Virginia Woolf said that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” The same might be said about the woman who wants to paint pictures, as artist Meghan Wise will attest.
The Kelowna-based wife and mother of one gave up her downtown studio several years ago because she couldn’t actually use it when it was convenient for her – namely, when her daughter Tenille, now age 12, was napping, or when inspiration struck in the middle of the night.
For a while she set up a makeshift studio in her tiny dining room area, attached to her kitchen. But while it was an easily accessible location, dismantling everything and putting away her art supplies before meal times proved to be, shall we say, disruptive of the creative flow.
Just over six years ago, however, Meghan and her husband, Lindsay, split their back yard garage with a wall running down the middle, giving her a space of her own to create the art she wants when she wants to.
“Now I have a place that’s totally mine, to come and create, and I don’t have to clean up part way through a painting so that we can have breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can leave a work in progress,” she told The Pear Tree. “It’s nice to have a space you can create any mood you like to make you feel most productive.”
Meghan has filled her small but fertile space with mementos and reminders of what inspires her. From old postcards and photographs to airmail stickers, feathers and butterfly wings, inspiration breaks in everywhere.
Many of those things have made it onto one canvas or another, or likely will if they haven’t yet.
The small child, pictured above, is Meghan as a toddler. Her penchant for painting started early, and while she no longer gets more paint on herself than the canvas, the self-taught artist still throws herself into her work.
“Every piece I collect, there’s a reason I collect it. It inspires me for painting – that’s why there are so many articles around,” she said. “By surrounding myself with these things I keep myself connected to that spirit, those thoughts.”
Asked what she thinks that reveals about her, Meghan says that she’s the kind of artist who likes lots of little details – in her work and in her work space.
She’s also a lover of old things, and has a growing collection of furnishings and accessories with a history, as well as furnishings that were not pumped out in the thousands by a machine.
“I like the quality of a handmade item and how it lasts. I think it’s kind of a dying art form, for people to make crafted items. I think of myself as a rescuer of some of these old things,” she said.
The table she paints on belonged to a former neighbour’s grandmother when she was a child. She prefers it to other tables she could use to paint on because of that history and accompanying character. Using it as she does, Meghan feels, she is adding to its story.
When she is done with it, she plans to remove the top and keep it as her own personal art work, built up with layers of paint from so many of her paintings.
Colourful ink bottles line a shelf near Meghan’s main painting desk.
Across the room, a stack of books give a clue to some of Meghan’s art influences. However her work also boasts some musical influences, since she loves painting to a soundtrack of Nina Simone, Bon Iver, Cat Power and Neko Case.
“I take it all in while I’m doing detail work. Music is really important because it ties in so deeply with a mood,” Meghan said.
From the purple stucco on the exterior of the garage to the multitude of original paintings lining the walls, Meghan tries to keep her space as distinctive and original as her art, and a place that is truly her own.
Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier