Today I present a tribute to Gail mally-mack, whom we featured on Artbeat back in 2003.   Her passing is a loss to the art world and the Detroit art community will miss her dearly.

Although the conversation didn’t really go there in my visit in her studio, it struck me as I was revisiting the segment, that Gail epitomizes the quintessential dance between creativity and insanity.  Gail was a free spirit, enthusiastic, and extremely dedicated to her work.  In other words, a true artist.  Civilians often say there is a fine line between creativity vs. insanity.  I’m not sure why I bring this up  in my tribute to Gail, other than to point out that she was far more sane than the civilians who often blur the line between creativity and insanity.

We live in a society that tends to marginalize those who think “outside the box.”  What we call “normal” are usually people who never rock the boat, who blend in, who basically repress the thoughts and feelings that make us truly human.   To be healthy, on the other hand, is to be free, accepting and relatively content.  This was Gail.   Being eccentric, creative and fully self-expressed is the exact opposite of insanity.

Do artists suffer?  Of course, but not because they are creative.   I have found that the real reason people are mentally unstable, hurting themselves and others, is because they have not found peace with their muse; they are not self-expressed.  They are pursuing the wrong dharma; they are not fully engaged in doing what they say they want.  It is this desire that causes suffering, not their art.   Most of the creative people I have encountered, though eccentric, are some of the sanest people in the world.  They’re also the most fun, but perhaps I’m personally biased in that.

Here’s the real question we can ask to determine whether or not a person is insane: are they suffering; are they in a state of misery?  It’s when we desire something more, something out of reach, that we suffer.   Artists often have a vision for the world, which is not always in alignment with the limited vision of the civilian occupying it.  Their ideals come up against the reality of the world and they feel helpless, that their visions don’t matter.  That’s when they suffer.

Blessed is the artist who can reconcile these disparate visions of the world, understand the limits of his/her vision (humility), bring it into being anyway and share it with the world.  Gail mally-mack was a courageous artist, as you will see in this Artbeat segment.  She loved and found her place in nature and made it one with her work.   Enjoy!

“From her paintings, drawings and sculptures that earned renown in the Metro Detroit arts community to her colorful decorations at home, Gail Mally-Mack personified creativity.  “She was really an artist,” said her daughter, Emily VanderLaan.  Ms. Mally-Mack, a longtime artist and teacher, died Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, in Rhinebeck, N.Y. She was 75.   Born Sept. 1, 1937, in Detroit, she pursued art full-time after working as a nurse and raising her five children.   Ms. Mally-Mack learned from local master artists, focusing on painting, drawing and three-dimensional art.  See more of Gails tribute in The Detroit News:

If you like/don’t like or want to add your thoughts to the conversation, I encourage you to comment.  Also, you may want to get a copy of Point of Art – Second Edition, or download it today.   I offer career coaching for those serious about a career in art. Don’t forget to check out  The Portrait – a painting video  and The Power of Positive Painting, the original portrait painting video.

Would you like 20% Off any product or service on

I hope you like the information on this site. Allow me to send you a coupon for 20% off anything you see here and sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter to get the inside scoop on news, the latest blogs, opportunities for artistic growth and a meaningful creative exchange of ideas!

Get ConnectedGet Connected

Contact Form

  • What's your name?
  • Email address
  • Feel free to send us a message
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Visit us on Facebook