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

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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

Powerful Pattern

October 14, 2013

I have always been drawn to pattern. It makes the eye dance across a plain. It creates a fantasy world, especially when used with portraiture. When a “character” is surrounded by pattern, they exist in a whole different concept of space. Patterns create a different rhythm, a winding path for our eyes to follow, a beautiful rabbit hole to tunnel us deeper into an image. Enjoy!

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