This week’s unique cover comes to us from Megan Euell — a photo she took of her plein air setup while painting the Montauk Lighthouse. Here, she discusses the iconic East End landmark, her sight size painting method and inspiring the next generation.
What is the name of this week’s cover art, and what inspired its creation?
This painting is titled “Montauk Lighthouse.” I painted it entirely plein air, from life, from the vantage point at Camp Hero. I was born and raised on the East End, and have been to the lighthouse many times. It’s such an iconic spot, and while I’ve painted landscapes for more than 10 years, this was my first time creating a painting of the Montauk Lighthouse! My dad loves to join me on painting adventures, so we headed out early from Southampton and made a day of it. When I set up that morning to paint, it was a bit hazy, with lots of clouds, and as the day went on, it cleared up beautifully and everything became more vibrant. I chose to keep the clouds in the painting, which I felt added to the scene. My goal with landscape painting is to celebrate the land, and our beautiful home of Eastern Long Island, and preserve it through my work.
How was this piece created? Walk us through your creative process.
I was trained in a method called sight size, where I create a one-to-one representation of the scene before me. It’s a visual tool, and I use it in conjunction with comparative measurement. I took some photos with my phone from a few different spots in the area, and then decided where I wanted to paint. I always begin with a simple drawing in charcoal to plan out the painting, and then dive right in, usually painting background to foreground. I try to mix the cleanest, most accurate color possible and apply the paint and leave it. I put down the general color for each area using larger brushes, and as I get further along, switch to smaller brushes for detail. With plein air, you need to paint directly, with a sense of immediacy, as so many factors can change quickly. I treat it like I am participating in a painting marathon, and I have one chance to get it right. Depending on the project, I sometimes work on the painting more in the studio, and other times, I go back to the scene two, three, four times before it is fully finished.
What makes this unique piece an ideal fit for a Dan’s Papers cover?
My painting is a celebration of the iconic lighthouse. It’s unique because of its accuracy and painterly style. I took the photograph of my easel set up in front of the scene to show the viewer that I painted it on location, from life, capturing the essence of the scene before me. The Montauk Lighthouse is a symbol of the East End and its beauty, which I encompass and celebrate in the purest way possible, by painting it.
How would you describe your art style, and how did you develop it?
I consider myself a representational painter, meaning I paint a realistic impression of my subject. I was initially captivated by classical drawing and painting during high school while I studied at Long Island Academy of Fine Art, previously located in Riverhead. The next step in my journey was attending the Savannah College of Art and Design where I received my BFA in fashion, and minored in drawing. During each summer break, I took courses in landscape painting at LIAFA. Following graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design, I decided to follow my passion in drawing and painting by attending the Florence Academy of Art, located in Florence, Italy. It was at this academy that I received my education in the sight size method, honed my skills as a fine artist and was fully trained as a classical painter. It was a rigorous, full-time, three-year program. I am immensely grateful to have furthered my education in an atelier setting from amazing instructors, in such a beautiful place.
What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of?
My greatest accomplishment is making a living being a professional artist and my work being recognized by galleries, private clients, art institutions as well as a growing number of students who wish to study with me. This has been my dream since childhood, and it’s been a long and incredible journey thus far.
What do you find most rewarding about being an artist?
I feel very lucky to be creating and teaching art every day. Art is essential to our culture, and I feel like I am carrying a torch, so to speak, of the next generation of classical American painters. I am striving to continue the classical tradition of working from life, using archival materials and methods to capture the beauty that surrounds us each and every day.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional info?
I will be teaching summer landscape painting workshops on the East End, beginning this June. For those interested, email [email protected]. I am also available for private lessons in the Hamptons and NYC.
For anyone wishing to commission a painting, I am currently accepting commissions and can be reached via email or through my website, meganeuell.com. All my latest works are posted on my Instagram, @meganeuell_artist.