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September Feature: Megan Versteeg

Megan is a multi-medium abstract artist that approaches each painting with spontaneity. With the mindset of trying to “shake off a feeling”, Megan uses the act of painting to emotionally express and processes moments in time. In the initial few layers, the emotion is freely expressed without further probing. As layers dry, Megan continues to unpack through the exploration of texture and movement. Blending analogous colours in the moment while expressing through mark making, Megan attempts to merge physical and emotional reactions. The initial bodily experience behind the feeling becomes more defined and easier to understand. Approaching painting through this process has provided Megan with the space to ride the wave of emotion, both in the highs and lows.


After graduating with a Bachelors of Studio Art at the University of Guelph, Megan entered the health care field leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. While becoming a mother of two within those 3 years, painting was a form of grounding herself during “unprecedented times”. While providing personal support and palliative care to seniors in the Wellington and surrounding area, Megan’s priorities of mental health in her own life shifted as her art practice echoed the need to see a lighter view on the world. Today, her paintings provide viewers with a silver lining or the feeling of the familiar as topics often cover experiences within nature, mental health and regaining a sense of self.


Q: Tell me about what kind of work you are currently making?

“Recently I completed a series that explores the change in weather and the impact it has on my mental health. As the seasons change in this dramatic Canadian climate, I wanted to document my perspective of the world around me today. I found myself getting comfortable with silence while also feeling a burst on energy! My hope is that as the seasons change into the noticeable colder weather, I will be able to document again how my mental health is impacted.


Right now, I am continuing to explore how to translate my abstract expression onto various surfaces. Currently I’m experimenting with ceramics as it’s a meditative and reflective medium. The process from start to finish is another world of expression. I find the possibilities are endless! As a painter first, I’m used to having freedom to paint in the moment with energy and quick movement. With pottery, I find that my brain goes quiet, slowing my body down into a softer state of mind. Although there is excitement throughout the process, right now I’m chasing the feeling of calm.”


Q: What is a day like in the studio for you?

“Between family, grad school and work, being in the studio happens less and less these days. Typically, I get ready for the day in the studio by having to clean up! I’m the typical messy artist. That means I need to clean brushes, find the scattered tools and put music on. I don’t like having to think about where my brushes, cardboard or pallet knives are. So, collecting everything is really important to me. Conveniently, I’m able to walk away and return as layers dry as my studio is at home. I also work on more than one piece at a time. This prevents me from feeling stuck on one piece and can have 2-3 paintings on the go at a time. I struggle to find the end of a series. Usually, it’s when the concept is feeling resolved, but who knows how long that can take sometimes! I have bursts of creativity, so painting right now has not been consistent. I bounce between various mediums and lean heavily into what’s captivating my brain for long periods of time. In the past I’ve explored digital art, collage, and photography.


When I’m in the pottery studio at The Wheel Works I find myself surrounded in a collaborative environment with a community of potters exploring their own creative mark. My time spent there depends on the small batch of I’m working on. Typically, it involves a cup of coffee, a 90’s music playlist and conversation between friends as we try new techniques together.”


Q: Who are your most prominent influences on your art practice?

“When I was in high school my biggest influence was the classic reference to Jackson Pollock and Van Gough. What fascinated me the most was the story behind the movement in their paintings. I think that was the first time I was able to explore abstract art in a curriculum that heavily promoted realism rather than freedom of expression.


Today I find myself picking up children’s books that are by Eric Carle. His child like wonder in simple shapes like clouds and houses have excitement to them that make me think more about the movement he’s given them in his brush stroke. All of this is then confronted with his illustrations having a cut and paste feeling to them.”


Q: What are your preferred mediums to work with and why?

“Although painting is my true love and is the medium that I’m most familiar with, ceramics has been what I’ve been actively seeking out these days. I go through phases of obsession within the process of ceramics. Right now, I prefer the glazing stage as it’s that last step of experimentation that finalizes the look of a piece. Playing with under glaze when items are still leather dry allows me to get a sense of what direction I’m taking after a bisque firing. I can then play with wax and other glazing techniques. This stage of the process if fascinating to me because ceramics as a medium is unpredictable. Any factor of the process determines the success of the piece. Glazing is an opportunity to continue trusting the process as I have thus far.”


Q: What major themes, concepts or methods are rooted in your practice?

“In the past my art often spoke out in rage for the lack of equality for others that surrounded me. It was an art practice that had a running theme of acknowledging my privilege. Throughout my time at U of G, I heavily focused on deep, meaningful concepts that lead me to think that this was all I could do. For a time, I walked away from that and started to make art for fun or as a recreational activity. Over the pandemic, painting for fun turned into the need to get things off my chest, thus returning to more meaningful work. The biggest theme of my work today is the silver lining that’s presented to a person who actively works on their mental health.”


Q: Where can we find more of your work?

"I’m in the slow process of getting back into the swing of art markets but you can find original paintings for sale at www.steegstudio.ca or find snippets of my process on my Instagram, instagram.com/steegstudio "




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