Select Works Group Exhibit

Afternoon in the Park by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Afternoon in the Park” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
Order a print

April 5th – May 20th, 2018
Dacha Loft; Washington, DC

A dozen of Coyle’s collages will be on display in a group exhibit run by Monochrome Collective and Dacha Beer Garden. The majority of Coyle’s collages featured in the exhibit depict scenes inspired by the DC landscape, as well as a couple of still life and animal pieces. 5% of all artwork sales will be donated to The Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Their mission is to “Mobilize our community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they3 need to thrive.”

This is the first time in five years that Coyle is exhibiting her artwork in the area. The show will have three events with limited space for viewing the work, so contact Megan if you’re interested in getting on the guest list for the opening, artist talk, or closing reception. Otherwise viewings can be made by appointment only.

Opening Reception: April 5
Artist Talk: May 10
Closing Reception: May 20

Why Do Artists Create Self Portraits?

The New York Diner by collage artist Megan Coyle

A self portrait is a representation of an artist created by that artist. Self portraits have been made in every medium imaginable – photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and many more. If you’re an admirer of art, and have frequented museums and galleries, you’ve most likely seen quite a few self portraits – and I have to admit that I have made quite a few self portraits over the years. So, why exactly do artists make self portraits? Here are a few reasons why:

1) Practice

Self portraits help artists tackle the figure. The more an artist can render a portrait, even if it’s just of her or his self, the better an artist can get at depicting people. The human form is a pretty complex subject to tackle, so the more practice, the better.

2) A Convenient Model

It’s common for artists to draw from life, which means using models. Hired models can be pricy, and that expense can add up, so drawing from life by looking in a mirror is a lot cheaper. Also, making self portraits is really convenient – you can always pose for yourself whenever you want to, while hiring models or having someone pose for you means you’ll have to figure out scheduling.

3) To explore themes and ideas in their artwork

Self portraits can also be used for a series exploring various compositions with underlying meaning, such as the exploration of the artist’s self.

4) Record the artist’s self

Self portraits can also be used to record the way the artist looked at the time the portrait was made.


So there you have it, a few reasons why artists make self portraits. If you’re an artist and have another reason why you make self portraits, feel free to reach out to me and let me know what it is!

A Piece of Cake

A Piece of Cake by collage artist Megan Coyle
“A Piece of Cake” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
Order a print

I had a lot of fun working on this collage, and I’ve been getting a lot of joy from working on my latest series of minimalist desserts. I think I was previously focusing too much on animal portraits, and having more change in my routine helps get the creativity flowing. I’m planning to make a few more pieces for this series before changing gears again. It’s been fun trying to find new ways to sharpen my collage-making skills.

This piece of cake was pieced together rather smoothly. I think the most difficult part was trying to get the coloring for the background to work the way I wanted it to. Initially it was a more vibrant pink, although I wanted to find colors that were more subdued so that the cake itself would stand out more. You can also see that I focused more on finding solid colors from the magazine strips I layered, with only a few bits of texture.

You’re Pretty Sweet

You're Pretty Sweet ice cream cone by collage artist Megan Coyle
“You’re Pretty Sweet” Collage on paper. 7″x5″
Order a print

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve probably noticed that the vast majority of my work focuses on wildlife. I’ve always had an affinity to animals, and I suppose that’s why time and time again, I’ve been drawn to making animal collages. However, lately I’ve wanted to change things up a bit. So right now I’m tackling a series of minimalist still life work, that explores various desserts.

At some point I’ll want to explore other aspects of still life compositions, but for now, I’m going to keep it sweet with my focus on sweets.

How to Make a Paper Collage

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

Collage is a medium that involves layers – usually layers of paper, magazine cutouts, or photographs – although there are artists who make collages with other found materials. If you’re new to making collages, paper collages are a great place to start since the materials are relatively easy to find, and the medium is so flexible. You can easily add layers of paper as well as peel back previous layers, which is especially useful if you want to “undo” any of your work during the process.

Here’s how you can get started:

1) Decide what you want to collage

Figure out if you want to make an abstract or representational collage, and think about what color palette you’d like to use. Do you want to make more of a traditional collage, or do you want to paint with paper?

2) Find your inspiration

If you’re using reference photos, collect photographs you’ve taken to help guide your work.

3) Gather your materials

If you’re working with found paper, take some time to find a variety of paper you can use. Or sift through magazines and photographs to find possible imagery to use. Sort the paper based on color and texture to make it easier to assemble your collage. You should also find:

  • Glue
  • Varnish
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Paper (or the support you want to collage on, let that be canvas, panel, etc)

4) Plan your collage

With pencil, sketch out an idea of what the composition will look like on your support. If it’s going to be more of an abstract collage, plan out the general look and feel you’re going for. You can plan as little or as much as you need to.

Pretty as a Peacock sketch by collage artist Megan Coyle

5) Start collaging

With scissors, cut the paper into different shapes and fragments. You can arrange the pieces of paper on the page before gluing them down, or you can cut out shapes and glue them as you move along. Layer the paper where needed, and peel back layers when needed. To make the collage process more flexible, use an acid free glue stick. Glue sticks are a much less permanent glue, which makes the process more flexible since it’s easier to peel back previous layers.

Pretty as a Peacock work in progress by collage artist Megan Coyle

6) Varnish your collage

Since paper collage is made up of paper, it’s a very delicate medium. Varnishing your collage will help seal in the pieces so they don’t easily fall apart. UV protective varnishes will also protect the paper from light.

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

7) Frame your collage

Once your work of art is complete and the varnish has dried, you should frame your new collage to help protect it even more. Use acid-free matting and UV-protective glass. Since custom framing can be pricy, consider making your artwork with dimensions that fit standard sized frames.

Now you’re ready to share your artwork with the world!

Bosty goes to Montreal

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Montreal

Bosty wanted to escape the winter in Washington, DC, so he jetted off to…Montreal, Canada. I suppose he wanted to swap one cold winter for a colder one. Anyway, he decided to spend a weekend exploring the streets and running through the snow.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Montreal

He also really enjoyed a lot of the street art in the area. Even though it was his first time to the city, he decided to admire the overall environment instead of playing tourist the entire time.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Montreal

Murals even caught his eye at night when he strolled through the snowy streets.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Montreal

He loved seeing all the night lights, especially ones that were strung across the street.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Montreal

And on the last night of his trip, he decided to do at least one touristy thing – ride the La Grande Roue de Montréal, otherwise known as the Montreal Observation Wheel. It was a wonderful way to say farewell to the city by getting a good look at the skyline.

Donut Worry

Donut Worry by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Donut Worry” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
Order a print

Over the past few months, I’ve made animal collage after animal collage. Animals have always been a favorite subject of mine, but I’m realizing that I need to change things up a bit more, and focus on other subjects that I’m not as comfortable with.

Still life has always been a subject that I haven’t enjoyed tackling all that much, and I’ve had a tendency of avoiding it or not trying to see how I can make it more interesting. As an artist, if I truly want to grow and develop my skills in new ways, it’s best to get out of my comfort zone so I can see what happens.

This piece is the start of a series of food collages. First, I’m focusing on desserts where I plan to use more of a minimalist composition. And of course, I had to include a pun in the title for this piece. After all, donut worry, be happy 🙂


Collie by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Collie” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
Order a print

I haven’t explored collaging different dog breeds all that much, so the other day I figured I’d tackle a Collie portrait. I decided to use a simplified background with a warmer green, to create more of a contrast between the Collie and the background. I worked in bits of texture as well as solid colors, and I like how this dog seems to be smiling.

It’s always good to explore different ways to tackle a medium. Sometimes I like to work with more patterns and textures in the magazine strips I use, while other times I like to focus mainly on solid colors. Other times I have no idea what direction I’ll lean towards, and that element of surprise is all the more reason why I continue to make collages.

Flower Color Pencil Drawing from College

Color Pencil Flower Drawing from College

Back in college, I kept a sketchbook for one of my painting classes. My professor was adamant that we worked in our sketchbooks on a weekly basis (at least). As a result, I sometimes added quick doodles when I wanted to get these sketches “out of the way.” Sometimes I surprised myself with how my quick drawings turned out. Perhaps I should take up sketching again? I think it’s a pretty great way to brainstorm creative ideas.

How to Handle Criticism as an Artist

If you’re an artist or an aspiring artist, you’ll eventually find yourself getting faced with criticism. Some of the criticism will be constructive, while other times it will be too general to be useful. Criticism can sting, but it’s important to learn how to filter through the feedback you get so you don’t get too discouraged – and so you can improve in the areas that really matter.

I’ll admit that when I first started promoting my artwork online and exhibiting in galleries, any bit of criticism was pretty painful. It took years to learn how to filter through those comments so I could focus on what could improve my craft as an artist, instead of being crippled by any outside negativity. The reality is that as an artist, not everyone will enjoy your work. So you should focus more on the people who do enjoy your work, and how you can help them like it even more.

Here are some tips on how to handle criticism of your artwork:

1. Take note of the critique and push it aside.

This helps give you some distance from the criticism, and makes it easier to not take it personally so you can approach it with more of an analytical mindset. Being an artist is a personal experience. You put yourself into your work, and when it gets picked apart, it’s hard not to take it personally. So the first time you hear a critique, spend some time away from the comment. Then later, with a clear mind, revisit the feedback you received and see how it can be used to improve your craft.

2. Analyze what was said and figure out what was useful

Did the critic make a general statement without referencing anything specific? If so, no need to mull over their words since it won’t help you constructively.

3. Keep a file of any compliments or words of encouragement about your work.

It’s useful to look over this any time you get discouraging criticism, to serve as a reminder that other people do in fact enjoy your work.

4. Remind yourself why you’re an artist and keep creating.

It’s important to take every piece criticism with a grain of salt, so you don’t get too frustrated with your work. With art, it’s all too easy for others to be opinionated critics. Art is really subjective after all, and it’s important that you remind yourself what you love about your own work, so you can keep moving forward by growing in a direction that truly matters to you.