HGTV’s Erin Napier Mourns Dear Friend’s Death: ‘We Couldn’t Prepare’

Coffin with flowers

Getty Coffin with floral arrangement

Erin Napier is in mourning following the death of a dear hometown friend. For years, artist Mandy Buchanan served as a creative role model for Napier, and had even appeared on HGTV‘s “Home Town.” Buchanan was also a much-beloved member of the community in Laurel, Mississippi, according to a tribute by Napier, who wrote, “We couldn’t prepare for this kind of sadness.” Here’s the latest…

Erin Napier Remembers Her Friend, Mandy Buchanan

Mandy Buchanan was an accomplished painter who loved incorporating bright colors and florals into her art, wardrobe, and environment. She died at age 54 on November 16, 2022, following a battle with cancer.

The following evening, on November 17, Napier posted a video of Buchanan appearing on “Home Town” with her, sharing the colorful painting she created for one of Napier’s clients. In the post, Erin shared what she treasured most about her friend.

“Before she was my friend, she was a famous painter in my teenage mind: an equal with Van Gogh or Monet,” Napier wrote. “I would see her work hanging in the most well appointed homes and hear her name, not knowing she was a local girl who lived just down the road from me.”

Napier continued, “When I graduated from art school, I was blessed because I got to know her. She was effervescent. She bubbled and glowed. She and her joyful, energetic art were inseparable: she painted her plucky spirit into every piece.”

“The world lost her to cancer yesterday,” Napier wrote, “and while we felt that grim moment coming for a few days, the loss of her light and love in this city and all the ways she volunteered and made people feel special is so profound. We couldn’t prepare for this kind of sadness. Laurel will never be the same. She is an icon. And Lord how we will all miss her. Please pray for her husband, sons, mama and friends who were like a family.”

Many people left condolences for Napier on her post about her cherished friend, and some also said they’d begun collecting Buchanan’s art after she appeared on “Home Town.”

Napier’s mom, Karen Rasberry, wrote, “Mandy’s voice was so full of joy and made us all feel happy when we heard her enthusiasm. She was one of a kind.”

One of the art collectors wrote, “I came to Laurel from New Orleans for the first time during the first season of Hometown because I saw a Mandy Buchanan painting on the wall of a home you renovated. I thought maybe if we drove to Laurel I could find one of her paintings at the Mercantile. Sure enough! Over six years of visits I ended up with two of her paintings. Just today- back home now in Utah, I moved those paintings to different walls just for fun. Mandy Buchanan will be a joy in our home forever. Rest In Peace.”

Mandy Buchanan Was Beloved in Laurel, Mississippi

A native of Laurel, Buchanan gave back to her community in countless ways, according to her obituary. She taught art at Laurel High School as well as at her alma mater, Jones College, where both Erin and Ben also attended.

She also spent “countless hours” painting stage props and backdrops for the Laurel Little Theater and her imprint has been left throughout the town on painted utility boxes, newspaper stands, and murals. Buchanan also worked as Director of Education for years with the Lauren Rogers Museum of Arts and volunteered with the Laurel Arts League.

“Her talents will be most remembered through her beautiful artwork that is lovingly displayed in countless homes, churches, and businesses bringing smiles to the faces of anyone who encounters them,” her obituary states. “Mandy’s paintings, much like Mandy’s personality, bring sunshine and joy to any room where they are displayed.”

In early fall 2021, Buchanan posted on social media that she hadn’t been feeling well and had taken a break from painting. By November, she posted a selfie of herself with her husband, revealing she’d had a tumor removed and a hysterectomy, and would begin chemotherapy that December. In April 2022, the artist celebrated on Facebook that she’d completed radiation, and had some more chemotherapy to complete.

As recently as October 13, Buchanan — who was married with two sons — uploaded her final paintings to social media and shared that, despite treatments, she was having a good day.

She wrote, “Praise the Lord for good days! I just added these 11×14 and 12×16 original canvases to my website. It was a joy to paint these happy flowers!!!”

It’s not been announced yet what will happen to the paintings left behind by Buchanan. The Napiers’ Laurel Mercantile carries some of them. A celebration of Buchanan’s life was scheduled for November 18 at 1 pm Eastern at a local church.

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