Newport Artist’s Paintings in Solo Show

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Painter Karlin Meehan finds inspiration everywhere in life.

The Newport Harbor High School alum found her most recent source of inspiration in the form of a pair of 3-D glasses. Her latest series of paintings can be viewed in 3-D, with certain colors seeming to come forward and others moving back, creating depth to the painting and making it “pop.”

The paintings are topped off with a varnish that is “so luxurious” that the paintings “shine” when the light hits them, she said.

“I wanted them to pop in 3-D but I also wanted them to look interesting as is,” Meehan said. “The 3-D (feature) is the perk, it adds something special to the painting.”

Meehan, 25, will have all of her 3-D artwork displayed at Solo Projects gallery in Costa Mesa, with an artist reception at 6:30 p.m. on March 18.

Solo Projects curator Justin Clark said that Meehan’s brightly colored pieces will work well in the all-white space at Solo Projects.

The paintings will stay on display at the gallery for one to two months, said Clark. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

The Newport native said she is excited that her first solo show will be near her hometown. Meehan, who moved to the Los Angeles area for college, has invited her family, who still reside in Newport, friends and some former teachers to the event.

“It’s exciting,” said Meehan, who has done several group shows in the past. “It’s kind of a turning point in my painting career because now people are coming solely to see my work.”

Meehan said she has been painting since she was 5 and first found the inspiration to pick up a paintbrush during a visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., with her grandfather.

“That really inspired me,” she said.

Meehan did a lot of floral paintings at first and then played with color and bold shape. Her inspiration to paint may have started with O’Keeffe, she said, but she took it her own way and developed her own style.

The story kind of unravels when she got to high school, she said. She was so busy with classes like chemistry, biology and calculus, all the classes needed to get into “certain kinds of schools,” she didn’t have much time to paint. She told her mother she was tired of spending so much time taking classes she had no interest in.

“I was really refusing who I really am, (a painter),” Meehan said.

During her senior year she took an advanced art class and when she got to college she made an executive decision to major in art.

“I thought, ‘If I’m going to go to school and spend money on it, I want to be invested and dive into my true passion,’ which is painting,” she said. “I felt like there were so many years wasted when I couldn’t do it… So when I got to (college) all I did was paint.”

She painted during all hours of the day and often during the wee hours of the morning. She used various media forms, including newspaper, charcoal and varnish. She committed herself to painting.

She graduated in 2007 and although she now works full-time as a paralegal, she has always made a point to continue to paint and not let anything stop her from perusing her passion.

She paints about 30 hours per week, she said, and hopes to rely solely on her artwork and be painting full-time by the time she turns 30. A lifelong goal of hers is to “inspire and be inspired,” Meehan said.

She continually pushes herself to produce more work, she said, and it takes time management to keep it balanced and new ideas to keep it fresh.

She goes through periods where she creates a ton of work until she’s satisfied, burnt out or gets new inspiration. She usually takes some downtime in between ideas to regroup, she said.

It’s an organic process, she added, she gets inspiration, starts working on that idea and then it just grows from there.

“If I have an idea, I just go for it,” she said. “I just can’t wait to tackle a blank canvas.”

Her ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. One of the very first sources of inspiration for Meehan was a biology book, specifically the chapter on cells. She saw an enlarged photo of red blood cells and couldn’t help but notice the interesting composition and use of color. So she started developing a pattern that was very circular and geometric, she said, and colorful.

“I just get an idea and go with it,” she said.

The bold use of color is a common theme throughout all of her paintings. Whether they are the early floral paintings or her abstract pieces, or even her commissioned work, her paintings are always vibrant and dynamic.

“I want something that is happy and pleasing to look at. And I think that’s what it’s about, keeping it fresh and fun and lighthearted,” Meehan said. “I want my viewers to look at my work and feel how I feel when I produce my work, just happy and light… and cheerful.”

As her patterned progressed, it became more and more geometric and she began adding vertical stripes, she said. And just a few years ago a friend brought over the 3-D glasses and a new idea popped into her head.

“I’m not reinventing the wheel here, and that’s not really what I want to do,” Meehan said. “They’re fun pieces, that are bright and will look great on your walls and that will make people feel good.”

She has already shown some of her 3-D art at a show in Marina del Ray, where she said it was interesting to watch people figure out that the glasses, which were hanging next to each painting, could actually be used to view each piece. Most people put the glasses on, have a blank stare for a few seconds and then smile, Meehan said.

It takes about 30 seconds for a person’s eyes to adjust to the glasses and get the whole effect of the painting, Meehan said.

“To me I think that’s successful because if someone looks at your painting for more than 30 seconds that means you did your job,” she said. “That means people stop, stay still and really take in what’s going on.”

A lot of people, when they get into a gallery setting, are quick to cruise around and not really pay close attention to each piece, Meehan said. So the 3-D feature helps people take their time on each painting.

“Hopefully this helps remind people to slow down,” Meehan said.

It also makes viewing the art a very interactive experience, Meehan said.

“It really pulls the public in and engages them in my artwork,” she said.

Meehan said she is enjoying creating 3-D artwork right now and riding the trendy 3-D wave.

The past year has been difficult though, Meehan said. She heard a lot of rejections and comments about her work that sometimes made her cry.

“I think that is information (and experience) I can use that to empower myself and push harder,” Meehan said. “I’ve failed 10 times more than I’ve succeeded… I just have to work hard for what I want… Prove to myself that I can do it.”

And at times during her life she has even denied herself, she said. Taking biology instead of art classes and considering law school instead of pursuing her passion of painting are both times in her life when Meehan second guessed herself, but she always ultimately followed her heart. And her experiences helped her develop as an artist.

“I look at my portfolio and I can see the stages of my life and where (and when) I’ve grown (and changed) as an artist,” Meehan said. “(The paintings are) like a journal to my life.”

Visit www.karlinmeehan.squarespace.com for more information about painter Karlin Meehan. Visit www.solo-projects.com for more information about the Solo Projects gallery in Costa Mesa.

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