Meet Margaret Fanning
What’s your background?
Growing up, I had a lot of people to inspire me artistically, but my number one source for inspiration would have to be my grandmother. She was an artist herself and some of my earliest memories are of us sitting in her studio with some cray-pas and colored paper.
I attended art school later on with the intention of majoring in sequential art (comic books and graphic novels), but quickly found my passion in painting so I switched majors. My strength is in figurative art. I've always found people so interesting to draw. There's a connection there that you won't find in a floral drawing or a landscape.
What do you look for in a reference photo on sktchy?
I prefer snapshots to posed photographs. There is usually a narrative in those photos that speaks to me. Finding a story in the photograph is half the battle.
Vintage photographs are my bread and butter – I love to paint them! When I travel, I like going to antique and flea markets in case they might have some old photographs to sell.
I do paint posed photographs as well. In these cases I like choosing images that are slightly confrontational.
What’s your medium of choice when you’re creating art?
I work with various media. I will sometimes look at a photograph and just know, "That's graphite!" or "That's charcoal!" It's a gut reaction to the photos.
Mainly I like working in ink, watercolor, and oil. Ink is great for when I'm multi-tasking: I can sit down in front of the TV and ink for hours. You might have noticed that I post more ink drawings on Sktchy than any other media...
But my absolute favorite medium is watercolor. On the practical side, my brushes and paints (though a little pricey) can last forever. I have some sable brushes and watercolor paints that were my grandmother's and they work beautifully. The tubes of watercolor paint can harden and all you would need to do is cut it open and add water to activate it again.
Watercolor is also therapeutic in a way. It forces you to slow down (which is great when you're trying to juggle several things during the day). I layer wash over wash and wait for it to dry before adding even more layers. The more I work with watercolor, the more control I seem to get in my process.
What’s one quirk in your creative process?
Mistakes are excellent for inspiration!
Recently, I bought an Ampersand panel and I was leaning it against the wall when it tipped over and fell onto a corner of a table. There's now a hole in the middle of the panel and, though I was frustrated at the time, now I'm brainstorming ideas to incorporate it into a painting. For instance, I can paint someone on a ladder who is attempting to plaster up the hole.
I can't dwell on what has happened – I can only move forward, and that's when the best ideas come!
Any words of advice for fellow artists?
Be stubborn. We artists all face rejection in some form or other. Whether it is friends or family telling you that art should be your hobby and not your livelihood, or perhaps a juror rejected your work from a show. It's disheartening. But why should someone else's mindset or bias affect your decisions? Ultimately, it's up to you.
Be stubborn. Be headstrong.