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July 12, 2018

#67 | Create, Revise, Repeat: Finding Beauty in the Mess with Maggi McDonald

About This Episode

“We all have creativity inside of us, if it is something that you want enough then you will work hard for it, and that will be the thing that makes you succeed.”

Maggi McDonald, a celebrated artist, teacher, and online entrepreneur, doesn’t have it all figured out (although it looks like she really does). For every pretty photo on Instagram, there is a crowded kitchen table and a to-do list that often hasn’t been completed.

Join us for a conversation about creativity, authenticity, and shutting out the noise. Maggi will share her journey to becoming confident as a professional artist and businesswoman (even if there were times when she had no idea what she was doing), and how she has learned to push through her doubt and out of her comfort zone to create beautiful paintings and build a successful business with her art.

“Painting is all just about getting that energy out and going where the paint wants to go. ”

Maggi has days when she forgets to buy milk, when she is a stressed-out mother, and when absolutely nothing is working out as planned. However, for this Sydney-based painter, the best paintings are made when everything seems like a mess. Maggi has built a business selling prints of her paintings, as well as doing commissions for original work that can sell for $1,000 a piece or more. Among all of this success, she has learned that while social media can be a powerful tool for connection, it can also fill our brains with unnecessary noise and stifle creative thinking.

“You need to remember why you started painting in the first place, and connect with that, and be authentic in what you are doing, and why you are doing it.”

Maggi is painting commissioned works, collaborating with other artists, and has a collection released exclusively through the Emily Ziz Style Studio in Paddington. On top of all of this, she is teaching painting workshops, selling prints of her paintings all around the world, and developing an online class that she hopes to release later this year. She is living proof that it is never too late to learn something new or change your life– you just have to be willing to work for it.

“When I turn up on the days when nothing is working, and just push through that doubt and out of my comfort zone–sometimes those paintings are the best ones.”


Maggi McDonald Art

Maggi McDonald on Instagram

Tools & Resources Mentioned


  • Canva – Canva is a free graphic-design tool website, founded in 2012. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals.
  • Adobe Illustrator – The industry-standard vector graphics app lets you create logos, icons, drawings, typography, and illustrations for print, web, video, and mobile.
  • Spotify – There are millions of songs on Spotify. Play your favorites, discover new tracks, and build the perfect collection.

People/Blogs to Follow

  • Amira Rahim – Amira D. Rahim is a contemporary abstract expressionist painter whose work has been procured by collectors around the world, and most notably, by the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi. Rahim has been featured in Ebony Magazine, The Huffington Post, Design Mom, The National, Minted and Time Out Abu Dhabi. In addition to painting, Rahim runs an online community – Passion Color Joy – where she guides new and seasoned artists branding and establishing their art business online.
  • Rachel Castle – Rachel has spent the past 20 years in the homeware industry both in Australia and the UK, and currently lives in Sydney. Founded in 2008, the brand has become a haven for lovers of all things sunny. Her company, Castle, makes accessible art and beautiful bed linen.
  • Franz Kline – Franz Kline was an American painter. He is associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s. Kline, along with other action painters like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Lee Krasner, as well as local poets, dancers, and musicians came to be known as the informal group, the New York School.

Recommended Books

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear.
  • Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa – This book is duct tape for the mouth of every artist’s inner critic. Silencing that stifling voice once and for all, this salve for creatives introduces ten truths they must face in order to defeat self-doubt. Each encouraging chapter deconstructs a pivotal moment on the path to success—fear of the blank page, the dangers of jealousy, sharing work with others—and explains how to navigate roadblock.

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