Studio Series, Part 2: 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