Meet the Artist | Mande Gaffney

We are so excited to present our first featured artist in the “Meet the Artist” series!  Mande Gaffney, of Mande Calhoun Art, is a crazy talented abstract painter and has an empowering message for all aspiring artists out there.  Mande has a full time job, is the spouse of an active duty military member, AND she’s also an amazing artist. Please read more from her below and join us at 7:00 PM on Friday, February 8, 2019 to peruse her art collection and hear her talk about her process (we’ll have a variety of pieces available for purchase).


I am from a tiny little town just like Altus called Milton, WI. My husband is in the Air Force so I have vacationed here a couple of times while he was training and we moved here a few years back.

Mande Gaffney Artist Mande Calhoun

I was a creative kid but I preferred to write rather than draw or paint. I went to art school for Visual Design (think website/application and advertising design). We were required to take traditional art classes as well and after them I vowed I would never paint again. When you go to school with Picasso’s they can take a hit on your ego (if you let them and I did.)


So how did I get here? Fast forward ten years, I am in a dead-end job where I can’t grow due to things out of my control. I started painting at lunch to get away from the screens. I was super rusty but soon the muscle memory started to come back. It felt good to create something I didn’t need a screen to see.


This isn’t wasn’t and isn’t some high-end operation. I use cheap(ish) materials that some actually say “made for kids” on them. I turn up my music loud, plop down on an old Target bedsheet and just paint. I use whatever medium works with my vision: watercolor, acrylic, pastel, etc.
In art school they wanted perfection but that isn’t me. I paint what I feel inspired by and then I assess it. Sometimes just one corner is pure perfection while the rest is trash. Instead of wasting that gem, I scan it and crop it. I always get asked if I feel like a fraud and the answer is no. Painting is like any creative medium, you edit. Your first draft isn’t the end. It is a start.


I am excited to share my work with everyone, share how I am different, my successes (like how I got featured in Vogue!), as well as where my inspiration comes from. Until then I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” Albert Einstein.


See you Friday Feb 8th!

You can find Mande on Instagram @mandecalhounart