Art without boundaries
In Megan Leah Pederson’s world there is artistic gold among the commonplace.
Most of us would not see glittering potential in garbage bags, coffee filters or tissue paper.
Yet Pederson has used them to provide extra texture to her work. Even her husband’s discarded pants proved an inspiration.
Pederson seems to personify the concept of art without boundaries. Her imagination, insatiable hunger to experiment and desire to learn continually take her to places that probably surprise her as much as those who admire and buy her work.
Sometimes these forces are active in her subconscious, so that she wakes up with an idea whose origin is a mystery.
“I could be day dreaming or asleep. The other night I awoke thinking about making irises out of tongue-shaped pieces of material,” she said. “I can’t explain where the idea came from. It was just there and it excited me.”
She immediately set about translating the concept to canvas, putting white swatches of cloth against a pale blue background.
“I do like to experiment,” she said. “I also like there to be something spontaneous about my art. I work fairly quickly.”
When Pederson decided several weeks ago to leave a good job that she enjoyed at custom home builders Rose Country Developments, it was if her life had suddenly become a canvas before her artistic vision.
Possibilities abounded as she thought about focusing more fully on her art, while raising her two young children: Alex, aged three, and 10-month-old Shelby.
Many would have shied from such a big decision, but for Pederson it was a risk worth taking; it was an experiment that energized her.
“I want to see where it will take me,” she said.
Pederson comes from a creative background — her mother, Laura Cox, is a well-known local artist.
But it wasn’t until she was about 13 that Pederson’s passion for art began to express itself meaningfully.
“I was always intrigued by shapes and colours and the way they play,” she said. “I like to create new dimensions and to use my hands and fingers. I do use brushes, but details are done with my hands.”
Pederson did art through junior high and high school in Barrhead, declaring teacher Heather Miller a big influence.
She remembers how Miller received a Master of Art doing night school, an impressive and inspirational act of commitment.
Despite Pederson’s developing artistic interest, she went on to study Rehabilitation Services at Lloydminster after leaving school. She continued exploring art on the side as she began working with seniors and people with disabilities.
“I love working with people,” she said, recalling her time at the Keir Care Centre. “My favourite is people with dementia.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned was from one senior who told me he felt no older than 16, but when he looked in the mirror he saw an old man,” she said. “He must have been in his 80s.”
It told her how the spirit can remain youthful while the body ages. It told her you are never too old to start learning to paint, whether you are 50 or 60.
“Art is a continuous learning process,” she said. “I want to keep studying and do more art shows.”
Pederson, who teaches at Laura Cox’s studio and has sold paintings through word of mouth, joined the Barrhead Art Club in 2006, a year later winning an award at the Alberta Community Art Club Association northern zone juried art show.
Her particular focus has been experimentation with texture, using air dry clay and gesso, while also embracing acrylics, pencils, chalk, pastels and oils.
“I like people to be intrigued by texture,” she said. “I want them to find my art relaxing, to find happiness and enjoyment through it. I don’t want to impose bad thoughts on others.”
Pederson recently took part in the St. Albert Mural Mosaic, decorating a one-foot by one-foot tile.
“We were given instruction on shape, value and tone,” she said. “About 200 artists are involved.”
Even though Pederson has narrowed her focus on art, finding enough alone time before a canvas is a challenge while Shelby and Alex are so young. Like most children, they are playful and energetic, and an absolute delight to be around.
“I sometimes paint until 1:30 a.m.,” she said. “I’ll also work an hour or two when my children are having a nap.”
Her life is hectic and full of distractions. Yet you suspect she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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