Color Pencil Self Portrait from College

I was looking through a few old sketches I made back in college, and came across this self portrait. It made me realize that over the past few years, I’ve had a tendency to focus a little too much on collage. I think I’d really enjoy revisiting some of these other mediums that I used to work in. Perhaps I should start a new color pencil sketch series? We shall see…if anything, it’s been great getting inspired by artwork from my past. I’m looking forward to changing things up again in the future.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Bosty wanted to travel to another country, so he hopped on a plane to Mexico City. He started off his trip wandering around the streets, swinging by places like the Placio de Bellas Artes to check out the latest art exhibits.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Afterwards he did some exploring and snapped pictures of interesting buildings. He especially liked the House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos) with the intricate pattern of tiles on the building’s exterior.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He had so much fun learning about a new city and hearing everyone around him speaking Spanish. It was wonderful being in a place that was so different when compared to his home in the U.S.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The Centro Histórico was a great place to take in the sights. Bosty liked how this one building was decorated and ready for celebrating.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He liked how colorful the streets were, with some buildings that were painted bright colors.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

And he was amazed by how many beautiful public areas were in the city, some filled with unusual and unique sculptures.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The next day he went on a day trip to Teotihuacan to visit the pyramids. He was pretty proud of himself for hiking up and down the Pyramid of the Sun.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The best part of climbing up the pyramids was seeing the beautiful view of the area. Bosty had never seen anything quite like it before. I think he might even be inspired to check out the pyramids of Giza in the future…

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The following day, Bosty continued to sight-see as much as he could. He even got to see the pole flyers and their Dance of the Flyers (Danza de los Voladores), which was an exciting experience for a tourist.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He ended his trip by swinging by a couple of museums. One of his favorites was Museo Soumaya, which had an incredible art collection. Bosty couldn’t believe how many works of art they had – he could have easily gotten lost in the museum for hours, just admiring all that artwork.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Next he strolled around the Museo Jumex to see a couple of their modern art exhibits. He liked how the building sort of looked like a factory drawing.

Overall, Bosty was pleased with his excursion and really enjoyed getting to know a new place.

Hat Oil Painting from College

Hat Oil Painting by collage artist Megan Coyle

I made this textured oil painting back when I was a junior in college. This was part of my studio work as a painting major, and I was trying to tackle a still life and make it interesting for myself. I remember I used to try to avoid making still life works of art because I didn’t think they were very exciting. These days I’m more interested in tackling still life when it involves food of some sort.

I used my palette knife for the vast majority of this painting. You can see a lot of texture in the background, and I actually layered quite a few layers of paint for sections of the hat as well.

Photo Collage from College

This photo collage was one of my art projects back when I was in college. We had to pick a shape and then take pictures of objects that contained that shape. It was an interesting exercise that got you thinking more about the shapes that make up objects around us.

I decided to pick triangles and after I took a series of pictures, I cropped them, printed them out in our computer lab, and rearranged the photos on a square piece of paper.

Overall, I enjoyed finding shapes in unexpected places. And I also liked the process of arranging the cropped images – finding a good balance of color and the variation of the similar shapes.

The Colorful Parrot

The Colorful Parrot by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Colorful Parrot” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Lately I’ve been using more solid colors in my collages, so this time around, I wanted to mix in more textures. You can see that I’ve still used bits and pieces of solid colors, however the background consists of fragments of images of the outdoors, while the blue feathers and beak have a little more texture or patterns when compared to other areas of the collage. For the blue, I stumbled upon a blue tile-like pattern, and figured I’d see how it would look when I incorporated it into the piece. Sometimes I never know how a specific texture or pattern will work out until I layer it down on my artwork. I can always peel back layers if they don’t work out, so the process is always somewhat of a journey.

This piece was inspired by one of the many visits I’ve made to a zoo. Zoos are the easiest way for me to see exotic animals in-person, where I can take lots of pictures to later use as references for my artwork.

Collages Inspired by the National Zoo

I’ve found a lot of inspiration from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Over the years, I’ve visited the zoo numerous times, and have taken lots of pictures of the animals in their different exhibits. I thought I’d share some images of the work I’ve made that was specifically inspired by some of the animals found at the National Zoo.

Red Ruffed Lemur by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Red Ruffed Lemur.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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I’m fascinated by lemurs, and think that the red ruffed lemur is a beautiful creature with colorful fur and bright eyes. When I was walking by the exhibit where this particular lemur lives, I just had to take a few pictures which later inspired this piece.

Fine Dining for Pandas by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Fine Dining for Pandas.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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Pandas are a lot of fun to collage. This collage was inspired by feeding time for the pandas, where one of the pandas was so engrossed with eating bamboo.

Tree Baby (Firefox) by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Tree Baby (Firefox).” Collage on paper. 16″x12″
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This collage was inspired by a day when one of the red pandas was pretty active, climbing around his or her home.

Cuddling Meerkats by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Cuddling Meerkats.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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Meerkats are one of my favorite animals. During one of my zoo visits, several of the meerkats were clumped together and looked like they were all cuddling with each other. I just had to take several pictures of them and use those images as references for this collage.

What Are You Looking At - orangutan - by collage artist Megan Coyle
“What Are You Looking At?” (Orangutan).
Collage on paper. 16″x12″
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It’s eerie how much orangutans look like people to me. They’re so expressive, and it seems like half the time I see them at the zoo, it’s difficult to tell who is really watching who.

Turtle that thinks she's a Giraffe by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Turtle that thinks she’s a Giraffe.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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During another zoo visit, I noticed a turtle that had an unusually long neck, and it reminded me of giraffes. From the turtle’s unusual appearance, I was inspired to make a piece modeled after that species.

Flamingo by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Flamingo” Collage on paper. 7″x5″
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I love how colorful flamingos are, and I always enjoy taking pictures of them to use as references for future works of art. I suppose I’m really drawn to their vivid pink feathers.

The Otter Sisters by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Otter Sisters.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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I think otters are adorable and I always get excited when I see them at the zoo.

Animals are definitely one of my favorite subjects to collage. I love how they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. And I really appreciate that Washington, D.C. has a zoo that is so easily accessible to the public. Being able to visit the zoo frequently, makes it a lot easier for me to tackle my animal compositions.

Collages Inspired by the D.C. Landscape

I grew up in Northern Virginia, so I’ve become pretty familiar with the Washington, D.C. area over the years. And as I’ve grown to love different buildings and places, I’ve also found a lot of inspiration from my surroundings.

The Torpedo Factory by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Torpedo Factory.” Collage on paper. 12″x9″
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The Torpedo Factory is an art center in Old Town, Alexandria. As a kid, I used to take a number of art classes there. In high school, I was mentored by a painter that had a studio there. And after college, I became a visiting artist for a couple of months over the summer. So over the years, the Torpedo Factory has had a big role in my development as an artist – it’s no wonder that I was inspired to make a collage of it.

Downtown Shopping by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Downtown Shopping.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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“Downtown Shopping” was inspired by the townhouses in Old Town, Alexandria. Growing up, I used to wander around Old Town, and I became really familiar with the bright and colorful townhouses that line the streets.

Paddle Boating by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Paddle Boating.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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Whenever I walk by the Tidal Basin, the paddle boaters remind me of the days when I was a kid and went on field trips around the city, or visited museums with my family.

The US Capitol by Night by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The U.S. Capitol by Night.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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“The U.S. Capitol by Night” was inspired by one of the iconic buildings in the D.C. area. It reminds me of the times I’ve lived in the city, or walked along the National Mall.

Air Force Memorial by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Air Force Memorial.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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The “Air Force Memorial” is a collage of one of my favorite memorials in the city. I love how the Air Force Memorial is abstract and sculptural. The fact that it doesn’t look like so many of the other more traditional memorials or sculptures, is what really draws me to it. I’ve made a couple of pieces inspired by this distinct landmark.

The Botanic Garden by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Botanic Garden.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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The colorful glass sculptures outside the Botanic Garden have always caught my eye when walking past that building over the years. I like how they give the landscape a pop of color in an otherwise gray environment.

Air and Space Museum by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Air and Space Museum.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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I spent a lot of time at the Air and Space Museum back when I was in elementary school. I actually spent a summer going to space camp there, and always had somewhat of a fascination with space. It seemed only fitting to make a collage inspired by a place where I went on many school field trips and summertime outings.

National Gallery by collage artist Megan Coyle
“National Gallery.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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One of my favorite memories of art when I was a kid, was when I got to see a Vincent van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery. I’ve been inspired by van Gogh’s work ever since I was in the second grade and did a school project on him. Over the years, I’ve continued to stop by this gallery to admire their permanent collection or check out the latest exhibit. I’m pretty grateful that I live in an area where museums like the National Gallery are free to the public. It makes it a lot easier to frequent the museum, and to continue to gather inspiration from artists throughout history.

National-Museum-of-the-American-Indian
“National Museum of the American Indian.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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When it comes the Washington, D.C. architecture, the National Museum of the American Indian is by far my favorite building. I love how different it is when compared to the more traditional buildings in the surrounding area.

The Washington Monument at Sunset by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Washington Monument at Sunset.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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Over the years, I’ve made a number of collages of the Washington Monument. And I’ve also taken numerous photos of it whenever I’ve strolled by.

The landscape of the Washington, D.C. area reminds me of a number of experiences I’ve had while living here. With my collages, I enjoy focusing on these familiar places, and showing a them in a different way – in paper form.

Bosty goes to Quebec City

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Bosty wanted to visit Canada the other day, so he could check out Quebec City. He spent the first couple of days strolling around the streets, looking at all the colorful buildings with window boxes filled with flowers.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Since it was his first time visiting the city, he just had to pick up a few souvenirs at some of the local shops.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Then he went off to enjoy the sunshine while looking at sculptures and fountains in public spaces.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Bosty especially liked the public art he ran into, like this art installation of woven boats that were suspended above the water.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

It was such a beautiful day to admire the area’s architecture and parks.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

And he had a chance to get close to the Salvador Dali elephant sculpture.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Next he walked along the boardwalk to enjoy views of the city by the water.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

The Quebec City Film Festival was going on during his visit, so he had a chance to watch a few films that were being screened outside.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Then he was back to wandering around the streets to take a look at the street art. He really liked the intricate murals that were painted on this overpass.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

And he enjoyed how every now and then he’d run into an incredible mural that was painted on what would otherwise have been just a regular and plain building.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

Before ending his trip, he went whale watching in St. Lawrence, Quebec. It was actually a pretty foggy day, where he couldn’t see very much in front of him.

Bosty the Boston Terrier by Megan Coyle goes to Quebec City

While riding the boat out on the water, he got to see lots of whales. Unfortunately they moved too quickly for Bosty to pose for a touristy photo.

Overall, Bosty had a wonderful visit where he had a chance to see lots of beautiful murals and public spaces.

How to Become an Artist

"The Daydreaming Fish" by collage artist Megan Coyle

I often hear from art students and other aspiring artists who ask me for tips on how they can become an artist. I thought I’d share some advice on how someone can get started if they want to become an artist:

1. Start making art

You have to start somewhere, and the first step to becoming an artist is to start making art. Put your frustrations and negative thoughts aside and focus on putting the practice in. Watch YouTube videos of techniques that other artists are using, and try to use these techniques on your own. Practice sketching famous works of art, then start drawing from pictures you’ve taken or draw from real life.

2. Take classes

Take an art class to help encourage and motivate your work. Classes can help you get a better foundation in areas where you might be shaky, and with practice, comes confidence. They are also a great way to get advice and feedback from more experienced artists.

3. Evaluate your work and ask others to critique it

Every now and then, set your artwork aside and don’t look at it for a little while. Then return to it so you can evaluate your work with fresh eyes. Make note of what you think really works for the piece and what areas need improvement. Continue working on improving the work, or start over with a new work of art and keep what areas of improvement you need in mind. If you’re not sure how to improve a specific work of art, ask for others to help you out by critiquing your art. Ask them how you can improve your work and what they currently like about it. As an artist, it’s important to constantly improve and refine your craft.

4. Make time for your art

It’s a good idea to map out a schedule for making art, so you can constantly work on practicing your craft. It’s difficult to get better at something if you aren’t actually practicing it. For some more advice on this, checkout 7 Ways to Make Time for Your Artwork.

5. Build a portfolio

A crucial piece to promoting your work as an artist, is to build a strong portfolio. As you make art, take pictures of every finished piece. Then start sifting through the images and select your best pieces that also reflect the variety of work you can produce. You don’t want every piece in your portfolio looking too similar, but you also want to make sure that each piece reflects your strength as an artist.

6. Find a marketing strategy

One way that you can promote your artwork is by looking into local art centers and organizations that hold exhibitions, and start submitting your work to exhibits. Also figure out what ways you want to promote your work online – put together an online portfolio website and pick the social media platforms you’d prefer to use to post images of your work and share them with the world.

7. Connect with other artists

As you work on developing your craft and spreading the word of your art, it’s also important to connect with other artists you admire as well as more experienced artists in your local arts community. Seek out other artists who you can ask for advice.

8. Never give up

One of the biggest parts to being an artist is being persistent, and never giving up. If one technique doesn’t seem to work for you, try focusing on something else for a little while before returning to it. Being persistent and pivoting when necessary, is an essential part to being an artist.

 

Becoming an artist is journey that takes time and a lot of trial and error. I’m constantly trying to find ways to improve my artwork and the way I promote it. Some of the things I’ve tried have failed miserably, while other things have unexpectedly worked. You’ll never know for sure what can work for you until you start trying.

7 Ways to Make Time for Your Artwork

Daytime at the Capitol by collage artist Megan Coyle

Trying to find time to make artwork can be an intimidating task at hand. If you’re like me and have a full-time job, enjoy spending time with your family and friends, and also want to have time to make artwork, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything.

In an effort to make art making easier to fit into your schedule, here are a few ways you can make time for your creativity:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it

It’s easier to have time to do something when it becomes part of your weekly routine. Try carving out a few minutes a day during the week or on the weekend where you’ll devote some time to artwork. Even if you’re only devoting ten minutes a day, at least you’ll spend a little time at it. Plus, the most difficult part is getting started. Often times what was initially going to be ten minutes of creative time, can easily turn into a couple of hours once you find yourself getting caught up in your work.

2. Limit the time you spend on your smartphone or on social media

If you’re one of those people who checks his or her phone numerous times an hour, try to get into the habit of turning off your phone, or turning it on silent and hiding it, so you won’t get distracted by push notifications and other in-your-face alerts. It’s easy to get caught up in whatever is trending for a given hour when you’re constantly tied to your device. But when you set it aside for a while, it’s easier to have more time to do other things like make artwork.

3. Brainstorm the activities you want to do each week and map them out on a calendar

I like to come up with a rough idea of what I want to do each week. Then I map out what I plan to do every day of the week. I used to have a never ending to-do list, which quickly got out of control and got easier to ignore. I found that adding only one or two tasks for a given day was an easier way to cross items off my to-do list without getting overwhelmed. I found that this especially worked well when I wanted to make sure I did something art-related every day.

I also like to use an online calendar to manage these tasks, since digital calendars make it a lot easier to move things around if something comes up. You can always (and easily) reassign tasks to another day.

4. Take a class

Sometimes it’s not necessarily a matter of not having enough time to make artwork, it’s more along the lines of not being inspired enough to find time to make artwork. When you’re lacking motivation or inspiration, it can be difficult to set aside any time at all for art. By taking an art class, you can give yourself a little push to find time for art every week. You could also get some ideas from my post on 10 Ways to Get Inspired with Your Artwork.

5. Find ways to ease art into your schedule

There are times when making a schedule for your art seems too structured and intimidating, and you’d prefer other ways to work it into your life. One way is to ease art into your life gradually. If you enjoy watching the news or a little bit of TV at the end of the day, one way to start incorporating art-making time into your life is by working on a project while the TV is playing. That way, you can not only follow along with the news or other TV show, but you can also get some art done.

6. Have a designated space for making artwork

If you have no real workspace for your art, then making artwork will become more of a hassle when you have to recreate your studio environment every time you want to work on a project. If you set up a space where your supplies and work in progress are set out, it will make it a lot easier to continue working on a piece. In fact, any work in progress sitting in your studio space can serve as a reminder that you should get back to art making at some point in time.

7. Set goals

Without any concrete goals or a tangible vision, you can easily get lost. By defining your goals and what you want to accomplish with your artwork, you’ll have an easier time setting aside time for art when you have an end-goal in mind.

 

The art making process is indeed a process, and you should keep that in mind when making artwork and working on refining your style and technique – art making takes time. And the only way you can continue to grow as an artist, is if you work on finding that time to develop your craft.