SURROUNDED BY LOVE — “I love being surrounded by my work,” said batik artist Meagan McCrory. She is pictured, above, with some of her artwork. Photo submitted by McCrory.
SPRINGVILLE — Although many of the batik paintings currently on display at Springville Center for the Arts are of natural subjects, artist Meagan McCrory of Springville said that she finds inspiration everywhere: in color, words, conversations with other people and the world around her. Although she has dabbled in acrylics, pastels, chalk and other media, the artist keeps coming back to batik because, as she put it, “it’s a whole journey.
“I can’t put my finger on [what I enjoy most about it],” she said. “But I love the whole process. You start with a canvas and, at the end, it can look completely different from how you imagined it. I love the excitement of it; not knowing exactly what it will be until it’s done and then falling in love with it.”
Batik is a layering process, in which the artist covers pieces of canvas with wax and fabric, dyes the canvas, removes the wax, dyes it again, and so forth, until the picture is completed. McCrory said that, although the multi-step nature of the art requires planning ahead, there are many variables in the process that could cause a painting to come out differently than she had anticipated, or may cause her to “scrap it completely.
“You put a lot of energy and time into it and, sometimes, you’ll come to a fork in the road and have to decide whether to change course or get rid of it completely,” McCrory explained. “I think that’s why I came back to batik: I love working with the tools, the fabric and the wax. There are so many different ways you can use them; there’s more to it than a piece of chalk and a canvas.”
McCrory calls her technique “modern batik,” in which she uses the color-blending techniques that is used in acrylic work with traditional batik tools and methodology.
“I think in color,” McCrory said. “It conveys the heart of what I do. Often, I will see a color that I will fall in love with and it will develop into [a work of art].”
The artist, who is originally from Cattaraugus, moved to Hamburg when she went to school at Erie Community College’s south campus. Although she majored in business management with classes in marketing, law and accounting, McCrory said that it was her art classes that kept her going.
“I’d run to get to those classes on time,” she said, with a laugh. “After college, marriage and babies, I went back to my roots, which is art.”
In 2005, she and her husband Mike built a house in Springville, a community which McCrory called “full of precious people and that hometown feeling.
“I fell in love with the community,” she said, adding that it was a great place to raise her three daughters: Madison, 13, Olivia, 10 and Jaiden, 3.
“I tend to be an inward thinker,” she continued. “I can hear a word, or have a conversation or share a story, and that will inspire a work of art. A woman shared a story with me about her son that had been killed in Iraq, and that pierced my heart. When I make an emotional connection with someone, that comes out in batik. I took my kids to the park, the other day, and they were playing in the leaves. My mind takes a snapshot of those moments, and because it’s my kids, my heart has a connection with it. That’s art.”
The artist said that she considers the inspiration for her art, its creation and the way it helps others a “full circle.
“It’s not just something that will match someone’s curtains or decor,” she said. “I want people to have an emotional connection. If someone can take a journey in their own heart when they’re experiencing one of my pieces, that makes it that much more personal. That’s what separates me from the commercial realm.
“The best compliment anyone could give me was when a woman was holding one of my pieces and had tears streaming down her face, because it touched her. That connection is so inspiring to me.”
McCrory also owns and operates Double Take Studios, a business that began as a reproduction business in 2006, which now sells and reproduces solely her own batiks. She started out reproducing other artists’ work on textured papers and selling her own works as Christmas gifts. After about a year, she said she was getting so many requests for her own work that she did not have time to do any others’.
“Once the spark that was already there ignited, it just took off,” she said.
Her degree in business gives her a good foundation, McCrory noted, but she said the experience of learning on the job is even more valuable.
“I put so much more stock in experience and the wisdom of seeing what works [and] what doesn’t,” she said. “We are supplying our customers with a want, not a need. In today’s economy, everyone is tightening their belts and we just have to put one foot in front of the other and tweak it, to do what you have to do to make it work. We are constantly growing and we have to be willing to evolve,” she said.
“What’s neat is, as a business owner and mother, [my daughters] go on [business trips] with me, see me sell my work [and] get a feel for what it is to own a business. They see my successes, as well as the struggles of it all. When we’re out there in the community, I talk to hundreds of people and, so often, there is this emotional connection. They share their stories and that’s what touches my heart,” McCrory said. “That’s what I try to teach my daughters: Life is not just about making money. It’s about having that impact on people’s lives.”
McCrory brings her originals to art shows and reproductions of her batiks to craft shows, generally staying within a 30-mile radius.
“This is our busy season, right up to Christmas,” she explained. “After that, there’s some time to just create. People tend to think in seasons. In spring, for example, I’ll put out things that make people think of spring. I’m not all focused on what I want to sell or what my customers will want to buy. I work off things that inspire me; what catches my eye.
Her husband makes frames for her reproductions, since he started out doing carpentry work, before beginning his job as a railroad engineer.
“Mike is my biggest supporter,” McCrory said. “He thinks I can do anything. Whatever I have to do, whatever I try to do, he is my biggest encourager. He gives my heart wings.”
In addition to her batik work and Double Take Studio, McCrory writes a blog about her creative process and the inspiration she finds around her. The blog is on the business’ website at www.doubletakestudio.net
“Sometimes, something will stick to me and I’ll want to write about those inspirational moments,” she said, of her reason for starting the writing project. “It’s the way I think and process things, and I want to present those to the community along with my art, because they are all fractions of each other.”
Double Take Studio can be found at www.doubletakestudio.net
and McCrory can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her art exhibit, “A Passion for Color,” is on display at Springville Center for the Arts until Nov. 4 and Double Take Studio will also be at the Colden Harvest Festival at the Colden Fire Hall Oct. 26 – 27.