Today I am honoured to feature Brenda Mangalore as part of my new Expert Spotlight segment where I interview experts and mentors on business + entrepreneurship, self care and personal development, and social change and social justice. Brenda was the first artist I’ve ever purchased a painting from, so it feels extra special to feature her today.
Brenda creates art that’s about connection to ourselves, and each other. For her, Art is like faith and love, chaos and structure. There is beauty in the mess! And if we let it, art can be an anchor of self-expression in our spaces and in our lives.
Brenda is known for her multi-layered colourful abstract paintings, and intricate typographic drawings of inspired words of life, love and faith. With her intuitive style, love of colour and intricate details, means you’ll get artwork that continues to speak to you as you live with it.
Because art should be more than just something pretty to look at! Art can inspire you to express yourself and honour your own unfolding story.
Okay, let’s jump into the questions…
For those who aren’t familiar with you and your work, would you please share a little about what you do and the story behind how you came to be doing it?
I’m an artist and I believe that art is more than something pretty to look at, it can be an anchor for your self-expression in your life and home. Simply, I make art that serves as a mirror for your heart and inner desires, which also helps you to claim your big dreams and dare to take the next step.
Whether it’s paintings that bring joy as a reflection and anchor for your dreams, or online workshops & 1:1 consulting to help you connect with your creativity to design your next steps.
How I got to this point is a long but simple story of finding myself 4 years into a dream job as a graphic designer at the biggest card manufacturer in the country. I loved the people and had worked so hard (with a lot of manifesting magic!) to get the job. But I couldn’t shake this feeling every morning of wishing I was sick so I didn’t have to work! Of wondering why I couldn’t just be grateful (oh! The burden of expected gratitude!) for what I had.
Until I found myself crying, yet again, to my poor husband about the misery I was feeling and he said to me: ‘Why don’t you just do it?’
That is, be the painter I had always, deep down, wanted to be. A graphic designer was close, but not quite the same. Just as the job I was at was A dream job, but not MY dream job. And the rest is history!
What would you say to those who feel they aren’t creative but wish they were?
Sometimes I do get super frustrated when people say that. They actually shut down that side of themselves. When you ignore that side of yourself, when you don’t acknowledge your connection to your creativity, that’s when you end up in creative ruts. You’re actually the one that’s putting up a dam to the creative flow within you!
We are ALL creative – it’s a habit NOT a skill. Some of us use it and don’t realise it. Which means you don’t utilise and grow that muscle.
Creativity is problem solving. It is figuring out how to make dinner when all you have in the fridge are eggs and cheese. Creativity is connecting dots in ways no one had thought of before – which just requires you to be curious and open to experiment. Creativity is creating something from the chaos. Chaos meaning the messy mayhem of life with its rich tapestry of experiences and dreams.
Connection to your creativity and honouring that intention is all you need to tap into your inner creative. And actually creating!
Whether that’s a painting or a really well thought out spreadsheet. They all need creativity to bring ideas into reality.
What can one do to cultivate or connect with their creative self or to find their creative flow?
As I always say, creativity is a habit. Not a skill. Skills may be involved yes! But the creativity? That’s a muscle you build by just creating! By connecting to it in simple ways. By creating a creative practice!
I’ve found that creative flow runs in a cyclical manner. Not a linear way. If you can commit to yourself and your creativity, you will notice what inspires you, to notice what you notice! If you create something TODAY, no matter how small, you continue that cultivation habit, which makes your connection to your creativity stronger. That’s a creative practice!
Flow comes when you practice diving in without any attachment to the outcome. Flow comes when you commit to creating and when you learn to embrace Resistance, which naturally comes when you expand your creative muscles. Especially when that creativity is in pursuit of something that enhances your inner growth.
I could talk about this for days – but simply, to find your creative flow? You must first, CREATE! I didn’t say create a masterpiece, or do it perfectly, or professionally. Just connect with your creativity, connect to inspiration and acknowledge the creativity within your life and all around you!
What would you say to those who want to create or reconnect with a creative practice, but are feeling resistance or have blocks and barriers that are getting in the way (e.g., fears, time, lack of resources, have kids, etc)?
Resistance will only grow stronger the longer you resist it. I say embrace it. Acknowledge the gift that it is! It is trying to protect you from something.
Embracing it will mean looking at what it’s protecting you from. Is it your belief that you’re not good enough and you’re scared of being embarrassed? Is it your belief that you will become a ‘bad mum’ to selfishly pursue something JUST for you?
Resistance shows up when you begin something that is part of your purpose, part of your growth towards your fulfillment. I believe it’s part of the creative cycle. It’s a sign you’re on the right path! The trick is to recognise the lies it tells you and practice working WITH your Resistance. (This is where that ‘creativity as a habit’ practice comes in!)
Commit to your creativity. Know that you ARE creative. Keep taking steps forward and practice it daily, no matter how small. Time, resources, money. These are things you will create as part of your commitment and practice. Use your creativity to find a way! Everything else is just excuses. Don’t fall for the lies! I even wrote a booklet on the Lies of Resistance! Don’t shut that part of you down. That’s when you shut off your ability to grow, to feel fulfilled and expand fully into your joy.
What are some of the benefits that you feel a creative practice can bring to your life and work?
Your creativity is your connection to your spirituality. It is your connection to the divine! It helps you expand your perspective, to push your comfort zones and grow. A creative practice requires your commitment and consistent cultivation to happen – all of which are habits that you need when you are doing your life’s work.
When bumps come along in life, you’ll use your resilience and discipline, which a creative practice cultivates for you.
A creative practice can also be an anchor for you when life throws curveballs and your usual routines and rituals no longer work. It can help you express in ways beyond words and hugs.
I know that your faith plays a part in your work – would you mind sharing a little about this and how your faith connects with your creative practice?
I see my faith as a relationship with God. So like any relationship, it needs commitment and attention. Which is the same for creativity.
Sometimes I do lose faith in my connection. Sometimes it serves as the only comfort in times of confusion and sadness. Sometimes I marvel at the privilege of just being the vessel, the masterpiece before me was definitely not from me!
I’ve found that like any relationship, a daily connection – no matter how small – cultivates a better flow than having random bursts of ‘catching up’. When I remember that it is important to me and it is aligned with my values, it is easy to find my way into the studio as often as I can.
I know that it’s what makes me the best version of ME I can be to show up as the best mum, wife and ME to the world.
As you might know, I co-created the Gentle Business Mastermind with Amanda Rootsey and Nicola Newman, so have been talking a lot about how people can do business gently and sustainably. I would love to know – what does doing business gently look and feel like for you in your context?
Doing business gently means going with the flow of your life. To flow with your creativity and seasons of your life.
I’ve had to adapt my creative practice during this season of my life with little babies. So doing business gently means I’ve had to really be ruthless in choosing my steps. To surrender to my limitations and remember my choices in choosing this season!
To be gentle and kind with myself. To practice finding a balance of my ambition with living a fulfilled life of joy in just sitting in the sunshine with my babies!
At the same time, doing business sustainably also means to acknowledge my ambition & my creative practice. Doing more creative work actually energises me! Creating and my business isn’t something I need to take a break from. When I feel the need to walk away, it means I’ve hit Resistance or am doing something that isn’t aligned with what my intuition wants. Like most things, it’s a practice to create the balance.
I know you have a number of resources on your website that can help people with some of the issues we’ve spoken of above. Would you mind sharing some information on these below for those who’d like to dive in deeper?
I wrote a little booklet on the Lies of Resistance, which showcases a selection of lies which you may have fallen for in your creative pursuits.
If you’d like to cultivate your creative practice and create a consistent practice – Creativity Catalyst is a simple 25 day immersion using simple prompts to connect with your creativity. No paintbrushes or arty skills required!
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