When Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away the other day, I was inspired to work on a portrait to honor her memory. I haven’t tackled a portrait in nearly three years, so I felt rusty when I started this one. The tricky/intimidating thing about portraiture is getting the likeness of a person down properly. Sometimes I’ve struggled with it quite a bit, and this piece was no exception. It took me about a week to work on layering everything until I felt it was complete.
I think this portrait has inspired me to work on portraiture once again. Since it takes me longer to make these since I am a little rusty, I don’t plan to film any time lapse videos for my next few pieces. Once I’m able to speed up the process, I’ll consider filming my process again.
Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 6pm – 10pm
National Airport, Historic Terminal A
I’m excited to announce that I’ve donated my “Strolling in the Park” and “Figure Landscape” collages to an upcoming charity art auction called PawCasso. The event is taking place on November 3rd, and raises money for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. You can find out more about what’s up for auction, as well as get tickets to the event, by visiting their website.
Back when I was a senior in college, I created my first cohesive body of collage work where I made collages entirely from magazine strips. My senior thesis exhibition included a series of portraits, with several inspired by my family. At that time, I wasn’t interested in making portraits of famous or well-known figures, but figures that were well-known to me.
The image above is a collage, “Bill,” that was inspired by my father. I had taken a series of photographs of him and ended up working from a few reference images in order to complete his portrait. I wanted to make a portrait of my father because I’ve really appreciated how he’s influenced my interest in art. When I was a kid, I remember that he used to paint landscapes and still life scenes when we went on vacation. And over the years, he’s been an avid photographer.
“Jean” is a portrait of my mother that was also part of my senior thesis exhibit. I remember that my mother’s portrait was a bit of a challenge because of all the details involved with the background – the windows, the bookshelf, the faint hint of color variation for the blinds, and of course, the detail of her shirt. Over the years, she’s worn many hats, one of which I’d like to think of as her counselor hat, being helpful in giving me advice in life. She seems a bit serious in this portrait, almost as though she’s about to impart some advice.
“Bren” is a portrait of my brother. I’m realizing that he’s appeared in several of my figurative collages over the years. What can I say? My brother has always had a tendency of being great at making expressive faces. He is also pretty artistic, and growing up, I was inspired by the artwork he made. He studied animation back in college, and currently works as an animator/3d artist.
“Ali” is a portrait of my cousin, who I like to say seems more like a sister to me than a cousin, simply because we spent so much time together when we were growing up. Like my brother, I feel like she can be pretty expressive, and she’s appeared in a couple of my portraits.
“Scott” is a portrait of my cousin who passed away back when I was in high school. When I was in college, I really wanted to create a work of art in memory of him. I remember that I struggled with this portrait, since I really wanted to make sure I could capture his likeness. This portrait was also part of my senior thesis exhibition.
After college, I started exploring different ways of tackling portraiture. “Boy with Dog” was one of my first pieces that looked at portraiture involving a person and a pet. This piece was also inspired by one of my younger cousins, Drew.
Later, I started creating images where figures were interacting more with their surroundings. “Sightseers” is a piece that was inspired by my mother and brother when we were on the rooftop of a building in New York City, admiring the view.
For several years, my family went to West Virginia for Thanksgiving. We’d rent a cabin, and it usually snowed at some point during our stay. “The Hikers” is inspired by the walks I’d occasionally take with my family in the snow. For this piece, I explored using more abstract shapes, as well as fragments from photographs of nature.
Growing up, my family spent a few summers in Maine. Sometimes my brother and I would go snorkeling in the ocean, and since the water was always so cold, we’d wear wetsuits. “Snorkeling” was inspired by those summers spent snorkeling and exploring tide pools.
I have my family to thank for inspiring a lot of my earlier portraiture work. I actually haven’t explored figurative collages in a while, and I suppose you could say I’m well overdue for that. Perhaps I should turn to my family and friends again, and see how they can help inspire future works of art.
“Mark and Sophie” is a portrait that I was commissioned to make for the wife of a former boss of mine – she wanted to give it to her husband for their anniversary.
It’s been a while since I’ve made a portrait collage, so this piece was definitely a bit of a struggle for me. Usually my collages are relatively flat when you look at the surface – I don’t usually use that many layers. However, for this piece, there are definitely sections where I built up the layers more so than others.
Here’s the sketch that this piece started off with:
You can see that it looks a lot different than the final piece. Sometimes my sketches don’t exactly look the way I want the final product to look, but they do give me an idea of how to block out the entire composition.
Anyway, although this piece was a struggle, eventually all the pieces fell into place. Just goes to show that if you keep at it with something, eventually you can accomplish your goal.
Here’s another collage that I made back in high school. This was during my phase where I was focussing a lot on figurative art and also liked to draw on top of my work with oil pastel. As you can see here, the figure was drawn almost completely in oil pastel. There was actually cut paper underneath all that drawing. It was during this phase when one of my classmates asked me why I always covered up all my hard work by drawing on top of it. It was at that point that I realized I should try to make works completely from paper – and see how I could accomplish adding shadows and highlights just by manipulating cut pieces of magazine strips.
Here’s one of the holiday commissions I completed a couple months ago. My client wanted me to make a collage of her friend with his grandson. Since this piece wasn’t the smallest size I work in, it wasn’t as difficult to collage two figures on the 9″x12″ area. However, since 9″x12″ is still somewhat small, it was a bit of a challenge to get the likeness down properly for the grandson. I did have a bit of fun collaging all those colorful badges on the grandfather’s jacket.
I have a few more collages that I completed this year that I’ll post in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, I hope everyone is having a great December!
I like the story behind this collage: Recently the guy who owns the domain megancoyle.com contacted me. I wanted that domain when I first put my website together, but had to settle with megancoyle.com since another Megan Coyle had a site up and running on megancoyle.com. So the owner contacted me, telling me that his client, another Megan, no longer used her website. Thus the web address wasn’t being used and was pointing to an error page, although the owner was still paying money for the domain. So he offered to do a trade – he’d transfer the domain to my account if I made a collage for him.
Above is the collage that I made for him. The challenge with this piece was that it was one of my smaller sized collages, and I wasn’t doing a portrait of one, but two people. I had to cut the magazine strips pretty small, but I’m pleased that it came together in the end.
And here’s the finished piece – as you can see it’s much different than the first progress picture. When my client reviewed progress images of this one, she decided she wanted Nancy wearing a dark jacket instead of blue. She also made a few suggestions here and there. Her feedback was pretty helpful with shaping this into a Nancy portrait that looks more like Nancy.
I’m kind of excited about the idea of making a series of political leader collages, especially since I live in the DC area. We shall see how that goes when I get to it…
And now I’m off to work on my children’s book illustrations as well as another portrait for a client. It’s snowing like crazy outside – good weather for staying in and making artwork!
“Claire” is a commissioned portrait that I recently completed and shipped over to a woman in Texas. I have a couple of other commissions at the moment that are going to be given as Christmas gifts by my clients. Thus I’ll refrain from posting images of these projects until the holiday season has passed.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was filled with family get-togethers and lots and lots of food. I didn’t bother with shopping on Black Friday – I think I’ll finish my shopping online so I can avoid the crowds. Anyway, I’m off to try and finish another commission – I’ve decided I won’t work too much on my personal projects until these commission are complete, however I’m anxious to get back to my children’s book illustrations.