What is the best thing that I love about my work? I have fun. I spent so much time when I was younger trying to “dig deep,” in an emotional way with my work. I had this idea that art had to be serious to be profound. But then I realized I was not too series of a person. So I let my work be what it should have been all along: me. It’s authentic in how I feel or what I want to paint. I enjoy the work and explore the work and the medium. If I can’t have fun doing it, why do I want to do it?
What is my idea of perfect happiness? I’m here now. I’m with my family. I work as an artist full time. I get to connect with new people everyday about my work and how it makes them feel. I can’t dream of a greater happiness.
What is my greatest fear? Being a parent has surfaced new fears in my life. Not being there for my children. Not being the best parent I can be. Being unable to support those kids. What if I turn for a moment and poof- they’re gone.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I can be a workaholic, a bit aggressive. I sometimes jump before I think things through.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? Ashley Longshore. Hands down. And up again. I’m not worthy. She has accomplished so much and helps so many people. She has worked hard in the face of people telling her she wasn’t marketable, she wasn’t an artist- and look at her go, and grow! She is the first woman artist to be showcased at Bergdorf Goodman’s and her windows are phenomenal and she
deserves it all.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I am happiest now. I have my studio in the basement. The kids are up stairs playing. It’s wonderful and ideal for me currently. I love working large and really getting physical with the paintings. Letting them take on new directions and literally stretch myself to achieve a brush stroke.
If I could, what would I change about myself? If I changed anything about me- I wouldn’t be me, and that would be a shame.
What is my greatest achievement in work? It’s Ashley Longshore finding my work on Instagram. She really lifted me up, put me out there, and believes in me. She got Blake Lively in front of me. They’ve collected my work. It made me work harder to do more, be seen more, play more. Her greatest advice was “You have to paint it, you can’t sell it if you don’t paint it.” and I think of that daily. Even when I don’t want to paint, and when I’m too tired, I paint. If I don’t put in the work- I can’t be successful.
Where would I most like to live? I love the cold. I’m one of those weirdos. Give me Philly in the winter and somewhere else cold in the summer. I hate being too hot.
What is my most treasured possession? Do my kids count? They’re amazing. They’re my yin and yang and everything I do in the hope to be successful is for them. It’s been tough and there have been and continue to be tears and sleepless nights, but I know there’s no one else I’d rather work this hard for.
What is my most marked characteristic? My ability to navigate challenging situations with a bubbly attitude. Oh, I’m incredibly goofy as well (if you haven’t seen by my art), and my memory is full of song lyrics. Once friends and I drove home from Illinois to Philadelphia and I knew every song and lyric on the radio for the 15 hour drive. Even I was impressed.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? I love the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love sitting on the steps that look out to boathouse row and on the river and relaxing. It’s beautiful, and calming.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? It was always Bridget Foys before it burnt down. The Couch Tomato in Manayunk is so wonderful.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? The Empire Records Soundtrack. It’s the perfect mix of easy, hard, and wonderfully danceable.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My parents. They instilled at an early age that I was always capable of handling anything as a woman, even if I have to do it alone.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? Forrest Gump. How the character adjusted and maneuvered all situations with an “oh, ok” and
kept going. I just keep going. You’re throwing this at me now? Let me pull a Forrest Gump, say “well, ok” and go. I’ve gotten this far, I might as well keep going.
What role plays art in my life and work? It’s all interconnected. Art and work are the same, life and art and work are all rolled together. Is it seamless, no. But they cannot be separated either.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My parents have been so supportive of me. Family has always been a driving factor. They’re watching my success and cheering me on.
Whom would I like to work with in 2018? A large (physical) commission. I want excuses to work on scales I would have never dreamed. I’m pricing old billboard tarps now. Any way I can challenge myself to go further.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2018? Anyone passionate about their work, anyone looking to continue to grow and strive to be a better person and artist.
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on? I just can’t wait to see where my work takes me. I’m planning to keep it weird and wonderful and push myself and what painting can do. For me the act of painting is the most important. What can the medium teach me- how far can I push it?
Where can you see me or my work in 2018? I’ll always be posting my work on instagram (@megancoonellyart). I’m in Philadelphia. If you’re in town and want a studio tour- hit me up.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? Keep going. Never let that fire fade. Be ok with failing. As an artist you’re going to be rejected… A LOT and that’s ok. But don’t let those rejections define you. Find new ways to navigate and discover your audience and you’ll keep your passion alive and that’s your success.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
Bridgette Meyer Johnson, Ekaterina Popova, Melissa Shusterman, SA Maples