This month dot-art speaks to artist Megan Dunbar.
Megan Dunbar is an Irish artist based in Liverpool, UK. Focusing on landscapes of places that hold meaning for her, some are true representations of the scene and others more like a dreamy memory of her experience at the location. Dunbar’s works invoke feelings of nostalgia, happiness and peaceful reflection. She works almost exclusively in oil paints, on stretched canvas or board.
Her practice is rooted in traditional representation and methods, but Dunbar constantly challenges her understanding of “painting” and explores the ways paint can be used to represent concepts of light, time, and movement. She uses brushes, palette knives and sometimes fingers as efficiently as possible, condensing her vision onto canvas, whilst still being sure to leave room for a subjective and capturing experience.
Having grown up in the beautiful, rural town of Enniskillen, Dunbar has always been interested in land and townscapes. As a child, she would visit the West coast of Ireland, namely County Sligo, with its rugged coastline, dramatic mountains and eerie golden light. It is from here that she draws a lot of her inspiration.
After graduating her Fine Art Degree in Sheffield, Dunbar moved to a small village outside Cambridge called Orwell. Here, the juxtaposition of sprawling agricultural landscape meeting vast open skies at a clear linear horizon opened her eyes to the drama that can be found in the sky. Thatched cottages and gardens abundant with colour filled her days with beauty and her interest in nature and the landscape grew. It was only through the time for reflection offered by the Covid-19 pandemic that Dunbar decided to fully commit to art full time. She uprooted and moved to Liverpool where she can now be found every day in her studio, surrounded by oil paint and canvas.
How would you describe your style?
I am a landscape painter. I suppose my work would be described as impressionistic or done in a post impressionism style. I like to make large bold marks within my work and I am certainly not afraid of colour.
I want my paintings to act as a joyful window on someone’s wall.
Can you talk us through your process?
I actually begin the process with collage. I could spend days cutting and sticking making imaginary landscapes. Sometimes these end up as paintings but often not. Its just a way to loosen up and get those creative juices flowing. Once I feel in the flow and I am not taking things so seriously I can make a painting. It usually takes a couple of weeks to finish depending on the size.
I do struggle to know when a painting is finished. Often, if I am unsure, I will put the painting facing a walls for a couple of weeks or sometimes longer and then come back to it. Once I left one for a year! I like to keep a looseness in work so I really try to not overdo things.
When did you begin your career in art?
Painting is something I have always done. My mother has photographs of me as a child and I was always painting or drawing. I even painted through my teenage years. However, I thought that I should do something more ‘responsible’ rather than pursue art so I worked with animals for a while.
Nevertheless, in my heart I wanted to paint. When I was 21 I left my hometown in Fermanagh to study Fine Art in Sheffield, where I graduated in 2017. It was only when I moved to Liverpool last year that I began to pursue it as a career.
Why is art and creativity so important to you?
For me, making art and being creative directly relate to life. Painting is something spiritual for me, a truly honest way to show gratitude for the gift of life itself.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have an exhibition in the Everyman Theatre on the 23rd of May as part of Art in the Everyman. I am excited to get the out in the world!
What does it mean to be an artist in the Liverpool City Region?
I feel that the Liverpool Art scene is ever evolving and with dot-art I feel a part of that. As an artist I work alone so it is incredibly important to me to have a community and there is no better place than Liverpool to meet other likeminded people because Liverpudlians are so friendly!
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
When making art, follow your intuition.