Megan Carty

Megan describes her painting as joyful, and her personality as bubbly. You cannot help but smile when you read her writing infused with infectious enthusiasm for what she does. It's even more inspiring when you read her About page and hear her talk openly about battling depression and seeking help. So many people I care about have had similar struggles, and I'm so grateful that people like Megan are stepping forward to share their stories and encourage others, helping to de-stigmatize mental health struggles. Also, her art is truly joyful and beautiful, and she wants to help others through her work. I just love that message. Thank you so much for sharing, Megan. Also, we're all rooting for you on those big dreams!

Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
Hi there! My name is Megan Carty and I’m a contemporary artist who makes uplifting abstract paintings for people who desperately need dynamic color in their nests. Through my bubbly personality, my use of bright colors, and my positive message of joy and peace I'm here to deliver showstopping style to your sad lonely walls!

My whimsical designs have been featured on DesignSponge, Domino online, and Dooce. When I'm not painting joy you can find me hiding from my three young kiddos (ages 7, 4, and 1), indulging on bad reality television (that MAY involve housewives) while savoring a delicious hot chocolate. My awesome husband Chris always adds just the right amount of marshmallow Fluff! You can find out about me, see my newest work updated regularly, and read my blog at I have a profile video in the “About Me” section of my website that speaks to my motherhood journey as an artist; feel free to take a peek here: Follow me on Instagram at @megan_carty_art 

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How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
Since having children, I’ve found that my limited time requires me to be more mindful and intentional with what I create. I’ve found that I don’t have a lot of time for doodling around…I want to create finished work! This means I need to zero in on my goals and what I want to accomplish in any given day (and any given month or year for that matter). I’ve had to really determine what my purpose is with my work so I can make the most of my time when I’m developing it. When I didn’t have a definitive style or plan I felt lost and aimless. I never felt like I accomplished anything. And with a new baby, I ALREADY felt like the day was full of invisible tasks. It just feels GOOD to have a sense of completion and pride in something that’s your own.
Due to my time constraints and safety issues (especially now with 3 kids) I’ve given up on doing the letterpress cards and stationery I once loved doing (for now!). I’ve also given up my focus on selling prints in my Etsy shop. It was just too much work for me for the return I was getting. I was printing “on demand” and it was getting to be a lot of work just to print one $4.00 greeting card and drive out to the post office twice per week for that. Now, I’m focusing on my original life-long dream to sell original fine art paintings.
Now that people are more comfortable buying these sorts of things online, my dream is coming true! I originally created my paintings in oil, but the solvents and drying time became a huge deterrent. Now, I LOVE using acrylic paints. I had to get used to the different blending quality, but the drying time can’t be beat. I can work quickly (which I love!) and efficiently. I paint in an abstract style now, whereas I used to paint landscapes. It is much more quick and satisfying to express myself through color. I feel I’ve finally “found my groove” and I’m really enjoying my art life now! *Happy Dance!*
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
I’ve found it very difficult finding time to create! Before kids I had the leisure to wallow in inspiration, go on art-dates, etc. Now, I have to know what I want to paint, when I’m going to carve the time out for it, and know that it’s not going to get done in one sitting anymore. What works for me is this: Before I go to bed, I go through my inspiration imagery on my computer (or in my idea folder from magazines). I decide on a color palette and style of painting I’d like to explore. Once that is settled, I decide on the canvas size and then envision the layout in my head. I come up with a plan of attack and determine what layers I’m going to paint first. The next day, when I find a chunk of time (15 minutes or so), I start the first layer. Then, I just attack the painting step by step as I find bits of time. I work one color at a time… this way, if the kids interrupt me constantly (which they ALWAYS do!!!) I can attend to their needs without worrying about all the paint drying on the palette. It’s just easiest for me to work this way…it takes the burden of worry off my shoulders. I try to finish each painting in a couple of days’ time.
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When my husband is home on the weekends, I can do a piece all at once which is a HUGE luxury! My husband takes on the lion’s share of the chores so I can reach my goals. (He’s a star!) There are some days I just can’t find the time to paint. Those days happen often and are disappointing at that. But, it’s part of being a stay-at-home Mom. I know that one day I will have all the time in the world; but for now it is a constant juggle and shuffle of priorities. Sometimes I feel like I’ve given up my sanity, but I always feel better after a good painting session! I’d like to say I could just stay up later at night to have quiet time to paint…but I am just too exhausted to do much once the kids are in bed. Mama needs a sanity break! The same is true in the morning; I try to get as much shuteye as I can before everyone is up and tackling me. I work best when I’m fresh and awake; there’s no way around it.
How does being an artist make you a better parent to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? 
I’m proud of being an artist. I like showing my children that you don’t have to rely on someone else to make your dreams come true. I’m showing them that they can take an idea and run with it; they are only limited by their own imaginations. I want to show them that doing your own thing takes a huge amount of planning and discipline. They see that dedication and thought-process…and I hope it fuels their own dreams and passions. I also like that they see I am also a PERSON and not just “Mom.” They see me ask my husband for help as I need it. I don’t suffer and struggle as a martyr; I make sure to communicate my needs to create and we work as a team so I can reach my goals. The kids see us working together; showing them that clear communication, compromise, and mutual support is the way to domestic bliss!
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
Oh boy! I’m currently painting in a studio space in my home. It’s got a kitchenette with cabinets and a sink and a powder room. It’s a bit crowded, though, so we are finishing an old garage attached to our house so we can turn that into my studio. We’ve replaced the 2 huge doors with huge windows and it’s going to be a big ol’ place to paint. I plan to have a TON of lighting in there (currently I always work in a dim space and it’s really hard to see!) and I’m going to have a lot more wall space. It should be done soon and can’t wait to move on in! Although, packing up my hellish mess is going to be a giant pain! (But worth it!)
As far as family art time; I don’t mind if my kids come in and create things along side me. But I don’t necessarily do projects with them. Sometimes I’ll show them how to observe something from life so they can draw it themselves. For example, my daughter wanted to know what a weasel looked like (and hoped I would make one for her!), so we opened up You Tube on my computer and watched videos of them. We described the features of the weasels we saw and then she was able to take that information and draw her own weasel for her story she was writing.I like to share practical art information with my kids that they can take and make their own. It’s fun to see them apply their own observations to their little projects. The sparkle in their eyes is the best part.
In the new studio I’d like to have a little table area just for them; with a few drawers of supplies that are their own to access when they please. I’ve found my daughter loves art, but my middle son isn’t a fan (yet). We shall see! I like for them to be curious about things and decide on their own what they want to do. That’s the fun of watching them grow and discover their own talents and interests. I do keep a few toys around the studio they can play with so they don’t go poking around all MY toys! Ha!
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 Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
Well, we have a cleaning service come in once every two weeks. That helps with the major scrub downs that need to happen! My daughter is in first grade, so she’s gone until 3:30 in the afternoon. Also, I put my middle son in full-day preschool for 3 days per week. Then, I only have my one-year-old with me all day on those days. For him, I found a babysitter who takes him for one full day per week (I choose a day my other son is at preschool). This gives me ONE FULL DAY per week to get stuff done in an uninterrupted fashion. I’d love to afford more, but this is what we can do for now. I plan around this day; cramming in all the things that are just too hard to do with a cruising baby tugging at my knees. I do painting, drilling in the hanging hardware, photographing and styling the work, uploading the work and writing the listings, and anything else I can possibly get done. That day always feels like such a luxury and it goes by so fast!
My lifestyle is much more chaotic than it used to be. I feel tugged in so many directions; it can get very overwhelming some days. But I remind myself that it’s a good problem to have. I have a family that loves me and needs me. I have a greater purpose I am working for. It’s easy to get caught up in the negatives so I take time to write out (or just think about)my dreams and all the things I’m grateful for. I do a lot of praying for strength and patience! And I remember to give time to my children because once “their cup is full” I can feel free to go do my own work for a while. I fill my cup, and then fill theirs. It’s a dance back and forth. I also fill up all my time wisely…as much as I might love to spend all day binge-watching Housewives and Vanderpump, I know that I need to ACT with the time I’ve got. I need to bring care and love to my children and to my art and that is the best use of time I know of. I always feel proud of myself when I’ve used my time well.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I have a huge list of goals and dreams on my studio wall…I read them over each day as I work to manifest them. Our big goal is for me to be making enough money for my husband to quit working so he can pursue his dreams. For my work, I would love to work with art consultants to place my art in the hospitality industry…places like hospitals and hotels where I can help people feel calm or soothed through my brushstrokes. I can’t think of a bigger honor.
I would also love to license my work to be on bedding or kitchen textiles, bags, scarves, home decor and the like. This dream is coming true as I just signed a licensing agreement with a major manufacturer to reproduce my work onto wall art, lamp shades, throw pillows and shower curtains! When we put our biggest goals out in the universe, things will start to come together behind the scenes. It’s not our job to worry about HOW. We just have to put it out there and DO THE WORK. As parents, we cannot let the small obstacles of each day stand in our way. We must jump over each bump with style and grace as we grab that brass ring that is our biggest dream. When you want something badly enough challenges will simply disappear as you dismiss them one-at-a-time. You show up no matter what the situation, and, even if you do the barest of minimum, it is still forward action. Embrace that forward motion and eventually you’ll get where you’re trying to go! As my Mom always says to me: “Megan, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Ahh, the wisdom of a mother…right?