Art and Fear - Featured Artist: Tiffany McAnarney

This week I am happy to present Tiffany McAnarney as the featured artist of the week. Tiffany pays attention and is intentional in her life and her work. Her drawings have challenged me to remember that life isn't just about the big moments - it's the small ones too. I'm thankful for her encouragement, both in my creative life and in my faith.

What art do you make?

I'm an artist at my core. I gravitate towards watercolor and ink, but honestly — I'll create whatever is necessary using whatever tools I have. 

I've evolved from painting on cardboard as an angsty middle-schooler, to photography in high school, graphite and watercolor in college, watering down acrylics on canvas, to recently writing my first book of philosophical essays accompanied by illustrations.

By trade, I work to develop the culture and community at WELD.

What are you working on that you’re most excited about?

I've been developing a contraption that will enable me to fling paint in a controlled spiral on watercolor paper. If all goes well, it will be the cover of an album to be released this spring!

 Photo by  Tiffany McAnarney

Photo by Tiffany McAnarney

How have you been challenged by fear this year, and how have you responded?

Gosh. We just jumped right in. 

Fear is one of my longest living friends. I wish I could say I was one of those people that was driven by passion and love and creativity and happy clouds but — It's 9 times out of 10 the fear of not being / having enough.  

Honestly, I didn't realize this until this past year. 

I drove myself into the ground working non-stop, taking extra commissions, drinking at every networking party in town, never turning down a lunch — chronically trying to please people. After two years of that, I was left with thousands of dollars in medical bills and taking over 15 pills a day for my stomach to even function. 

Since that point, I've been responding with carefully placed boundaries. I have given up on the lie that I need to be someone important to be worthy. I don't need to prove I'm a woman by creating a perfect company or even landing a husband. I just can be a person who is unapologetically passionate about coffee plant varietals, and my friends still hang out with me. 

I'm deeply — deeply loved. For reasons, I have no idea.

When I feel love I don't deserve, from people who have nothing to gain from me — that's what challenges me to live in purpose, and not out of fear. 

Describe the season you’re in:


Not in a way that a snake will shed his skin to grow a new one of the same caliber. 

But in the way a plant will dig it's roots in, find richer soil, and can't help but be completely changed forever — to never return to it's old self. 

To hopefully evolve to be of intended use. 

  Photo by   Tiffany McAnarney

Photo by Tiffany McAnarney

How has God provided for you this year?

I gotta say — the number one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning — is Davis Street Espresso. It's like having my very own Cheers. The coffee is great but — the people that buy the coffee are even greater. 

Having a community of people who are actually my neighbors, to walk with me through all my drama, and still trust me to hold their children...that's a miracle. 

Hands down, the most fantastic part of my life is that coffee shop. 

How are you struggling with identity?

It seems pretty difficult in our society to not identify people with what they do. I can't judge, because I'm guilty of doing it to other people all day everyday. 

Yes, I love my job, but it is not who I am. 

I've been working to un-blur those lines internally, then I'll game plan on how to hold more meaningful conversations that don't involve job descriptions. In the meanwhile, you're right — it's a struggle.

What are you thankful for in this season?

In all the cold weather, I'd say my aunt Deb making me liters upon liters of 12 hour chicken stock. And she's a legit professional chef, so it's literally saved my life multiple times. 

What are you working on now even though you’re afraid?

Probably my book of essays. At first, I was just doing it for myself to better understand some physics concepts. Then friends encouraged me to compile them into a book. I've been wrestling with just wanting to only print one copy, but it feels too important to keep to myself. 

My fear is definitely in people's opinions of me once they read it. Will they agree. Will they think I'm dumb. Will everyone find out I'm a fraud. 

Sure, if I do publish it, there will be people that don't agree. Some people might not like me for it. 

But is that a reason to not share what I've felt compelled to create? 

What are the lies you have to push away when you sit down to create?

Oh. I never sit down to create certain of myself. I doubt myself the entire process, but I always have hope in the finished product. No matter what it is, I can make it work. That confidence guides me through the doubt by adapting. I accidentally spill coffee on paintings, put down the wrong colors in the wrong order, forget to spray water, mess up the timing. Things that try to steal the joy of the process. 

But a mistake is just an opportunity to be creative for the betterment of the piece.

I wish I felt the confidence, joy, and freedom in real life as I do in my work. 

Who is currently an influential artist for you?

Probably my grandmother, Joane. She was a professional artist, and she still hasn't given it up. She's written the most beautiful book of sonnets for my late grandfather, Norman, and lately, she's been studying a plethora of abstract meditative styles of drawing — all in gel pens. 

She's a fantastic human specimen. When I doubt my ability, I'm empowered by the fact her blood runs through my veins. 

Do you have any favorite scheduling tips that have worked for you?

I'm too obsessive-compulsive by nature — I have to un-schedule things for myself.

I get up at the same time each morning, but I only do things that will center me. Instead of rushing to be at work at a specific time to get a head-start on everything, I make breakfast. I bike to get coffee with friends. Once a week I see my chiropractor.

Then I go to work when I feel level-headed. 

  Photo by   Tiffany McAnarney

Photo by Tiffany McAnarney

How do you hope for your art to encourage others?

The universe was not delicately crafted by God merely meditating on an idea. He worked. He poured all his energy, creativity, and talent into knitting the very molecules that would unravel into our current reality. 

And He's still creating. 

For me, creation really is prayer. It's connecting with God — it's struggling and being thankful and getting perspective. I really understand who I am and what I'm worth when my hands are stained with paint. 

When I admire any artist's work, it compels me to create. It takes a valiant effort to not pull out a journal and sketch at inappropriate times, like in hotel lobbies and restaurants. 

If my work can encourage other people to find that connection for themselves, that would be its most brilliant use. 

How else would you describe yourself?/What else do you do?

Via the identity question earlier -- I would like to settle on human person.

...or Amateur Theoretical Quantum Physicist Philosopher

Favorite snack while creating:

Eating is a privilege at the finish line. 

Favorite beverage:

Vieux Carre.

Favorite place to dream:

My yoga mat. 

How do you recharge?

Locking myself in my apartment on the weekends. Phone on airplane mode. Purging closets. Playing guitar. Binge-watching Stanford University lectures on youtube. Peppermint tea.

What encouragement do you have for other artists?

Your work isn't someone else's work. Stop comparing yourself. Be inspired by others — but the world needs authenticity and originality waaaaay more than it needs another perfectly-placed jumping person on instagram. 

What are you reading?

Inside Out by Larry Crabb. 

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

Neil deGrasse Tyson, obviously.

Describe your dream vacation:

A cabin on top of a mountain by the ocean in Oregon with a huge porch and my french press. 

Favorite outdoor activity?

K A M M O K I N G 

Where can we find your work?, @tmacstudio across the board, as well as all over my apartment.

 Photo by  Kelsi Klembara