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Megan Grinder's Strong Women Portrait Series

Celebrating Beauty, Strength and Grace

Article by Jeannie Tabor

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Often difficult times help us find beauty in new places. Megan Grinder’s strong women portrait series began as a reaction to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg amid a pandemic and a tumultuous time in our country. “Rhetoric in the 2020 election was so heated and divisive, and the passing of a justice who had been a longtime champion of women’s rights kind of pushed me over the edge. I felt like I had to do something,” Megan says. So she sat on her back porch and painted all day until she had finished the portrait of Ginsburg, with beautiful pink lilies sprouting from her head.

Buoyed by strong positive reaction to the Ginsburg portrait on Instagram, Megan continued painting several more well-known strong women, including Maya Angelou, Julia Child, Amanda Gorman, Lady Liberty, Dolly Parton, Pink, Pat Summit and Betty White, all adorned with floral crowns. Megan says, “The flowers depict beauty, strength and grace. Strong things can come in beautiful packages and can be powerful and vulnerable at the same time.” Megan chooses flowers that represent her subjects, like roses for Betty White to symbolize her beloved character Rose Nylund on Golden Girls.

How does Megan select her subjects? Megan says they are all women who bring light into the world. “They elevate the conversation in some way and are strong, admirable, accomplished women who retain their femininity. Plus, they have to strike a chord with me. Their words, works, and being have to make me feel better about the world.”

Next up on the easel is Queen Elizabeth II and Jane Goodall. There is no one who is taboo, but Megan says she has no desire to paint anyone who is controversial or politically polarizing. “They have to be women I perceive to be elevating the conversation, rising above petty opinions.”

Megan’s creative process takes place in her home studio, under a north-facing skylight. She first chooses a primary image of her subject, then creates a crown by layering and arranging floral images digitally. After the reference image is assembled, she creates a drawing and transfers it to watercolor paper, where she begins applying paint. 

Megan has always loved creating art. As a child, if she wasn’t outside playing in the dirt, you could find her coloring, drawing or painting. And today, not much haschanged!

  • Megan, an alumna of Hutchison and Princeton University's School of Visual Arts and Art History also studied art in Aix-en-Provence