Friday, July 31, 2020

Definition of success

Studio photo by Eve Smith

My definition of success:

Be able to stay free enough in mind, body, and soul to make the work. 

Have a space to make the work in which you can be free in mind, body, and soul so that you don't think about the wall, the floor, the carpet, the extension of your arm, and the paint that drips from that self-expression. 

Have a space to share this work with others.

Have some sort of roof over your head, some sort of clothes on your back, some sort of food in your belly, maintain this basic standard of living. 

Have some sort of family, friends, community, or group of peers that understand you and that speaks a shared language. 

Have love in your life, feel seen, understood, and supported. See, understand, and support others. 

Have a tabby cat.

Laugh, dance, listen to music, be in nature, feel alive, and find beautiful places to walk and explore.

Enjoy and support all forms of culture.

Share all of this with others.

Friday, July 24, 2020

132nd Paisley Art Institute Exhibition opens this Saturday!

The 132nd Paisley Art Institute exhibition opens this Saturday, July 25th at 4pm! Please join us for what is sure to be an exciting and varied exhibition. I’m delighted to have these two pieces selected for the Paisley Art Institute exhibition so grab a drink and some nibbles and celebrate art from the comfort of your home! 

See you there! 

The anchor holds
Mixed media on canvas
© 2019 Megan Chapman

I carry the light
Mixed media on canvas
© 2019 Megan Chapman

Friday, July 17, 2020

Storms of thought

The distance
Mixed media on canvas, 40x50x4cm
© 2019 Megan Chapman

Awake early this grey Friday morning in July, I am waiting for the fruit and veg man to come by with his bounty. I have already been outside with my cup of tea to listen to the wind chimes and the bumblebee enjoy the poppies. My bare feet on the cracked and moss-covered concrete of the patio - I love being able to walk out the kitchen door and be on the ground. 

I drew a couple of things this week - nothing that great. 

I have mostly been returning to walking. Twenty-nine miles since Sunday. Walking helps me remember the point of it all. The shock of green, the big trees, the places my own two feet can take me, the simple dedication of putting one foot in front of the other. Space and time to think, dream, and hope. The world is a mess but the flowers are still here, the trees are ancient, the paths are old and well-traveled. The sky is either blue, grey, or fluffy with clouds, the water of the Firth of Forth is here too, and the winds are wild. 

I move through all of this. Fields of wildflowers, paths of ivy, the sunlight through the broad tree leaves. The wind whipping around my ears, the rain on my cheeks, the sun in my eyes, the shadows on the pavements, and glints of sun across the water wrap me up in their wilderness. 

Did you know that in Scotland:

81% of artists are self-employed
50% are full-time practitioners
73% work from home
83% earn less than £10k per year
80% believe they will earn the same or less next year
59% have never received public funding
88% do not get contracts consistently
61% receive less than the industry standard rates of pay
only 11% state regularly receiving the industry standard rate of pay
75% seldom or never receive a fee for exhibitions
53% of artists do not believe the sector is healthy and viable for their practice

These stats are from the Scottish Artists Union. If you are an eligible artist in Scotland please join your union so that we can work together to improve our working conditions.

This week I attended a meeting on Finance and Benefits for Artists and then later on the same day I attended a meeting on Universal Basic Income and the Future of Work. Both of these meetings were depressing as hell just like the stats above. 

And I don't know what to do about it. Except to encourage folks to join their union (whatever their field) and to learn more about and campaign for a universal basic income (a truly universal basic income for all and one that is not means-tested).

I am having a hard time talking and not crying these days. I find everything just a bit too much. It seems we are at each other's throats and everything is being politicised within an inch of its life. Within an inch of our lives. Human beings aren't looking too smart or empathetic and I am tired of it. And I don't know what to do about it except to sweep my own side of the street while still trying to maintain my empathy. Even I fail at this.

Our leaders aren't looking too smart either and I would like to shift the blame solely to them but we did (mostly) put them there and we have the ability to be decent and kind in our own lives and we are failing miserably at this. I know this is an art blog. 

And I have so much I would like to say about art but it gets caught in my throat and turns into tears rolling down my cheeks. For something held up in high regard and something that makes some people tremendous amounts of money and brings society joy and at times acts as a mirror for deeper understanding - as a practicing artist, I am at times left feeling bereft.

Being an artist has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It is something that I question every day. I feel guilt, shame, and fear at times because I live this life. I hate this. I hate that I feel this way and yet I also know that I have barely scratched the surface of the deep vein of art I have within me that I would like to create. Part of me still thinks I took the easy way out, and that art is a good way to hide from the world while looking busy. But, would I really still be doing it with this much dedication and for so long if it is all just a ruse to avoid the responsibilities of living in our society? I don't know for sure but I don't think so. I think this is more likely how society makes artists feel unless they are financially and materially successful (successful on their terms, not ours). 

I am not an Instagram influencer. I am not selling a happy tale of painting in a glowing room while looking like a model. I am not here to tell you how to sell better or more. I want to be here to show you my vision and expression of that and see if maybe you can find yourself in the work too or take the work and make it your own in your mind. 

In my mind being a painter has always been a solitary act of discovery and perhaps defiance. It wasn't supposed to be about money or making it big. I wanted it to be about a collection of souls sharing and talking about their work, giving each other honest and reliable feedback, and pushing each other to work fearlessly with integrity. Pushing boundaries for a better understanding of themselves and then perhaps society as a whole. 

I want to have exhibitions so that people can see the evolution of the work and the development of a series and how it pulls the viewer along from piece to piece like a song. It wasn't supposed to be about a piece here and there torn apart and standing all alone and out of context. I mean, of course, a good strong painting can do that, but can they sing their true song (can you even hear it) when it is rammed up against another work by another artist that is screaming another tune? 

Maybe it's all built on myth (I am not sure where this statement came from- probably the myth of being an artist, the myth of work, the myth of success, and societal validation).

I took a break from writing this (and took a long walk) as the tone of this post was becoming dour and I thought perhaps I should delete, correct course, or write something different. But I will let it stand. As you can see there are different storms of thought rolling in like clouds. I should also clarify this post is mostly fueled by this week's events and that after learning about the benefits system (what a shambles - I would not participate in that at all costs if I could possibly avoid it) and sorting out my US and UK taxes in the same week, it leaves me in a bit of a funk. It always does. Pitting the creating and selling of art against the government measuring stick of viability is a sure way to make one doubt everything. 

And that is why it is important to walk, important to keep our feet on the ground and to be in nature. Nature is our true leader. Nature would probably like us to be even less successful. Nature says listen to my leaves in the wind and stop being so bourgeois. 

I think it is also saying, honey, get your arse to the studio. 

Irving Gallery
Solo Gallery
The Velvet Easel
Support Me on Ko-fi

Friday, July 10, 2020

Faces, updates, support!

Hello lovely folks!

I hope you are well. Thanks again for your support of my work during these strange days.
I have not yet been back to my studio in Leith to begin working again. I am being slow and cautious in my re-entry. 
Just a quick update to say that besides my three accidental portrait prints available in my shop, I have added more of my works on paper that I created during the lockdown time, as well as adding the remaining charity canvas panel pieces to benefit Bicycles for Refugees and our new Scots. In this shop, I have work from £45-£270. You can see these available works here. 
I have updated my other shop that has my larger bodies of work from 2015-2017. These are all larger canvas pieces, varnished and ready to hang. In this shop, I have work from £440 - £1,080. Currently, I am offering these pieces at a 20% discount and free shipping as a thank you and to offer an incentive to keep supporting the arts. You can see those pieces here:
You can also visit my website for some of my more recent works. Prices are marked, so send me a message about anything you might be interested in. Payment plans are always available for my work (even some galleries offer them- so don't be shy). I love working with interior designers, so if you are one please get in touch! 
And of course, you can find my work in the following wonderful brick and mortar galleries in England and Scotland and I know they will appreciate your business as they slowly begin to reopen and continue with online sales as well. 
Thank you for supporting my work and the galleries that represent my work. We can't do this without you. 
Be well. 
With love and gratitude, 
Consider leaving me a £3 tip. Thank you!

Friday, July 3, 2020

I am a volcano

These are the first drawing or paintings I’ve done since June 12th. That's about a 3-week break. My skin felt like it was boiling from the inside out. You might say well then why didn’t you just make something? Good question. I think I stop to 1) rest and percolate. and 2) to remember how important this is for my life.

I am a volcano. I am headphones and joy division. I am charcoal and paper and unlimited cups of tea. I am a fever, I am electricity. It builds and builds and builds. I am a good woman until I am not. I'd like to run through the forest and throw rocks. I'd like to smash and kick the air. I'd like to scream from my guts until it shakes the trees. 

Instead, I'll draw. I will borrow your rock and roll smash it up energy safely from my sofa. I will screw up my face as I make the dark lines and I will break the charcoal instead. I will turn it up loud and I will disappear safely in your decades-old guitar sound and my heart will become the bass and I will go away in order to come back to myself again.

And each time it will be new, a revelation - a raw delight. I will close my eyes and shake my head and realise that no one gets to feel this but me. There is no way to make you understand so I don't even have to try to explain. What freedom. I'll step into your screams and take them as my own, I will wear your rage as a cloak and I will keep drawing. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Out of sync

Darkness comes in stages 
12x48"/30.4x121.9cm mixed media on canvas
© 2016 Megan Chapman

I have a cup of tea, the window is open blowing the paper prayer flags in the wind. I am listening to the beautiful music of Ólafur Arnalds "Island songs" on my headphones and tears could easily come to my eyes, but just now I can blink them away. There is something in the air today, a cool melancholy.

There are so many things I would like to write but it is complicated as this is an art blog, it is complicated because my attention span seems rather limited and because I am not sure how to form my thoughts into words. I just know I need to write. There is so much for us all to process and everyone is experiencing some form or another of grief and it is not going away.

Racial hate and divide, xenophobic fears and hate, transphobic hate and murder, a global pandemic that isn't magicking itself away, the desperate loneliness of so many bursting to be touched and loved as they flock to the beaches and parks leaving their human mark, so much litter to say I WAS HERE. WE WERE HERE.

We are back in a celebration of trash and consumerism. We are back in a forgetful haze. We got too close, saw too many, hashtag black lives matter, can I have some of your crisps, the bin is full, just leave it.

I want to love you. I want to put my arms around you but we are out of sync. I always cheered for you, always believed the best, always hoped for the future but now I must believe what I see. I don't want to.

I am so damn tired and I am not even sure I have the right to be.

I will never understand why we can't love everything and everyone. I will never understand that there are actually greedy people, bad people, mean people, people who hate and kill, people who prey on the vulnerable, people who do not think about the animals, the earth, the air.

But then again I must understand humans and I know we are messy creatures. I have hurt and disappointed other humans. I have not done my best always. I do take responsibility, I do try to learn how to do better and I try again and that's all I can do. Sometimes it is not enough.

I'll keep loving you because shame never fixed a damn thing. Protests and boycotts do, voting on your ballot and with your money can, making the personal political can help, dedicating yourself to creating tiny changes in your community (it starts with you, then your household, then your friends, then your associations) and that can help a lot.

I developed this quality slowly over time where I come to the table with problems and then I think about all sides and then I shift my perspective and then I think of positives and ways to change, ways to help, and ways to make a difference. So I came here to write from deep sadness and some rage but by the end of it, I stop myself and hope rears it's head again. Hope doesn't stay down for long.

I wish this was true for us all but I know some brains don't work that way. Some have been hurt too deeply, bruised, abandoned, and let down too often.

Collective hurt hurts us all.

Deep in our veins, it flows through us and we change shape. We flow through our cities' arteries spreading, spreading, spreading.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Studio Visits, Exhibitions, Prints, and More!

I haven't drawn or painted since last week. I did walk to my studio on Tuesday and had an emotional re-entry and then gave it a deep clean and filmed my Tuesday Studio Video Visit. If you missed it you can see it again here.

After I recorded that video and moved some furniture around and regained my composure, I recorded a second video in my studio that you won't see for a while yet. Earlier this month, I applied for and was accepted to participate in a paid project with Leith Late, a virtual open studio a digital project, which will create a virtual map plotting studios in Leith. At each point on the map, there will be one video per selected artist showing their workspace within the studio along with a gallery of still images of their work. Leith Late is working to deliver the project with academic partners from The Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies at The University of Edinburgh. So as you can imagine I was very excited to be accepted into the project with a lot of other wonderful artists and makers from around Edinburgh. I can't wait to see what they do with all the videos and materials gathered from the various participants. I will keep you posted when the project officially launches! 

This week included more good news and opportunity: 
Two of my paintings have been accepted into the Paisley Art Institute 132nd Annual exhibition! This year due to Covid-19 the exhibition will be online, so now everyone can enjoy it! I am delighted to be part of it this year!

The Paisley Art Institute (PAI) has been at the forefront of promoting and supporting Scottish artists’ work since 1876.

The exhibition will be launched on 25th July 2020 on their website. 

These are the pieces that were accepted.

I Carry The Light
Mixed media on canvas
2019 Megan Chapman
The Anchor Holds
Mixed media on canvas
2019 Megan Chapman

In other news, I launched my prints this week in my new Ko-Fi shop! The only place you can purchase the new limited edition prints of my accidental portraits! I am delighted that six prints have sold so far! You might imagine which one is proving the most popular just now - shocking! 




Dear patrons and collectors of my work during the lockdown: Thank you all for your much-needed support and encouragement. Your want of and belief in my work really kept me going. I have started preparing your work for the post today and will let everyone know as soon as I have posted your work to you so that you will know when to expect it roughly. Please keep in mind the postal service is still running a bit slower than usual and it may take me a bit longer to get everything organised again, but today I shall start the process! Thanks so much for your patience and again for your support!

And that's all I have for you this week on this Juneteenth. I will leave you with the powerful voice of Mahalia Jackson. Here's a petition to sign to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Click the link to sign: