‘Painting changed my life,’ says artist Michelle Phelps
In June, at the encouragement of friends, Michelle Phelps sold everything she owned, purchased a trailer and moved to Ogden to pursue her art career. As is the case with many others, the call of the mountains drew her.
“My support system is world class,” Phelps said. “My friends are allowing me to live in their backyard with (my) trailer.”
Ogden is where Phelps first began selling her art. “The night before my first show, I was a mess. Absolutely horrified at how vulnerable it was going to be to have all of my creations on display to be judged and seen,” she said. “The Ogden community has been amazing and artists in Ogden have been incredibly encouraging and supportive. They have offered tips, advice and friendship to me.”
Phelps, a new creative member at The Monarch, says she is on a personal mission to “wake up” as many artists as she can. “There is no limit to the beauty that can exist in this world,” she said.
Phelps was “woken up” herself one afternoon when a friend saw a drawing she had done in high school. After witnessing her talent and passion, he demanded she start again. He made her a deal, he would purchase all of her needed supplies in exchange for her first painting. He purchased canvases, brushes and paints — and changed her life forever.
“Regardless of any dollar amount I ever make, I will always continue to create. Painting has changed my life,” Phelps said.
Her art name, “Mandrews,” is a tribute to the friend who pushed her into painting. His last name is Andrews. “I want people to be confused about why my art name doesn’t match my name and to ask me about it. I believe there are so many people who should be creating but who aren’t, because they are intimidated by other artists instead of simply creating just to create,” she said.
In her spare time, Phelps takes advantage and gains inspiration from all that Ogden has to offer. Camping, mountain biking, paddleboarding and scuba diving are activities Phelps frequently does … while painting.
“I have painted through rapids while paddleboarding down river as my friend steers the board. If I can somehow combine painting with a quick adrenaline rush, I absolutely will find a way to do so,” Phelps said. “I don’t just want to paint nature scenes. I want to make them funky and fun and for people to feel as connected to them as I do.”
“The aspen trees, without a doubt, have put a spell on me,” she added. “They are the sexiest tree out there, and the amount of time I spend with them is a little ridiculous. I think they are packed with metaphors for humanity and are simply magical. I have a very similar relationship with sunflowers.”
At her booth, you can definitely see the love affair she has. Phelps sells original paintings and prints but also clothing like leggings, crop tops and joggers, all featuring her beloved sunflowers and aspen trees.
As part of her mission to inspire other artists to “wake up,” Phelps hosts workshops once a month at The Monarch.
“After joining The Monarch team a few months ago, I learned that as part of my membership I was given four free hours a month of the workshop space,” Phelps said. She decided on hosting a “Bring Your Own Creation Night” and invited every artist and non-artist she could find.
“I really just wanted people to get together to make things and to create a little community that fostered inspiration and encouragement,” she said. “At the BYOC Night in September we’re painting (oil, acrylic and watercolor), drawing, digitally creating, crocheting, wood burning, carving, painting a flower pot, making bath salts, making a vision board, using salvaged materials, and even a videographer who brought a drone and flew it around while we hung out. Most people in attendance didn’t know each other and only half of them considered themselves artists.”
In October, she is planning on an Art Challenge Night — think “Iron Chef” but for artists. Details can be found on her Instagram @Mandrews_Art or at MandrewsArt.com.
About the Fifty State Mural Project
“I am on a mission to paint a mural in all 50 States for FREE. I want to paint murals but I lack the experience so this project is my art school and it benefits those who participate. My flight attendant friend gave me her airline benefits so I can fly anywhere for free. The deal is that wherever I am painting, they feed me, house me, and pay for my art supplies (less than $300) and in exchange the mural itself is FREE. I have completed Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, and Texas and have California and Colorado on my calendar. If anyone knows of a small business, school, or organization that could benefit from this in a state that I need then I’d love to be in contact.”
— Michelle Phelps