Studio Visit 1

Megan McCabe, Painter

Megan McCabe is a painter. She exhibits at Toronto’s LE Gallery. She graduated from OCAD in 2007 and has won multiple awards including an Emerging Visual Artist award from the Mississauga Arts Council in 2010.


I didn’t even notice how many photos were on the floor. It’s always growing, more and more images, but I never pay attention until people start making comments about it. The photographs creep into other people’s studio areas. Dmitri Fedosseev is on the other side. When people make comments I realize, ‘Oh yeah, it is out of control, it’s a bit much.’


I find images online that I can relate to–other people’s vacations and trips. The image makes me feel like I’m there. It’s all about the figures and how I can use them in different landscapes. It’s a constant battle between figures and landscapes and how they work together. When I pick up a photo, I’m looking at how the light hits the figure, the angles of the bodies and how I relate to them.


If someone went through my computer and found my reference files, they’d be like, ‘What’s wrong with her?’ I have so many nudist colony folders. The figures are just so beautiful and certain images have light, the sunlight, on them in a way that’s so good. Some of the figures are so good that I want to keep painting them over and over again. I find out something new about the figures as I keep painting them.




I feel guilty that I don’t do pre-sketches but I’ve tried that approach and it doesn’t work for me. It’s in the intuitiveness of painting that I find little exciting moments. When I go and plan things, it never comes out the second time the way it did the first time. I lose that oomph and I can’t get that again. A lot of the internal process that other artists go through to discover a piece is what I’m doing when I’m on the ground going through images. Those thoughts–I’m doing it by searching.


This sounds cheesy, but they’ll be a footprint smudge on a picture and all of a sudden I’m drawn to how that picture looks now as opposed to when it was clean. I think, ‘What if that smudge is the colour of the sky I’m going to lay in?’ It’s more compelling. Those happy accidents are part of my process.





I’m the most impatient person so I try to take paintings as far as they can go and hope something can be pulled from it or I’ll be able to fix it somehow. Once I set them aside, I realize that out of four, three are garbage. I feel like I’m constantly going through money on supplies. I also share a studio with Tristram Lansdowne. He’s such a planner and the painting he produces is so thought out. Each one comes out perfect. He gets upset with me because I’m a fast painter but three out of four are going in the garbage. Our painting process is very different.


I’m curious about photography but I don’t have it in me. I’m not good at it. I only take photographs of my own pieces. I live in Scarborough so the forty minute commute home consists of me looking at images of my own painting on my phone. The entire way I’m looking at the progress of my pieces. It feels obsessive. I’m standing in line, waiting for my coffee, looking at those photos–staring at every part of it when I’ve already been staring at it all day. This is my problem. I can’t separate myself from that image once it gets in my head.



–Megan McCabe, as told to Studio Beat

Photos by Courtney Vokey


Check out Megan’s website HERE.


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