Don’t worry, it’s not this kind of knife…
I prefer to use Speedball and Flexcut knives!
Hello, my name is Megan Weatherford! I am a creator and my medium of choice is carving, specifically carving paint. I also carve linocuts and carve art digitally. Whatever carving medium, my approach is to take away excess. Kind of like an archaeologist, I like to take away the layers to reveal the bones and treasure underneath. I enjoy playing with negative space and I enjoy detailed repeating patterns and textures. Sometimes, I am in hog heaven with bright colors, other times, I keep it as simple as black and white; it depends on what the piece seems to call for. I particularly enjoy carving paint because if I can paint it, I can carve it and that allows me to use found and unique items.
Growing up, I was exposed to a plethora of artistic mediums by my art teacher mom. The smell of an art studio or space is very comforting to me and that’s thanks to her. I grew up in her art room and she even took me along to summer classes at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). She made it possible for me to create and explore art freely throughout my childhood. Having that foundation helped me be more open to just giving something artistic a try even though it may not work out. Despite growing up in a creative environment, I never felt my family considered art as a viable career path so I did not pursue it. Instead, I gained real world experience and have had the privilege to work with some pretty fantastic people along the way and hopefully I made a positive difference wherever I worked.
Almost five years ago now, I started the hardest job I’ve ever had: I became a mom. Being a mother is like nothing I ever expected it to be. It’s absolutely a blessing, but it challenges me to my core every single day. There’s no such thing as a job review, or reliable work statistics to show whether I’m doing a good job or not. I also had a rocky start to motherhood and struggled with post-partum depression and anxiety. Creating pulled me through the darkness like a lifeline. During the darkness of that time, my true self began to shine out of sheer desperation and my mind began to fight back with bright, funny, happy stories that came to me in picture form. That led me to begin creating again and helped me shift my thoughts and lean into hope. This experience sets the tone of my work. Ultimately, I want to share hope and light with others as a way to say, “hold on, keep going.”
My first experience putting my work out there was when I submitted a design for the Georgia PINES state Library Card Design Contest. When I saw the call to submit for this contest, I knew I wanted to contribute as a way to show gratitude to those at my own local library who had made such a difference to me as a new mother, though they might never have realized. I teamed up with my son and incorporated his fingerpainted handprint in my design for the contest. I remember afterwards thinking, man, if this even gets an honorable mention or places top 10...maybe, just maybe, it would mean I should lean into sharing what I create more. My design won.
I am still in disbelief, but that experience made me hope and gave me fuel to work hard and let go of my doubts (or at least push them to the back of the closet). When those doubts creep up on me, I look at my son's handprint (which hangs over my desk) and it gives me a mental high five to keep going and share my work with the world.
When my husband gave me an iPad to encourage my rediscovered creativity, I started exploring on Procreate and accidentally discovered how satisfying it was to me to erase. That led to me creating textured background layers that I then began to erase away to create a picture by “carving digitally.”
These were some of the first pieces I ever did that way:
Creating became catharsis for me. I joined weekly challenges on social media to push myself to brainstorm and to play. In the back of my mind after a while, I started to wonder what it would be like to carve real things but talked myself out of it because I didn’t want my son to be around sharp knives and I didn’t want to spend the money on myself. I kept telling myself this until finally, I decided to go for it anyway and bought myself a Speedball starter kit for linocut printmaking at a whopping $25 (surely I was worth $25!). I sat down, quickly sketched on the linoleum block and just carved.
My first ever carving, carved using the Speedball Linocut Printmaking starter kit:
Man! It felt good to really carve! So, I invested more in it, tried carving different surfaces, played with different inks and rollers, printed on paper, canvas, tile, you name it. Then I discovered Hannah Jensen on Instagram. Hannah layers acrylic house paint on surfaces over several weeks, then she carves designs into the layered paint. Brilliant! I was inspired and started experimenting with paints at different gloss levels, painting different surfaces, etc… until I found what worked for me and how I wanted to use the medium to express my ideas.
Now, I’ve converted a spare bedroom to use as my painting studio and I get up there 3-4 times a day to layer paint. Thus far, I’ve layered paint onto reclaimed cedar, plywood, splintered fascia, roof decking, tile, canvas, and I have dreams of going thrift shopping to find old furniture like an old headboard that I can layer paint on and carve to give it a newer brighter life. After painting layers onto a surface, it is ready to carve. I’ve carved flowers, animals, even a piano into paint and just started carving a piece with the American Flag. I have a running idea list as long as my arm and then some. Creating brings me peace and ties me to something more than myself in life and now that I’ve found it, I want to see where it leads and hopefully make the world a better place in the process.
Thank you for reading how I began my creative journey. Wherever you are on your creative journey, I hope you will be kind to yourself and move forward even if it feels scary.
Love and Hope,