"Quiet little eyes looked out over the rocky shoreline to a distant silhouette of a barren tree towering head and shoulders over the flourishing green forest that blanketed the land as far as the eye could see. It was the barren tree that drew the young girl's eyes to see something worthy of drawing, something mysterious and unique about a lonely, lost soul within what was once a living, monolith of the forest."
This is perhaps one of my earliest memories of being drawn to drawing, having a need to create something; I was sitting on the edge of my father's shop, no one but myself around and a few seagulls and eagles crying to one another and waves lapping gently on the beach. It was a still moment with nothing but the Alaskan forest and sea to engage and capture my attention, and it did so in a very momentous and profound way that has stuck with me to this day, a moment in time when I realized I could draw inspiration from anything and everything around me to create something new and unique. I think it was this moment that I realized I wanted to be a creative soul and share my creativity with the world...it just took me a long and winding journey of many, many years to make that happen. But, I never gave up, and here I am today, doing what I love, feeding my passion for art each and every day and getting to share with people from all edges of the earth.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around art, particularly coloring in coloring books with my mom and siblings, which we would sometimes do for days on end. Coloring everything from Victorian fashions and architecture, to animals, fantasy, every kind of coloring book we could get our hands on, the Dover one's have always been my favorites. We would all try to emulate my mother's amazing ability to shade and shadow her colorings, something I have never seen anyone else do to this day, truly inspiring to be raised around a talent such as my mom's, and to be encouraged by her and my father and grandparents to always pursue my love of art. Check out my sister's blog post all about my mother and her coloring, plus lots of other stories from our childhood. I remember one time my dad came home from a grocery run across the 10 mile expanse of Alaskan waters with a tablet of oversized paper and pencils for me to create with...just because. And my maternal grandfather once bought me a book all about how to paint, to encourage me to try my hand at something new; these were treasured items to an artistic child living out it in the wild bush of Alaska. It was difficult to be exposed to art other than through books, of which there were many, but my mom did her best to encourage all of her children, five of us, to find our creative passions and always pursue them. I also have an uncle whom I lived with for my senior year in high school who is also an accomplished artist, and who also inspired me to find uniqueness with my art. Art was all around me, a part of me, and my future, but I had to overcome some serious detriments to get to where I am with my art today, but the difficulties inspired me to be even more dedicated and passionate about my art, and to never give up on my dreams. Here is a link to some of my mother's original art creations and my uncle's art link, both amazingly talented people!
I was one of the most introverted, shy people I have ever come across in my life! As a child, when I would be introduced to strangers, or even be around many family members, I would recede within myself, a shaking, bumbling, bundle of nerves. If someone talked to me or mentioned me and I was expected to respond in some way my face would turn beet red, my whole body and voice would shake to a point where I was completely paralyzed, inside and out, no words able to come forth. It was always a frustrating situation for me, particularly as a young child, not understanding why I was this way. It was embarrassing and something I simply could not control, which made it even more difficult to deal with, no matter how I felt or told myself to act, I could not escape this paralyzing fear of interacting with people. Perhaps it was a good thing I spent most of my childhood secluded in the bush of Alaska, until I was of an age where I could manage to control my shyness...at least to some extent.
When I was 15 I overheard the teacher (only one teacher for grades 7-12 in our little bush school) say to someone, that she never expected I would go to college or move away from Alaska or my family, that nothing would come of me as I was far too introverted and shy to ever make that leap, even though I had almost straight "A"s for my entire education. It was also at this time that I started to want to experience more of the life I had read about in books, of a world full of exciting adventures and places to visit, outside of my tiny little world in the Alaskan Bush. I made a choice to take what the teacher had said as motivation, and also my dreams of exploring more of the world, to heart, and moved in with my aunt and uncle in a nearby "city"...a town of 4,000 year round residents, so that I could go to a larger school and work towards college somewhere outside the state of Alaska.
It wasn't an easy transition at all!! For someone who couldn't bear to look at or talk to strangers, this was a whole new world filled with living, breathing obstacles to overcome. I was sick much of the time that I lived with my aunt and uncles until I finished high school, just being exposed to viruses on a constant basis was something I wasn't used to, and the stress of being around people all the time was overwhelming, but I didn't let it hold me back from maintaining my grades and my dream of going to college. I slowly overcame my shyness to a certain degree and even auditioned for some of the high school plays and ended up having small parts in them, a HUGE victory for someone so inclined to avoid people at all costs!! I did loads of research on where I wanted to go to college, how I was going to pay for it, as my parents weren't in a financial position to help, and ended up deciding on Hawaii Pacific University...the sun was calling my name. I did all of the paperwork for the scholarships, student loans, admissions, housing, travel, everything all on my own; NOTHING was going to stop me from going to college and discovering a whole new world outside of the small life of an Alaskan Bush child.
During all of this I would try to make time for creating art, and would doodle endlessly on all of my folders and binders for school, until they were completely covered in ink. Some of the students would even straight out ask me what kind of drugs I was on, hahaha!! My drawings were so random and abstract I could see where they might think that, but my mind doesn't need any outside help, it's strange enough all on it's own! When I was in college I wrote poetry as a creative outlet, as I moved so often that it was hard to find a place to keep any art supplies, but I did continue to "doodle" and draw on anything I could find, whenever and wherever I could.
As the reality of being a grown up set in, in the early 1990's, I was surrounded by the pressures to make a life outside of an artist, the "starving artist" myth became firmly rooted in my psyche and I unwillingly accepted that I wouldn't be able to make a decent living as an artist, so I studied Political Science instead and kept my art as a hobby and joy, a place to escape from every day life and revisit my true passion. I received a Master's degree from UCF (Orlando, FL) while raising a family, my now 22 year old daughter, a stepson and of course my husband, sometimes working two jobs to help ends meet and dreaming of a future where art was a larger part of my life. After college I worked as a teacher, and then a Political Science journal editor at UCF, and eventually ended up working with my husband in our lucrative custom home building business.
I would do some local murals for homeowners every now and then, and looked around for other ways to possibly incorporate art more wholly into my life, but family and work took such an enormous amount of time, I would be lucky to create a couple of paintings per year, and these were purely for my own enjoyment. It was when I created this pink sunset whale tale painting in 1998, and received such a tremendously positive reaction from friends and family that saw it, that I started thinking more seriously about my art and making time to create more.
It was in 2002 when I was finding a little more time to create art now that the kids were in school all day, and on a whim I decided to list a painting on eBay at auction. What happened next changed the whole course of my life and has led me to where I am today...a bidding war ensued in the last minutes of the auction!! When the auction ended I was so elated and thrilled that not just one, but numerous people wanted to buy this painting, I was hooked, and every chance I could get I would paint and list on eBay, and the paintings always sold. It was such an affirmation to me, and a hope realized, that I COULD make a living with my art, that I COULD follow my dream and be a full-time artist. But, it would still take many years before I was able to fully put this into effect, the housing business was booming, and I couldn't detract from that business to do my art full-time, but I knew the day would come soon when that would be a reality...and finally in 2007 it happened. We saw the housing bust coming, sold everything and moved to Alaska, to the city of Ketchikan where I graduated High School. My Jamaican husband wanted to experience Alaskan life, haha! I had all the time in the world to dedicate to my art, and I attacked it with gusto and passion, working 7 days a week, sometimes painting up to 10 abstracts in a day and listing them online! My dream had materialized and it was, and still is, such an amazing experience to live the life I've dreamed, and to continue to watch it grow every day.
We moved back to Florida after a short 2.5 year stint in Alaska, my husband, daughter and I all agreed we needed to move back to sunny Florida. I've continued my art business here, growing it internationally, locally, and working with 30+ manufacturers to place my art on their products. I have so many more things I want to do with my art to take it to the highest level of art success I possibly can, no barriers are too large for me to overcome. I look back to where I started and realize that there are no obstacles in life to hold us back if we truly believe in ourselves and what we want. You WILL see much more of me and my art in the future, we are here to stay!!
Footnote: Within the past 5 years, art sensation Megan Aroon Duncanson has created a name for herself around the world. As a young child sketching her surroundings at her home in the Alaskan bush, she could have never expected the amount of success she has had as an artist. She has sold thousands of originals around the world and her art graces homes in print form in the hundreds of thousands and steadily increasing every day. Her art has been seen on hit TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, Good Morning America, Celebrity Wife Swap, adorned in hotel lobbies and rooms, used on CD and book covers, featured in magazines from Family Circle to "O" the Oprah Magazine, in catalogs and is currently offered on hundreds of products by over 30 different manufacturers; just to name a few of her recent accomplishments in the art and design world. Megan also is very active on social media and has a following of over 50,000 along with 50,000+ monthly hits to her websites.
"It's not just about where we came from, but who we are, and the journey we take through life that defines us" ~ Megan Duncanson, "Livin' the MAD Life"©