Meg Atkinson's colorful canvases are awesome, and she's prolific as all getout. I'm totally into her diverse color palette and the variety of imagery and messages she conveys, typically in a grid-like, somewhat playful way that hints at something like a Magic Eye puzzle while leaving us guessing as to what it might actually mean. More examples of her work and information can be found at the link following our great Q&A!
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Can you tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from, and where are you located now?
Sure, I’ve been a Brooklyn-based artist for thirty years, and am still in shock as to how much change has taken place. I’ve had studios and apartments in DUMBO, Fort Greene, and now Boerum Hill.
What first interested you in painting? Do you have particular influences or anyone/anything that has inspired you?
I’ve always been drawn to color and I think that is why I paint. I especially like using oils. I like their materiality.
At the moment I’m most influenced by things I see online and in museums and galleries. There is so much good painting right now! It’s very exciting. For a long time, when painting was “dead,” it wasn’t very cool to be making oil paintings on an easel. I’ve always worked on an easel. I like the scope of it. And my studios are always very home-like. I can’t stand the idea of the four white walls. As if somehow four white walls translate into art with a capital A.
I also love the 800-numbers. You incorporate a fair amount of text; how do these phrases come about? Are you trying to convey a particular message through your work?
The text paintings are vey in-the-moment. I don’t plan out what I am going to say. They tend to relate to things in the news, things that I am worried about or that bother me. The 1-800-numbers came after the Sandy Hook shootings and I was feeling badly about guns and violence and commercialism. I try not to edit.
I get the impression that you're always making! How much time do you typically spend painting?
I stopped painting for fifteen years in my forties and only began again about three years ago. This explains why I am still “emerging.” I thought that I would never paint again, and I was fine with that. But now that I’m back in it I totally enjoy it.
When I began painting again I decided I wasn’t going to be a Sunday painter, and so I became very disciplined. I work for one hour every evening, and I work as much as I can on the weekends. I’m an art teacher and so have to fit everything in. It’s not easy.
What is your studio like?
My studio is fairly messy. I have a beautiful rug and brick walls, and, obviously, a ton of paintings.
What is your process like? Do you work on multiple canvases at one time?
Typically I have about five paintings going at one time. A drawback to using oils is that they take so long to dry. I am learning to be patient.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge or obstacle that you have had to overcome, or are trying to?
Aside from a severe lack of time, I feel the biggest obstacle is sexism. There, I said it.
On the flip side, why do you do what do you? What drives you to keep painting?
I keep painting because as a creative person I’d be miserable without it. I really love the time I paint and I find that it informs the rest of my life. It is zen-like and calming, and also intellectually challenging. I hate/love when paintings don’t work. As much as I complain about how hard it is to finish a painting, I love the struggle.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working toward?
I’ve got two paintings in Drawing Rooms upcoming Big Small show in Jersey City, and I have a painting in Trestle gallery’s upcoming benefit.
Find more at megatkinson.com!
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