Brushing off the Dust

May 28, 2016

Last week I finished a full size painting- something I have not accomplished in over two years. I have started paintings. I have been working tirelessly in sketchbooks. I have been reading about art. I have been viewing art. But this is the first thing I sat down and finished. It is intended to be 1 of 4 paintings in a series of Night Paintings.

night painting 1

Untitled (Night Painting #1), Megan Call

 

Art fuels me, but for some time I had lost sight of what my passion is. I recently visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it put the kindling on the fire. I then did an art night with a friend where we both worked on pieces, and it was inspiring.

egon_schiele_danae

Danae, Egon Schiele

But what does an artist do when there is no inspiration? Chuck Close is one of the many artists who has commented on inspiration, “Inspiration is highly overrated. If you sit around and wait for the clouds to part, it’s not liable to ever happen. More often than not, work is salvation”. I had professors in college who told me 85% of life is showing up. That has been what I have been challenging myself to- showing up, even if I don’t feel like doing it. I have been finding a rhythm to suppress that spoiled child who says, “But I don’t want to!” I have found peace in doing the work, even when it is ugly, even if it feels unfinished.

Self_Portrait1967-1968_Chuck_Close

Self Portrait, Chuck Close

It is the doing that makes us artists. It isn’t about the finished or completed or show worthy pieces. It is about the work we do behind the scenes. The tears and sweat and splashing of paint and water are the things that make the difference- it is in the showing up. It is the act of getting the palette out, picking the colors and sloshing them around, even to make something you end up hating. That is where the ideas are found. That is where all the masterpieces began- mixing the wrong color, having the wrong proportion, tearing up the work and doing it all again the next day.

I am thankful for all the artists that showed up and continue to show up. After all, this world would be quite dim without art.

-Look. Listen. Respond.

Megan

Spring Flowers Bring

April 3, 2016

Well, it’s the time of year when I get this thing rolling again. Only this year I am finally going to start including some of my own work and its progression. In the past I have avoided doing this for various reasons, but now I not only need motivation for writing but also for creating finished pieces.

Frida-Kahlo-painting-in-bed

Frida Kahlo

Lately I have been delving into reading about some of my favorite female artists- Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, and Paula Rego. I have been reflecting on the path I want my own work to take. These women let their work consume them. It was not just something they did, it was a lifestyle. I am working on making my art a lifestyle again.

louise_bourgeois-1990

Louise Bourgeois

 

Paula-Rego-001

Paula Rego

I have been traveling a lot over the past year and half, so the number of larger pieces I have been able to complete has suffered. Mostly I have been working in sketchbooks, using watercolors and colored pencils. Now it is time to take all the experiences and experiments and turn them into something beautiful (or at least completed).

Today has been a big preparation day- putting a base coat of paint down on canvases and paper, selecting images and drawings to combine with memory, and avoiding distractions.

canvas prep

My goals for this year are to implement more collage and mixed media work into my process and to rely more on my inner voice and intuition (as opposed to just relying on the education I’ve had).

I would love to hear about your favorite mixed media artists and about your personal process. I can’t wait to share more of my work and love of art.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Frida

March 1, 2015

I’ve been drafting this post since last year because I’ve had trouble finding the right words to say. Frida Kahlo is a painter who is very dear to my heart. With the end of winter in sight and the hope of spring, my heart needs some comfort to get through the last bit of this cold.

I know Frida is talked about often. She is one of the few female artists you actually learn about in art history. Her work inspires me because it makes you feel something. She painted to tell stories. She painted to illustrate human experiences- pain, lust, loss, love, beauty.

Her work has been an inspiration to me for over ten years. As artists most of us can only hope to create pieces that make people feel something the way her work does, to make them see the way she did, and to simply produce this amount of work in a lifetime. Because many her paintings are so well known, I have selected a small number of Frida images that I respond to.

My Dress Hangs There, Frida Kahlo

My Dress Hangs There, Frida Kahlo

Frida painting her cast

Frida painting her cast

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

Frida with The Two Fridas

Frida with The Two Fridas

What the Water Gave Me, Frida Kahlo

What the Water Gave Me, Frida Kahlo

Moses, Frida Kahlo

Moses, Frida Kahlo

Frida painting a portrait of her father

Frida painting a portrait of her father

I have talked to plenty of people who do not care for or understand the works of Frida. I don’t believe her paintings are meant to be understood simply by use of the viewers eye. Her paintings are meant to be felt. They are dreamscapes, a glimpse into something beyond the physical world. She spent much of her life in physical pain, so it makes sense that she would portray a different kind of world in her paintings. She put on canvas a rawness that has the ability to comfort, to shock, and to raise awareness of the human existence.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

The Nude, Part One

February 16, 2015

Recently I was discussing with another artist the sheer pleasure of painting a nude. We had only known each other several minutes and began talking about painting. “Any time I can paint someone naked, I get very excited,” she said to me. I feel the same, but it can be difficult to find a nude model outside of a formal (classroom/educational) setting. The nude is a classical concept as far as painting goes- for a very long time there has been a great interest in drawing or painting or photographing the human figure. Artists are enamored with the softness, the vulnerability of human flesh. Even artists who are known for their non-traditional work drew inspiration from the nude.

For this compilation I worked hard to find as many male nudes as I could. I once had a professor that stated, “The world needs more male nudes.” And I would have to agree with him. I also tried to branch out and find a more contemporary approach to the nude, a nude that people now can understand.

Angela Cunningham, Blue Satin

Angela Cunningham, Blue Satin

Slyvia Sleigh, Paul Rosano in Jacobson Chair

Slyvia Sleigh, Paul Rosano in Jacobson Chair

Elke Krystofek, Woman of Colour

Elke Krystofek, Woman of Colour

Marlene Dumas, Nuclear Family

Marlene Dumas, Nuclear Family

Lucian Freud, And the Bridegroom

Lucian Freud, And the Bridegroom

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Nudes Standing by Stove

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Nudes Standing by Stove

Georgia O'Keefe, Nude Series VIII

Georgia O’Keefe, Nude Series VIII

Koloman Moser, Frühling

Koloman Moser, Frühling

Steven Assael, Julie with Stocking

Steven Assael, Julie with Stocking

Sigmund Abeles, Untitled- Urban Nightmares

Sigmund Abeles, Untitled- Urban Nightmares

Koloman Moser, The Wayfarer

Koloman Moser, The Wayfarer

Lucien Freud, David & Eli

Lucien Freud, David & Eli

Most of us have a desire deep down (or maybe not so deep down) to be nude and to view others in their nakedness. As I have discussed in previous posts, people are fascinating to us because we are them! Personally, I find the nude to be an inspiration. It is our stripped down selves. It does not hide behind flashy garments. A lack of clothing brings the human form to its simplicity, which is actually very complex.

Look. Listen. Respond.
– Megan

Sometimes you forget just how much you love a painting. After looking at so many, those that are most beautiful can easily slip from your mind. The other day I was wandering the MFA in Boston with a friend, when this gorgeous woman appeared in my vision.

A Capriote, John Singer Sargent

A Capriote, John Singer Sargent

 

I have seen this painting many times and make a point to visit her when I am in Boston, but my mind’s eye had forgotten her. I love the way she is draped across the branch, as if she were a dress hung while the woman was taking a dip in the river. She becomes part of the landscape; she appears to be a part of the tree with the stump becoming a limb to her.

The palate and painterly application create this dreamscape. The lack of saturation in the palate creates a hazy space, a dreamy space. The expression on the young woman’s face is that of a day dreamer. Because she is at a distance from us, she eludes us. She is out of reach. Does she see us? Is she smirking at us or at a thought of her own? Is she even real? She is the gatekeeper of the dreamworld. The flowers in the foreground are the doorway. Will you enter?

To zoom in on this image visit her on Google Art Project.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

 

Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

I stumbled upon an image of this beautiful sculpture on Google’s Art Project and fell in love with her. I wish I was in Paris, so I could see her up close for more fine details. Her body language is what pulled me in. She does not come across as mournful due to the knowledge of good and evil. She seems pensive, but there is also something light about her expression. In many paintings of Adam and Eve after “The Fall”, they are sobbing and embarrassed of their bodies; they cover and hide themselves from the viewer.

If she were horizontal, her body would appear to be in a fetal position- seeking comfort of some kind. The parts she hides from us our her nether regions and her lips, but it doesn’t seem to be out of shame. She seems to be soaking in the memory of her actions. Maybe it gave some pleasure to fall from grace. The way her body curves is almost mimicking the shape of the snake beside her; she is curling into herself for comfort. Maybe she is thinking about what she has done. She reminds me of child who has been caught doing something she shouldn’t have but doesn’t quite feel bad about it. Maybe she is even hopeful for the new possibilities added to her life.

In these images is it difficult to see her true expression. I recommend visiting the professional photo here. She appears as though she is thinking, “How do I get myself out of this mess?” or maybe “What am I do to with this knowledge I now have?” As an observer with “insider information” and life experiences, one brings that to the artwork one views. How does she appear to you?

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Seductive Selfie

February 27, 2014

With the rise of social media the “selfie” is an ever popular way to show yourself to the world. Cameras on our phones make it possible to share images of ourselves at any moment, in the light that we choose or simply have available, naked or clothed, with an option of camera style. The opportunity for selfies is endless. Self portraits are fascinating to me because we decide how we want the world to see us. We are saying, “Here, this is what I really look like”. Even with all the available technology, people are still painting or sculpting portraits of themselves. They are still using film or wet plate processes with the help of timers or remote shutter releases to capture an image of themselves. Are we all narcissists because we love to share our faces with the world? Maybe we are simply trying to preserve something of ourselves or find a way to let it go.

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Some artists are almost solely known because of the numerous self portraits they produced. What if Frida Kahlo had a smart phone? How many more images of her would exist? Would Rembrandt’s eyes appear as glassy as the sea? Would Matisse use Instagram to make everything the color it should be?

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait 1922

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1922

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Degas, Self Portrait

Degas, Self Portrait

Maybe we think we are making ourselves everlasting by leaving images of ourselves behind. Maybe we are being bold by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We are happy to say, “This is me”. We use self portraits to show the world how we want to be seen in that moment. Whether it is vanity, sheer pleasure, or simply impulse that drives the creation of the “self image”, they are an enjoyable part of history.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

With Valentine’s Day approaching once again, I began sifting through numerous passionate nudes. For some, several of these images may be straddling the line of pornographic vs. erotic. These images are meant to show the aroused side of the subjects they depict. They show the visceral side of our humanity, the sensuality that fills us.

As humans, we are made up of all sorts of emotions, desires and passions; the lust or love for another is one of those. These are portraits of human desire. Maybe some repel us, while others spark a flame in our belly that we will never be rid of.

May the softness of the flesh shown remind you of beauty and passion as we approach the Day of Love. May these images be a reminder of how desirable your lover is. May they remind you how beautiful you can be alone. May art always be a reminder of how wonderful it is to be human.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Some links worth checking out:

Rebecca Guay, Francesco Tortorella, Zak Smith

With the cold weather setting in, I’m finding it important to focus on the (few) sunny days that we are given and focus on filling the house with fresh flowers. This collection of images contrasts the last set. It draws us inside; it reminds us of spring.

Some of these paintings are bold and full of color. They speak about the bright fulfilling patterns that flowers can bestow on us. Others are softer, reminding us of how precious life can be. They display the cycle of life from bud to full bloom, a display of how quickly time passes. The rest are the in-between- the pauses we take, the things we let go, our storms, our peace.

Because flowers are innately beautiful, it can be difficult to collect or create images of them. They hold such power; they can mean so much in a painting. We display flowers at weddings and funerals; we give and receive them as anniversary or get well gifts. They fill in the blanks for apologies or displays of affection.

Do you ever stop and look at them? Do you consider their power and meaning? The next time you’re at a museum and see a painting of flowers or you’re passing by the wild flowers that grow by fences, I hope you take the opportunity to consider them, to appreciate them for all they can add to your life. Until then, I hope this small collection has added to your life.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Whitewash

January 7, 2014

Happy 2014! My goal for this year is to grace the web with 2 posts a month, so I hope you all are ready!

Looking out the window at the snow reminds me winter in New England can be tough. The days are cold, the sun hides often, and the snow is (normally) plentiful. Despite how dreary it may seem, the winter is beautiful. I have collected some comforting images of the snow, so I hope you are snuggled up under a blanket with some hot cocoa for viewing…

Just like art, snow is a powerful force. Snow can trap us. It can blind us. But when we view it at a perfectly still moment, its beauty unfolds for us. The silence that it brings envelops us with peace. May this winter be full of beauty and peace.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan