behind the scenes

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! 

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!  

Studio_ArtbyMegan

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.  

Signature

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

Coastal