Obsessed with light and shadow, artist Megan Elizabeth fully gives herself up to nature, to growth, and to continuously becoming who she truly is: an artist. Join me in conversation as Megan tells me about her brand new solo exhibition Water, opening at Gallery B on November 11, which features her most personal paintings to date!
As a female painter, I capture the power of nature and its' fleeting moments. I focus on the effects of dappled light, contrasting shadows, and overlapping textures. Reflections of light on water, shadows created by trees, and fallen leaves, as well as petals on contrasting surfaces inform my subject matter. I paint these fleeting moments, so they are noticed.
In my seascapes and petal series, I use many layers of colorful paint and unique textures to capture my awe of nature. My creative process is fluid and organic, much like the content I explore. I work on multiple paintings simultaneously and articulate nature through loose, expressive brush strokes. The acrylic paint is applied directly to the canvas, without any underpainting or sketch below, and blended into many layers by adding white to create tonal variations of color. These layers create the effect of movement, light, and texture. Like the sounds of nature, the stroke of the brush on the canvas is soothing to me.
To keep my art practice balanced, I alternate between canvas and paper. Most of my art on paper are studies for the larger works on canvas. My paintings on paper are composed of watered down acrylics to capture the desired image, and then oil pastels and pencils create depth.
As a woman and an artist, I appreciate and recognize the power of nature. I have the opportunity to follow a creative path and, in doing so, honor the women in art history who laid the foundation for female artists. After all, my work explores the dichotomy within the feminine world.
When compelled you to become an artist? Was there a specific moment in your life when you knew that was what you wanted to be?
I just read a quote today that says, “People don’t become artists. In time, artists become themselves.” I really relate to this quote because as I become more and more confident, as time passes and as I give myself more time to explore myself and my creative mind, I feel that I have grown into myself as an artist.
Your paintings feel light and fleeting, connected to the ethereal. Can you talk about this element of your work?
I have always tried to notice things that are fleeting and document them in my work. I have an obsession with light, shadow, and overlapping of textures that I find to be tiny details that others seem to miss. My work seeks to capture the little things that we take for granted or fail to notice in life.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Nature, travels, and light are my biggest sources of inspiration. We spent some time overseas this summer in Madrid and also in Portugal and my mind was literally FULL of ideas when we returned. I have been painting non-stop since early September and it feels so good!
What is your personal connection to nature and how does it affect your art practice?
I have always been someone who needs to be outdoors. As a child, I loved exploring nature, throwing pebbles into a creek near my home, riding my bike, and generally loved being outside. As an adult, I need time alone in nature to think through my ideas. Even just taking a walk on a beautiful day can fuel me with weeks worth of creativity for paintings! I am constantly taking in the colors, textures, and natural elements around me and combining those memories to make my paintings.
Tell us about a time in your art career that you would consider a turning point for you.
A turning point for me was deciding to become an artist full-time about six years ago. But, I work HARD. I feel like people want to see an overnight success and I am proud to admit that I am the opposite. I work hard to naturally, slowly, and organically build a creative practice that works for me. I network slowly and naturally and have found some absolutely amazing people out there because of it. I think that I have a tendency towards wanting immediate satisfaction like many people, but being an artist has taught me to slow down and savor the process.
Congratulations on your upcoming solo show at Gallery B in Bethesda, MD! Can you tell me a little bit about the show and the body of work that’ll be on view?
Thank you! I am so excited to share my latest work. The work will be on view from 11/11-12/5 at Gallery B in Bethesda, Maryland with an opening party on 11/11 and an artist talk on 11/12…plus other fun events throughout my time at the gallery space. The work that I am sharing is my most personal work yet. During the pandemic, I worked on a new series entitled “Underwater,” in which I explored the feelings and emotions of being a mother with young children, constantly problem solving in an unpredictable, stressful time.
Alongside these deeply personal paintings are my “Petal Series” fall foliage abstracts, which seek to capture the fleeting moments of late summer and early fall, a time that I find is full of self-reflection, renewal, and re-energizing for me.
The work is deeply personal, and I am so excited to share it in the city that I grew up in. I hope to see some familiar faces at the show and also am so excited to share the work online with the amazing community that follows along @artbymegan.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I never know how to answer this question! I guess I would tell myself that I will figure it all out eventually, but that seems so cliche. I would remind myself that it’s ok to feel lost, to feel a lot, to make mistakes. and to want a path that looks different from others. I also would tell younger me to get ready for a wild ride of a life!