Sometimes when you’re young, life seems like it is out of your control. That is why many teens turn to art, which gives them the power to create.
Jacinda Jackson is an Outreach Therapist. Recently, at a home visit her client showed her his sister’s artwork. Jackson was blown away.
“This 18-year-old girl [was] bursting with creativity, passion and the ability to emotionally move me with her art,” Jackson wrote via e-mail.
And Jackson knows a thing or two about art. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts and spent 15 years trying to carve out her niche as an artist. Eventually she went back to school and earned an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This combination gives her a unique perspective. Jackson understands the hardships people endure and knows how art can help.
“This girl has had an incredibly tumultuous childhood and the process by which she copes screams from the pages of her sketchbooks,” Jackson wrote.
The girl is Megan Granger of Nashua. She graduated from Hollis-Brookline High School last spring and is currently looking for a tattoo apprenticeship. She is a talented artist who wears her work on her sleeve — literally. She has tattooed her father and her boyfriend, Peter Nightingale, but she said she enjoys working on herself the most.
“I don’t feel as nervous,” Granger said. “I think tattooing is a beautiful form of art that is permanent.”
Ever since she was young, Granger has enjoyed getting her hands messy. Unfortunately, life can get messy as well. During difficult times, Granger escaped through her art.
“Art was a really big stress-reliever,” Granger said. “It made me feel better about myself and what was going on around me.”
Granger said when she looks at her work she remembers moments of her life and what she was feeling and thinking at those times. When asked if that was always a good thing — did she want to remember the bad moments? — she didn’t hesitate.
“I always felt better after doing it [a painting],” Granger said. “I got my feelings out and then it was like they became their own thing, separate from me.”
Art was a constant companion as she grew up.
“I spent most of my free time with art,” Granger said. “The more time I spent, the more fond of it I became. It is the only way I know how to express myself to the best extent.”
But what does the art say about this young woman? The first thing that draws your eyes to Granger’s work is her use of color.
“I love making things bold that catch your eye,” Granger said.
She adores watercolors but likes to experiment in every medium. In fact, she even uses highlighters.
“I use highlighters all the time,” said her boyfriend Nightingale, “but it never looks like what she can do.”
Yet elements of doubt also seep into the color. For example, Granger loves to burn chunks of her work.
“I like to burn things because you can’t control much,” Granger said. “It is different every time.”
At least she has learned to take her paintings out of her sketchbook, which she carries with her everywhere, before she burns them. She didn’t always do this and once almost torched the whole book.
These goofy moments are a reminder that, despite her wisdom, Granger is still young. She is greatly influenced by the music she listens to, and lyrics of her favorite bands, like Bright Eyes and Melpo Mene, often end up in her paintings.
“Conor Oberst [of Bright Eyes] is one of the best writers of all time,” said Nightingale, as he and Granger sat at a table in Barnes & Noble.
Besides art classes in high school, Granger is self-taught. She said school is not her thing, which is why she is not pursing a fine art degree. But she has honed her ability to observe, and her favorite subject matters are people and animals — really anything that has facial expressions. She said she usually has an idea but nothing concrete and when she creates a new piece she lets her hand do what it wants and then she goes back and refines it.
“You can’t be too scared,” Granger said, talking about art but maybe hinting about life. “You can’t be afraid to mess up and start over. You can’t let your worries stop you from doing what you want to do.”