Five questions to Carrie Megan

Five questions to Carrie Megan

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Born in 1958, Carrie Megan spent her childhood and young adulthood in NYC, where she began her art career as a graphic designer, interning with the iconic illustrator and designer, Milton Glaser. She currently resides in the Boston area, where over the years, her focus has shifted to the fine arts, first as a botanical artist and in the last several years, as an abstract landscape painter.Tell us your story, why did you become an artist? 

As a skill set, creating art has always been in my DNA. Calling myself an “artist” however, has been hard earned. For much of my early career, I was able to channel my creative energy into the business of graphic design. In the pre-Mac era, rendering sketches for branding and packaging and creating finely crafted prototypes satisfied my creative itch for many years. As my life shifted with marriage and the birth of my three children, I found myself with the opportunity to explore different artistic outlets. For a few years I created a line of decorative art for children’s rooms and then on a whim, I took a botanical drawing workshop, which became a decade long deep dive into the art of creating scientifically accurate watercolors and drawings and teaching those skills. Over time, I developed a desire to work larger and more expressively and what followed is the journey that I am currently on, to create work that is influenced by nature, yet allows me the freedom to work intuitively. After all of these years of exploration and building an artistic practice, I finally feel comfortable calling myself an artist.

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first? 

One thing that I have carried with me from my graphic design days, is the concept of auditing similar products on the market. Before starting a new piece, I like to look at the work of other artists. I have a great collection of art books and I have found that Instagram is a fabulous resource for looking at work. For additional inspiration, I review my own photo library. What a boon the iPhone is! Once I have some ideas about what I would like to paint, I do a number of very “noodly” thumbnail sketches to plan a direction for the composition. I prep all of my canvases with an orange ground and I finish the sides with a neutral gray. When I’ve established an idea of what my rough composition will be, I set my horizon line either low or high, to create a compositional tension in the piece and then I do a loose block in. From that point, I work in layers, moving the paint with palette knives and squeegees. I try to stay loose to allow for serendipity.What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work? 

I am fortunate to have space in my home for a studio. After all of my children left home, I converted one of their bedrooms into my studio. It has lovely southern light that streams through two windows that look out onto several oaks, maples and a magnolia; a veritable wall of green. I had recessed LEDs installed along with an exhaust fan over my palette. Along with this and my easel, I set up my Mac in a corner between the two windows and I have a large drafting table to prepare paintings for shipping. I have everything the way I want it and I can shift easily between painting and the business of art.Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you? 

I couldn’t name just one work of art. I have been influenced by so many artists in my lifetime. In my youth, I was completely enamored by Georgia O’Keefe and her painting, Music, Pink and Blue No.2 Joseph Cornells’s shadow boxes and Robert Rauschenberg’s collages sparked my interest in creating mixed media works of my own. Matisse’s Cut Outs certainly influenced my work as a graphic designer and Degas’s Dancers showed me the mastery of alternating layers of warm and cool hues, as well as creating dynamic compositions. Growing up in NYC gave me access to the museums and galleries that opened the world of art to me. Today, I have the MFA, ICA and the galleries in SOWA in Boston to feed my imagination.

Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years? 

I will be 70 years old in 5 years. My hope is that I continue to grow and evolve as an artist. My goal over time has been to move further away from representation, towards abstraction and still continue to create work that resonates with viewers in a visceral way.Portrait by Beth Shedd