her.

Now, I’m as human as the rest of you.  Some retail therapy happened here too.  These shipped out today and are by far the best flip flops that I have ever worn.  (I used to have a teal pair but they wore out).  They are called Artisan Flip Flops and are made by Clark’s.   May you or someone you love be blessed with a pair as well.



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Art Retreat with Kathryn Costa in Brunswick, Maine!

Creating Mixed Media Tarot Cards & Spirit Sticks


SATURDAY, March 10th, 10:00-4:00pm  $85

SUNDAY, March 11th, 11:30 to 2:30 $40  (optional) 


Have you ever wanted to delve into the Tarot but didn’t know where to start?  Maybe you are a spiritualist or Tarot reader and want to make your own cards?  Or, you just plain love making art! Join Mandy Russell from The Painted Dog Studio and Kathryn Costa author of “The Mandala Guidebook” for a relaxing, spiritual, and creative experience. 

The suit of Wands from the Tarot is the source of inspiration for our play this weekend as we create our own Tarot card, spirit stick, and landscape collages.



Colorful Painted Papers

Our creative play begins with the spontaneous process of making colorful painted papers by scraping, sponging, dripping, stamping, and using a Gelli plate. Each participant will create a spectrum of colored papers to use for the collage projects.


Spirit Sticks

Paint, markers, fabric, beads, feathers, and assorted embellishments transform a plain stick into a spirit stick that represents your life. As we decorate our sticks, we create a visual timeline that honors the blessings and challenges in our lives and the path that brought us to this moment. This is an empowering activity that celebrates our brave and beautiful spirits.



Wand Tarot Card

There are four suits in the Tarot and each represents key aspects of our lives. The Wands represent inspiration, intuition, creativity, and action. Cards in this suit symbolize our ideas, our core values, and our sense of purpose. Painted papers from the opening session will be used to create a collage depicting a Tarot card from the suit of Wands.



Landscape Collage

What is your passion? What excites you? What’s next for you? We’ll ponder these and other questions inspired by our work with the suit of Wands and our spirit sticks. We’ll create a landscape collage using our painted papers, printed papers, magazines, book images, and assorted ephemera. 

All materials, supplies and tools provided. No art experience required.



**This WEEKEND ART RETREAT event will take place at Curtis Memorial Library‘s “Underground” art space located at 23 Pleasant Street, Brunswick, Maine**

In order to register, payment in full is expected.  You can pay using a credit card over the phone by calling 207.504.2438 or you can mail a check.  If you wish to mail a check, please email Mandy first at



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Kathryn Costa is Teaching in Brunswick, Maine!

Exciting news in the world of mixed media art and craft: The amazing Kathryn Costa, author of The Mandala Guidebook, a beautiful and recent North Light art book publication, is teaching two workshops at my humble studio, The Painted Dog, in downtown Brunswick, Maine!!!  She will be here Friday evening, November 17th, from 6:00-8:00pm, and the following day, Saturday afternoon, November 18th, from 1:00-4:00pm.  For each class, she will demonstrate a different method of creating and coloring your very own mandala, as unique and individual as you are!

When life feels scattered, chaotic, or messy, creating and coloring mandalas offers a feeling of wholeness, centeredness, and balance. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle” or “center.” They’ve become popular these days in the many adult coloring books on the market. Anyone who can print the alphabet can create a mandala. We use the same lines – vertical, horizontal, curved, and diagonal – to draw the shapes. Focusing on drawing and coloring takes our minds off our worries and to-do lists. When our minds relax our bodies follow. During this quiet time, we can experience deep relaxation. It’s also a time when we can focus on a positive intention that inspires us to appreciate what we have or to choose something better for ourselves. Each mandala that we create is as unique as the person who creates it. Come and experience the joy of watching a beautiful work of art emerge from your own hands.


Two Drawing Mandala Workshops with Kathryn Costa

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle” or “center.” Mandalas have become really popular these days in adult coloring books. See how simple it is to construct your own designs. 


Seed of Life 

Friday, November 17, 6:00-8:00pm

The Seed of Life is one of the elemental patterns found in sacred geometry. We’ll warm up our compass skills in this activity as this design is made up of only seven circles. Make it your own by adding details and your favorite colors, examples pictured below.  This workshop is $30 and includes all materials.


Drawing Symmetrical Mandalas

Saturday, November 18, 1:00-4:00pm

Learn the secret to creating perfectly symmetrical mandalas in this workshop. You’ll be amazed at how everyone begins this project with the same starting point yet the end result is a beautiful mandala that is as unique as the person who created it, examples pictured below. This workshop is $40 and includes all materials.


Please remember to email me (Mandy) at if you’d like to sign up.  Advance registration with payment is required as I expect these workshops to fill quickly.  I do hope to see you there!!


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After School Art Club in Downtown Brunswick, Maine!

I’m sitting here in my little computer corner, gearing up for a new season of After School Art, Painted Dog Studio style!  I thought I should define just exactly what I offer…


I’ve had two after-school-years to tinker with this program.   Over these past two years, hundreds of kids, ages 5 to adult, have created at The Painted Dog.  (Aren’t I lucky??!!)  And they’ve taught me soooo much about the creative process.  And just how individual inspiration really is…


Just what is After School Art??  First, I’ll tell you what it was.  I used to offer a “canned” project or two per session, where I would dictate what to do each step of the way, everyone ending with a creation that I, or Pinterest, deemed kid-art-worthy.  Cute paper towel roll creatures, spin art (a Painted Dog staple), funky beaded necklaces, pinch pots, the list goes on and on… Now, this method certainly worked well for many but not for all.  Except for the spin art.  Spin art works for every human being on the planet. Inspiration is such a tricky thing…


There were always a few kids that wanted to do their own thing.  Actually, most kids wanted to do their own thing.  They wanted to dive into my stashes.  Experiment with materials.  Often they had an idea of exactly what they wanted to create, and my canned project just didn’t cut it.  I loved their enthusiasm and could never say no.  I began to see this after school art time as sort of an open studio, where I would help children make decisions on how best to see their creative ideas to fruition.  Sometimes I had to help a lot.  Sometimes just a little.  There were always big messes.  Occasionally glitter was involved.  Most often the treasure jar got hauled out.  (The treasure jar is filled with smaller objects, usually found at Goodwill, perfect for assemblage or 3D art; game pieces, costume jewelry, army men, junk-drawer goodies…)


What they ended up with was not exactly Pinterest-perfect.  Actually, it was often far from Pinterest-perfect.  However, most were so proud of their creation and loved the accessibility to my art and craft supplies so much that they couldn’t wait to come back.  Inspiration is such a great thing!


So, beginning September 5th, and every Tuesday after that, from 4:00pm- 5:15pm, at The Painted Dog in downtown Brunswick, I will have a specific art or craft project for kids to make if they wish.  It will be a different project or technique each week.  For those who choose not to make the project, they can enjoy the open-studio-creative-exploration plan and follow their own creative ideas.  I should probably call it After School Art Lab…  Inspiration, right?


Each Tuesday session is $15.  You may pay ahead of time for a month’s worth, or for an entire season’s worth, or you may pay as you go.  Your child does not have to come to every Tuesday session, they may join as they wish.  I do ask for an email notification ahead of time if your child plans on attending.  Feel free to email me with any questions you may have.  Here’s to a great start of school, and to a great start of After School Art!


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Summer 2017 Art Camps for Kids in Brunswick, Maine!

I’m anxiously awaiting summer vacation.  I simply can’t wait for some lazy, long, and warm weather days… I also know how things at home can get a bit squirrelly when school’s out.  So, as an art and craft lover AND a parent, I’ve come up with a summertime intermission of sorts.  I’m offering a few fabulous kid-geared art camps in between those long restful weeks…  Just a bit of creative fun to break up the 2 months of no school.



Monday-Thursday, July 10-July 13, 9:00am to 12:00pm

Ages 8 to 18 are welcome to join.  Each day we will start out working on a zine; a small, single sheet, folded book that tells a short story.  (These zines will be copied and handed out to each student on Thursday to take home).  We will also work on an two ring binder-style art journal each day (binders shown below) and an accordion fold book will be made as well.  Students should bring a dozen or so photos that can be cut and glued into a book.  The cost for this 4-day camp is $135 which includes all materials and a snack.




Wednesday, August 16, 9:00am to 3:00pm

Open to ages 8 and up, we will begin this hands-on camp embedding a bit of art or a special picture in a poured-resin bezel.  As these harden through the day, students will learn the basic elements of wire wrapping, and wrap a shell, some sea glass, or a polished rock for a pendant.  They will learn how to make a simple pair of earrings and be able to string a necklaces using a wide assortment of beads.   Shrink plastic will be used to make a mixed media ring.  All materials provided.  If students wish to embed a photo in their bezel, they must bring a very small laser copy of the original picture.  Students must also bring lunch and a water bottle.  The cost for this camp is $65.



Monday through Thursday, July 31st- August 3rd, 9:00-1:30pm

Open to ages 11 and up, paint an enormous canvas over 4 days of creative bliss!  We will begin each day with a different mark making “warm up” exercise.  These will be fun little drawing and lettering prompts to get the creativity flowing. Students will start their painting by experimenting on their canvases with different brushes, rollers and scrapers.  They will receive guidance throughout their painting project and will be encouraged to think about color relationships, value contrast, and composition balance.  Students can choose to paint abstractly or paint representational.  I will provide a variety of texture pastes, collage material, and quality acrylic paint, including Golden brand fluid acrylics.  The cost of this camp is $190 which includes all paint, a snack, decaf iced tea, and a 30 inch square canvas!  Students must bring a lunch and a water bottle to class each day.



If you’d like to sign your child up for any of the above, or if you have any questions, simply email me at  Here’s to a wonderful summer vacation everyone!



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