Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

How you do anything is how you do everything!

I was painting last Sunday and chatting to one of my good friends (for four hours…  we talk a lot)! As I built up the layers in my current landscape, she noticed that how I paint is exactly the same as how I am in business and in life. This struck me as an interesting observation and we talked about it some more… a lot more.

One of my greatest beliefs, instilled into me by my dad, is that how you do anything is how you do everything. He taught me to think big and then work backwards to understand all of the components that I would need to consider when I was doing anything. I was wiring plugs at 7 years old and drawing by starting with line, then considering shading and then composition to achieve the end result.

I run my business and my life in the very same way. This seemed like a great subject to talk about because I have discovered over the years that not everybody thinks like this, which shocked me actually. It seems such a logical process to me.

Then I thought about school and how we are programmed to fit a curriculum instead of being empowered to think for ourselves. The easiest way for me to take you through the process is to use a piece of art as an example and explain how each individual layer is vital to the end result.

So, join me on my 7-step process of ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.


I know it may seem obvious, but you need to know what you want to achieve.

When I am creating a painting I normally start with a title and a brainstorm. I have an idea; I am inspired by something and this creates a vision of the message I want to convey in my work. I will take notes, look for additional images or text on the subject and allow the inspiration to consume me.

Colours may come to me and I may even jot down paragraphs of notes containing the feelings I want the viewer to experience. Adding momentum to the vision so that it is clear in my head as the creator.


From this initial idea and exploration comes the first draft. The rough, line drawing of what I want to create on canvas. At this stage this is simple and naïve because I am less concerned with perfection and more concerned with progressing my idea into a structure.

There may be more notes and ideas at this stage to accompany the line drawing, because as I commit it to form, new insights spring forth.


As the image becomes clearer, I move into thinking about the structural process.

  • What shape will this image be best displayed in?
  • Can it be contained within a square or will it require an oblong?
  • Will it be landscape or portrait?
  • How big or small does it need to be in order to make the right impact?
  • Where will the image be positioned on the canvas? Central, to the left or right or in a small section of the top corner with space being part of the message.

    A lot to consider.


This is an important decision before you begin, how much detail does the viewer need.

Do you want to take them on a journey in your detail so that their eyes have a treat every time they look, or do you want to do what the Impressionists did so well and ask them to stand back and feel the colour, light and shade?
How many hours do you want to invest in the work, and will it be productive for you to do this?
Can you achieve more by doing less?


Each and every layer of your work plays an important part and links it to the next. The base coat followed by the paint or charcoal sketch.

Are you working light to dark or dark to light? The decisions you make here can be pivotal to the finished piece and the effect you want to achieve for the viewer.
Are you going to create the background first or the main character?
Will you work on a particular section before moving to the next or will you constantly keep the bigger picture in mind with every stroke?


To stand back and review is a vital piece of the puzzle.

I often finish and walk away without looking and come back the next day with fresh eyes and take a different perspective. Tiredness, fatigue, familiarity and even being too caught up in the process can drain your innovative spirit, so the ability to review your work and feedback to yourself is vital.

I often ask for feedback from others along the way and have completely changed direction following some objective observation.

Feedback is a gift, take it as such and use it well.


Every completed piece of work should be celebrated. It did not exist before and it does now and that is a wonderful thing. It will have an impact on somebody and may even change their life.

Something you created from nothing now has a place in the world and that is a beautiful thing. So many people are overly self-critical, and this can result in something magnificent never seeing the light of day.

Triumph in your work.

Be your own cheerleader and share with pride. My sharing with pride ended up in the Daily Mail recently, you never know where you will end up! You can find the article here.

Notice when you read through each and every point here that I may be talking about producing a piece of artwork, but I could actually be talking about anything you do. Apply the same 7-step process to a course or program that you may be working on and it still works.

This is what came to light during my mammoth 4-hour conversation with my good friend, and what I have noticed when I have been working with clients. Once you have learned a process for anything you can absolutely apply it to everything, and it will work every time. You have to master the process of course, to recognise that you are actually following something which makes logical sense. This, my creative friend, is why I think that creatives make great leaders!

Because we know how to build something up from an idea, through stages that result in an amazing end piece. We follow a process, and we build. Now go and apply this process to your business and your life one area at a time and see what a massive difference it makes.

I am equally as proud of my signature mentorship program as I am of any of my paintings, after all I followed the same process, and you can find it all right here.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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