Little Awkward Studio: Business Logistics with Megan and Amy

Episode 5: Business Logistics with Amy and Megan

Business Logistics by Amy Frances Photo

This week on “The Little Awkward Studio”, Amy and Megan chat about the steps that they took to start their businesses on solid ground.  They discuss how they formed their LLCs, how to save some money and time along the way, what steps to take when you can start reinvesting back into your business and taking the little leaps that seem so scary at the beginning of a business.  They talk about what they have learned in the past 2.5 years since working in NYC and how to stay strong in the crazy world of making your own rules as a small business owner.  

Seriously though, we go on a long tangent about women’s fashion and how the sizing is just so frustrating.  We also talk about how much we love one another, I think.  Check it out!!

So, are you ready?

Click here and join us for Episode 5 of Little Awkward Studio.

Want to reach out?  Email us at laspodcastbk@gmail.com and find us on Instagram @littleawkwardstudio.  Or you can find us online.  Amy is on Instagram @amyfrancesphoto and online at www.amyfrancesphoto.com and Megan is on Instagram @artbymegan and online at www.artbymegan.com.  

Little Awkward Studio

 

 

Behind-the-scenes: The 5 books you MUST read if you are a creative person.

Here is a list of "must read" books for creatives and entrepreneurs!  My favorite books listed here include stories of women CEOs, one-woman operations and businesses and people following their dreams and helping to make the world a better place in the process.  Enjoy! 

1.  "In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney". I have loved reading Design*Sponge for as long as I can remember and LOVED reading this book, which highlights 100 creatives in an interview-style format.  It's breathtakingly honest and raw, beautifully written and formatted, and gorgeous to stare at all day long.  My little daughter loves it and asks me to read it to her, too, so it's basically just the best book ever written.  Just trust me, you need to own this book.  

2. "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.  This book puts a lot of things in perspective.  You don't have to be an organizational freak to read it, either (I'm a little disorganized!).  It just helped me to realize that what I own should bring me joy and what I am holding onto may not have value.  It's a wonderful book and it's an amazing reminder.  In a crazy world, it's important to stop and take the time to put perspective back into our lives and this book does just that! 

3. "You are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. If you hate inspirational or self-help books, this one is for you.  There's ABSOLUTELY no fluff here, and its why I love this author so much.  Jen Sincero gives actionable, brave and courageous, and hilarious perspective in this book.  I love it and I appreciated how it focuses so heavily on gratitude as a key to happiness.  I also love that she says bad words and does irreverant things.  Because that's just so important, too.  

4. "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp.  I have read and re-read this one countless times.  I love to read about the habits that other creatives develop to give themselves structure to be creative. Freedom, walks, naps and cocktails are featured, so it's basically the book I live by.  Read it!  And re-read it every year for good measure.  And then highlight it.  

5. "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey.  I love LOVE LOVE this book.  Again with the rituals.  Why do I have a ritual fetish?  Well, I will tell you:

  1. I work for myself.  
  2. I need someone out there to tell me to do things in order because otherwise my creative side takes over and I go wild.  
  3. I love traditions.
  4. I love drinking coffee every morning and need validation.  
  5. I love naps and I need to know that important people throughout history also appreciated the "siesta".  
  6. I am secretly (or publically?!) really nosey and love knowing what people do all day with their lives.  

The end.  Read it! 

So, my only remaining thought is, what is your favorite book?  Comment below! 

xo 

Megan 

Little Awkward Studio: Procrastination

Episode 4: Procrastination with Whitney of We Gather

This week, we had an extra special guest and one of the kindest people you will ever meet at the Little Awkward Studio, Whitney of We Gather.  You can find out more about Whitney on social media at @wegather and online at www.wegathergoods.com.  

Whitney is hilarious, lovely, super talented and so inviting and is one of the big reasons that the Little Awkward Studio exists!  She has helped both of us so much in our businesses and we just love her perspective on life, priorities, ethical dilemmas and being a good person.

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During this week’s podcast, we talk about Procrastination.  We talk about our favorite procrastination exercises.   We talk about college study habits and our favorite procrastination snacks.  We decide as a group that Megan is a big dork and loves doing things ahead of time. (I'm ok with it!)  And we define the word “tool”, as in “he’s such a tool”.  And SO MUCH MORE!

So, are you ready?

Click here and join us for Episode 4 of Little Awkward Studio.

Want to reach out?  Email us at laspodcastbk@gmail.com and find us on Instagram @littleawkwardstudio.  Or you can find us online.  Amy is on Instagram @amyfrancesphoto and online at www.amyfrancesphoto.com and Megan is on Instagram @artbymegan and online at www.artbymegan.com .  

Little Awkward Studio

"Waves" Series + Studio Visits

Hi there! 

Today I want to give you a little sneak peek into my new series inspired by my favorite oceans around the world.  "Waves" is a collection of 20 new abstract acrylic paintings on canvas ranging from 10x10 to 40x60.  The work is bold, textural, and full of happy memories of time spent staring at the edge of the ocean.  There are even some neutrals in there, too!  (Although, most are blues and shades of blue, obviously!) 

Art by Megan working on new painting in her Brooklyn, NYC studio

Be sure to follow along on Instagram and stories here.  I'll be posting sneak peeks and full paintings from today until release day on social media.  Be sure to share with friends!  

Painting closeup photo by Megan Elizabeth of Art by Megan

To hear updates about the release on Sunday, October 15 at 8am EST, sign up here. 

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I will be hosting an Open Studio day on Friday, October 13 from 10 am - 2 pm at my studio in Brooklyn, NY.  I would LOVE to meet locals and share a cup of coffee and chat about some art. If you are local and would like to stop by, feel free to sign up here! 

Megan Elizabeth painting an ocean in her studio in NYC

 

 

 

Behind-the-scenes: My favorite painting supplies.

As an artist, I often get asked by other creatives what my favorite painting supplies are, so today I am sharing a little list to help you get started on painting your own abstract wonders! 

"Autumn Sky", acrylic on canvas by Megan Elizabeth of Art by Megan. (photo by Kate Alison Photography) 

"Autumn Sky", acrylic on canvas by Megan Elizabeth of Art by Megan.

(photo by Kate Alison Photography

Here's my list of favorite art supplies for painting in acrylics:  

1. Paint: My favorite kind of paint and the best quality out there is Golden.  The investment is WORTH IT!  If you are just painting for fun, I recommend starting with a student brand paint, like the Basics line available through Liquitex

2. Art Supply Stores: My favorite art supply stores are Artist and Craftsman and Blick online.  Both have AMAZING deals and I usually shop when there are great discounts to help save some money.  Also, I secretly love trolling the aisles of A&C and just touching and smelling all of the art supplies. :) 

3. Brushes: I paint with Acrylic paints and I love to use a variety of brushes for my work.  This choice is completely based on preference.  I prefer to use flat brushes with strong bristles, as I apply the paints in a thicker, more "impasto" manner most of the time.  I like to use both synthetic and natural haired brushes, but I can offer the suggestion that it is worth pulling on the fibers a bit at the store to see if hairs fall off.  I HATE when there are rogue hairs in my paintings after the fact.  Insider secret: Ikea's kid department has AWESOME brushes.  

4. Canvas vs. Paper vs. Birch Board: This age-old debate (Actually, I guess the oldest debate was just stone, but I digress) is really 100% based on textural preference.  Most artists are really tactile people, so we all have our crazy idiosyncrasies based on them.  I am a canvas and paper girl for no other reason than just because "I like them"! 

5. Oil vs. Watercolor vs. Acrylic: Again, this choice is totally personality-based.  I LOVE acrylics because they literally match my personality.  I am quick, cheerful, bright, and stubborn.  We work well together.  Oil painting requires a bit more technique and ventilation as well as A LOT of patience (which is not my area of expertise!).  Watercolors are free-flowing and require a bit more control, but are LOTs of fun.  So, basically, just start experimenting and see what you enjoy the most.  

6. Water Jars: This is a relatively important issue.  It seems like any cup or jar will do, but that's just not the case.  (I know, it seems like I am taking this WAY too seriously!) Talenti gelato jars are literally the best because they are broad on the bottom and balance when full of heavy brushes.  Also, Mason Jars are perfect and come in both the short and tall varieties, which help with balancing really tall brushes.  The idea here is to pick a water jar that will not fall over and spill, which happens quite often if they are full of dirty brushes.  

My Favorite Painting Supplies

 

 

 

 

Oversized prints now available!

Oversized Prints! 

Oversized prints!  pictured here: "Summer Storm" print in 30x40.  Selfie by me. ;)

Oversized prints!  pictured here: "Summer Storm" print in 30x40.  Selfie by me. ;)

 

An affordable option for decorating your home with Artwork by your favorite artist (cough, cough!) is to order a large, oversized print of their work.  So many people have been reaching out to me recently about this, so I wanted to share all of the details with you today.

Sizes and Pricing:

How do I order? Just email me.  

Arrival time: 2-3 weeks.

Will my print be signed by Megan? yes! 

Where should I frame my new print?  Framebridge!  (New Framebridge Customers: Use code ARTBYMEGAN15 to receive a 15% discount on your first order!) 

NYC Travel Guide: A weekend in Manhattan

Hi friends! Here is a little round-up of some of my favorite places in NYC if you find yourself taking a weekend adventure here!  This list includes all of my favorite things to do in Manhattan.  If you're also visiting Brooklyn, here's a little post about Brooklyn, too! 

Whitney Museum photo from my Instagram @artbymegan.  

Whitney Museum photo from my Instagram @artbymegan.  

The Best NYC Art Galleries:  

The must-see galleries in Manhattan for me are the Whitney, the MoMA and the MET.  They are all amazing for entirely different reasons, so pick whichever is closest to your other destinations and go wild! 

MoMA- for an amazing selection of Modern Art plus a super cute cafe and awesome kids' area.  My favorite part at MoMA is the outdoor area, which is so lovely for a little rest during a trip to the city.  

THE MET - for the quintessential NYC experience, go to the MET.  It's stunningly beautiful, but HUGE.  Take a section and enjoy it, instead of trying to see it all in one day.  My favorite wing is the Egyptian wing, where the reflection of the windows on the indoor pool are amazing.  Also, you can spot Jackie O's old Apartment from the window; this wing was designed by her architect that way on purpose!  Also, the MET rooftop in summer is perfection. 

The Whitney - My favorite museum experience in Manhattan is the Whitney.  It's in a hip, fun area called the Meatpacking District, right near Chelsea Market and some AMAZING restaurants, so it's a great afternoon during a weekend visit. Also, the architecture of the building itself is art.  It has terraces on each level, allowing you to go inside and back outside during your weaving through the galleries.  Also, they have my ALL TIME FAVORITE DeKooning Painting.  

@jgoldcrown mural / #lovewall

@jgoldcrown mural / #lovewall

Best NYC Restaurants: 

Ok, picking your top restaurants in NYC is nearly impossible, but here are my top 10.  Here's another great list if you need more ideas!  Also, here and here

  1. Fuku + (Midtown) - the most delicious Korean chicken on the planet
  2. Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien  (Midtown) - the coolest hipster (hidden) burger joint
  3. Café Medi (Lower East Side) - my favorite restaurant of all time?
  4. Eataly (Flatiron) - sit on the roof for amazing views and delicious food
  5. The Smith (Multiple Locations) - I like the East Village location, but they are all delicious!  
  6. Tiny's. Literally the cutest little pink restaurant ever.  Be sure to visit the Balloon Saloon next door, too.  It's a hilarious little balloon and gift shop.  
  7. Chelsea Market (Meatpacking) - try Los Tacos No. 1.  Trust me! 
  8. Jack's Wife Freda (Soho and West Village) - Brunch of the Gods.
  9. Big Gay Ice Cream (East Village, West Village and Meatpacking) - no explanation needed.
  10. Joe's Pizza (Greenwich Village).  Walk up and eat it at the window.  It's the NYC way. 
  11. Cafe Habana. (Soho).  I legit can't stop thinking of the food here.  Get the corn.

Best NYC Parks and Adventures: 

Central Park is totally worth it.  It is a touristy spot, but it's magical.  Be sure to see the Sailboats Pond, Bethesda Fountain and wander around to see the amazing views of the skyline.

The High Line, over in Chelsea is an old railroad converted into an above ground park.  It's so breathtaking and has amazing views.  Be sure to walk all the way down to the Whitney Museum where it ends at the southern point.  

Bryant Park is one of my favorite parks in the entire city.  I love how it's a manageable size, has a grassy area, a carousel, cafes, walking areas, and board games all in one park.  It's worth taking some time to explore and you might just end up staying for hours!  

Battery Park is beautiful is spans all along the Hudson River with amazing views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and some amazing little spots along the water for resting, playgrounds, and cafes.  It's a really clean, gorgeous area and if you're up for it, take the Staten Island Ferry, too! 

Walk around Soho.  Be sure to check out the amazing shopping, cafes, and do some seriously fun people watching.  

Top of the Rock. Go to the top of Rockefeller Center for a beautiful panoramic view of the city and Empire State Building.  It's one of my favorite places in the city.  

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge from Chinatown to Brooklyn.  It's one of my favorite things to do in NYC.  The skyline views and beautiful history and architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge is just amazing.  

Best NYC Bookstores: 

Rand McNally.  Bonus points for cutest cafe, too!  Also, an awesome kids' selection downstairs. 

The Strand. The HUGEST bookstore with literally any title you can imagine!  No trip to NYC is complete without checking it out.  

Further reading: 

A weekend in NYC

Behind-the-scenes: My Favorite Art and Business Books

A little round-up of my favorite Art and Business Books! 

"Think Like an Artist" by Will Gompertz, is my new favorite book!  

It breaks down the qualities of artists and is delightfully refreshing if you are encountering a little summer slump or total burnout.  The author focuses a great deal on the personality traits that set entrepreneurs and artists apart, which is really interesting to read about if you are currently pursuing an art-related passion or dream.  One of my favorite parts about his writing are all of the annecdotes about artists throughout history and the tales of their funny personalities.  It's awesome, check it out! 

"Creative Block" by Danielle Krysa.

Anyone who knows me knows what a HUGE (Crazy?) fan I am of The Jealous Curator.  I find her voice (podcast, too!) to be so honest, refreshing, and kind in a world of competitive and crazy.  Her books is nothing short of magical and I love it.  I have re-read it a couple of times now and every time I want to put it down, I cannot.  She profiles many artists and their stories and the writing is fresh and real.  I LOVE THIS BOOK.  

"Chasing Slow" by Erin Loechner.  

In a time of MORE, MORE, MORE, this book is amazing.  It reminded me to slow down even though I want to fight really hard to achieve my dreams.  Erin Loechner is one of my favorite bloggers and has always written from such an interesting perspective that makes you really think about what matters in life.  I highly recommend this book for not just art or business, but for a reality check on life, too.  

"The Promise of a Pencil" by Adam Braun. 


If you know me, you know I love the organization Pencils of Promise.  We partnered with them for the Rise Summit and have raised money to build a school soon!  I love the mission of this organization and the slow, thoughtful approach they take to building community.  In his book, the Founder Adam Braun tells his life story in relation to the forming of PoP and it's so compelling.  It makes me want to pack a bag and go build schools immediately!  But more importantly, Braun celebrates those people who are forging their own paths to build a life and career that they are proud of.  Go check this book out. 

Ok, what are your favorite books for inspiration and business ideas?  Be sure to share in the comments below! 

xoxo

M

 

Behind-the-scenes: The apps that I swear by for running a small business.

Apps by for entrepreneurs and small business owners: 

As a mom, small business owner, volunteer leader of a group of growing creatives (TuesdaysTogether NYC) and contractor for an amazing start-up in San Francisco, streamlining, efficiency, and organization are really vital aspects of running a relatively stress-free life.  I have discovered a few apps and programs along the way that have completely saved me and I wanted to share them with you today! 

Note: I am not being paid to share any of this information with you.  I just like to share what I have tested hopefully help out another busy or stressed out small-business owner.  

photo by Laura and Rachel Hernandez from the Rising Tide Society Leaders' Retreat in January 2017 at Honeybook's HQ in San Francisco, CA.  

photo by Laura and Rachel Hernandez from the Rising Tide Society Leaders' Retreat in January 2017 at Honeybook's HQ in San Francisco, CA.  

For social media organization: Planoly

Planoly has completely changed the way I see and use my social media.  I have become more cohesive in my messaging to my followers, my feed is more organized, and I can think clearly about what my weekly work will look like in advance, which is so helpful as a mom.  They are a lovely company and their customer service is LEGIT.  Go check them out.  

For business workflow: Honeybook

As a contractor for Honeybook, I am continuously amazed at the high quality of service that this workflow tool for creatives offers to their incredible and growing community.  When I began using Honeybook, it seemed too good to be true to have invoicing, contracts, billing, taxes and financial tools all integrated into one software that was attractive, customizable and easy to use.  And when I say user-friendly, I mean it.  It's intuitive and so streamlined and simplified.  I love it! 

For my website: Squarespace

I can honestly tell you that what I love most about my website is removing the guess-work in building my site.  I have such a limited time as a one-woman-business-owner and I want to be able to capitalize on my work as an artist when I can.  So, using the clean, well-designed templates that Squarespace has to offer has saved me time, frustration, and has given me the freedom to focus on other parts of my business as it grows.  

For finances and taxes: Quickbooks

I have learned so much about finances and managing money from running my business and it's all thanks to Stephanie at Steadfast Bookkeeping and Quickbooks.  I was originally very hesitant to master the money management aspect of my business, but I am thankful for this intuitive and user-friendly tool that syncs with my Workflow Tool to simplify my finances and help me to budget for future years of Art by Megan.  

For time management and scheduling: Calendly 

I have recently implemented using calendar appointments into my business in order to streamline my Admin days and allow for complete days of creativity in my studio.  If I can schedule 5-10 calls on a Monday, I know that the rest of the week I can remove the distraction of admin tasks and to-do lists and create, paint and experiment.  Freeing up my mental space for creative moments has been a HUGE lifesaver, and I am thankful for the email integration that Calendly offers.  

Let me know in the comments below what tools you use to help streamline your life and business! I am always on the hunt for something to give me more free-time with my loved ones or to paint, paint, paint.  Really, I just want a clone of myself so that I can paint all-day and she can run the business.  Is there an app for that?  

xoxo 

M

My favorite Apps for Small Business

How to travel to Paris with a little kid.

Ideas for how to take a trip to Paris and see “it all” with a kid.

Recently we returned from a family trip to Paris.  It was an amazing experience and it was made even more special because it was our first chance to show our little one how awesome Europe is!  I wanted to share a couple of kid-friendly ideas, hints and tricks that made our time more enjoyable.  Paris, we are totally, head-over-heels in love with you and cannot wait to return someday.  

Idea: Get the Paris Lib Pass.  It is totally worth it if you expect to see at least 3-5 of the major sights and their website is super easy to navigate.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower in Spring = Heaven! 

Seeing the Eiffel Tower in Spring = Heaven! 

Day 1:

Go on the Eiffel Tower Tour.  (Yes, it's totally a necessary evil, but totally worth the NYC style pandemonium and waiting.)  Reserve your tickets online and schedule ahead to help with the lines and only go to the 2nd level if you are a little (or “OMG MAMA, WE ARE WAYYYYYY TOO HIGH UP IN THE AIR) afraid of heights. Also, do this activity first so that you don't spend the whole week with a little person asking "When do we get to go to the Eiffel Tower.....".  

Then after the Eiffel Tower, hop on the Double Decker Bus tour (comes with your Paris Lib Pass) and enjoy some sightseeing that is super fun for a little one.  Riding on the top of the bus allows the little ones to see much more without having to walk too much.  Being a tourist in Paris is a truly a marathon, not a sprint, my friends.

Hop off the Double Decker Bus tour to see Sacré Coeur.  It was awesome.  The little street that leads up to the church is hilariously funny and reminded us a little bit of Canal Street in NYC.  We climbed the stairs halfway, stopped and listened to the cutest old man quartet play some Parisian jazz and checked out the view.  Note: the stairs themselves are the coolest part of this experience for a kid.  Why do they love hopping up and down them so much?  It was a great way to enjoy a sunny afternoon with amazing views of the Paris skyline.  

Views from Sacré Coeur 

Views from Sacré Coeur 

A crazy but amazingly delicious and memorable dinner if you are in the Place Vendome area is Le Soufflé.  Soufflé for everyone for every part of the meal.  It may seem decadent, but we were in Paris, after all. 

Le Soufflé

After Le Soufflé, head over to the Ferris Wheel in Jardin des Tuileries.  The view is amazing and it’s such a fun late night activity for a kid.  We loved seeing the city from above and having a little "pod" in the Ferris Wheel all to ourselves.  It was only “a tiny bit scary” to be up that high, according to the little lady.

Jardin des Tuileries

Day 2:

Do less. 

One thing we noticed while traveling was that we didn’t have a concrete itinerary for each day and it made the trip SO MUCH more fun.  We slept in, we ate 3 hour long lunches and played games and drew pictures at the table.  We ate bread and cheese until our bellies were so full we thought we would never eat again and then walked down the street and ate ice cream.  That’s vacation done right, we say.

If you need more advice on how to enjoy Paris without overdoing it, we loved Abby Grace’s post here.

So, after a lazy morning and midday, what does one decide to do?  Visit the Louvre.  Ok, here’s the deal.  The Louvre is BIG.  Like too big for a kid to enjoy, but you can totally outsmart it two ways: 

1.     Because you have your museum pass so you are super chill about walking in and out quickly because it was already “paid for”.

2.     Just walk around Egyptian, see the old castle walls of the original building and then pick 2 more things to see.  Take the elevators and get a map and pretend to be on a treasure hunt.  People always see my photos and think that my little one totally loves museums but let’s be real here people, they can only handle so much.  So, make a tiny little plan, bribe them with croissants and then promise them that if they let you find the Mona Lisa you will take them to the playground later.  #parenting

After the Louvre, play in Tuileries Gardens.  Wander, take silly photos and smell the flowers.

Dinner idea: Chez Monsieur in the Place Vendome area was great.  DELICIOUS food, (we had the veal stew and the profiteroles), the service was amazing and so friendly, and they were completely ok with having a happy little tiny woman in the restaurant.  We noticed that as long as she wasn’t roaming freely and shouting, Parisians were totally down with our little woman joining them for fancy meals.

Day 3:

Play in Gardens once more and then hit up the Musee l’Orangerie.  AKA MY FAVORITE MUSEUM EVERRRRRR.  Omg it’s so good.  I almost cried.  Ok fine, I cried.   As a little girl, I was totally enamored with the work of Monet and read “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” all of the time so seeing this was literally a dream come true for me. 

Musee l'Orangerie

Then switch to Airbnb.  (link to our AWESOME apartment here)

We decided to stay in two totally distinct areas in Paris to really try and soak up the “tourist” area and the smaller cobblestone street vibes of Le Marais.  I would recommend doing this for anyone who wants to really see the area and feel a bit more like you are living there instead of just visiting.  PS – Le Marais is 100% kid friendly. 

Eat crepes at Le Breizh in the afternoon.  Wait in the line if you must, it’s worth it.  Also, some people hit up the Picasso museum afterwards but we were being ultra lazy and just played in the playground and then wandered around instead.  Both are solid options. 

The best part of the Airbnb experience was that we arrived, got some groceries (bread, cheese, wine, salami, etc.) and stayed in and snuggled and watched movies.  It was a perfect part of the trip to take it easy and it made the day so much more low key.  Also, we washed our clothes in the tiniest washer ever and it was awesome.  *and hilarious*

Day 4:

Go to Ile de la Cite.  See Notre Dame (climbing is cool, I guess, but I personally think it’s overrated…don’t tell my family I wrote that.)

See more about traveling in Paris from a person who is even grumpier than me (Anthony Bourdain)

Notre Dame is gorgeous from the outside, has a sick playground and benches, and the views alone are breathtaking.  Also, the gardens. 

Go to Shakespeare and Co.  TRUST ME.  It was awesome, complete with a beautiful antique bookstore, modern bookstore, café and more.  We wandered the aisles and shipped for hours.  Also, there are ladders for climbing to get books and if your kid is into Beauty and the Beast that is literally their dream come true. 

The Seine - Paris

Take a boat ride on the Seine (it’s part of your Paris Lib Pass, but we mixed up where to get picked up so just bought tickets…it was still worth it!) 

Dinner idea: Literally any sidewalk cafe in Le Marais.  We tried out Camille (thanks to a recommendation from my friend Lauren), and it was yummy traditional food and service and totally chill vibe.  Nice for a kid because they make pesto pasta which is literally her life.  The grownups ate escargot and totally grossed out the kid.  It was a good, giggly time had by all.

Day 5:

Try a café for breakfast.  Literally any of them in Le Marais are delicious.  Order a “menu” which consists of orange juice, coffee and a croissant.  Eat outside if you can, it’s so fun to people watch and enjoy the morning feeling like a local.  

Get a picnic at Eric Keyser and head to Versailles for a day of adventure!

Note: The RER (Paris Subway) map towards Versailles is a little cray.  Head towards Versailles and make sure 100% that you are actually going to Versailles.  Or just embrace the fact that you might get lost and make some cute old lady friends in the process.  Whatever floats your boat.

Versailles, France

At Versailles, go QUICKLY thru the inside because it’s abysmally boring for kids.  Then play, play, play all day outside and frolic and picnic.  The best thing we did at Versailles was rent bikes.  A bicycle and a bicycle-built-for-two, to be exact.  It was so fun to pedal around the gardens and stop to see fun things like Marie Antionette’s pink castle, beautiful landscaped gardens and race one another through historical ruins. 

Dinner idea: Le Petit Chatelet next to Shakespeare and Co.  We decided to head back over to Ile de la Cite after Versailles and it’s so fun to see Pont Neuf’s street performers and musicians and Notre Dame at night.  Note: aforementioned "super awesome" playground.  Le Petit Chatelet is an experience!  We sat next to the fireplace where they prepared the meats and the waiter was a riot.  We know 0% French and muddled through in a hilarious fashion.  He was completely down for the adventure and we appreciated how funny he was about it all. 

Day 6:

Off to Marche des les Enfants Rouges.  Oldest street market in Paris and full of delicious and beautiful international food options.  We enjoyed some wine, lentil soup, and a charcuterie board and then indulged in some Moroccan sweets for dessert.  Also, there are flower markets and we wandered through a bit and literally smelled the roses until the flower man legit shoo-ed us away.

Please pass all of the cheese my way.  

Please pass all of the cheese my way.  

Then, off to Luxembourg Gardens!  SO, beautiful and awesome for kids!  Rent a sailboat and enjoy a seat next to the pond. The playground situation is amazing here, but bring cash because you have to pay to play.  Also, there is a marionette show on Wednesdays and Sundays.  We spent the whole day just relaxing in the Gardens and wandering around. 

Luxembourg Gardens

Day 7:

Headed home but not without eating more chocolate croissants and stopping for a proper breakfast send off at Frenchie Jr. on Rue du Nil in Le Marais.  It was absolutely delicious and the entire street had little gems along it.  Isn’t it just cruel when you find little treasures on the day you are leaving?

Then we got some baguettes from Eric Keyser to take on the airplane and headed to Dublin.

Paris Highlights:

  • Crepes at Le Breizh in Le Marias
  • Bike Ride in Versailles
  • Seeing the Waterlilies at Musée l'Orangerie in Tuileries Gardens
  • Dinners at Le Souffle and Chez Monsieur
  • Picnic in the Park at Versailles
  • Riding the Ferris Wheel in Tuileries Gardens
  • Macarons at Laudureé
  • Musicians on Pont Neuf
  • Sacré Coeur Musicians
  • Espresso breaks midday
  • Croissants all day every day 

Parenting highlights:

  • Watching your kid soak up a totally new culture
  • Watching them make friends at the park despite language barriers
  • Teaching her to people watch and sit at a café for hours. 
  • Teaching her to draw or play something silly when they get “bored” while mom and dad drink wine
  • Watching her eyes light up when the Eiffel Tower “twinkled” each night on the hour for 5 minutes
  • Hearing her happy squeals as she rode on the bicycle with her best friend, Dad.  

 

How to Travel to Paris with a Little One

Behind-the-Scenes: The Ocean + why I can’t stop painting it…

Part 2: The Ocean + why I can’t stop painting it…

  • “Megan, why do you paint the ocean?”
  • “Mama, you should try to paint something else like a dog or a bird.”
  • “Megan, what’s your deal with the ocean?”

I can’t really answer this question, but I will try to put this crazy obsession into words.

I think I paint the ocean because I am drawn to things and attracted to learning about things that:

1.    Scare me + I cannot understand.

2.    Are beautiful + powerful. 

  • Enter randomly selected Spanish major in college. 
  • Enter dating and marrying my best friend even though it scared the crap out of me. 
  • Enter living in Spain and getting a MA I wasn’t qualified for but fighting hard for it.
  • Enter love of travel and new adventures. 
  • Enter not minding getting lost. 
  • Enter love of oceans?  I think so. 

I love being adjacent to something that scares me a little and that I cannot understand or comprehend. 

Now, a little story…

When I was 12, I went to the beach with my best friends in 8th grade.  We were there for a weekend or something and it was great fun.  I even had a new two-piece bathing suit that I would be debuting and it felt so adult and daring of me.  Well, as we swam out to sea, we noticed that the waves were extra strong.  Like, “weird-strong”, as my 8th grade (or probably current) self would have described them.  So, like the responsible and thoughtful ladies that we were, we kept swimming out further and further.  Suddenly a wave crashed and I lost them.  And then another wave crashed before I could catch my breath.  And another and another.  And another. Then, I couldn’t breathe and I started flailing my luckily long and gangly arms around yelling for help from the rip tide that was swallowing me up.  And a handsome young, perfectly tan (as the story always goes) lifeguard had to save me and literally drag me to shore.  I lay there with my eyes closed utterly embarrassed and very grateful that I hadn’t drowned.   But also in complete awe. 

That was a day where I learned the power of the ocean.  I was scared and in love *with the ocean*, not the lifeguard.  Come on!

And, to be honest, I love that feeling.  I love to be a little bit in awe.  Not always at the time (like whilst drowning and flailing and screaming), certainly, but the rush of adrenaline afterwards is amazing and kind of addictive to me. 

I love how beautiful and powerful the ocean is. 

One more little story…

In college, I studied abroad in Spain. (I know, I don’t talk about it enough, ha-ha.)  The ocean and beaches there are ridiculously blue, colorful, powerful, amazing, and gorgeous.  One weekend, we decided to road-trip down to a town called Cadiz for Carnaval (Spain’s Mardi Gras).   It was insane.  It was one of those moments that you look back on and think, “Man, whose life was that?” 

But, one of my favorite memories from that weekend was when our group was hanging out on the beach during a really windy day and the ridiculous boys decided to run into the ocean.  It was a chilly, wet 50 degrees out and the ocean was like ice.  But, I wasn’t going to let them get all of the credit.  I was going to go in too.  (Note: I HATE cold water and being cold in general, but I also have a fierce competitive streak and an even fiercer feminist streak.)  

So, there we were, running into the Atlantic Ocean in February in our *bathing suits* (I was, I promise!) and I have never felt more alive.  Yes, of course I was freezing my ass off, but it was such a beautiful and powerful feeling to be a woman swimming out further than the boys and doing what they could do without any fear or concern.  (Note: I went home and took a bath and drank some red wine and it was all-ok.) 

I felt beautiful and powerful thanks to the ocean.

  • I loved that feeling of being BOTH that day. 
  • I liked that a combination I had always convinced myself was an impossible contrast wasn’t. 
  • I didn’t want to be beautiful OR successful someday.  
  • I didn’t want to be pretty OR limitless. 
  • I didn’t want to be in love OR free. 

I wanted to be both. 

That day at the ocean was a little awakening just like the day I almost drowned. 

I love that combination…beautiful AND powerful.  I like how it relates to being a woman.  I like how it makes me feel like that is a possible combination.  I like how scary it is.

So, I think that’s why I paint the ocean.  But, check back with me in like 3 years and my answers may be completely different. 

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
— André Gide
Why I Paint the Ocean

Behind-the-Scenes with Art by Megan

STUDIO SERIES: A new little blog feature offering a sneak peek into the wacky, colorful, nutty, and funny world of "Art by Megan".

photos above: left (my parents), right (Amy Frances Photo).

Part 1: Why I paint + a tiny biography + the time I colored the walls pink

A question that comes up a lot when I meet new people or talk to other creative is “When did you start painting?”.   I can honestly answer, never.  I never “started” painting.  It wasn’t a decision that I made one day to become artistic or creative, just like I can imagine that people who are really good at dancing (not me) or math (also not me) never consciously made a decision to start.  It was always just there.

I have mentioned in previous blog posts that my husband affectionately refers to me as “the exchange student”.  Meaning, that while most 80s/90s kids have memories of movies like “The Goonies” and “Babysitters Club”, I have vivid memories of Crayola’s new color collection release dates (anyone remember when Robins egg blue launched?  I do!) and worrying about it my built in crayon box sharpener was clogged again.  My family would watch “The Cosby Show” and I would color and sing to myself.  My brother and his friends would play pirate games and I would draw our treasure maps in crazy detail.  I would read (for fun) the atlas because I loved the shapes of maps and the colors blue and green.  Then I would draw real countries and fake countries and weird symbols and stuff that I dreamed up and hang them on my closet door. 

10 other weird things I used to do as a kid:

  1. I used to collect rocks and color them cool colors and then place them around my house and garden.
  2. I made maps of my neighborhood like everyday for a while.  It was intense.
  3. I obsessively cut out pieces of paper from the Washington post, magazines, and other books when my parents weren’t looking.
  4. I wore a lot of tie-dye from the year 1986-1996.
  5. I enjoyed sitting on our deck and “painting it” with a bucket of water on a hot sunny day.
  6. I loved the smell of a fresh pack of construction paper.
  7. I ate some of the pasta from the summer camp class on making necklaces because it just seemed like such a cool idea.
  8. I would draw little pictures on the walls with pencils and then act like I had no idea how they got there.  Cave paintings, maybe?  Magic?  I had no idea.
  9. I loved ironing leaves between wax paper and probably ruined the iron doing it approximately 8 times.
  10. I organized by Crayola box by ombre effect and got really annoyed at friends or my brother if they weren’t placed back into their designated spot. 

Now, a little story…

My uniform socks were red one year and I was so excited about the bright new color that I celebrated by laying in my bed with my crayons and notebook and put my feet on the wall. Well, much to my amazement the dye from the socks was actually like a faint pink marker when rubbed on my bedroom wall vigorously.  So, I lay there and listened to my record player and rubbed the wall dreamily turning it from bright white to “catholic-school-knee-sock” pink.  It was amazing.  My parent’s disagreed.

So, in answer to your question, I never started loving color, shape, making art, doodling, making a mess, or, yes, painting.  It was always there, just wishing and hoping to become a real-life job someday. 

In summary, thank you for supporting Art by Megan.  It’s my little dream come true. 

Sign up for my newsletter here, if you want access to more fun stuff! 

A year in review...2017 in NYC

We just recently celebrated our 2-year-anniversary as New Yorkers and I can't fathom how time has passed so quickly but also feel kind of like we have lived here forever.  Our kid officially sounds like a total Brooklyn kid and says the following phrases with confidence, "I'm wahhhhlking here", "Whattyatalkkkinngbout", "Get online (instead of in-line)", "Ma, I'm taking out the Gaahhhhhbage", among other hilarious Brooklyn phrases.  Also, we have a serious laugh developing here.  Just trust me that it's a tiny bit like Fran Drescher on "The Nanny".  

a little subway notebook / sketchbook entry by @artbyipa 

a little subway notebook / sketchbook entry by @artbyipa 

A 2017 interview with my favorite little lady (LL):

(Read last year's interview here.) 

Me: What's your favorite thing about NYC?
LL: The playgrounds, the food, and the museums.  

Me: Where's your favorite place in NYC?
LL: "Gino's (Pizzeria in Bay Ridge)."

Me: What's better, Brooklyn or Manhattan?
LL: "Manhattan because there are lots of parks there.  Brooklyn because there's stores nearby."

Me: What's the best food in NYC?
LL: "The pizza."

Me: What's the coolest part of riding the train?
LL: "That man who plays music on his guitar or any instrument" 

Me: Do you miss Maryland?
LL: "Kind of."

Me: Where should we go next in NYC?
LL: "To all of the parks and the playgrounds and some new museums" 

Me: What's the best part of living here?
LL: "That we can scoot around and can ride bicycles instead of driving in the car. New York City has lots of good museums and lots of questions to answer."

Me: Do you remember the day we moved here?
LL: "Yes. Hard.  We didn't find any of our plates or silverware or forks or anything!"

Me: Who are your best friends in NYC?
LL: "June, Amina, Lukas, Jude, Teddy, Nicholas, Violin Nicholas, Miss Sotiria, Ivo, Nessa, Louise, Vesper, Alessia, Eli, Esteban, Cody, and Adam."

Me: Do you like New York?
LL: "Yes!"

A list of things that will never, ever get old about NYC: 

  • When the nice Mariachi guys come on the train and serenade us on our ride home.  
  • Ordering any cuisine or wine online and having a nice guy on a bicycle bring it to you like a genie.
  • Hearing 25 different languages at the park and wondering what everyone's unique story is. 
  • Being asked if I speak English.  Do I look like I am from somewhere else?  I am still confused. 
  • The food: OMG. 
  • Coffee Shops: The hidden, secret good ones. 
  • Family adventures all over the city: Picking a spot on the map (or subway map) and just going! 
  • Central Park & Prospect Park.  Every single time we walk through them, we find something new and awesome to explore. 
  • Christmas in NYC.
  • Springtime in NYC.
  • ok, fine, I am completely in love and there's literally no day I hate in NYC.  Except the days where the snow has melted just enough to create ENORMOUS puddles of slush.  Those days are gross.  Oh and the days where we catch mice in the mousetraps and I have to call neighbors and ask them to come rescue me like Rapunzel in her tower. But otherwise, yea, it's amazing here! 

But the biggest lesson learned in 2017 is as long as we are all together, anywhere feels like home!

photo by Chi-Chi Agbim of Two Twenty 

photo by Chi-Chi Agbim of Two Twenty 

Home is wherever I’m with you.
— Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes