Artist Profile: Mandy Emerson


New Zealand-based mixed-media artist Mandy Emerson never went to art school, though she’s been making art for a long as she can remember. Not wanting to “live by the rules” of traditional art practice, her striking, distinct visual language is completely self-taught.

“Being an ‘outsider’, which we can sometimes be known as with no qualifications in the art industry, graces me freedom in my interpretation of my work,” says the artist.

Mandy works with acrylic paint, Sennelier inks, stamp pads, liquid beading pens and alcohol-based inks to represent flowers (in particular hydrangeas), butterflies, birds and bees. The artist often bleeds the inks with methylated spirits to let the media take its own journey.

“The cascade of colours merge together and drip to the bottom of the canvas, as my interpretation of rain or pollination, giving my work a sense of life,” she says.

Mandy’s work is always finished with a heavy layer of oxidised gloss, which she pours over each piece – allowing all the layers, colours, and textures to be showcased. Each work is extremely rich in colour, with shimmer powders added to give sparkle.

Given the vibrant and loud nature of her work, Mandy’s studio is the opposite as she works in absolute silence. “The only sound is the weather and birds coming from outside.” She also makes sure to paint in what she describes as “good clothes”. “If I feel great, I paint well – no apron required around here.”

The artist first began selling at local markets and fairs around New Zealand before being selected for the NZ Art Show in Wellington in 2005. Since then, Mandy has become a full-time artist.

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