Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People influences Rocks and Water Composition.

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, is a giant painting in which the allegory of Liberty charges toward the viewer ahead of an angry crowd who tramples over freshly dead bodies as they make their way through the streets of Paris. We, the viewer, are clearly in her way, and given the gun tooting youth on her right-holding a canvas bag that had until moments before this action was captured, belonged to a then living soldier, had better move out of her path quickly. The composition used by Delacroix captured in his most famous painting is a simple triangle, a classic compositional technqieu used for centuries before him to highlight action and drama-perfectly incorporated here at the height of the Romantic art movement and its underlying philosophy of the sublime.

I chose this same triangular composition for my seascape painting, the working title of which is Resilience. By anchoring the rocks on the bottom of the painting’s composition, and capturing the image just as the rock in the distance is showing its jagged surface, I sought to create the idea of an anchor, rising movement, the coming of drama, and the idea of the sublime-one can smell the salt air, bust stand in this spot long enough and the waves will charge right at you, knocking you over, tripping you over the hard rock and uneven sandy surface.

It is this idea of the triangular composition, used so often in art history, that informed this painting. Like Delacroix, I seek to include the viewer in the composition from the angle of which they would be standing, the make sure they feel the tension and energy of the action, and to stand their ground or move out of the way. Either way, Liberty will trample over you, as will these crashing waves.

Applying over-beaten abaca to the surface of the painting.

In this short video, I demonstrate how I apply abaca, that has been beaten for 20+ hours, to the surface of the rock and water painting, to give the illusion of pebbled rocks.

Rocks and Water painting: choosing the composition.

The in-progresspainting in the studio, January, 2020.
Notice how the X shape in my photograph is similar to that of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man. I chose my composition based on his famous drawing. By using the X format, the viewer connects the foreground and background of the rocks, which act as the anchors for this image-much like Leonardo’s hands and feet of his Vitruvian man act as the anchor for his drawing.  By visually connecting the rocks in this X fashion, the viewer senses the hardness of the rocks against the rush of the waves in an even more energetic fashion. 

Here is a short video of me applying overeaten abaca and flax to the surface of the painting. I do not plaint with traditional media, I use beaten abaca pulp, he same medium first used to create oil on canvas paintings.

In the 17th century, Venetian artists began using the canvases of shipping vessels as surfaces to apply their paints. These canvases were made from durable fibers such as linen, flax and abaca.  It is for this reason that these now famous works have survived to us through the ages. 

Using these same fibers, I have embellished on this idea and created an actual painting method that is just as durable and permanent, and pigmented with light-fast colors to match the rich hues of nature.

My process provides a textured, almost three-dimensional quality to the painting’s surface, thus mimicking nature in all its splendor . . . from its rocky crevices along the ocean shoreline, subtle shadows in a garden path, the fullness and detail of a treed landscape, and the smooth surface of a still lake.  

Natural fibers, beaten into thick coats of pigmented pulp, provides the perfect media with which to create these modern interpretations of representational art.  

I’ll share more about this painting in my net few blog posts.

Sale of River Road Prints meets 1000.00 goal for Tri-Town Council.

Writing a check for 1000.00 to the Tri-Town Council. Photo: Jonah Rehak
A group effort to make this moment happen. Photo: Jonah Rehak
Pulling the five winners of the paper making workshop out of a hat. If your name wasn’t called, it was returned back to the bag for next year. Photo: Jonah Rehak

It was a pleasure to present a check on January 6, 2020, to members of the Tri-Town Council for 1000.00 from sales of River Road prints.

The prints are reproductions of the painting in the Topsfield Town Hall that was commissioned in 2018 by the Panella family in memory of their mother, Joan Panella. Per request of the family, proceeds from print sales benefit the work the council does on behalf of the Tri-town community. A video I created of the commission tells this story in detail.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who purchased a print from me and supported the council. I also want to thank council members who included information about the print sale on their web site and in social media posts in a herculean effort to promote the sale. Without this team effort, it would not have been as successful.

Best of all, five people who had purchased a print this year were entered to win a paper making workshop at my studio on Saturday, February 8, 2020. I’ll be sure to post photos of the workshop in future posts so we can celebrate the creative efforts of our community members. If you would like to purchase a print, support the council, and be entered to win a slot in a paper making workshop for 2021, please click on this link. Free shipping or in-person delivery to Boxford, Middleton, and Topsfield.

Thank you to all for supporting Meg Black Studios. What a great community we live in and call home.

My life as an intern at the Women’s Studio Workshop, Summer 1983.

In the old basement print shop where we worked with silk screening.

I can’t remember this young women’s name, but I remember she was a big help who came to work with us several days a week.

I was thrilled to find out my artwork and subsequent career trajectory have been added to the Women’s Studio Workshop web site. What is my connection to this group, let me explain . . .

In the Spring of 1983, I was a junior in college at SUNY Oswego majoring in studio art. One of my professors told me about two women she had met recently, Tatana Kellner and Ann Kalmbach, who were starting a non-profit studio for women artists to work out of somewhere near Woodstock New York and were looking for a summer intern . . . and would I be interested in driving to Rosendale  to meet them and have an interview of sorts. Sure, I agreed.  I remember thinking if my professor thought I was the right person for the job, I didn’t want to disappoint her and tell her otherwise.  Besides, I was 21 years old and what else was I going to do for the summer?

I remember meeting Ann for the first time on a very rainy day in May in the “old house.” I must have brought some of my student artwork with me and a good attitude because she invited me return for the summer to intern.  I would be sleeping in the attic next to the paper making studio-I know, a paper making studio in an attic-what could possibly go wrong?  And I would earn something like 6 college credits. No, I would not be paid, but I would have full use of the studio. As it turned out, I was their very first summer intern, a source of pride if I am to be completely honest.

I can say this now after all these years: I was scared to death driving back there for the summer and kept wondering what had I gotten myself into. I remember arriving at nighttime and feeling my way around the now empty house as everyone had left for the day. Here I was all alone, a very naive girl from central New York, living in the attic of an old house where I would often wake up to someone rummaging around my room looking for their dried sheets of paper.  I knew nothing of women’s art or their struggles with the art world (this was a few years before the Guerrilla Girls) and was totally unprepared for the experience of working with complete strangers.  Oh yeah, and I don’t remember hearing anything during my interview about helping to build the new studio; I’ll never forget the day we poured the cement floor for the new building at Binnewater-half way through the truck dumping the cement, the skies opened up and it started raining cats and dogs. What a mess!

But, as I look back on this experience, I now see I was one brave young girl who didn’t let fear or nerves stop me.  I knew I had something to learn from these women and I was determined to show them they made the right decision in offering me the internship.  I remember working very hard, making good friends and finding myself emerged in a culture of caring women for which I have not know many times since.

I look back at this experience and can see all the difference it made in my life. I learned bookmaking from Susan King, the resident artist that summer and then went on the teach book arts at the Massachusetts College of Art and SACI International in Florence, Italy.  Like Ann and Tatana, I earned a MFA (and a PhD) in art and art education and have taught over 6000 of my own students over the years with their sage advice and good humor riding on my shoulders (sorry about spilling the red pigment on the attic floor . . . . ) and I can say with all the certainty I can muster that I wouldn’t trade this experience in for the world.

Thank you Ann and Tatana for believing in me, for helping me find my voice, for pushing me to do my best work, and for all the efforts you have made over the years for countless other 21 year olds who are just as scared as I was but who want a chance to grow and challenge themselves. Let me know if you ever need me to talk to a young person who is thinking about interning at WSW for a summer.  I’m happy to share my experience with the next generation and let them know how eternally proud I am to be a member of the WSW extended family.

I will be participating in Small Business Saturday, November 30, 2019.

I will be participating in Small Business Saturday, on November 30, 2019.  My studio is located at 48 Prospect St. Topsfield, MA.  Studio phone is 978 887 8670.  Hours are 10:00-4:00.  Some of the items I will have available:

Purchase this print of Autumn, River Road, and be automatically entered to win a paper making workshop in my studio on Saturday, February 8, 2020. Five winners will be drawn on Monday, December 30. A portion of the proceeds support the Tri-Town Council in memory of Joan Panella.


















8 x 6 x 2 inch framed print of a hydrangea painting perfect for small spaces. Each giclee print is photographed from an original painting, printed onto German Watercolor paper, and hand watercolored and signed by the artist. May be wall mounted or displayed on a tabletop.

Framed 9 x 12 print of River Road series. Mount on a wall or display on a display stand. Shown here: Early Autumn Afternoon, River Road, 2019.

New wall sculptures-in situ

These wall sculptures are in-situ.  The are actually small, 4×9 inches.  This is an idea of what they will look like when created to scale.


Autumn, River Road II installed in private collector’s home

Thrilled to see my latest painting, Autumn, River Road II, installed in the home of the private collector. Thank you to the The Art of Framing for the beautiful presentation of this painting. #megblackstudios

Dear Claude Monet, you won’t believe what your painting just sold for!

Claude Monet, Meules, 1890.

Claude Monet is famous for painting many subjects, water lilies, cathedral facades, footbridges, and of course, hay stacks. It is his hay stack painting, Meules,  that captured a huge sum of money at auction recently 110 million dollars to be exact.   What makes these paintings so captivating?  Two ideas: they are all painted in multiples, and the the subject is light as metaphor.  Monet captures the light as it plays off of natural objects.  In fact, he is more interested in light than the subject itself.  Think about it: Monet is at his most prolific during the height of the industrial revolution when change is constant-much like our world today. Light changes at great speed, thus his focus on light as a metaphor for constant change.  By painting in multiples, he revisits the same subject but in a different light.  Years later, Hollywood directs such as Martin Scorsese will create similar effects using film and stage lighting.

I have been thinking of Monet as I have been painting this series of River Road, Topsfield.  To be sure, it is a beautiful place-tree lined winding road, open fields, wild flowers, gorgeous architecture. But, much like the great Impressionist artist himself, I have been focusing on the natural sunlight as it moves through the day, through the seasons, and through all sorts of weather conditions-something New England is famous for!  And, in keeping with his idea of multiples, I am painting in a series, five paintings to be exact, two of which are featured here.



Meg Black, Morning light, River Road, Topsfield. 2019. In progress.

Two River Road paintings in progress, showing different light effects.


Chiaroscuro, River Road, and Caravaggio: a painterly connection.

This is a photo I took of River Road, Topsfield in the early morning. The light coming in from the left creates a strong shadow on the road.

I was lucky to see the original painting by Caravaggio in Rome this past spring. It is still in its original location in the Contarelli Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

Early morning, River Road, Topsfield. The light in this photo has a dramatic quality that reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Caravaggio. Caravaggio placed light colors against dark to create a dramatic effect in his work, known as chiaroscuro in Latin. The early morning light plays against the dark shadows giving off a similar quality. Caravaggio does this in his painting of The Calling of Mathew.