FAQs for Artist, Meghan Nathanson
Q: Have you always been and considered yourself an artist?
A: As a child, like all children, I had an inclination to create art and even won a blue ribbon at a state fair for a painting I created of a surfer. In adolescence, I came upon some heavy, drawing manuals that belonged to my father along with some of his intricate drawings of cityscapes. He was a naval officer and airline pilot by trade but was always a very capable draftsman. I got it in my head that one must be able to draw well to be considered an artist. I spent time working with these books and my father tried to help me, but I became overwhelmed and somewhere inside of myself decided I was incapable of drawing and therefore not an artist.
Just after college, I moved to New York City. An artist friend—a real artist in my mind—gave me a chartreuse, oil pastel and I began playing around with it on a drawing pad. I was almost immediately connected with the love of color that had always lived in me. Previously this had manifested through a passion for interesting patterns in clothing and in the way I viewed the world through a colorful lens.
Quickly, in a course of exploration, I immersed myself into the world of painting spending endless hours in my West Village apartment creating mostly abstract, impressionistic paintings. They were all very colorful!
Eventually I found my way to the Art Students League in New York City where I began to study figure drawing and first experienced myself as capable in the realm of drawing. I also took courses in painting at The New School. I had the pleasure of joining various arts communities around the city and sharing my work in festivals and shows in DUMBO, SOHO and the East Village.
Q: Did someone teach you the process you work with currently or is this something you developed yourself?
A: When my husband and I took a leap of faith and moved from New York City to Coastal Maine, we chose a home that had a finished attic that I envisioned would become my art studio. At the same time, we were starting a family. I was pregnant with my first child and soon after would have a second child. The studio quickly became a storage area for my many colorful paintings and my art was put on-hold for several years. When my younger son turned three, I saw a posting for a gallery looking for work celebrating the human form. With a sudden burst of inspiration, I felt compelled to create something, however, it had become too hard—too messy—to work with paint around little children. I knew that if I was going to make a submission, it would need to be in a different medium.
In the meantime, I had been collecting beautiful wall-calendars that I had used to schedule my days for many years. I had actually been saving them for my children and placed them in their "art closet," hoping they would be inspired to use them in some creative way. Since they hadn't, I decided to create something with them myself. This is when I began to develop my process. One of the four pieces that I created for submission to the show was chosen and actually hung in the gallery window for the exhibition as the first work of art to greet patrons.
Q: What is your process?
A: The process I currently work with has been an evolution that has taken time to develop with much trial and error. I work primarily with repurposed papers, specifically wall calendars, that people send to me from all over the country.
My tools are very simple: tracing paper, drawing pencil, carefully torn pieces of re-purposed paper and polymer medium (i.e. glue).
I begin with a concept and create a drawing on the tracing paper and then fill in the drawing with the torn papers in a painterly fashion, massaging them with the polymer medium (sometimes using a brush, sometimes my fingers). I rarely use the actual imagery from the calendars, but instead create a paper palette with the colors and patterns I find within in much the way a painter might create a palette with paint.
Once the collage-painting has fully dried, I cut out the completed image. Sometimes it feels as if the images can stand (or hang) alone, other times I will paint a canvas backdrop and apply the image to the canvas.
Q: How do you choose subjects to work with?
A: My work is driven largely from my inner world. As I go about my life I am (almost) always checking in with this place inside of me that I view as connected to a universal flow, a guidance system that we all have access to and simultaneously connects to each other.
My work is a reflection of this part of myself as well as an invitation for those who view my work to drop more fully into this realm within their own interior.
The subjects I am drawn to involve the process through which we as humans might set ourselves free. The paradox is that in individual freedom, we have a greater opportunity to show up for each other and for our planet, more fully.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as an artist?
A: I truly find great joy in my work. When I am creating, I experience peace and clarity like no other time in my life. My greatest challenge is remembering balance and ensuring that I am taking good care of my body as I work—not overtaxing myself or forgetting to eat.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
A: Yes! Trust and believe in yourself. We are all artists and have a message to share whether it is through the way we live or the things we create. There is no wrong way to make art and the greatest works are driven from a place of lining up with our own inner resources which so often line up with the places in which we are all connected. Also, work hard and hone your craft, whatever it might be. Don't be afraid to learn from others. No matter where we are upon the path, we are all learning. Finally, share what you know and be willing to take others along on the ride with you. Ultimately, we are all in this together.