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The Figurative Painting of Megan Landro

Megan Landro is a visual artist based in Chicago that focuses on painting figures and faces, working in both color and grayscale. Megan is currently working toward perfecting her craft and wants to be an art teacher one day. She just released a shirt with us as part of our “Artist X” shirt series that you can check out here. Check out Megan’s work and read our interview with her below.

How long have you been making art and how would you say your style has evolved since those beginnings?

I’ve been actively making art and working towards being a better artist since I was 15. I wasn’t happy at home and the school I went and ended up applying for a fine arts boarding school in Massachusetts. I had never painted before then but fell in love with oils and never really looked back. I’ve always focused on the figure and face in my work, and started out being trained in classical ways using grids and limited palettes before trying my hand at hyper realism. When I got to college I was urged by my professors to let go of what I considered portraiture and really go at it with a new mindset. I now paint looser and with more imagined places and settings while still using photo references.
 
Have you found it to be more difficult to create works with this different mindset? Or has it been a more comfortable adjustment?
 
It was definitely difficult at first, I’m very stubborn, and even though I felt like I wasn’t improving I was scared to let go of the way I had been painting. However, I’m glad I was pushed to as I feel my work is starting to not only improve technically, but I’m able to convey more of a narrative in my pieces. I paint people because growing up, I was fascinated with artists like Sargent and Freud and was enamored with how they captured personality. My subjects are almost always people I know in my real life and it’s my version of a love letter to them. With this new mindset that is still growing and changing, I’m starting to be able to let go of my preconceived notions of what a painting is and what it can be. I’m nowhere near where I want to be yet, but I’m working on it.
 
Is there anyone or anything else you’d name as big inspirations along with Sargent and Freud?
 
Yes! Recently in a class we were asked to name living and dead artists who inspired us and it really made me look into who I looked up to in the art world. In terms of late artists, some of the great painters like Caravaggio and Delacroix are my favorites in the way they handle paint. However, a more recent one, like the late Christina Ramberg, her pieces really spoke to me on how concept comes into play. She uses immaculate detail to talk about her early life and her mother, how she saw her use performative feminity and the binding of bodies with corsets. Today, artists like Lisa Yuskavage, Chloe Wise, and Jen Mann are my main sources of inspirations as female figurative painters making a name for themselves.
 
Are you currently working on any projects that you’re excited about? Or have done any recently?
 
Currently, due to the CoVid-19 situation I’ve had to move to temporary housing and pack up a lot of my supplies, so while making new work at the moment might be a bit of a challenge, I have lots of time to draw and sketch out new ideas. I’m always thinking about the next painting I’m going to do, who it’s going to be of, what I’m trying to say with it. However, my most recent work was a collaboration with my friend and fellow painter Sarah Wilson. She’s an incredible artist whose paintings are based in detail and inspired by street art and her surroundings. She had asked me to work with her on a series she made of “sexy billboards” from LA which I of course said yes to. I love things like that. It was really fun to do and interesting as my first collaboration to work figurative in oils next to her graphic acrylic work. They ended up hilarious and everything we envisioned and I’m really proud of the work we did.
 
We just released a shirt together that you designed – How did you come up with the design? What inspired it?
 
Before I considered myself a painter, I loved to illustrate and cartoon. I wanted to do something in this style as it’s always a fun release for me to back away from the pressure I put in myself with painting. I chose to surround myself with my favorite breeds of dogs because I simply really like dogs that look funny. I’m also a dog walker on the side and spend a lot of time running around Chicago getting to know some pretty cool dogs. I was excited to draw them and really try to capture some silliness in them that I usually stay away from in my main body of work.
Design by Megan Landro for our "Artist X" Shirt Series.
Last question – what do you hope to accomplish as an artist in your lifetime?
 
I hope to teach – that’s what I really want to do. I love painting and love the idea of being able to teach others one day. I know how influential teachers can be on people, good and bad, and I want to be one of the good ones. Let people know it’s okay to want to be artists and go after their passions. In terms of my own work, I hope to keep making and creating and never lose my love for painting. To know I’m never done improving and to always push myself to do more. I can’t envision my life without painting so no matter what I do in life as long as I have that still, I’ll feel accomplished.
Megan Landro, shot by Turner McElroy.

 FOLLOW MEGAN ON INSTAGRAM & TWITTER.

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