Breaking the Myth: Mental Illness and Creativity Unraveled

The widely held belief that mental illness and creativity are inextricably linked has become a romanticized notion ingrained in our collective consciousness. However, it’s crucial to dispel this myth from the outset: mental illness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for creativity. As we explore this intriguing topic, we uncover the nuances that challenge this prevailing belief and shed light on the complex relationship between mental health and creative expression.

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”  —Salvador Dali

Creativity and Mental Health

Exploring the Connection:
While researchers emphasize that mental illness doesn’t guarantee creativity, recent findings reveal intriguing patterns. Siblings of individuals with autism and first-degree relatives of those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa are disproportionately represented in creative professions. This raises questions about the potential inheritance of traits conducive to creativity while avoiding the debilitating aspects of mental illness.

Personal Reflection:
Growing up as the eldest child in a family where one parent navigated artistic pursuits and mental health challenges, I witnessed firsthand the impact of these dynamics. The global pandemic further brought to light the prevalence of less debilitating forms of mental illness, particularly affecting teenagers facing disruptions in their crucial stages of growth and learning.

Creativity and Mental Health

Dreaming Under Northern Lights, 36×36 acrylic on canvas, 2022 – Brandy Saturley

Silver Linings: Mental Health and Creativity

A big positive of this time was it brought to light many things, all at once, and got us all talking, sharing, and expressing ourselves. As we continue to share and learn about what makes us all tick, we continue to evolve as humans living together on this planet. I too learned that I’m not impervious to the effects of stress and anxiety, which ultimately landed me burned out in a hospital bed for a month during the pandemic, it was quite the experience and something that I will write about at some point, but for now I’ll just say, it was another reminder from the universe to ‘slow down’ and take care.

art quotes norval morisseau

Brandy Saturley in her studio at Royal College of Art, London, England, 2019

Today, I am looking back at a short documentary that was filmed just months before the pandemic broke out around the world. It is a cool trip back to a moment in time when I was just coming off a month in London, England at the Royal College of Art, my confidence was at an all-time high and I was ready to take on this next chapter of my career as a professional Artist.

Now having experienced what is one of the most prolific periods of my career, which has resulted in tremendous growth both personally and professionally. It is a period where ‘imposter syndrome’ has now largely disappeared and I am open to everything in a way I have never been before. I am also enjoying the ride much more, not putting the same pressures on myself, though my expectations will always be ‘A-type personality high’.

I want to share with you this short documentary film (about 25 minutes) by the very talented Canadian filmmaker, Randy Frykas. Although filmed at the end of 2019, this new version includes an epilogue updated for 2024.

In embracing the complexities of mental health and creativity, we challenge stereotypes and foster a deeper understanding of the human experience. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of our lives, let us approach challenges with resilience and, in the words of my chiropractor, “Just, Keep, Moving”.

With gratitude,
Brandy Saturley

In a recent promotional talk for my upcoming mentorship group with Mastrius, I was asked about experiencing Artist’s Block, and my response has consistently been, “No.” Do a Google search for strategies on dealing with Artist’s Block and you will find hundreds of websites and therapists offering techniques to dealing with it, but I have yet to find it explained as what it truly is, fear.

Artist’s block refers to a creative obstacle or mental barrier that prevents an artist from generating new ideas or producing work. It is a condition of creative stagnation, where the individual may struggle to find inspiration or motivation to create art. Overcoming artist’s block often involves finding new sources of inspiration, experimenting with different techniques, or taking a break to refresh the mind.

Ahead of Their Time

I have never suffered from finding ideas (inspiration), and I begin every new painting by adding a new challenge, this helps to keep me interested and motivated and moving forward. Technical stagnation can happen, but this is only because of fear. Since I began painting, I have never gone longer than a month without making a new painting, that makes more than twenty years of making new original paintings.

Artist's Block Explained

What I have experienced as an artist is the opposite of artist’s block, and that is burn out. I touched on it briefly in my talk, and I did experience a work stoppage in 2021 brought on by the pandemic and working too much and having limited social connection. This mental burn out landed me in hospital for a month. It was a wild month and an experience I have written about, privately. What was most fascinating to me is, that even though I couldn’t paint, I found myself healing through making art. I was drawing every day, in that month in hospital I did 100 drawings, and they are completely different than anything I paint, and I love them dearly. Perhaps someday they will accompany my writings from that time and become a roadmap for others experiencing something similar.

Artist's Block Explained

So going back to Artist’s Block. I think we need to rebrand this term and start calling it what it is, ‘fear’. It is the number one thing that keeps us alive, but also causes us to freeze in our tracks and not move forward in life. BE it art making or anything else in life, it is fear that truly stops us from realizing that which could transform us into our ideal selves.

A favourite quote of mine from ‘Chuck Close’ speaks to artist’s block or waiting for inspiration statement, and it is a favourite because it addresses fear head on.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

To navigate through creative challenges, the most effective technique is simply to work through it. Whether on canvas, paper, or a digital medium, persistence is crucial. Instead of discarding incomplete work, keep pushing forward, allowing the process to guide the evolution of ideas.


re-framing landscape painting

Let Your Backbone Rise, Acrylic, 36 x 36 inches, 2016, Brandy Saturley

What is mentorship? How adding a ‘guru’ can help emerging artists.

When I began looking at taking my art career to the next level, and making it my full-time career, I sought out the advice of a ‘gurus’ in my field and parallel businesses that support the art business. Mentorship for emerging artists is key to helping you move, with purpose, towards a fulfilling full-time career as a professional artist. I connected with painters, photographers, writers, gallery directors, bloggers and many more using nothing but my email account and some well written emails. Fast-forward two decades later and I am now being asked for my advice as an Artist mentor.

Mentorship for Emerging Artists

Brandy Saturley in her Victoria BC, Canada studio.

As my art practice and catalogue of work has grown, so have I, as a painter and as an Arts business professional. When I came up more of us grew our careers through reaching out to those who came before, our learning was organic and through guru’s. For some reaching out to another Artist you admire can be daunting, but more often than not I find it to be an incredibly rewarding experience. In today’s world with Zoom, Facetime and even WhatsApp, reaching out to others in your field is much easier and can be even more personal than standing next to them in their studio. It takes away that nervousness that comes with being in someone’s space and offers me as a mentor the opportunity to schedule visits during times that suit my practice. Learning in your own space is more casual and allows you to relax into the session, and really focus on the content being provided.

Mentorship for Emerging Artists

Come join me at Mastrius.

When Mastrius approached me about coming on board as a mentor, I responded with open arms and an open mind, with endless opportunities to share, learn and give back to a community bonded by Art. I like the ‘group’ approach where you can join in with fellow Artists at your level, offering support and opportunities for future collaborations. As a Master Mentor I am looking forward to talking with emerging artists at the beginning of their careers, and of all ages. Emerging and aspiring artists does not necessarily mean young, you can be emerging at any age, all you need is the time and drive to make and pursue your Art, a good place to start.


I’m hosting a small group (no more than 8 artists) with Mastrius, where I’ll be supporting you on your art journey. Mastrius is an online platform that connects Master & Professional Artists with those who want to learn from them.

ARTISTS, this is an opportunity to BOOST YOUR SKILLS & CONFIDENCE in a trusted group designed to share ideas, practical information, and receive feedback about your work.

The group meets ONLINE monthly to help you achieve your specific goals! You’ll also get access to our online community to connect with others on a similar journey.

I’ll Help You:
🔥 Find your signature style
🔥 Explore technique, color and composition
🔥 Design + achieve goals for your creative practice

You’ll Also Get:
💥 Critiques on your work
💥 Learn how to self-critique
💥 Demos of my process + expertise
💥 Guidance to avoid mistakes I’ve made

This Group is for You if:
✅ You feel you haven’t found your style
✅ You’re painting for friends and family
✅ You want to learn better technique
✅ You want to improve skills + quality of your art
✅ You need some ENCOURAGEMENT

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot as a Master Artist. It’s my honour to have this opportunity to walk alongside you on the next stage of your creative journey!
ONLY 8 SPOTS & Groups Fill Fast!

Don’t worry, you’re not locked in & you can cancel at any time… but we’re sure you’ll want to stick around and reap the rewards of mentorship!

Registration Link:

📅 Starting Wednesday, January 17th at 5 PM MST (7 PM EST) Or..Thursday, January 18th at 11 AM AEDT (1 PM NZDT).

Becoming a professional Artist – A Modern Autodidact I AM

Modern Autodidact I AM

Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley in studio 2022.

There have been a few stories made about how I became the professional Artist I am today. A modern autodidact I am, self-taught in most areas of Art and the business of representing myself as an independent Canadian artist. My learning has always been hands on, through doing a bit of the thing I wanted to learn about, something that would help me evolve as an Artist and realize a professional level career in the Arts. Along the way I have signed on for short programs in educational Art institutions, but I have no BFA or MFA or PhD, and it has not stopped me from succeeding as an Artist on all levels. From public and commercial galleries to selling my work online through my website. Creating public art, licensing my artwork and custom art commissions. From presenting artist talks, art fairs, and writing articles and interviewing other artists, to developing my own website and network of associates and suppliers. Producing art publications and process videos, to making art on location in self-directed and awarded residencies. I am a professional Canadian artist creating in ALL realms of the Art business in Canada and beyond.

Modern Autodidact I AM

Brandy Saturley and mother in Sooke News Mirror 1972

When did you become an Artist?

The question I get most often from young artists and future collectors is, when did I become an Artist? To really answer this question I have to go back to childhood and growing up with an artist mother, who was influenced by her artist mother. Who we are early on has much to do with who and what we grow up around, and my mom was always making things with me, mostly drawing painting, and crafting. I knew what I liked most at an early age and that was creating my own world from a solitary space. I enjoyed magazines, music, films, the outdoors and making art in the midst of all these influences. I learned from glossy advertising in Vogue magazine, and listened to the Beatles, Billie Holiday, Herb Alpert and the hard rock of AC/DC. I read the European Newspaper and wrote to pen pals in London, England. I grew up in a very small town on a large island, on the western-most tip of Canada. I had a hunger for information about the places, people and cities of the world.

In my senior years of high school I connected intensely with two influential educators, one was my History teacher and one my Art teacher. They both encouraged and influenced my path of the coming years. I knew I wanted to pursue an art career somehow, but found it hard committing to a formal education, largely because I did not have the means. Instead I took shorter courses in Visual Arts and filmmaking giving me a few years of educational appetizers in these areas. Art History, 2D, 3D, pottery, graphic design and filmmaking (from camera to scriptwriting) Three years of education offering a sampling and just enough experience in these areas. During film school I attended a talk by the Oscar winning Director of Photography for Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Vilmos Szigmond. I was captivated by his talk and found myself finishing the program and working in the Victoria and Vancouver film industry for a short couple years.

I left film as a career behind, though to this day I consume cinema just as voraciously as I did when I was younger. I made the decision that painting and photography were the things for me. I continued making Art part-time, as I worked full-time jobs in businesses that would teach me skills that could be useful down the line. During this time I moved from job to job as I learned new skills, each time working my way up until I had nowhere to go (in my mind) but move on to a new job. I worked in real estate sales, interior design retail (tile and natural stone) publishing (advertising coordinator + proofreader) and then I found myself wanting to learn more about computers, during the dot-com boom.

A Modern Autodidact I AM

As I was working these full-time *jobs* I was making Art in the evenings and on weekends. Art was keeping me interested in life. I met someone who was working for an Internet Service Provider

Modern Autodidact I AM

Paintings by Brandy Saturley at Victoria Premium Automobiles

and he would talk about all the exciting things going on with the Internet and websites. It was 1999 and I did not own a computer. Most people I know had one and worked on one, and I decided it was time for me to find out more about this Internet thing. I opened the phone book to the yellow pages, where all the businesses advertise. I flipped to the Internet service provider section and we had four at the time in Victoria, BC. I found the one with the biggest advertisement, which was a double page spread, and I called the number and asked for the manager. Of course the manager was not available, but I left a message and waited a couple days. I then called again, and left another message. I waited a few more days and called again, this time I got through to the manager directly and we had a quick chat and he told me to stop by with my resume. Keep in mind I had NO computer experience and wanted to sell dial-up Internet to people. A couple interviews later I found myself with a job in the Internet business and I had to learn very quickly. I was hired to work sales and customer service in person and over the phone.

My manager at the ISP was creating his own website and learning to write html to create his website. I asked if he could teach me, and he obliged. I began learning how to write html to create my own webpage, instead of eating lunch. In 2020, I created my first website and I posted some of my artwork on that page. This was before Facebook and even MySpace (which I became an early adopter of as an artist)  I think if we were to look at our lives in ‘Internet’ years, it would be more than dog years. I finally got a home computer a year after starting my Internet job. I worked with the ISP for two years, the longest non-Art job I held. I learned so much here; from dial-up to fibre connections and html to domains.

Modern Autodidact I AM

Strathcona County Gallery @501

Fast-forward to Full-Time Artist

The modern autodidact in me found a way to write a business plan for being a fulltime artist, the artist in me found a way to sell my art to a patron who became an investor in my passion and dream. In 2007, I left my day job to pursue my Art with full intensity, energy and from this autodidact approach. Really the self-taught life is the Artist life, it is the true way of the Artist. The thing that makes the title Artist a profession and not a hobby is, I run it like a business and my artwork supports my life. Artist is my full-time career. What also makes me a ‘professional Artist’ is the way in which I pay attention to all the details of the artmaking process; from making the work, to finishing the canvasses that will hang in galleries, museums, and private collections. What I learned in all my jobs over the years provided me with a degree in being a professional self-representing Artist. From managing my website, to writing this blog, I taught myself to do it all. I have also relied on the expertise of others, to help get me where I am. Through sharing skills and supporting one another, I have been very fortunate to make money while I was learning the skills I needed for this career. Now when I look back on the business plan, in many ways it was laughable, as with this career it is ever changing like the ocean tides. Being a professional artist is like being a professional surfer. Sometimes you get the good one (wave) and other times the water is flat. In this profession you have to be ready enough to know how to spot those waves and ride them to the shore. You have to be open, honest and focused on your ride. Over the years I have moved to task lists, goal lists and idea lists to keep me moving between waves.

But you can’t rely on Internet alone
art exhibitions Okotoks

Okotoks Art Gallery

The other part of my autodidact adventures was getting out there in front of people and the Art itself. I have used the Internet to reach out to those people and places I wanted to go to expand my career and learning in the Arts. I wanted to learn more about what the commercial galleries, museums and artist-run centers of Canada were doing and I travel across Canada every chance I get. In the early days of my career it was to see art and meet people working in the Arts. I flew out to Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto to connect with mentor artists (Andrew Valko, Charles Pachter, Gordon Milne, Robert Genn, Chris Cran) who had built great careers in the Arts. I did studio visits, interviewed artists for blog and magazine articles I would write. My first solo show was presented by Visual Arts Alberta (now CARFAC Alberta) at the end of 2013, this is when #ICONICCANUCK was born.  As my paintings about Canadian culture, icons and landscapes developed I began to travel the country more often. Then in 2016 when I was preparing for my 2017 solo shows, I traveled across the country and up into the Northern Territories to make art and capture these places through photography and video, returning home to write about my experiences and make paintings. In 2017 I was invited to present solo shows of my ‘Pop Canadianisms’ at Strathcona County Gallery @501 in Edmonton and The Okotoks Art Gallery in Calgary.

In 2019, I found myself on a new type of adventure as I continued my contemporary art education at the Royal College of Art in London, England – at the time the #1 post-graduate arts institution in the world. A place that David Hockney spent some of his education in Art.

I pushed myself to collaborate with the public through my ‘People of Canada Portrait Project’ and through a painting collaboration with an artist in Calgary, Alberta. I created the first artist in residence at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, painting on site at the museum.

Interview Banff Centre

Brandy Saturley at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity

In 2021 I joined the artist roster at Adele Campbell Fine Art, a fine art gallery in Whistler, Canada. My first foray into having a gallery represent my work. In 2022, I was invited to do a residency in the Leighton Studios at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity through the Paul D. Fleck Fellowships in the Arts Endowment. I joined my second commercial gallery, this time in Banff, Canada with Willock & Sax.

This year I have been invited to the Pouch Cove Foundation residency in Newfoundland and will be spending a month this fall creating on the very eastern tip of Canada.

I have sold and exhibited my work across Canada, in the USA and London, England.

These are just of few of the highlights from a now 17 year career as a full-time professional artist.

In conclusion, being a modern autodidact has offered me the adventure of a lifetime and a life lived in Art, that is Art itself. Being a professional artist in this day and age, means being prepared for those waves when they come in. I wouldn’t change a thing, here’s to the continuing journey. See all my artwork on my website.

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley a.k.a #ICONICCANUCK

#ICONICCANUCK at #HAPPYWALL in Edmonton, Alberta

The Work of Art is Ever Evolving

mountain forms collective - paintings in progress - canadian artist

The work of Art is ever-evolving and so is the job of the Artist. This is a fluid career, where multi-tasking is a pre-requisite and if juggling isn’t your thing, you should stick with a 9-5. Now that is not to say that you can’t work a 9-5 and make art in your downtime, you absolutely can and it is much easier to do this than work as a full-time artist. Better yet, wait until you have retired from your 9-5, then make art your hobby, sell a few paintings here and there, maybe even find a gallery to represent your work, no pressure. Most who make art shouldn’t quit their day jobs, it’s a tough road and one that is not for most. For me, it is a ‘requirement’ like oxygen, if I were not doing it, I could not breath.

If you do decide to put it all on the line, and go full tilt at an art career full-time, you will need a support network that is SOLID. Your spouse or significant other, should be your BIGGEST FAN, if they are not, then don’t pursue your art full-time. The times when you need a shoulder to lean on, or someone to kick you in the butt and out of the ‘I must be crazy to think I can do this’ mode, you will need your ‘superfan’ at your side.

Thankfully I have a ‘superfan’ and a solid circle of supporters who’ve got me when the going gets tough, and it does, oddly enough it in fact is what keeps me moving forward. When you hit a certain stage in your career as a visual artist, you will find yourself being chased by many who want a piece and will grab at your ankles, pulling you back down. This is when you have to cut yourself loose from past relationships.

As a self representing full-time visual artist, I have carved a career that is unique to me and my brand of Art.  Any given week/month/year is lined with hurdles and wins that only I can make happen. It is a truly wonderful thing.

So, what does a week or month in my world look like? Here is a rundown of things I am juggling currently;

I am working on two collaborative series of paintings; the Mountain Forms Collective and The People of Canada Portrait Project. In the first I am painting mountainscapes with an artist in Calgary, shipping canvasses back and forth between two provinces. The Portrait Project is a series of paintings from photos submitted by everyday Canadians.

I am painting new landscapes inspired by my travels across North America, photography and writing.

I just released my first edition of fine art prints, celebrating a decade of the ‘Canadianisms’ body of work, a series of paintings inspired by Canada (now over 90 original paintings)

I manage three websites for my Art; along with my social media channels of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – yes, I use LinkedIn

I just finished writing a newsletter to clients and also stay in touch with numerous clients over email and social media

I just prepared several prints for shipping – sales management and bookkeeping

I am working to book solo and collaborative exhibitions of my work for the 2021/22 exhibition season

I am planning my next art trip, last year was a month in London at the Royal College of Art, the year before I was on Maui for a month

I am looking at presentation/teaching session at a local Arts School

Oh, and I am writing this blog.

These are just a few things I can tell you about.

I do sleep, and I do take the weekend off from my studio, but during the week I am working constantly.

I just painted the shit out this last piece, and am working on three new pieces that will be done by next week.

Damn I love my work, it comes with the deepest depths of self exploration and self-awareness. It comes with a deep intuitive understanding of the world and what is needed. It is deeply empathetic, with my fingers on the pulse of the world. I am incredibly disciplined and self-motivated, and I am here to learn, to teach, to do more than I did yesterday.

Pep talk, sure.

Around we go again.

Sincerely Yours,


photo at #ICONICCANUCK arts exhibit

Celebrating 10 000 Art Shipping Crates – Congratulations to VEVEX!

It’s not everyday that your receive an invitation to celebrate the creation of 10,000 art shipping crates. This month my art crate maker and supplier of the past decade is turning out their 10,000th crate, a major milestone for a company built from the ingenuity of one man, Rod Russell.

About ten years ago when my business as a full-time visual artist was growing, I began to require a sturdy and reliable way to ship paintings across Canada and into the United States. After some sleuthing I discovered, VEVEX Crates in Vancouver BC. I remember calling around talking to different crate makers and there was something about speaking to Rod.

Rod Russell is a certified journeyman carpenter and managed a general contracting firm in the Northwest Territories. Rod was assistant GM of the first Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, and founded Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks music festival. In Vancouver, Rod consulted as a software developer, worked as VP Solution Development for eXcape Business Transactions, Inc and led a team developing Canada’s first wireless handheld debit card processors.

Rod is kind, hands-on, and experienced; he was full of information and the price was right so I rolled the dice and gave VEVEX a shot. Over the past decade VEVEX has provided me with a quick turnaround for art crates, making my clients that much more happy with their art purchases. The piece of mind I get, and can pass on to the client, is invaluable. I have seen boot prints on my art crates, had wheels torn off, seen water damage to the exterior wood and had edges cracked and slivered; but through all of this, the artwork has arrived safely to it’s destination and never damaged. Even with the best of art shippers I have seen damage occur, but knowing the artwork is safely contained inside an insulated, lined, cushioned, and waterproof plastic sleeved envelope, puts my mind at ease.

The crates have become so much a part of my work, that I began painting the exteriors and most recently exhibited the crates within my retrospective exhibitions in 2017. The hand painted crates were a hit at my art exhibitions Canadianisms; A Half Decade Inspired by Canada, in both Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. People have come to love the crates and understand how important they are to the complete artist process, as the work does not end with the finishing of a painting, the work lives on and with it the crates that carry the paintings to their final destinations. Art lovers often ask if they can buy the crates and I always tell them, if you buy a painting you may end up with a one of a kind painted art crate. If you have the room to store or display the crate, it could become a valuable addition to your art collection.

Over the years I have seen VEVEX crates pop up in differnet venues both on display and in storage rooms. The VEVEX 10,000 crate history includes patrons from all over Canada including; The Vancouver Art Gallery , The Spirit Wrestler Gallery , Artcraft Display Graphics Inc. ,Michael Nicoll YahgulanaasThe Museum of Anthropology , Erin McSavaneyHarrison Galleries , Monte Clark Gallery , Propellor Design , Sticks + Stones Furniture , and many, many more!

 CONGRATULATIONS! Rod and VEVEX, I am proud to say that I am one of your many patrons and part of your 10,000 crate history! Here’s to the next 10,000 crates.

A few photos of my crates from over the years, created by VEVEX and painted by Brandy Saturley.

10 000 Art Shipping Crates

Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley on her hand-painted art crates – crates built by VEVEX


10 000 Art Shipping Crates

Hand painted art crates by Brandy Saturley for 2013 #ICONICCANUCK exhibitons – crate maker VEVEX

10 000 Art Shipping Crates

Front window display – Gallery @501 January 2017 – Brandy Saturley


10 000 Art Shipping Crates

‘Canadianisms’ exhibit at Okotoks Art Gallery July 2017 – Brandy Saturley

Crates bound for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2011 – Brandy Saturley

Shipping artwork to Palm Springs – Brandy Saturley

Shipping artwork to Montreal, Canada – Brandy Saturley

Shipping art to Vancouver, Canada – Brandy Saturley