Today we’d like to introduce you to Meghan Hedley.
Meghan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a painter and installation artist working with celebratory and contemplative visual language, and it all began with stickers. My mom would take me to craft stores to gather stickers and supplies so that I could build colorful worlds on paper. My dad, as both a business owner and a musician, has always encouraged me to pursue creative entrepreneurial passions. The pursuit has been present all along, from participating in school murals, to acceptance into the Orange County Fair elementary school art show, and to age 17 when I won a scholarship to a class at Laguna College of Art and Design. Here I experienced the gift of studying with talented artists, but it wasn’t until I arrived at college in Oregon (George Fox University) that I realized a person could actually be a professional artist for a living. On the cusp of age 31, I’ve been painter, professor, residency goer, and creative workshop leader, and in this past year have finally shifted toward the mission of making a full time living off of my art. To do this, it had to begin with one major shift: belief that this mission is possible.
I aim to build conversation between art and healing. From 2006 to the present, I traveled the world east and west to learn how art could play a role in reconciliation and healing on a personal and communal level. I am now nearing the end of a 5 year Masters in Chinese Medicine program, including acupuncture, herbs, shiatsu massage, and cranialsacral therapy, and am always looking at the correlation between the art space (both as artist and art viewer/ experiencer) and the healing space (both as patient and practitioner).
My passions of painting and ancient medicine (including Celtic practices) inspire each other, both moved by the nuances and complexities of nature. As a meditative exercise, I take long walks and drives (always with my dog Bette the Beagle) to spend time with nature’s elements, cycles, colors, and landscapes. I often describe my paintings as abstract landscapes, inspired by the elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, water, and air. I am most recently drawn to the vibrancy and starkness of the desert, influenced by growing up in Southern California, where desert meets sea.
In grad school at Washington State University I began seeing paintings more spatially. How does the work interact with the floor, the ceiling, the architecture? I continue to walk the line between painting and installation, involving a mixed array of materials, and taking note of masters (past and contemporary) who live between these 2D-3D worlds. My paintings are mostly large scale and are built with layers of color, letters, and numbers. I present the canvas raw and unstretched, as an ode to tapestry and ancient scrolls, keeping the work fluid, flexible, and free.
From the beginnings to the present, my goal has been to build a unique visual language. There is a tightrope between art and commerce, and I am walking it as I continue to both pursue a living as an artist and to push my own creative boundaries.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The path is an ebb and flow, and the studio is war and peace! Making a painting is first easy, then hard. I’ve valued my education and the guidance and critique of professors and art peers along the way, but if I ignore my inner pull and make work that is too focused on what other’s might think, I lose my own vision. The artistic process is full of rejection, acceptance, success, failure, movement, pause, decisions, and risks. That said, with each apparent rough patch or “mistake” there is a lesson hidden within. These moments encourage me to jump even more into my dreams and push my art to new levels.
Rejections/acceptances! When I don’t put myself out there, my chances of being seen are nil! Thus, I make art! I apply! At a Los Angeles Art Association meeting, I was reminded that even rejected work is seen by a juror. Exposure is exposure! If work is passed by, it either isn’t the right show for my work, my application could improve, or it isn’t the right time. I’ve learned to appreciate critique as much as praise. My grandma says, “When one door closes, two more open!” Rejections happen and always sting, but this makes acceptance letters all the sweeter. The first time my paintings were accepted into a gallery in Los Angeles I opened the acceptance email and fell to the ground, weeping in gratitude. It had been a long journey to get there. I cried happy tears for hours; my poor dog didn’t know what to do with me! Opportunity is out there, and this path requires sustained commitment, staying steadfast in the studio, and going for both the reachable goals and the long shots. I try to make honest work, listen to the input, stay humble, and keep to my center. The rest will fall into place. I trust and am grateful for the process.
Never say never! Almost every time I say “never” that exact thing comes to me like a rare earth magnet. Disclaimer: I still say no to opportunities that don’t align with my artistic values, but I stay more open than I used to! In the past I said I’d never do commissions, never make small work, and never work with an agent. In early 2018, through a series of unexpected open doors, I threw all of that out, and my artistic business has taken an exciting 180 degree turn! I’ve since partaken in the beautiful process of working with patrons and installing commissioned paintings, I’ve learned that small work is fun to make and allows people to own my work who don’t necessarily have the space in their homes for my bigger pieces, and lastly, in August 2018 I connected with a childhood friend who is now my art agent, Billy Gross of Universally Unknown. Working with him created a snowball effect of opportunity. He helps me expand my artistic and business horizons and is a supportive teammate. One thing I’ve learned time and time again is that the more support the better. I try, also, to be a support to other creatives! I cherish artists, professors, and friends as guides and companions on this path. Hearing my agent say, “You can make a living as an artist,” was about the most important sentence I’ve heard in my professional artist life. I wanted to be a full time artist before, but I didn’t believe it was possible. It will take time and devotion, but moving toward and believing in the goal is the key. It is amazing how a slight change in perspective and an encouraging voice can genuinely transform a path.
Finally, when it seems too good to be true, too fast, or too great, it often is! Scams exist, and unfortunately I am not immune! I’m grateful I fell for a scam a few years back and learned my lesson early on. While the quick road to fame and success may seem alluring, I’ve learned that slow, persistent building of this career is in fact the most rewarding. The best things take time. When a true, clear, and right opportunity arises, there is no greater feeling.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Meghan Hedley Art – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Let’s talk about the big work! I can’t quite explain the satisfaction of the final brushstroke on a giant painting, and the magic of seeing my first completed 6 yard painting on a gallery wall was priceless. My paintings can be presented as regular paintings on a gallery wall, but also able to become very spatial. People often note my decision to leave my work on the raw canvas (not stretched), which allows me to attach them to walls, ceilings, beams, you name it! A person walking into my installation is immersed in canvas and other materials hanging in unexpected ways. I like to create a gallery experience that guides the viewer through the space.
I am preparing for a solo show next winter titled “Sensory Meditations,” where I will create an interactive installation that inquires into the art and healing space through involving the senses. In this show I will display my recently completed painting, “100 Meditations,” an 8ft by 15ft painting that responded to my recent year long course studying cranialsacral therapy and the last four years of Chinese Medicine studies. What might set me apart the most is standing with my feet in these two world of art and health. I am driven by a passion for mental health and engaging with my own healing, practicing embodiment in the studio and as a practitioner.
I am proud of the times that I have continued working hard with persistence and patience even in the face of trials or seemingly slow seasons. Often I will be amidst a truly difficult season and ask, “What on earth am I doing spending all this time painting?” Just when that question appears, I’ll receive an email or a call that I have a new opportunity, reminding me to stay the course even amidst uncertainty.
Instagram has also been a fun aspect of my business! People enjoy following the process of how a work is made from start to finish through stories and posts, something I wasn’t able to share even 5 years ago; I enjoy sharing and interacting with people from all walks of life. I love learning from people in other fields. My friends and supporters are chemists, doctors, artists, construction workers, business people, geneticists, baristas, ecologists, philosophers, mothers, actors, musicians and so on and so forth. I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations in galleries with people who are not artists. This diversity enhances the entire creative experience and exchange.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am about to launch a summer small work unveiling, to be found on my instagram! The smallest of these works are 5”x5,” and are made alongside my larger works. I plan to paint, paint, and paint more on both small and large scales! I have opportunities ahead in Los Angeles and Portland, and would love to expand to other locations, nationally and internationally. I’ll take road trips and travel abroad to gather landscape inspiration- the Southwest is calling me! I have also lived and painted in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, where I completed an artist residency at the Burren College of Art on the West Coast, and would love to return to do a show. I hope to paint murals, teach creative-healing workshops, participate in group and solo shows, and continue with both small and large commissioned work. Ultimately, when I graduate from my Masters in Chinese Medicine in 2020, I’d like to continue researching the connection between art and healing. Who knows where it will all unfold?
I am always grateful when people within my network lead me toward an opportunity, and I love recommending others to opportunities, as well. Building one another up in this life is invaluable! I thank my friends, art peers, professors, guides, and family for their support. My family may have naturally wondered at first how I would sustain myself as an artist, however they have walked alongside with belief and encouragement. It can at times be a winding and lonely path (that sometimes feels more backwards than forwards), but there are enough rewarding moments that make it all worth it, whether they be experienced alone in the studio upon completion of a work or experienced with others at a show or somewhere else in the process. I will continue walking this path and remaining open to all of the mysteries and transformations that it will necessarily entail. A lifetime of making, learning, contemplating, and celebrating lies ahead.
- Instagram Small Works Sale, beginning July 1
- all other sales, commissions, workshops follow instagram and email for inquiries
- Website: www.meghanhedley.com
- Phone: 949-683-3020
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @meghanehedley