Q&A with Meig Sutherland.

Beige Ladies Hand

Scottish artist Meig Sutherland’s work focuses on the human form. She paints spontaneously using a continuous line and gestural mark making. The further she takes a piece the more convoluted her figures become; organically entwining into flowing abstract shapes.

Interest in Meig’s work has grown steadily over the past 18 months, with the majority of her pieces selling quickly out the gallery to buyers across the UK. We’ve also collaborated on a number of interesting mural projects. So what better time to catch up and delve a bit deeper into Meig’s creative background and chat about her daily life as a working artist.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Revival | Acrylic on Canvas | 100 x 120 cm | £2200 | BUY

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born in Inverness up in the Highlands and grew up in the countryside. Having separated parents since I was around 3, I was always moving from one house to another. The area we lived in had amazing views as we were quite rural and isolated from others. I enjoyed it there.

As a child I was always encouraged to be creative and was constantly playing, making or baking with my siblings. Myself and my sisters had a strong relationship with our Granny. She was a huge part of our upbringing, and I share most of my fondest childhood memories with her. As a retired English teacher, she was incredibly supportive and wanted us to expand our imaginations – taking us to music lessons, art galleries, museums – and always talking about books. It was hard not to be interested in the arts.

My Mum is also a very creative person, which has had a lasting impression on me and my sisters. All of us have gone on to do creative things, whether it be art, textiles or product design. We were always surrounded by her creative quirks, from the house we lived in to the pets we owned (parrots, tortoises and chickens!). Living with my mum was never boring.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Hiding In The Green | Acrylic & Watercolour on Canvas | 100 x 120 cm | £1180 | BUY

Have you always been a creative person? And when did you realise that you were an artist?

Yes definitely! I have always been creative and someone who loves to draw and I have always had the desire to do it – traits I inherited from my Mum. I realised it was something I wanted to pursue when I left school. Originally, I applied for film-making at university, but after being rejected I realised that I should be doing something that I have always been interested in and also good at.

I decided to study Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee (where my Granny grew up) and graduated in 2020 during the pandemic. I’ve since moved to Glasgow, worked briefly as a graphic designer, and am now focusing on being a full-time artist. Having a career in art has never seemed like the easiest route, but for me it is something that feels natural, not at all forced.

What motivates you?

I think the willingness to create is what motivates me. If I haven’t painted or drawn in a while I get a craving to do it and can’t stop thinking about it until I make something. I do find sourcing inspiration hard sometimes if I’m going through a block, but watching artist interviews and people making art always makes me want to do it again.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Restful | Acrylic & Textured Paste on Canvas | 100 x 120 cm | £1450 | BUY

What was the best thing about being at Art School, and what was the worst, if anything?

Having life drawing sessions every Tuesday morning was my favourite. There was never any ‘art teaching’ at uni – we were never taught how to draw or paint. It was all self learnt and done from our own drive to improve. These sessions really helped me to develop my drawing skills. At times, it was just me and the model as I think I may have been the only student into life drawing at the time! In reflection this was really special as there are not many opportunities to do this outwith university. It is something I definitely took for granted at the time.

Can you describe your typical day in the studio?

I currently work from home in my spare room and have only recently started dedicating full days to creating, so the format is new to me. I tend to start the mornings quite slowly – looking online at Pinterest and Instagram. I like to get inspired before I work. Then I will begin with some simple life drawings and have a think about what to do next. I struggle in the winter with the sun setting around 4pm, and so I don’t get as much done as I would through summer. I need to adapt my routine at this time of the year. I also listen to a lot of music to keep me focused and entertained. Picking out playlists and songs to get me motivated is something I spend a lot of my time on.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Meig’s home studio.

Have you always favoured producing figurative art?

Yes I think so. I have always struggled to find ideas for what to paint. I think figurative work can be its own thing – without concept. I really enjoy this as I prefer to just work and create spontaneously rather than plan a piece in advance. I struggled in art school, being less conceptual than others, as we were pushed to articulate every piece of work. Despite this I began to find my style and realised that not all work has to be meaningful – it can be the act of making and expressing through the figures and paint that brings the meaning. It also helps that I really enjoy the challenge of capturing a new pose or figure and find drawing figures very natural.

Fluidity of line plays a central role in your art – how have you mastered this technique?

A huge amount of practice! Constantly drawing over and over again to get an understanding of how the body works and flows on paper has allowed me to develop a style. I sometimes do blind drawings, which I love as they give an abstracted look to the work. It makes me concentrate on how the body is connected and how it feels and blends together rather than how it looks. Life drawing is another thing which has helped me understand perspectives; how light works and how to draw a person in real life – not just relying on a source image.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Serenity | Acrylic on Canvas | 100 x 120 cm | £1050 | BUY

Which artists do you follow and which artists influence your work?

I have so many it’s hard to pinpoint certain individuals. When I first started to learn about art in high school, my main inspiration was Picasso. Recently I have been loving the textured work by Jennifer Polchinski and James Owen and the dreamlike, surrealist work of Mary Herbert.

Does social media play a role in your life as an artist?

I use Instagram and make the odd TikTok. I do tend to find it more of a chore than anything else. It can occasionally ruin the flow of a piece as I can be interrupted setting up a camera or trying to make content of me making my work, rather than just working. It is also hard to be consistent with it as it can be so demanding. Despite this, it is hugely beneficial to me as it gets my work out there. I also love to follow other artists and see what people are up to in a less formal manner.

Is there anything that you dislike about the art world?

I currently dislike how content is viewed so quickly online and perhaps not fully appreciated. Making art can take a long time; from finding motivation to completion. I feel the increase in a need to post on social media and stay consistent also adds to the pressure of creating. A post can be viewed for about 5 seconds, but a painting will take many hours to finish. I’m not sure if this is an ‘art world’ problem as such, but I feel it is definitely affecting artists and creators as well as the value of their time and hard work.

Q&A with Meig Sutherland.
Meig working on her paintings.

And finally, what are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on myself. I feel I have hit a wall for the last couple of months and am trying to find ‘me’ again. I am slowly finding the motivation to start painting again, and with each piece I feel that I am gaining my confidence back. I hope to complete a few larger canvas paintings in the coming months and just enjoy exploring new ideas and mediums too – focusing on large, figurative, abstracted works and seeing where they take me.

Big thanks to Meig for taking the time to answer our questions and we look forward to seeing new paintings soon!