Summer Inspiration: Mood Boards + Pinterest

The number one question that I receive from people who look at my work is “how do you find inspiration?”. So, I thought I would break it down a bit for you today and show you a behind-the-scenes on how I think of color combos for my paintings.

Art by Megan X Pinterest

I often pin ideas in the form of photographs and textures on my Pinterest. These boards (and here and here) are really inspiring my summer palette. I am loving the colors and textures of travel photography, bright green and blue oceans (obviously!) and layers of light and darkness. Layers of all types really influence my work, hence my obsessions with old places full of peeling paint, sandy beaches and rocks with many beautiful variations in color and texture.

To help schedule my Pinterest account, I use Tailwind, which is an awesome planning app for visual content. If you are interested in trying it out, here’s a link for you to receive $30 off!

Another fun way to source inspiration for me is to create a mood board on Canva. Sometimes pairing like colors in unique textures helps me to brainstorm new ideas. It’s a fun way to explore texture, hue and color in a visual way.

Indigo and Blue mood board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

Indigo and Blue mood board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

Mood board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

Mood board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

Teal and Turquoise Mood Board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

Teal and Turquoise Mood Board by Megan Elizabeth on Canva

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: Art + a playlist

There is a bit of mystery behind the schedules and lifestyles of artists because they are traditionally and historically (or maybe just stereotypically) such private // secluded people.  But, I don't follow the rules or fit the mold, so I will be sharing some "behind-the-scenes" stories in the next couple of weeks with you guys to give a little glimpse into the life of Megan Elizabeth!  


On the days I work in my studio, one of the most important parts of being productive for me is forming a little routine.  For me, it's sort of a ritual that gets me thinking and prepared to make a painting.  I light my favorite vanilla candle (it has to be vanilla!), turn on my Spotify playlist and take some deep breaths before I make a giant mess and go crazy.  My husband often describes the process as a dance, because I move so quickly and work almost frantically to beat the paint before it dries.  


Since I paint in acrylic, the drying time is really fast (minutes, if placed in a thin layer), so it helps me to stay focused on the work and paint my little heart out.  

Enjoy the Art by Megan playlist and stay tuned for more updates on the life of an artist!  Feel free to follow along on instagram @artbymegan and on Snapchat : artbymegan1.  

New work: "Coastal" 30x40, listed in my shop




The softer side of "ms. P"...

20120904-184629.jpg I reminded my students of the quote above today and they seemed to enjoy it so I decided to share it with you. There is such truth in these words.

Related side-note: Also, how funny are teenagers? Just in general, they are ridiculously awesome and equally ridiculous. Today a kid said to me in class, "you've got a baby...are you old enough for a baby?" (note: the art of the backhanded compliment is alive and well in our youth.) Thanks guys. But then, seconds later I heard a girl mutter to a friend, "I like her better now."

Was it the baby that won her over? Perhaps. Most likely. Maybe me just acknowledging being a human? Probably not. One may never know. Ah, the mystery of adolescence. Each year I take two steps closer to figuring it out and three steps back. :)

Back-to-school, baby!

Family Necklace...

Reason #450 that I would love to live in NYC...Moomah! From their site:  "Moomah is a cafe and art space that at first glance appears to be a creative paradise for children, but upon further investigation reveals itself to be an adult’s sanctuary."

If you ask me, it just sounds like a little Urban Paradise.

They have project ideas for younger kids and I LOVE THIS!

Visit Moomah

Frida Fashion...

Who isn't totally intrigued by Frida Kahlo?  She was such a rebel in her day - a pants wearing, modern, unibrow sporting, mexican woman who didn't cook for her husband and instead traveled to NYC to show her art, which, for the record, she didn't want to become famous.  I am also a little more obsessed than usual because of the book "The Lacuna". On Polyvore I found this great, Frida-esque inspired pin:

Etsy - Love this painting!

On Etsy the other day, I fell in love with this painting and contacted the artist to learn more about her.  I love the childhood nostalgia and memories associated with her pieces.

Details: Printed on canvas using archival pigment inks, this print looks amazingly like the original painting. It is printed on cotton canvas and is stretched over 3/4" pine stretcher bars. It measures 6"x6", is signed on the back and ready to hang.

Check out more of her work online at, which focus' on her portrait work.  She is also getting ready to lauch a new series of work here, More about the artist:  My art is an extension of my life and as that has grown to include children so has my art. Since my childhood I dreamed of being an artist. I initially studied photography, the influence of which can be seen in my paintings. Much of my work explores the memory of childhood and how watching my own children influence the snapshots of these memories. The name, in fact, is inspired by my daughter’s love of a bird she named Kiki, and for her imaginary friend Polly. Polly no longer visits our house as she once did, but I try to keep the spirit of childhood, wonder and imagination with me in my Portland, Oregon studio.

Fun times on Pinterest - Quotes

It's official, I'm addicted to Pinterest - it's just so darn fun to browse while holding a sleeping baby :) I have found some great wall art / quotes that deserve mentioning.  Enjoy!

Siiso Art on Etsy

New artist inspiration for a sunny Thursday  - Siiso on Esty. Check out these bright but tasteful paintings - abstract and easy to enjoy!

A little bit about the artist:

"I am an artist currently residing in Toronto and working in a variety of mediums. I graduated from Sichuan Fine Art Institute in China with a BFA in Painting in 1998 and MFA in Design in 2002. I was working as an art teacher in this Fine art school before my husband and I moved to Toronto. My work has been shown in various art spaces. I start sell my art through Etsy since 2008.

Painting for me is a process of discovery. My works inspired by plants, textures and the natural world combines exuberant color. I work mostly with a palette knife giving much texture to the finished product. I created mixed-media abstract paintings in which I explore my interest in the wonder and the curiosity I feel about the world I live in. My fascination with old crumbling buildings and walls also inspires much of my work.

I like to explore all..."

The Memory Project...

At my school, we do what is called "The Memory Project" each year.  Art students are assigned a photograph of a child orphan to create a unique and original artwork.  Students have drawn portraits, a gift that the orphans truly enjoy, for children of all ages from El Salvador, Burma and Indonesia for the past three years. The project was created by one generous man in Wisconsin named Ben Schumaker.  Each year Ben takes hundreds of pieces of art to children who live in orphanages around the world to present them with an original piece of artwork that they can call their own.  And students in DC love to create the art as well!  What a beautiful arrangement!

The favorite part of the project for my students is that sometimes they get a letter or a picture of "their orphan" holding the portrait that they created several months after the portraits were submitted for the school's deadline.  The students at my school love seeing the child's face smiling and holding their new portrait.

Take a look at this great website and video to learn a little more about the Memory Project.

Also, if you are an art teacher or know someone who is, please recommend to them that they take part in this amazing experience for their students.


New online Magazines...

I am inspired and loving to read (during my free periods, of course, and not while teaching) three new great design, art, and lifestyle Magazines online.

Check out:

Rue at

High Gloss at

Matchbook at

Nothing beats my Bon Apetit and Real Simple subscriptions (Thanks Mom and Dad!), but these online magazines are full of great ideas, inspiration and fun facts.

Happy reading day,


How to be creative everyday...

As an art teacher and over all craft-project-obsessed person, I often imagine what would happen if I dedicated just a little time each day to a project just as I used to do as a kid to my coloring books and paper cutting projects. I found this great blog where the author does just this - dedicates 365 days a year to being creative!  I love it!

The author of the blog has also authored a book where he gives inspiration for creating something 365 days a year.  Oh Amazon, I cannot stay away!

Find it here on Amazon -

Many other artists have become inspired and are staring their own 365 day projects!

Check out a couple that I liked at:

A few fave blogs to check out...

Somedays there is nothing better than a little web surfing to find cute ideas for crafts, fashion, cooking, and life.  So I turn to the ever trusty blog world to get a good idea now and then.

Today, I would like to share some of my favorites with you:

Dinner A Love Story - (cooking, family and life)

Cup of Jo - (life, travels, art, crafts, and family)

Cosmo Cookie - (baking, art, amazing cake decorations)

Young House Love - (home design, babies, renovations)

Travels with Clara - (travels and great photos)

Oh dee Doh (Apartment Therapy) - (babies, home design)

Nutrishes Dishes - (my friend from college's new cooking blog)

Genines Art Blog - (a fun craft, art blog)

Design Sponge - (all things design, NYC, good travel guides)