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

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

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Bridgewater College’s Senior Art Exhibition (Bridgewater, VA). I am always excited to see work that is done by other art lovers. Enjoying art is not just about going to museums and seeing the history of art. It is about going and seeing what is contemporary, what exists in our time, what we are going to leave behind. There were several exhibits that really caught my eye; they displayed not only a passion for the work, but a real talent for taking a concept and making it alive in a body of work. As always, the artwork speaks for itself.

This first piece is a collaboration between Victoria Call (http://www.behance.net/victoriacall) and Olivia Stone (http://www.oliviastonephotography.com/) titled Torn Apart. As if a collaborative piece was not challenge enough, they combined several mediums that are difficult on their own-  photography, graphite drawings, cloth, and text. Their message is one of redemption and faith, which you felt when you entered the space.

Next, is the photographer Amy Robb (http://www.arobbphotography.com/), who also tackled an installation piece titled Abandoned. Upon Entering Amy’s space, you feel the sense of solitude and pain that she has captured by combining portraits of unloved rooms and damaged ceramic pieces.

Miriam Beckwith is also an abandoned house lurker, creating beautiful mixed media pieces using window panes.

Kyle Banks is a painter and mixed media artist, who definitely had his own groove the day of the show.

Erin Fillers (https://www.facebook.com/erinfillers.blankcanvas?ref=hl) is a lover and painter of animals.

I hope you enjoy these artworks as much as I do!

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

The Beautiful Belly

February 4, 2013

(This is my belated New Year post.) When a new year begins, it seems that people are pushed into a “reshaping” and “new beginning” gear. We make resolutions to be a better person. We pledge to blog more consistently, or we sign up for the gym or promise ourselves we will use our membership. Not that toned arms and a flat belly are bad things, but I refuse to believe that super skinny is the only way to be beautiful. I’ve collected some images of beautiful bellies, contemporary and classic.

The inspiration for the grouping was Rembrandt’s Bathsheba. The first time I saw this image in a magazine, I became lost in Bathsheba’s soft, sumptuous stomach. Rembrandt’s painting made me long for more paintings of woman with full bodies.

While the slender body is a coveted thing in our society, these paintings are an example of how something classified as less than perfect can be a source of great beauty. This year I hope to find beauty in other hidden places.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

To Polish or Not to Polish

November 10, 2012

Looking back at old sketchbooks and quick studies, I find myself falling in love with the smaller quick works I have done. In my last couple semesters of art school, I definitely struggled with the concept of what a completed work was and how much “finish” it needed to have. This question is not unique to me; throughout art history you can see artists pushing the boundary of what was considered a wall-worthy piece.

Of course the first piece that comes to mind is Manet’s scandalous Luncheon on the Grass:

Manet, Luncheon on the Grass

This image is now an important part of art history. It draws my attention, not because of the nude woman with the clothed men or because they are in modern dress, but it grabs me because Manet has played with the proportions, the space. The woman in the “back” of the scene is too large according the space Manet appears to be setting up. Despite how refined this piece seems to be, to me it represents Manet rebelling against the conventions of his time, against the polish.

As I began taking an inventory of other “rebellious” pieces of work I could recall, I thought of both favored and hated pieces.

Munch, The Village Street 1906

Alice Neel, Pregnant Woman 1971

Julian Schnabel, St. Francis in Ecstasy 1980

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Skull) 1984

R.B. Kitaj, The Autumn of Central Paris 1972-73

Egon Schiele, Girl with Purple Stockings 1913

Jenny Saville, Time

Then, there are the beautiful pieces that we don’t even know if the artists themselves considered finished pieces, but we put them in museums or on pinterest anyways.

Degas, Nude Woman Drying Herself 1880

Rembrandt, Self-portrait with Open Mouth

Kirchner, Ruhendes Paar

Picasso, Portrait of Fernande Olivier

A completed piece of work cannot be labeled under the narrow characteristics of quality materials, a polished look or value according to a gallery owner. Fun, quick, or un-polished pieces continue to exist because the artists allow/allowed them to. While beautifully rendered works strike me with awe, these strange or misfit pieces speak to something more human in me, just like my own sketches. I am glad that both types are able to exist in this world.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Matisse’s Carmelina

October 1, 2012

There are some paintings that stick with you. You can look at many paintings and feel some attachment to them, but they can be easily replaced with another current favorite. Discovering new work (or old work you’ve never seen) is always exciting, but there are a few paintings that will never be replaced. There are paintings that will grab hold of something inside you every time you see them. You will never stop looking at them because they always have more to say, always leave you in awe.

The first painting that I have encountered that could never be replaced as a favorite is Carmelina by Matisse:

Carmelina, Matisse

As usual, the digital copy does not do this piece justice. I am lucky to have seen this piece in person many times. (Its home is the MFA in Boston.) Even in print copies, you can see the full color scale– the gray blues, greens, and bright reds in her flesh. No brush stroke is wasted in this piece. I often wonder if Matisse considered this painting finished, or if it was just a quick study. Maybe something happened with the model, making it impossible to finish?

The first time I saw this painting, she struck me as so beautiful. When I did an analysis of the painting through a master copy, I realized her face is bold in comparison to her soft body. She looks as though she has just settled into the pose or may jump up at any moment. The unresolved hands and feet seem to speak of the recent or coming movement. Even the quick stroke of the cloth draped over her holds a memory of movement. Where is she going? Where did she come from?

After the spell of the nude figure has lifted, you see Matisse hiding in the mirror. Is he looking at her or us? Is he looking at us through her? Once you find him, you cannot help but stare at him, that little red patch in the mirror. To me, this painting will always be a beautiful nude, but a self-portrait as well. Matisse is identifying himself as painter. This painting feeds into the idea that every work by an artist is a self-portrait. I will never stop looking at Carmelina and her beauty, but I will also never forget Matisse is there, waving his little red flag in the corner.

Look. Listen. Respond.

Megan

Virginian Watercolorist

September 2, 2010

Appliance Shop by W.A. Berkshire

This weekend I had a mini vacation in Virginia. God, is it beautiful down there! The people I stayed with were wicked nice, and the father of the household is a painter! I walked up the first flight of stairs and was greeted by a wall of paintings. They were hung in a salon installation style on the dining room wall.

The first thing that grabbed my attention about these paintings was the sense of light. Allen really gets right down to it when he works. He starts with a sketch that maps out where his lightest, darkest, and middle areas are. In my own work, I often struggle with that concept. I admire his ability to jot it down in pencil before even touching the color. It amazes me how just using light and dark he creates a sense of space and depth. When I look at his paintings all I can think is, “Wow! I want to be there.”

To see these watercolors visit W.A. Berkshire’s website.

House Under Construction I by W.A. Berkshire

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan