Local Talent: Megan Perkins

Illustration of Monroe Street Bridge over the Spokane River by local artist Megan Perkins

Megan Perkins is an artist in all walks of life. She’s a painter, a potter, and the watercolorist behind the book project, Artist’s Eye on Spokane—a compilation of watercolor paintings from 52 weeks of her year around Spokane. She is one of those people whose passion is what they live and breathe every day. In every corner of her life, artistic expression fills her time. It has trained her, she says, to be intentional in her hunt for beauty in her daily life.

“I’ve always been an artist, interested in drawing and recording the world around me. My mom tells stories about me constantly asking for paper and filling whole stacks of it with my scribbles,” Perkins says. As a child, she was able to visit many museums of both art and natural history, and never fell out of love with them. She maintained her lifelong practice of sketching in the book she never went anywhere without, filling pages with the things she saw in her city. “I like recording what I’ve been up to, daily life and adventures,” Perkins says. “My sketchbooks are treasures, especially the ones from my life in Florence and my travels.”

Perkins attended Gonzaga University after high school, and continued to take workshops and classes of different forms of art in an attempt to keep learning—her “lifelong quest,” she says. Studying oil painting with Henry Stinson, an Alaskan painter, taught her the artistic philosophy of “quotidian beauty that [she] finds around [her] in [her] city and [her] home.” While attending Gonzaga, her love for art took a step out of the spotlight while she earned her degree in biology. Specifically interested in environmental and plant science, Perkins spent years finding the beauty in nature and translated it into her art. She says, “I think the overlap between art and biology is the fact that the world is a beautiful and fascinating place, worthy of attention and study,”—which is partially why she decided to uproot her life and spend a year studying abroad in Florence, Italy. 

In Florence, Perkins painted her daily life, learning more about art and art history. 

When she returned to Spokane, she married, started a new job, and began another chapter in her life that limited the time she could spend on her art. A vacation to Costa Rica was enough to remind her of her love of painting daily life and she came home, realizing her need to put Spokane down on paper.

Click an image to enlarge.

Hence began her weekly painting project of Spokane. She says those 52 weeks were some of the most intense weeks she spent painting. She depicts Spokane occasions and landmarks through an artist’s eye.  “Not only was I pumping out [three to five] small paintings [and] sketches a week, I had to research where I was going next, email people, do scheduling, drive out there, blog and post about the project on social media and more. At the end of the project I had 200-230 paintings and sketches done in sketchbooks and on loose leaf paper!” The Davenport, Wolffy’s Diner, the Bing Crosby Theater, the Garland Theater, the Red Wagon, and 46 more stunning watercolor paintings are included in her book.. “I feel like I grew a lot from the project and made a lot of great connections with people in Spokane. Whenever I was at an art fair I took suggestions from people about where to go paint and learned about many new places and events going on in the city,” she says. “[I’m] grateful for the generosity of people who responded ‘yes’ to my emails about coming to paint at their venue.” 

Perkins loves that art gets her out into the world and immersed in her surroundings. Her zeal for painting opens the door to experiences she wouldn’t otherwise have—things like watching the sheep riding at the Spokane County Fair, seeing deer cross a field at dusk, gorgeous murals, historic airplanes, surprise wildflowers, a full moon riding the hills, live street music and more. “Painting slows down my monkey mind and puts me in a meditative state that allows me to slow down and truly look at what is in front of me. It is amazing how much we don’t see just rushing around in our daily life,” she says. “Putting down paint and playing with color is a sensory rush and sometimes you even get a good painting out of it!”

In addition to painting daily inspirations, she paints commissions for people, teaches art at various Spokane art venues, and is a member & employee of Pottery Place Plus and at the From Here Store. 

“I definitely encourage other people to try making art. It makes me so sad when people feel that they have to be ‘really good’ or ‘an artist’ to make art. Those are just labels that get in the way of actually making art,” Megan Perkins says. “Making art improves my life and I would do it even if I didn’t have it as a full time job. My art practice would just have to adjust to fit my life. If you love to make art, make art and fit it into your life however you can.”

Her published book, Artist’s Eye on Spokane, can be found at the From Here Store and Pottery Place Plus, or on her website at MeganPerkinsArt.com. The book depicts prominent occasions in Spokane through Megan’s eye-an artist’s eye.

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