May 2020 Featured Artist – HappiCamperKC – Megan Colwell
When I was a kid, I would watch my Dad build for our family. I would always sneak away with his wood scraps, then hammer in a few nails, and sell it as “art” at the end of the driveway. I had two customers: The dog catcher and the mail lady.
Happy to report I’ve grown my customer base since then! While all art is my continued life-long passion, pyrography is BY FAR my favorite. Many of you know pyrography is the art of writing with fire. I love the smell of the burning wood and the subsequent smoldering flow of the pen. It’s dangerous yet satisfying! This medium helps me be present and creative in times when I certainly need support. It undoubtedly takes me back to simpler times in my life where the house smelled of sawdust and I could feel the warmth of our wood-burning stove within my mother’s caring arms.
So in 2017 with hope and sincerity, I launched @HappiCamperKC, a Grassroots Artist collection and community. It is a safe social space to share my love of art and support others creating in the world of wood. Have you heard of “Grassroots” before? I discovered this term when my husband took me on a trip to Lucas, Kansas. There you can find the Grassroots Artists Creative Co-op to learn about how these self-taught folk artists create for the sake of CREATING! And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the most inspiring thing I’ve ever experienced.
You see, I used to think to be a successful artist I needed two things: A degree and a big bank account. After visiting Lucas, I knew that was a lie I had been telling myself as an excuse to not go after my dreams. Visiting their art center was the kick I needed to find the confidence to self-start, self-teach and increase my self-esteem!
I started woodburning in 2012 after making some gifts for loved ones. It was an immediate love affair when I discovered it was the only thing that eased my mental health sorrows. I get this sort of tunnel vision when I burn, like an astronaut floating in space, feeling a simultaneous loss of gravity and touch while being so IN touch with creating. My heart rate slows and my mind settles in for a well-deserved break. Proud to say 8 years later and I am still doing it! Pyrography is such a personal, focused escape from the anxious discipline of life.
My technique has evolved over the years. I’m influenced by my Midwestern upbringing and value natural beauty, simplicity, texture & color. I consider those characteristics my creative foundation. That is not to say I haven’t tried A LOT of techniques! I feel like artists have to experiment in order to summarize what works. For me nowadays, that means a lot of bold, deep line work and, of course, bright colors! It’s all about funneling everything down to what you like and, ultimately, what makes you happy as you create.
Now I travel the country with my husband and our 2 dogs. We live in a 23’ travel trailer and absolutely love the freedom of our lives. I am constantly inspired by the beauty around us and the heartfelt connections we make along our way.
Finally, I’d like to thank Aney from Pyrocrafters for letting me share a bit of my creative journey. Your support is endlessly appreciated on my path of humility and independence. If you like, please follow along on social media @HappiCamperKC.
You can also find my art on my etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/happicamperkc
APPRECIATE YOU ALL and cannot wait to connect!
– Megan Colwell