The joy of creating with Megan Krzmarzick

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Megan K has the best energy. You just want to be around her. She is wise, she is centered. She talks, people listen. I don't know why this is. She has been through a few things (more on that later!) and life experience does have a way of teaching us doesn't it? All I know is there is something about Megan.

She is a talented abstract painter. I've been seeing her work on social media for a few years now and been drawn to it. Her use of color is arresting. It is surprising and encouraging that she started painting only 4 years ago. Surprising since her work seems so developed, encouraging because anyone out there wishing to paint but thinking it takes a lifetime to be good- not so!! Even though she has been a student of art her whole life, majoring in Art History in college, she told always told herself:

I'm someone who can study art, but I can't make art.

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Megan has a perfectionist streak. She tried her hand at watercolors, drawing, and many other forms of art, never being happy with the resulting work. She felt frustrated with the mechanical process and stopped trying to create. 

4 years ago she found herself in an unhappy job and an unhappy marriage. Megan worked in a bank in corporate communications. It was a great job, earning more money than she ever had before. But every day she got in the elevator thinking, there has to be more than this. 

I had to ask for more. Out of myself. Out of my relationship. 

One day she had a phone call with her grandmother who was in the process of buying a family hardware store in Indiana. Megan quit her job that week and moved to help her grandmother. She needed a change and this felt right.

It was one of the first times I chose for myself what I wanted to do versus having it dictated to me. I needed to run away from home for a little bit and take stock of my priorities. 

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There wasn't much to do out there, so Megan bought some art supplies. She started painting every day after helping in the hardware store. She finally decided that her art did not need to look a certain way. She didn't try to copy anyone else or even worry about if anyone liked it. She was painting for herself, as a way to heal and find herself, not to show anyone. 

I think this is one of the most important steps to creativity. It has to be for yourself. I always recommend starting an art project with the intention of no one else ever seeing it or hearing it or sharing it with anyone. When we do art with other people in mind, we can't get out of our own heads. Art is so much more satisfying when it comes from a place that only we know. That might be a bit scary, in a good way. Intuition is what some people call it. Maybe some day at some point you end up sharing the art, maybe not. Or maybe you share the art that comes down the road after you become more comfortable with creating. But initially, I would suggest locking yourself in a room to create what comes out and plan on showing no one. That liberation is often what it takes to start. 

In Indiana, Megan answered an ad for someone looking for social media and marketing help for his online art business. He created workshops and ran a blog all about helping artists make a living. Megan loved working for this company and loved talking to artists and writing some of the blogs. It helped her get more social media freelance work, and it inspired her own creativity. 

After six months in Indiana, Megan felt the need to return to her life with a new outlook. She packed up her art supplies, and drove back to Portland. Newly divorced, she got her own place and started working freelance in social media and strategy. 

Megan is a millennial, and one thing she has noticed among her friends is how much they all enjoy having side gigs. She has many friends working in advertising, branding, marketing where they produce information and content. It can feel really good to have a side gig that is more tangible. Megan loved making flower arrangements at her family hardware store because she was producing something real with her hands. She understands the satisfaction of working in retail or as a bartender where you can make a cocktail for someone and see their enjoyment of what you made for them. 

Now that she's been painting for a while, she is getting that satisfaction from the realness of her art. She has been commissioned to work on pieces for various clients from a personal home to a dressmaker's packaging. 

Megan has the wisdom that often comes with surviving a tragedy. She is a recent breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in August of 2016. She went through 16 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy. Her last treatment was this past December. Which was also the month her father passed away. This seems so painful, and like it would be too much for someone to bear. Megan says she has been grateful for painting through all of this. It helps her process her feelings and put them back out for others. 

I talked to Megan about seeing herself as an artist, which is usually incredibly challenging for most people who create art. There is an imposter syndrome which can be unsettling. Do I deserve to be considered an "artist," and what is that anyway? Abstract art can be especially hard for people to understand or accept. Megan says the community of artists here in Portland has been very supportive. 

Even if the style is not for them, people appreciate the effort and intention that went into it. For me abstract art invites someone into the conversation with the artwork. It compels you to pause for minute. Maybe you critique it, maybe you love it. Either way there is more conversation happening in your mind. It makes your mind work harder to try to understand what it means to you. In life in general, things are not fully explained to you, and that's ok. 

I think that is one of the more truthful explanations of abstract art I have ever heard. I love how she equates the uncomfortable feelings we get from looking at abstract art to the uncomfortable feelings we get all the time when we don't understand something and it isn't explained fully. In that way abstract art is like meditation. Training your mind to be ok with the unknown. 

Megan is passionate about people having original art in their homes. She prices her art to make it attainable for anyone which is something I admire so much. She hopes she can help people start to think about art as something more personal and special, not just something to fill the walls. 

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Megan is also passionate about helping others create their own art. She wants to help people realize that they can start where they are at, and that we can all feel free to create without thinking it needs to look a certain way. This is a passion that I share completely. As I have often said, the doing is the thing. Not the end result. There is magic in the process of creation that everyone should experience. 

Megan and I have joined forces with our amazing writer friend Laura to start Wonder Workshops. These will take place over 3 Sundays in April. For anyone wanting to just freakin create something already for fun and no judgement. 3 classes for 3 different forms of creativity: painting, writing, and photography. Stay tuned to Art Fare for more information and sign ups as they become available. 

Thank you to Megan for your creativity and inspiration! You can find Megan and her art here