My Last Paint Out :sniff sniff:

In an exercise of futility and utter masochism, every year I attempt plein air embroidery in the Get Out! Paint Out! event for the McKendree University Gallery of Art in Lebanon, IL. I battle bugs, heat exhaustion, and hang overs (we throw a wicked BBQ) in an attempt to capture the light before me in an embroidery. All madness because it takes me a good eight hours of continual stitching to fill in a three inch by three-inch square of linen.

This year was my last. Not because I’ve smartened up with each passing year by shrinking my format and refining my technique. No! But because we are moving to the great state of Alabama. I have been defeated by the thought of a two-day drive. It was great while it lasted. I will forever dream of sides of salmon roasted on the grill with fresh rosemary, limoncello shots, and the fabulous red velvet wall paper of my professor’s house.

I managed to complete two pieces this year. The first was the back of this beautiful blue house with a fantastic garden, white picket fence and zinnias. Unfortunately, my stitching spot was next to the compost heap in full sun, so I had the over whelming smell of sun baked rot to contend with for eight hours. But I loved watching the butterflies and hummingbirds flit from flower to flower as I embroidered siding and shingles. I think this house is everything that I want when I grow up. Victorian, old trees, huge garden, sun porch…I day dreamed what my life would be in this house.

Zinias.jpg
Zinias Finished_w.jpg

As far as technique goes, I tried something different by using the whole embroidery floss. Embroidery floss can usually be broken down into six threads and I typically use two because it looks more refined. I used two threads in the back ground but six threads in the foreground to make it chunkier and come at you more. No fancy stitches this year though. I didn’t really feel it fit the piece.

The second day, I stayed close to my professor’s house. Her neighbor has a ton of cats and so I call this the cat house. I think in the four hours that I embroidered their house I saw ten distinct cats. What I really loved about this spot was the way the dead plum tree curls toward the house and the green foliage creates this textured swirl.

The Cat House_w.jpg
Cat House Finish_Web.jpg

I tried to accomplish this swirling composition with the house fading in to the background and the foliage looking wild and gnarly around the edges. I had some success but I think my down fall was in the choice of colors for the background. I should have gone darker and more neutral. Maybe a gold? Brown? Despite this being the cat house I forgot to put a cat in it! What I really love about this piece is that I used reflective thread for the wind chime and I’m in love. It’s this hidden little focal point that draws you in. You know how I love shiny!

You can see the show at McKendree University Gallery of Art from now until October 5th. The opening reception is October 3rd from 5-7pm. I will actually be able to make the opening reception this year! I’ll be in St Louis for the Surface Design Association Conference so I can just nip on over, eat snacks, and see who gets prizes. There were some really beautiful pieces there when I dropped off my work. I can’t wait!

Upcoming:

I’m going to Jentel Artist Residency in Banner Wyoming October 15th – November 13th. I’m so excited and frantically running around packing. I can’t wait to be out in the mountains getting some of that rejuvenating inspiration. I’m not sure what the internet situation will be like so I may or may not be active on Instagram and the blog until I get back. What fun!

Bea's First Gallery_Web.jpg

My beloved Beatrice had her first drawing in a gallery! She’s such a talented drawer and story teller. Such a goofy picture taker.

Lebanon, we’ll miss you so much!

Interview on Textileartist.org

I have been following Textileartist.org for years. I love getting their email every week with a new interview from a textile artist that I had never heard of. It has always been great fun to see different processes and get into the meat of other textile artists creativity. Finally I gathered my courage together to ask to be interviewed and they said yes!

You can read the interview here:

Meghan Rowswell: Out-of-this-world textile sculpture!

In other news, we are leaving for Lebanon, IL for the 6th annual Get Out! Paint Out! The funky little plein air painting event where I get to embroider out in the hot sun for hours. The opening is September 19th and runs through October 5th. I’ll actually be at the opening this year! It is October 3rd from 5-7pm at the McKendree University Gallery of Art. Most blog posts to come.

Mid-Missouri Art News

So many great things have been happening lately it has been hard to keep up! I have been really fortunate to have so much love from my fellow Mid Missouri artists recently. I had a great experience going down to Jefferson City to be on Mid-Missouri Art News with Rick Jey. We met at the state fair, talked a bit about our experiences in Japan and he invited me down to be interviewed.

It was just so neat to be on tv. The cameras and lights are technical and nerdy brilliance. I forgot to bring a piece of art to talk about during the interview. Luckily I never clean out my car and my work from Missouri Valley College was in the back. My friend and I had a lot of fun artfully draping it around one of the set ladders. Three cheers for having friends that like to come hang out and help install shows!

Lights! Cameras! Action!

Lights! Cameras! Action!

I was the second artist to go on. Sorry about the clicking in the audio. The mic was bumping into my necklace and I talk with my hands. Rookie Mistake. All in all, It was a fabulous experience and really nice people that help support local arts.

Up coming:

My solo show “Spaces in Between” will be opening at the Liberty Center in Sedalia, MO on March 21st 6-8pm. They were so nice they gave me two whole galleries and you’ve never seen such a beautiful space. The work is all soft sculpture based on plants and human bodies. It’s a bright, whimsical and surprising show.

IMG_9372.jpg

It took us three days to install the show because there are two major floor installations, one in each gallery. The people at the Liberty Center are fabulous because they let me explore some crazy new ideas and gave me the time to do it. I really learned a lot. Gravity is still my arch nemesis. I hope you can come out and see it!

Another great bit of art news is that I got accepted into the Jentel Artist Residency Program in October this year. This is really huge for me. It is a very competitive residency and I’ll get a month to make art and pick the minds of some supremely talented people. Plus I get to bring all my great hand knitted socks that I never wear in Missouri because it will be cold.

Farm Report:

Seeds are started! If only it would start warming up. Gonna order those kiwano melon seeds soon.

Reading:

Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color by David Lee

Wow this book is great! It’s like mid level between clickbate science and doctoral dissertation. Just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Which is how I like it.

Omnia

I’m really excited to install part of Convergence again. It’s so much fun to see how the character of the piece can change from space to space. It is really beautiful in the Vernon Nester Gallery at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri and will be up until the end of February. I also have some collages and a few examples of my plein air embroidery. The show is called Omnia because it’s a collection of all my different mediums. The gallery reception and artist talk will be on January 31st from 4-6pm. The talk will be at 4:15pm. Come on by and say hi!

Convergence II: Converge Harder

Convergence II: Converge Harder

Lighting always seems to be an issue with this piece. I’m really tempted to throw down on some spots.

In other cool news, I am going to be on TV! I will be doing an interview with Rick Jey on JCTV’s “Mid-Missouri Art News. We do the taping on Febuary 13th. Not sure when it’ll be out so stay tuned to the old social media. It’s another great opportunity to talk about art and inspire some future artists. Can’t beat that!

4 x 4: Midwest Invitational

I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed by how long it has taken me to write this post despite how awesome this show has been and how great the people at the Springfield Art Museum are. Now that the show is over (and life has calmed down a bit) I can write about how fun this was.

The 4 x 4: Midwest Invitational is an annual show at Springfield Art Museum that features an artist from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. I am tickled pink to have been included in this show along side the amazing talents of Shawn Bitters, Jason Cytacki, and Dawn Holder. It was amazing how our works played off each other to create this vision of chaos and post apocalyptic regeneration. Maybe it is a sign of our times? Something in the zeitgeist? Because we certainly didn’t consult each other about what we were making.

I split myself between three installations and three wall pieces. All of them used textiles or fiber techniques in some way. I did get a little mix media and unconventional materials in places. Not unsurprisingly it was really hard to photograph some of the fabrics.

I could take you through every piece but writing is not my strong suit. Needless to say if you see something brightly colored and vaguely planty (except for that neon hanging tree, that’s Dawn’s) it’s mine.

The Stalks

The Stalks

The Stalks began with finding a rug hooking tool at Meals on Wheels and becoming obsessed with rug hooking car upholstery. I just love the shiny flatness with loops of yarn sticking out. From there it was a downward spiral into pouring concrete bases and spray painting dryer hose. Half the fun of the opening was talking about my work with people and having them ask if such and such really was :insert random hardware supply: They do a lot of museum tours with schools and getting to walk inside The Stalks was a real hit with the kids.

kids_web.jpg

One of my favorite photos. Wouldn’t it be cool if one of them grew up to make weird art because of this show?!

Up Coming:

I have two pieces at The Box Gallery in Kansas City right now until January 24th. The show is Ekphrasis, an amazing experiment that brings visual artists and poets together and has them riff on each other. There will be a book launch party next week so stay tuned to Instagram for details @MadMegh I was paired with writer, speaker and Food Sleuth radio host Melinda Hemmelgarn. She doesn’t mince words about the important issues of our times and she has an interesting verbal translation of my soft sculpture, “Handsy”.

And if I can’t get myself together for a post in December - I will have work at Missouri Valley College the month of January and February with more details to come.

Nothin' But Rain

McKendree University moved their Get Out! Paint Out! plein air painting event back to the beginning of September this year. Which is wonderful because August was such a blur I would not have made it anyways.

But the rain.

It rained so much that Saturday, Lebanon became an island. They wouldn’t let anyone leave town. Luckily rain doesn’t mess up threads too much and I found a nice spot under my friend Amy’s porch. Her back yard is always full of magical plants and sculptures to embroider. This year I was particularly attracted to a grouping of terra cotta statues.

Garden Nymphs in the Rain

Garden Nymphs in the Rain

Garden Nymphs.jpg

The light moves so fast! I wanted to work with the stitches as if they were large blobs of paint. I wasn’t so concerned with covering the fabric completely. It is nice seeing the purple peek through here and there.

I pulled out one of my new tricks for this piece. The rain drops in the back ground are iridescent thread. Depending on how it is lit, it shines. I was inspired by Van Gogh’s rain paintings. They are so masterful, it is breathe taking.

This Paint Out I decided to stay really small. Both pieces are only three inches by three inches. Sunday I went out for round two down on the main drag of Lebanon, IL. There wasn’t any rain but I still tucked myself under an awning just in case.

I’d Rather Be Painting

I’d Rather Be Painting

street.jpg

I chose a lighter linen with grey marbling to represent the cloudiness of the sky. Buildings are hard! It’s difficult to get the fine details and keep everything in perspective. I also think that the weave of my linen was a little too loose to allow me to be accurate.

As you can see, I was fighting cars and trucks all day to see the bottom half of the buildings. I made up my friend Amy sitting in the glow of the gallery doing office work when she would “Rather Be Painting”. No regrets embroidering here. Wouldn’t we all just rather be making art?

Look for me next @ Vulpus Bastille in Kansas City the First Friday in October. I’ll have some collages there with Justin Border and Jen Appel. We’ll be exploring Signal to Noise.

Farm Report

We’ve had a bumper crop of Thai chilies this year and I can’t wait to make Sriracha. I’m slowly drawing down the garden which means some epic fried green tomatoes and egg plant parmesan. It is apple season! I’m canning apple sauce and apple butter pretty much every day. Apple crisp has become my new breakfast of choice. Gotta use up those apples somehow.

Convergence

It took me longer to get this post written then I planned, August has been a very packed month for me. Thank you so much to everybody that came out to see me at the fair and support the huge undertaking that is a fabric installation. It was a great success and I really enjoyed my many hours of talking to people about it. Hopefully more people will take up art making and enter their works at the fair!

convergence installation

I'd love to give a shout out to Stephannie Maskowski who helped me sew this massive project. Without her tireless dedication I'm not sure I would have been motivated to put in a few hours everyday kneeling before my cutting mat in the hallway pinning fabric. Luckily, I bumped into my art buddy Steven Gorman at the reception and talked him into helping me install those first two days. Without his excellent sense of space and spitballin' style who knows what this installation would have looked like. And lets not forget the gallery watchers that were always ready to hold the fabric or hand me my needle when it fell off the ladder. And a special thanks goes out to Alan Weaver who said yes to my crazy ideas. Thank you all so much. It takes a village to make artistic ideas happen.

Convergence.3 _web.jpg
Convergence.2_web.jpg

And if you haven't heard my "spiel", which almost became a mantra after repeating it hundreds of times a day for my five day residency, keep reading. Convergence is made of 100% recycled materials. The fabric come from the linings of skirts, shirts and dresses and was donated by Lauri Davidson of the Kansas City Fiber Guild. Stephannie and I serged the fabric for this installation over four months using a crazy quilt type approach because every scrap mattered. It consists of four panels that at 3' x 46' long. And it took a total of three days and a whole roll of fishing line to install.

Convergence Detail.1_web.jpg
Convergence Detail.2_web.jpg

If you know of an institution or individual that would like to host this installation in the future please give me an email at meghan@madmegh.com