Bonded through Brushstrokes

Though the distance between Thibodaux and Auburn University may be far, the local mother and daughter team of Elaine and Megan Waguespack stays connected through a close bond and an art business born from a shared love of painting.

“We just love painting together,” said Elaine. “When [Megan comes] home, it’s usually for a short period of time, but I feel like we always at least try to put a little time aside to paint together. It’s something we have in common and that we love.”

The pair began Waguespack Art, a commission-based business, during the middle of Megan’s senior year of high school. After receiving positive responses to photos of some of their paintings that they shared on Elaine’s Facebook page, Megan was inspired to create a social media presence for showcasing their work.

“I remember the day I had painted a couple of things and I took pictures and she’s like, ‘Post it,’ and …it was the biggest step,” said Elaine. “First, I posted to my personal page [some] swamp scenes, and then from there Megan created Waguespack Art on Instagram and Facebook.”

“For me, I had started painting these paintings of Our Lady of Guadalupe…and a lot of people would see the Our Lady of Guadalupe and they were like, ‘Wow, I really like that,’” said Megan. “We just posted it once on her Facebook and people loved it.”

Though the business came about recently, painting is no new venture for the Waguespacks, whose earliest memories revolve around art.

“I remember always liking painting and drawing and anything with art like as long as I can remember,” said Megan. “When I was little, we would have those big roles of paper…and we would just paint over this whole role of paper, and we would just be like covered in paint, and it would be so much fun.”

In the time since Waguespack Art began, Megan and Elaine have gone on to have their art showcased at festivals like the Art Walk in downtown Thibodaux, with Elaine even creating the poster for the 2017 Acadia Music Fest.

Megan and Elaine describe the initial reaction to their work as scary.

“[It was] kind of scary [and] overwhelming at times,” said Elaine. “I want them to be happy and to love what they’re getting and to look at it and have these happy thoughts, so it’s kind of fun in a way, and it’s a little nerve-wracking too.”

Megan and Elaine’s subject matter spans from abstract images to Louisiana themes like birds and marshes, all of which are drawn from their own lives and the beauty around them. Their strongest influence comes from their Catholic faith.

“I really got started with religious art,” said Megan. “Growing up going to Catholic school and being surrounded by really cool images…I would sit around and look at the pictures and be like, ‘How can I paint that…the way I like to paint things?’”

The Waguespacks have worked both as a team on pieces and worked individually. Though they share similar approaches to painting, the fact that their styles differ in some areas allows for them to critique each another’s work and to learn from one another.

“I’d say we definitely have similar but very different styles, so [we use] ideas from each other,” said Megan, “but also I know how my mom likes to do things so like I’ll be able to critique her in the way that she likes to work.”

A pre-med student at Auburn University, Megan has had to learn to balance her work with the demands of college life. For her, painting acts as a stress-reliever, and she plans to continue with it as she moves into medical school.

“When I have a good idea, I’ll literally just go pick up a paintbrush and start painting,” said Megan. “I think it’s more of a stress reliever in college just to kind of take a break from my responsibilities in school and just be able to be in my own world painting.”

The Waguespacks believe that commissioned art like theirs is special because of its uniqueness and because of the care put into making sure the customer is satisfied with what they are getting.

At the end of the day, seeing their art in people’s homes and dorms brings them great happiness.

“Some of them will continuously express how happy [they are],” said Elaine. “One of my friends expresses how it’s special to have her friend’s art in her home, and that just puts a smile on my face. I feel like that’s why I paint.”

“It’s such a good feeling just knowing that it’s like there and that’s something they choose to look at every day,” said Megan. “One of my best friends, they have one of my paintings in their room, and I’m there all the time, and it just makes me happy… just to be able to use that talent and to share that with others.”

Photos by Channing Candies and Emma Kirkpatrick