7 months ago

ARTIST PROFILE: MORGAN ECHOLS

From New York to California to Texas, all the way back to Huntsville, Alabama lives

Morgan Echols. The modern age artist has taken a hold of over three hundred thousand followers from Instagram to TikTok, just from her home studio with paint neatly organized in their white bottles. Her lampshade glowed with a comforting soft gold throughout the room, refracting onto one of her newest pieces. A gentle circle radiates with shades of pink, forest green, and white with the geometry of a star interrupting the perfectly centered circle right in the middle of a 36-by-36 canvas. Each little circle that makes up the shape of a larger one coated with three layers of paint for the most opaque look—she leaves nothing to chance. Echols' work seems to be the love child of the 1960s and Julio Le Parc’s color theory. There’s nothing else quite like it.

PART I | What You Allow Will Continue

Morgan began her journey to one of her most unique pieces when taking advice from a follower, who stated that one of her most recent pieces looked similar to morse code, and she did exactly that—took this idea and ran with it. You usually will not find symbology, numbers, or letters in her body of work–but this piece is rebellious, meaningful, and demonstrates the control and freedom in Morgan’s life. Morse code, originally invented by an artist in the 1830s for electrical telegraphy, is now used to portray thoughts, feelings, and the past. ‘What you allow will continue,’ a geometrically pleasing display of religious fervor of freedom with love and kindness, something Morgan Echols completely embodies, body and soul.

Since turning her art into a business, Morgan spent months making commission work, all the same, all day for so long that she might have forgotten what it felt like to create a one-of-a-kind piece. What she allowed continued until she could no longer look at neon glows, but rebelling against the idea of creating art because it's what others want rather than creating what you feel is what has brought Morgan’s art to the next level. The tightly wound dots, dashes, and slashes taking 257-time units on a canvas scaling from the darkest of blacks to a lighter version shows the control Morgan has not only over her paintbrushes, but her life as well. Circles represent the continuous cycle of allowing something, but dashes are a whole other story.

PART II | Back to Basics

Ms. Echols has always been an artist—artists aren’t just born and bred one day in their 27th year of life. This dates back to her elementary years taking an art class in the mall in Huntsville, Alabama. Growing up, Morgan always knew she was an artist, and deep down, she always knew she wanted to create. Creation is circular, it evolves much like Morgan’s pieces—but they all have one thing in common. Circles. Geometry. Color. Memories.

Morgan’s brother is one of her biggest inspirations and, unknowingly, the reason she became such a force in the modern era. Hunter, an artist himself, supports Morgan in all of her endeavors, and a joint painting they did together in 2019 became the canvas of Morgan’s first circle painting that brought her so much success.

Morgan lives with her photographer fiancé, who is a huge supporter of Morgan, in a cozy home in which Morgan has turned a spare bedroom into her own little studio that has expanded into their living room. Two passionate artists living together, living their truths as one—all the inspiration one would need.

In April 2021, Morgan quit her full-time job working at a doctor's office to pursue art full-time based on opportunities she was presented with. Change is a concept that we all must be forced to recognize at certain times in our lives. Morgan was faced with the dilemma of being severely unhappy with her life or taking the jump to pursue her passion for art. So, she began creating content for her love of the creative process, and at the same time, her followers became a family to her. Art became a constant in a life that orbited around a nine-to-five and playing with paint on the weekends. What she allowed in her life continued until she had to turn her life off of its axis and begin a new revolution around her art.

PART III | Epiphany of the Circle

Geometry means a lot to Morgan. Circles, for example, “was the only geometry that was perfectly symmetrical and had no straight edges.” They are a perfectionist’s worst nightmare and biggest accomplishment if made in just a way that creates an illusion to the naked eye. Mostly, “it was just the simplicity of just the circles and the colors.” In one of Morgan’s less recent works from 2019, she plays with circles keeping their two-dimensional shape on the canvas, then moving on to more geometrical shapes like triangles, squares, and diamonds—giving them three-dimensional attributes. In 2020, followers began to see neon glows and in that same year, the circle glows took their place in the art world. When looking at her Instagram page, you can see her going back and forth from circles because she “loved the idea of concentric circles.” But without the right technique, it became really hard to continue painting the shape that made her famous. Yet, she kept coming back to the idea of perfectly concentric circles enough times to perfect the technique.

Morgan states that she could paint continuous lines and strokes on a canvas while painting circles, something she couldn’t really do with stars or hexagonal shapes. This isn’t the only example of her perfectly measured out and tape pieces. One piece that’s gotten a lot of traction plays with the movement of three-dimensional shapes. By using the primary colors blue, yellow, and red to create movement of squares in a manner that blurs them into another part of the canvas. By overlapping the simple shape of a square with other colors, Morgan is able to transcend geometry as a 2D concept. All of these aspects and features that conspire on her work lend themselves and her art as a whole to the Op-Ed genre. But she takes optical art to another level, instead of using black and shades of gray, Morgan uses many intense colors to create her illusions. For Morgan, “the geometry is just there to display the colors. It’s all about the colors for me. Color is the reason why these paintings exist.”

Blacks, grays, and white aren’t colorful and fun to work with. It’s as simple as that for Morgan because the foundation for her work is highly mathematical in terms of sketches, drafting, perfect measurements, and the effects that have on the eye. Her colors mean something—they’re meant to give her paintings life and a heartbeat, something for the circles to melt together into a glowing circumgyration of bursting amaranth, cyan, emerald, and iris; the geometry of Morgan’s pieces act as a course for these colors to catch the eye.

PART IV | Style

Hard-edge painting was coined in the 1960s as a consciously impersonal painting application. And while Morgan’s pieces aren’t necessarily telling a story, she can see the memories of how she was feeling while she was painting between each and every little circle on the canvas. This has nothing to do with the genre of art, but her very technical creative process that she explained step-by-step like a mantra.

Morgan leaves nothing to chance, she doesn’t sit down and free hand each circle, but she first drafts on paper or even an old piece of mail. Moving on to a drafting table, Morgan pulls out a compass, a pencil, and a home-made tape measure tool. This device has carefully measured out holes and as Morgan traces a circle on the slightly bumpy canvas, she moves on to the hole just one millimeter above it and traces again, a home-made trammel compass. This process continues until there are many circles making up the blank canvas.

After the time-consuming tracing process, Morgan locks it all in with a simple white gesso to make sure none of the pencil moves or smudges into the carefully picked out color going over it. When the gesso is completely dry comes the most important part of Morgan’s creative process: color choice. For Morgan “color is the reason why these paintings exist.” With specific colors in tow, Morgan uses unbleached titanium to create different shades of the same color and when layering the paint on, she only works on the left side of the canvas and rotates as she moves along each circle—which has two to three layers of acrylic paint for the most opaque look.

The process Morgan goes through is tried and true, much like the evolution of her style. No matter what she’s painting, Morgan is never afraid to try something new. Even though she has found her niche with circles, during our time together she explained that “nobody should limit themselves to like a set style. Once you’ve kind of found your niche, you should never feel like you can’t leave it.” This explains the frequent change in the style of her work; if you’re scrolling through her Instagram or TikTok, you can see her change from neon glows, to star glows, to a more blended circle, to even playing with the curvature of lines. There’s not much that Morgan Echols can’t do in terms of trying new things that won’t immediately sellout within minutes. All of these paintings have one thing in common, her fanbase wants an original Morgan Echols.

PART V | From TikTok to Instagram to Your Home

Morgan Echols has become the face of Op-Art with hundreds of people on TikTok deriving her style onto their own canvas. She finds pride in the fact that those who cannot get her exclusive pieces decide to make them, and Morgan even finds the time to reply to each and every one of her comments, direct messages, and even videos that she is tagged in. This makes Morgan extremely unique because not only is she extremely talented in her medium, but knowledgeable in social media trends and marketing her work so that it’s sold at a most profitable time. Morgan Echols is business savvy, which helps her to understand that people “don’t know what they want ‘til they see it, so when they see it, every new thing becomes their favorite new thing.”

Along with her strong business mindset, Morgan also uses social media to show a more personal side of her life. Morgan said she treats her Instagram stories “like a diary pretty much, it’s like my day to day and all my thoughts on everything I’m working on.” Everyone, especially a loyal base of followers, wants to feel involved in the creative process of their favorite artist and Morgan explained, “it’s just really cool having that many people watching what I’ve always been doing and you know, loving it as much as I do.” When talking about showing her creative process on her Instagram or TikTok, Morgan showed a most exuberant glow because to her, it means a lot to see other artists' processes and not just the finished product. This is what makes Morgan different from many other artists, she knows her platform and how to use it.

PART VI | Bringing the Past to the Future

At the beginning of her full-time art career, Morgan accepted “way too many commissions” because in her mind “commission's were job security.” This became very difficult for Morgan to pursue her new artistic career in a way that gave her joy and fulfillment. So instead of continuing to do the same commissions over and over again, Morgan decided to stop receiving commissions and pursue art that interests her and allows her to progress in her style. Morgan, in the future, would like to accept new commissions but with her amassed followers, she worried that there would be too many. So until there’s a new system to gauge commissions, you can expect to not see many of your bids straight from the brush to your door anytime soon–but you can buy her one-of-a-kind pieces from her Instagram page.

Aside from her commissions, Ms. Echols has high hopes for the future, and it already seems to be on trajectory as she’s painted a shipping container in Huntsville, Alabama in the Mid City District. In a TikTok video from November, she stated that this project in particular was important to her because before this, she “couldn’t see a day into her future” and during our interview, all we could talk about was her increasingly prosperous future in the coming months and years. After making a mark on her hometown, Morgan hopes to at some point explore oils, and she has been commissioned to do a mural. While this is exciting, Morgan doesn’t want this to be known as her niche; she thinks “that’s like the next thing that I’ll be able to step away from and look at and just be in awe.” And as for a dream project, it’s to create a mural of her favorite shapes: circles.

PART VII | Looking Into The Future

It all seems to lead back to that very singular, yet infinitely long shape—circles. Many people might think that artists are discovered, but this common misconception is debunked by Morgan Echols. She brought her art to a platform that was lucky enough to have it on the For You Page. Not only has she created beautiful and timeless pieces that will one day sit on the walls of galleries around the country, but Morgan Echols has made herself into a self-made success, something that can never be taken away from her. What she has allowed in the past definitely hasn’t continued because Morgan is far from her peak in the art world, she’s just barely scratched the surface.

Samantha Fencil, Editor

Follow Morgan Echols on all platforms!

Website: https://www.morganecholsart.com/

Instagram: @morgan_echols

TikTok: @morgan_echols

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChr34XtBGwHUXlp_wN9vmiA?app=desktop

Listen to Morgan on The ColorByFeliks Podcast: https://anchor.fm/colorbyfelikspod/episodes/Episode-3-Morgan-Echols-e1effiq/a-a7dphdn

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