“Road Trip” Paintings: A Journey Across America Through Miniature Landscapes

As summer unfolds, the allure of a classic road trip becomes irresistible — the wind in your hair, the sun on the horizon, and the perfect playlist serenading the open road. The essence of this wanderlust-inspired craving is beautifully captured in the recent art series titled “Road Trip.” Artist Meg Frank takes us on a visual journey across America with a unique twist, using cassette tapes as her canvas. In this article, we delve into the inspiration, technique, and creative process behind these captivating miniature oil landscapes.

The Craving for the Open Road:

Meg Frank’s “Road Trip” series is a testament to the artist’s yearning for exploration and the freedom of the open road. The four cassette tapes adorned with eight miniature oil paintings serve as both artworks and nostalgic time capsules. Each painting encapsulates the essence of a cross-country journey, echoing the sentiments of a summer road trip filled with adventure and discovery.

Creating Memories Through Art:

Frank’s artistic approach involves not only visually capturing the landscapes but also infusing them with the spirit of music. The artist reveals that all her road trips have accompanying playlists, and when she looks at each tape painting, she can vividly hear the songs that accompanied her on those journeys. The reciprocity is true as well — a familiar song can transport her back to the highways, singing along while scouting the skyline. The artwork becomes a conduit for the transportation of memories and nostalgia.

The Influence of COVID Road Trips:

The backdrop of canceled plans due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Frank to embark on multiple road trips, seeking solace for her wandering mind. The reference photos used in the paintings are snapshots from a cross-country drive in the summer of 2021. Additionally, Frank has extended her artistic endeavors to include other out-of-date pieces of technology, such as old cellphones and laptops, transforming them into tangible tokens of memory.

From Canvas to Cassette:

The idea of painting on a cassette tape was serendipitously discovered when a professor challenged Frank to bring unusual “canvases” to class. The choice of cassette tapes is not arbitrary; it comes with a practical advantage. The see-through case of the cassette tapes serves as both protection and a frame, allowing the artwork to be appreciated from various angles. Frank’s experimentation with painting on CD cases led her back to the charm of cassette tapes, appreciating the separation between art and case.

Infusing Music Into Art:

Music has been a constant companion in Frank’s art practice. The artist always has the radio on in her studio, and many of her pieces have accompanying playlists. Some of the painted tapes even include recordings of the playlists she listened to while working on them. These mass-produced tapes, sourced from local Buy Nothing groups, feature iconic artists like Hall & Oates, U2, James Taylor, and Tina Turner. The use of recycled materials adds a layer of environmental consciousness to the artistic process.

Crafting Your Own Artistic Journey:

For those inspired to embark on their artistic journey, Frank shares a simple guide to painting on everyday objects. The technique involves priming the object with gesso or Mod Podge, sketching a quick outline, and then using acrylic paint for the actual artwork. Frank emphasizes the accessibility of acrylic paint, citing its affordability, ease of use, and quick cleanup compared to oil paint.

In Meg Frank’s “Road Trip” series, art becomes a vehicle for storytelling, encapsulating the spirit of a journey through America’s diverse landscapes. The fusion of visual art with the auditory experience of music creates a multisensory encounter for both the artist and the observer. As we admire these miniature oil landscapes on cassette tapes, we are invited not only to appreciate the scenic beauty but to share in the artist’s memories and the soundtrack of her adventures.