"It may seem controversial, but I really think artists are born, not made," says Meagan Shein. Definitely bold words, especially coming from someone who has advanced degrees in fine art and art history. "It doesn't mean that the innate skill is there," the artist quickly adds, "but the compulsion to create art and continue to hone your craft is innate. You did it because you have to in order to feel fulfilled. After all, an art career isn't the easiest road to go down."
Shein may have a point there. I mean, if you could find happiness and total fulfillment work in a steady, well-defined career wouldn't you invest in that instead of the fickle and fearful world of fine art?
Gas Station II by Meagan Shein, mixed media artwork
For Shein, the desire to grow and challenge herself in mixed media art hasn't waned in more than 20 years. After years of working in oil, acrylic, and pastel, she has switched her focus to drawings that are minimalist in content and rich with meaning. Combining pen and ink on paper painted with beeswax and encaustic, her approach is largely experimental, with the materials playing as important a role as her formal concepts. "Really, I set up a frustration for myself," she says with a laugh. "I work through the tension of wanting to draw a beautiful line, and it's very satisfying and powerful when the flowing line appears because it's like I've earned it."
Earning a beautiful line–one of the many goals of a born artist. Do you think it was nature or nurture that fueled and sustained your interest in art? Do you mix media in ways that yielded unexpected results? Let me know by leaving a comment.
If you'd like to learn more about working with mixed media, check out Modern Mixed Media With Marshall Arisman. The two-hour DVD is jam-packed with tips and techniques to help you discover the hidden talents you may have been born with, but haven't yet unlocked.
Naomi Ekperigin is an associate editor of American Artist magazine.