Author Archives: Meghan MacMillan

About Meghan MacMillan

Artist, wife, mother, child of God.

Finding beauty

So I have depression. And I paint beautiful paintings to remind me about the beauty of life beyond that fog of depression. Unfortunately that very same fog makes it hard to get motivated to find those beautiful moments in life. Thanks to some help from my doctor, that fog is slowly clearing, and bringing back my determination to translate the beauty of life into canvas.

Now, where should I find that beauty?

No matter how I’m feeling, being out in nature never fails to help me feel better. For me, there isn’t a more powerful antidepressant than being in the midst of Creation. If God takes such good care of the flowers and trees and grass and birds, how much more does He love and care for me? The feeling of being cared for is unimaginably wonderful in the midst of the fog that tells you that you’re worthless and no one cares for you.

I love finding the Creator’s touch throughout nature. I love to slow down and let my senses guide me. The rush of water, the chirping of birds, the warm sun, or the smell of rain are all inspiring. I love to look at the small picture, finding abstract textures and patterns and glorious colours I don’t see anywhere else. How can I help but be creative when I am made in the image of the greatest Creator of all? Take a look at the work I created while on a Art & Faith retreat last summer:

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I have applied to be a part of the Canada C3 Expedition. I crave the chance to see a part of Creation I may never otherwise see. I plan on bringing a variety of mixed media supplies to capture the beauty of Creation, both visible and invisible. I hope to bring those quick sketches back to my studio and have them serve as a jumping off point for a brand new series of works on canvas. These works will incorporate the new visual language I will develop in nature with the colourful layering I currently use. I hope to use both organic and inorganic mark-making techniques in harmony, reflecting the need for us to live in harmony with our environment.

If I am not chosen to be a part of the Expedition? I have already booked the campsites I’ll need for a solo-car-camping-art-making trip around Jasper National Park later this summer.

I am determined to get into nature and create. I am excitedly for the opportunities my newfound motivation will bring me.

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Finally, some answers

“Is that all you do? Paint beautiful paintings?”

One of my professors asked me that question almost 10 years ago. It has resonated with me ever since.

I think I might finally have an answer for him.

I have struggled for years to put into words why I paint, and what inspires me. Every artist statement I’ve ever written seemed shallow, only scraping at the surface of what was really going on in my mind. I love painting. I love painting with bright colours and patterns. I love the freedom of abstract art, where people can see what they want to see within my paintings. But why?

I have also struggled for years with constant fatigue, low motivation, and little self-worth, without knowing exactly why. I’ve mostly kept these struggles to myself, believing I was making a big deal out of nothing.

I feel that both of these seemingly unrelated issues have recently been resolved. My doctor and I agree: I have Depression.

For a long time I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to get over myself, that I had nothing to be sad about. In reality I consider myself extraordinarily blessed. But there was always this niggling feeling that something was truly not right with me. There was really no denying the physiological symptoms I have been struggling with, in spite of my positive outlook and faith in Christ.

Depression lies to you. It tells you that nothing is worth caring about. It tells you that no one cares for you. It tells you that you aren’t good enough. It tells you that you’re crazy for feeling this way when there’s really nothing wrong. It’s a grey fog that muffles the small joys in life that really make life worth living. Depression isn’t about feeling sad. It’s about feeling nothing at all.

Now I know why I’m always tired. Why I sometimes don’t want to paint. Why I sink into creative lows. Why some days it’s a struggle just to get off the couch. Knowing these things will help me fight these things, with a little help from my doctor and a lot of help from my faith, my family, and my friends.

I have always been inspired by small joys in life and sharing them with others. Some days they’re easier to find than others. When I do find them, I cling to them. I never want to let them go. They become brightly coloured paintings that remind me about the good days to help me through the bad ones. I do not paint the visual beauty of the moment, but rather the emotional or spiritual beauty. I paint how I feel when I feel good to brighten up the darker days when I feel nothing.

Finding the beauty of these moments keeps me motivated to go out and find more. By finding these moments and painting the joy in them, I can share them with those who are having dark days of their own.

I paint beautiful paintings to remind myself and others of the beauty of everyday life.

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New show! “Resonance”


“Resonance” opens up in less than one week at Jake’s Gallery and framing! 

Please join me for an opening reception on October 21 from 7-9pm. 

This show will feature the works on paper that I finished on my retreat near Cochrane in June, and how those sketches fit in to the rest of my creative process. There will be new works never seen before, and older works very rarely seen before.

Hope to see you there!

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Catching Up

First, it was strep throat. In my throat to be specific. For the third time in a year.

Then, while in Jasper, my ToddlerGirl was sick enough to need antibiotics.

Then the Vomit Fairy paid a visit to our house. Piles of laundry and mass disinfection ensued.

Lately it feels like I just can’t catch up, and with more being added to my plate I don’t know if I will. Commissions, consultations, collaborations… It really is neverending in this business.

Part of me says it’s a good kind of busy. A productive busy, furthering my career and all that jazz. Another part of me doesn’t ever want to get out of bed in the morning and face the day with all its new challenges. I can’t even face my studio right now because it looks like it was also hit by the Vomit Fairy and puked up different art projects in every direction. I need some focus.

I think the Art and Faith retreat I signed up at the end of this month should do some good. I’m hoping it will allow me to slow down and regain some focus and direction. I constantly struggle to remind myself of why I am an artist. I have to remember that I create, because I am created.

Back to the drawing board, then. First up, as always, is cleaning the studio.

"What Can I Be" mixed media painting on birch by Meghan MacMillan, 3 x 18", 2016
“What Can I Be” mixed media on birch, 3 x 18″, 2016

 

Coming up:

June 23-July 5: The Works Artist Market with NOA (more info to come!)

June 24-26: Art and Faith Retreat (still room left! Sign up HERE)

July 8-10: Whyte Avenue Art Walk

Find Meghan MacMillan at the 2016 Whyte Avenue Art Walk!
My tent will be up on 83 avenue, just like last year!
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Alberta Strong

Let me say, nothing makes you realize how incredibly blessed you really are like being inundated with images and stories of people fleeing the fires in Fort McMurray. I’ve never been there myself, but both my husband and I have colleagues who have evacuated the area. My hometown of Fort Saskatchewan has really stepped up in helping.

The Edmonton arts community is also stepping up. Thanks to my friend Jay there is a #YMMHelps art auction going on now. A dozen (and growing!) artists have donated art to the auction, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Canadian Red Cross. With matching grants from the provincial and federal governments, that’s a whole lot of cash going straight to help those affected by the wildfires. 

“The Narrows” by Meghan MacMillan. 5×7″ watercolour, 2011

I have donated my watercolour painting titled “The Narrows”. It was inspired by a winding stretch of highway in Arizona. You couldn’t always see where you were headed as you would through the rocky canyon, but you could  still trust that the road was taking you where you were going. A fitting metaphor for the people of Fort McMurray, I suppose. 

Check out the page here and bid on some art. You buy some art and help the Red Cross. Win-win!

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Changing Gears

The Fort Saskatchewan Families’ First Society recently moved into a new home, a newly-renovated former RCMP detachment. There was a lot of work to do to transform the building into a family-friendly space, and a lot of fundraising to make it happen. 

So, after Night of Artists last month I quickly change gears into “mural mode”.

As a tribute to the many (MANY!) donors, I volunteered my time to create a donor tree in the front lobby of their beautiful building. This mural was finally unveiled last week. 

 

...I still can't believe people let me paint on their walls
The completed donor wall at the Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society
 
It was a privilege to help out a group that does so much for our community and the families within it. It’s a community I am proud to call home. 

Now, it’s time to change gears again. My studio is still a disaster from “last-minute show-prep mode”. Time to clean up and get back down to work. I’ve got some fun new projects ahead. 

 

Silk painting supplies from the Paint Spot
Silk painting, anyone?
 
Coming up for me:

May: Family vacation in Jasper (bring my watercolours!)

June: Art and Faith retreat

July: Whyte Avenue Art Walk

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Night of Artists Wrap-up

Over 10 years ago, while I was still in art school, my (then future) mother-in-law gave me a magazine. It was locally published, with “NOA” emblazoned on the cover and the pages filled with artwork.

“My co-worker went to this artist showcase over the weekend. I think this is something you should do.”

I looked through the magazine and laughed. “I’m not this good. Maybe in a few years.”

 

Years passed. I finished school. I got married. I birthed two beautiful children. I kept painting. Life went on.

I looked up the Night of Artists online one day. I saw an email where you could send submissions. I thought, “Why not?” and sent along a submission. After all, I’ve learned that you never score a goal if you don’t at least shoot the puck.

Months pass and I get an email inviting me to join the group for the 19th annual Night of Artists showcase. I sincerely hope my eagerness didn’t come across, as I immediately replied “YES!”.

Meghan MacMillan at Night of Artists
I’ve never had a booth with lighting before…
Meghan MacMillan at Night of Artists
Much caffeine was consumed over the weekend.

I had a great time at my first NOA showcase. I met some very lovely fellow artists and had the opportunity to get to know them better in person, rather through social media. Was it a successful weekend? Not in the traditional sense. I did not sell any paintings, but the paintings I showed were very well received. I sold some cards and quite a few necklaces (my favourite moment was probably the flock of little girls waving their $20 bills at me, wanting to pick out necklaces). I was even asked if I could scale up my work (Big? Yes! Like, side of a building big? …Yes!). Lots of cards were given out. Generally I will gauge the success of a show over the next few months, to see how many people follow up.

So if you were there, please leave a comment! Shoot me an email! Just let me know you’re out there, I’d love to get to know you.

 

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Busybusybusybusybusybusy

With so much going on I don’t feel like I’ve had the time to update you all on what has been keeping me busy. Here goes, bullet-point style!

– January is always busy in the MacMillan house. Both spawn have birthdays this month, which means parties and hosting and epic cake making.

 

Minions Cake! BOOYAH!
A homemade Minions cake for an awesome 2-year-old
 
– I was also hired to do some mural work for a local preschool this month. A Fairytale Beginning Preschool is moving into their new home this weekend! The place looks great, but I may be a little biased.

 

Mural by Meghan MacMillan
Ever feel like you’re being watched?
 
– I’ve been steadily working on some new paintings, because I need to have some stock for Night Of Artists, March 4-6 at St. Albert’s Enjoy Centre. I’ll also be set up the night before for the St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards on March 3.

– I just finished a large painting that is to be scanned and turned into clothing! Very exciting! I will let you know more as I know more.

– I was approached by an Edmonton gallery owner to have a show sometime in the next months! Details to follow.

– Working on some different product for the upcoming festival season! Stay tuned…

– New large public commission in the works…?

As always, you can find out what I’m up to day-to-day by following me on Twitter and Instagram! You can also find me on Snapchat (meghan_art), but I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet… *shakes cane at all the young whipper-snappers*

 

***Post Edited on Feb 2, 2016*** I’m currently having image upload issues, so the photos from this post have been deleted. Sorry!

***Edited again*** Really hoping the photos work this time… Someone please tell me if they’re sideways for you…

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Not a blue Christmas. 

I’m in the middle of my annual Christmas season painting slump. I don’t like that this happens every year, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to avoid it. 

There’s a multitude of reasons behind it, really. It’s colder, which makes my basement studio colder (brr!) and my paint dry slower. My studio is also a disaster (shocking, I know) because it’s the only place in the house I can hide presents from ALL of my family members. I also don’t miss painting as much, because I’m feeling creatively fulfilled by hand making presents. Being sick doesn’t help either. 

But with a single email I suddenly have greater motivation to paint more:  

Meghan MacMillan gets some good news 
As it turns out, I’m practically out of stock. 13 paintings sold, just like that. It’s pretty encouraging, to say the least, considering I hadn’t sold a single work from that series AT ALL before then. I had almost decided to give up  painting on birch. 

My studio is still a disaster. I’m still sick. But as soon as I get the chance I’ll be cleaning up, stocking up on birch panels, and stretching some canvas. 

It’s time to get down to work. 

 

You can still see these 13 SOLD paintings until January 3rd as part of Mighty Chroma! in the Naess Gallery at The Paint Spot in Edmonton

 

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