Friday, April 18, 2014

Back from the brink

detail. work in progress. 

Deconstructivism. That is my word of the day.

I am back in my studio working on the same paintings that I started a month or so ago. It's only since last week's experiment that I have decided I really like it when the canvas bits aren't so uniform and perfectly glued down. At first, I was trying to cover up the old maps adhered to the panel with bits of raw canvas and begin anew but now I really like the maps peeking out. This morning when I got to the studio, I started painting the previously coffee stained canvas bits white. I then spontaneously pulled one of the glued pieces of canvas off to see what it revealed and then I fell in love with what I saw and I remembered things.

I kept pulling bits off, saving the pieces and then later reconstructing the deconstruction. I just wanted to enjoy the textures, the energy, the colors from underneath and I didn't really care if it looked damaged. I love things that look damaged just like I love it when the greenery overtakes forgotten buildings. This is happening in these works, rebuilding, decay and then tearing it down and putting it back up but with the decay rearranged. These works are not smooth and will not be glossy afterwards. These works are dirty and wrecked but in this wreckage you find beauty. You find little gems and it feels honest. The whole time I was thinking, make the work you want to make. Make the work you want to see. This is my revolution. Tear it apart. It felt wonderful. I don't know when I last felt this, I just can't even remember.

And time did that thing! I put on an album and walked away and suddenly fifteen long songs had played and I couldn't believe it, it was as if I just put the record on. That rarely ever happens anymore. Today it happened. No wonder artists get so depressed, to feel this and then to have it go away! It's like being a magician and someone takes your magic away for a long time and locks it in a box and hides it right under your nose with the key around your neck but you still can't find it. It is horrible.

So what changed? Well, today I saw my future and I hadn't even dared to dream of one in such a long time. I completed a three week meditation course yesterday meaning that today I could either stop or find another. I found another one based on imagining our desires and manifesting those feelings into life. After the meditation I wrote exactly what I envisioned and what it felt like. I hadn't dared to think that way in ages. I had to unlock that box. I had to dare to dream, dare to want, dare to try. 

I hope I get to stay here for a while but I will take what I can get. I was just beginning to wonder why I was doing so much yoga, meditation and self care and I was feeling like I wanted to quit and then today happened. That is why we must never give up. We are setting the stage for today.

Make the work you want to make. Make the work you want to see. This is my revolution. Tear it apart.

Friday, April 11, 2014

One sided conversation: Mysticism in art

of missteps and secrets
12x12" mixed media on panel
© 2014 Megan Chapman

I must tell you that this is an experiment on multiple levels.

It's part of the rebuilding series. One of the ones that I didn't stain brown. I liked the way it peeled away from the face. I am curious about enough. What is enough to make art. Is "art anything we can get away with" really? This is an under painting and perhaps not done but if I give it a name and post it and share it, do people consider it finished? Yes, they do. But do I? I think so. I am experimenting with taste, minimalism and concept. I just like the textures and unbalance but it is void of feeling or is it?

It feels like my art brain has been dormant for so long. I am trying to reawaken it desperately. Yes, I want theory but I realize I must also work. So I have to make it interesting now or perhaps not interesting. I don't know what I am doing or why. So I must start over like a young student with no rules or limits with no needs but to make and enjoy the process. Moving, making and thinking about the process. Not for money but for love and in the process rediscover something more true again. I want to take risks, I want to scream, I want to break the rules. I have been good too long and played my cards too close. 

All of this talk. I never do this anymore. I have to dream and talk shit and revise and reform and think big. They are just paintings... but they are so much more. If they were just paintings I wouldn't miss not doing the work I need to do. I have to go into this place inside that is a bit mystical to make the work I really need to make. This vulnerable, weird place like a character almost. It is me but it is everyone before me and it is that woman's heart over there but it is my heart and it is his voice over there but it is my voice... 

I shut that all out. I shut it all down. I stopped receiving. It is a heady place when you tune in and hear all the stories that need telling, when you can get away with it and give in and do it and not judge or be judged and make them real. It makes my brain tingle and it makes me almost want to cry and it feels a little crazy but I know how it feels in the edges of my brain when I get in that creative space. I miss it so.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life : A series in action

Hello again! Today, I am writing this outside in the sunshine as the birds sing and the honeysuckle bushes are leafing out all around my house. It is that distinct fresh new green that is piercing against the blue sky. It is Spring.

This week went by in the blink of an eye. Let's see what happened? There was some organizing, deep cleaning, painting and tax preparation. There were also routine things like paying bills, grocery shopping and getting my new health insurance card in the mail! I also saw friends and worked on some new projects.

I am delighted to announce that I am going to be the guest speaker at the April meeting of the Scottish Society of Northwest Arkansas. I will be giving a talk about my project, my research and my time in Scotland. I am very excited about this opportunity. I will be giving the talk in Springdale, Arkansas next Tuesday April 8th at 7pm at AQ Chicken House. The meeting is open to the public for folks that are either of Scottish descent or just admire the Scottish culture. I am looking forward to talking with everyone.

As far as the new series I am working on currently, I am thinking about them and the theory behind the series. So far the series is created on 12x12" panels with raw canvas torn into pieces and glued to the face of the panels, the canvas is stained and painted and they crash together or balance delicately. Things are being built and pieces fall, break and crumble away and then they are rebuilt over and over again, much like life. We are constantly rebuilding and I want to explore this within this body of work. Right now I feel a bit too scattered with preparation for my talk and my upcoming workshops to focus on the series the way I would like but I know I will right myself and refocus again. My life is a good example of my series in action. Rebuilding of attention, relationships, space, interests, needs, finances and of self.

I have also been using this time to do some inner work. A slight springtime tuneup. Eating well, taking my vitamins, exercising, yoga, meditating, writing, letting go of things that no longer serve me. Again, rebuilding. The springtime is a good time for a major rebuild and renewal. It almost seems luxurious to take care of myself in this way. However, I know this is critical to everything else that comes next.

How do you rebuild? How do you know when it has become critical? Will you give yourself permission?

Until next week, you know what to do.

During the month of April I will be donating 10% of all my Etsy sales to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New paintings, workshops and publications!

Hello! Thanks for joining me on this rainy Friday. I am in my studio again just enjoying spending time around my work and supplies while writing this post. This is the fourth week in a row I have written my blog from my attic studio and I must count this as a victory. More evidence that I am getting back into the swing of things slowly but surely.

I am also very happy to report that a new series is underway as well! It is still very early in the game so I won't say much about it but to say I am excited about the direction and to be working in this way again.

While working on my new series I am also preparing for some workshops that I will be teaching soon. I am looking forward to working with folks and sharing my experiences.

Some ideas for my future workshops:

In the first two hour segment I will touch on many aspects of the business side of art, how to speak about yourself as an artist, promote your work to galleries and arts organizations, build relationships with patrons by using social media and how to speak about your work effectively in person.

In the second two hour segment you’ll learn how to speak about yourself and your work all while quieting the voices of the naysayers and our own self-limiting beliefs. Attention will also be on writing and fine tuning a winning artist statement and biography.

In the third two hour segment you will learn effective portfolio presentation, the basics of documenting your work and pricing your art. We’ll learn researching potential venues for your work and how to approach galleries, art centers and nontraditional spaces.

In the fourth two hour segment we will focus on the importance of social media and how to really engage people with your work, whether online or in person. We will also discuss how to confidently create your own opportunities locally, nationally and internationally and identify available resources that will help your art career flourish.

I can't wait to launch this series of workshops and other goodies online in the near future. Stay tuned.

I am also very excited to report that the Spring 2014 issue of LETTERS is out now! The cover features a detail of my painting, "pocket full of live wires." There are three of my paintings featured within the journal as well. LETTERS is produced by students from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School. I am honored to have my work included.

Don't miss New Hampshire's Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel’s poem “Full of Life” which is an ekphrasis of my painting “Pocket Full of Live Wires” on page 22 and 23 of the journal. I am grateful for Ms. Fogel's interest in my work and for her writing about it. I love these collaborations as you just never know where they may lead. Click on the image to take you to the journal's website and click on issue 2 [Spring 2014] and then you can view and enjoy the journal.

I think that is all I have for you this week from my art world. Until next week, you know what to do... 

Keep fighting!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Always look for the evidence...

I started writing a post for this blog in the middle of the day. I wrote for hours about quite a lot and then I decided it wasn't ready for public consumption so I filed it away as a draft. I then wandered around my studio looking at old files, journals, papers and I read my own words from 10 or more years ago. I was searching, always searching for something and always feeling like I could improve or do better or make it work, whatever it was. I was also always escaping into my journals, into my music, into my art trying to be someone else and it was exhausting. Or at least it was exhausting to read it today.

I have come to an examination phase of things once again but it is different now. I am not escaping and haven't been for quite a while. I like who I am and what I have become and how I live my life and I wake up excited almost everyday.

I see new bodies of work in my mind, yet I do not make them. What is that about? What is holding me back? I have produced twenty-two pieces of art in the new year (this is apparently not enough). I have had one solo show and been in two international group exhibitions. Some of my work is about to be published in an online journal from YALE. I have sold small works on Etsy, sold works from my home studio and received some commissions and have future prospects. I am also about to create a series of workshops. So, what is going on...

I think this is just a mighty incubation phase. I can see the work and I can feel it around me. This is that nervous, slightly maddening phase and one day very soon.... it will pour. This is the time to look for the evidence.

And I think I just found it by writing this. Thank you.



PS. I am now offering a selection of some of my older color works from 2008's Evidence of the Disappearance series as archival reproductions over on Society6.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Live it...

Logo designed by Stewart Bremner

This week went by quite quickly! I must have been busy!

I am very excited that currently I am planning a series of four two hour workshops on the business aspect of art! I am looking forward to marketing this online as a subscription service. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I am so glad that everything came together so that I could finally sit down and start to prepare for this next adventure. The first course will be designed to be a bit of a taster and the following classes will be more in depth. However, each class is independent from each other so you can pick and choose which one or sequence is best for you! I promise it will be fun and you will feel better and more hopeful about your art career and armed with strategies that will help you in the future! I will keep you in the loop as things develop.

In other news this week, I shipped off my recent Etsy orders to England, France and Minnesota. Later in the week I had an impromptu spring sale of some of my older color works from 2004/5 and one that remained from 2009. I found 4 out of the 5 paintings new homes! It was lovely to connect with folks that were excited to get a larger piece of mine for a great price. I was so pleased. If you are in the market for a larger piece, 24x30" from 2005 I do have the one painting left. See below.

Always within
mixed media on canvas 24x30"
© 2005 Megan Chapman 
Now just $245
Installment plans are available

Last Saturday, "The Ghosts of the Past" exhibition came down, so I packed it up and have it back with me awaiting its next venue. I was given a rare treat this week when a patron of my project came by to visit. I was able to show her all the work, piece by piece and up close and describe the process behind the work. It was a beautiful experience and a true gift. I only get to do that every one in a while and it is always special when I do. It solidifies my connection to the work, the process and the memory of creating it. I always see something new and learn something each time. I like sharing the story and answering questions and being able to share the work one on one. There is nothing better, it is almost as if I am being seen for the first time, very life affirming. The work is an extension of myself and to be able to share that is a very intimate experience. It was a treasure in a busy week. This week was filled with gifts and my heart is very full.

Perhaps that is why last but certainly not least, I started to paint in my studio again this week. If you read my blog last week I am trying to come back to this attic studio and create new memories and energy within the space. It seems to be working. I just started on a 16x20" canvas using some of the colors that have always been my favorites. It is a bit like starting over again but with a security blanket of sorts. I will not judge it too harshly. I will just accept it as evidence of moving forward, even if it came in the wrappings of the past.

work in progress

And that is all I have for you this week! Busy week of a proper artist I'd say and I want more of those. Thank you all for your support of my work, life and passion.

Until next week, keep fighting! The world needs your art!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Right on time...

Orange oxide lineup

Hello and thanks for joining me!

Happy New Year! What? Well, it was my birthday yesterday so I am proclaiming it a new year, so if things haven't been going your way so far in 2014, have a do over on me. This winter has been a harsh one and I know many people are ready for spring with it's new beginnings, flowers, unicorns and sunshine.

Unicorns!? Hey, it's my blog and I can say what I want. Anyway, today is the last day of my exhibition, The Ghosts of the Past Exposed at the Anne Kittrell Gallery at the University of Arkansas. I am so glad I was able to complete my project and show the work in such a fine setting as the Anne Kittrell. Who knows what is next for that body of work but I think some good things are brewing.

Today, I am writing my blog from my studio... which studio you ask? That would be my attic studio. I have had a bit of a mental block when it has come to really utilizing this space after the old underground closed and I lost my studio at the end of December 2011. I have made work up here but not as regularly as I would like. Of course since the start of 2012 I have been away from Arkansas for a year combined, with my two trips to Scotland and the 2 months I spent in Atlanta. When I write it down like that, it is no wonder that my studio space here feels a bit discombobulated.

I have worked on Stewart's kitchen worktop, dining table and in his living room studio. Then of course I had my own lovely studio in Edinburgh for 4 months as well. I have also worked on my own random tables throughout my house. I can work anywhere but there are preferred spaces. Spaces that have one purpose, one focus and are imbued with that certain energy. A storehouse of innate wisdom that wraps you up like a warm blanket just at the moment when you feel you have forgotten everything, that is what a studio is to me.

This attic space used to be that and I want it to be that again. Currently, I am flooding the space with my music, I am writing up here again and I am touching all my paints and materials. As I do this, I am remembering all the art I created in this private space since 2003. There is no gallery down the hall and there is no fanfare once a month but there is freedom in the paint splattered window panes and possibility in the creaky hardwood floor. There is still the muscle memory in my legs that carried me up here many years in the dark of 3 am to escape into my art. There is the light in the east and west and there is the memory of hundreds of paintings that were happily created here and that now live far away and in many homes.

This is my new year and my studio is a new opportunity once again. I hope you will come along and see what happens next.

"It's up to me now, turn on the bright lights..."