Friday, November 18, 2016

Foundations of work


I am sitting in a borrowed kitchen writing this blog once again from Fayetteville, Arkansas. This time I am not jet lagged. It is 1:30 in the afternoon on a glorious fall day. Chet Baker plays from my computer as I sit next to an open window and the sun casts shadows across the table. I can hear the wind in the tops of the trees. This is paradise. The temperature has dropped and more leaves have fallen, brisk, earthy, fresh and clean.

This is my hometown. I breathe it all in.

There is so much wrong with America but within my friends, family and community here, there is the best of America. There is culture, innovation, humor, intellect, creativity, empathy and sharing. The hospitality shown to us on this holiday has been nothing short of extraordinary.

The light dances across walls, the wooden floor creaks under foot and the stars shine bright in the country sky. The laughter is easy and the hushed whisper stories are contagious. The beans and cornbread my mom makes are still the best.

The birds are singing sweetly outside and I recognize their calls. They ground me here and now. In someone else's house, I am home.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blue skies, trains whistles and open hearts




It's 3:30 in the morning. I am awake and writing this blog in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the place of my birth and my old stomping grounds. I have jet lag, so I thought I would use this wakefulness to write here before I try to get some more sleep. I used to always wake up in Fayetteville at 3 a.m. so this feels about right anyway.



I hear the old train in the distance and there is a chill in the air. The punchy autumn leaves are beautiful whether still in the trees or scattered on the lawns and sidewalks. The air is thinner here, smells of grass and is a bit sweet. The sky was the most amazing shade of blue yesterday.

The insects and birds sing their songs which are instantly relaxing, familiar and old fashioned. Even though my town has changed and grown it feels delightfully empty to me now. One can still walk down the middle of the streets and have all the personal space you want as walkers are few and far between. It looks like a movie set. An old friend now owns the perfect little music shop filled with beautiful instruments and another one owns a record store of dreams, seemingly from a time when record stores were the epicenter of everything. Old friends can still be met on the street for conversation, consolation, laughs and hugs. One can see and hear from everyone you are meant to without too much arrangement or formality. It's so easy and sweet, still.

At lunch, a waitress brings an extra fork when only one desert is ordered and says "That's for you darlin'- this stuff is good for the soul..." Hospitality is everywhere and people are effusive even in this dark time for America and the world. I realize that my open heart and my resilience were created here on the streets and wild spaces and with the people of this sweet town. I am grateful for this comfort and knowledge.

This blog is not about art but at the same time it is. The spirit of this town is in every piece I make.

Mural by Alexis Diaz

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sogo Magazine!


I needed to buy some varnish this past weekend so off we went to Greyfriar's art supply on Dundas street and there it was... Sogo Magazine!

I was so excited to see the magazine in a rack by the counter with Alasdair Gray's cover drawing. I grabbed a copy to purchase along with my varnish and then decided I better grab two. As soon as I hit the pavement outside the shop, I had a good flip through this beautiful and elegant publication. The reproductions were stunning and the paper was wonderful. Truly a top notch publication, well designed and filled with great art and artists and brilliantly written articles. 

I excitedly read bits of Brian McFie's article, The Beautiful Mind Laid Open, about my work outside on the street to Stewart as we walked on to a nearby pub to celebrate. Stewart took these mobile photos around the corner against a wall on Circus Lane to capture the moment. I was giddy.




I took to social media and shared a quote from the article soon after. I will share it again here along with a few others but truly I hope if you are in Scotland that you will find a copy of the magazine locally or go online and subscribe. It is obvious how hard everyone involved works on Sogo from how much energy, talent and passion is contained within the pages.

This article means more to me than I can properly articulate but simply put, it is what I have been working for all these years and what I will continue to work for. To have my art seen, understood and appreciated in this way is balm for my soul. To have my art written about in this manner in my adopted home of Scotland is just the right kind of fuel for my fire and inspires me to keep going and assures me that I am in the right place, doing the right work. This validation is beyond compare and I am grateful. Thank you to Brian McFie for taking the time to see and engage with my work in this way and for articulating his experience in print.

So here are a few select quotes from Brian McFie's piece that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. 

"I ventured downstairs and was delighted when confronted by three works on canvas by Megan. Much bolder in real life and just as dynamic as I hoped they would be. The handling of the media employed had a thoroughly informed power behind it."

"The composition was dynamic, the approach searching, it's creator pushing limits and tussling with philosophical, poetic and metaphysical questions and ideas."

"This is difficult territory. One has to be brave to go there. To my mind the name Megan Chapman will eventually be held in as high esteem as Mitchell, Frankenthaler, and De Kooning. (Elaine that is, her work should be held in as high esteem as Willem's). These artists should in turn be revered as much as their male counterparts, Twombly, Motherwell, Rauschenberg and Pollock."

"It is clear to me that this artist, an American, far from home embarked on a journey, which is traveled to this day both inwardly and outwardly. The work speaks to the heart of the heart from the heart. It is a profoundly enriching body of work. As with earth, water and air. Essential."

I held my breath the first time I read a rough draft of this piece. My face turned red. I closed my eyes and blinked to make sure of what I was reading. My work had been seen and understood and the evidence of this was in print. I was understandably floored. 

I have given my life to this calling. It is a hard path at times and doesn't always make that much sense to some (including myself). Sometimes though, something like this article happens and then everything makes sense. I smile to myself and for a little while, I know exactly what I am doing and why. I breathe in this victory, put my headphones back on and get back to work.

"...to the heart, of the heart, from the heart."

Friday, October 28, 2016

Art mirrors life


The studio got to a tipping point this week. I was cultivating a nice nest of papers and canvases and just a bit of madness, Francis Bacon style. It felt good but at the same time if I want to have patrons visit the studio it was time to clean it up.

After a meditation, I envisioned a new way to use my studio space and went to work on making it a reality.

A wall of cupboard doors came off thanks to help from Stewart. Suddenly I could store all of my paints and materials where I could see them and easily access them. This storage space had been so under utilized and now it is teeming with use, purpose and my beautiful materials. This excites me to no end! Also, because my materials can now be seen I know exactly what I have and what I need as it runs out and as my materials are no longer covering my table, I have space to work there. This also presents me with a good space to package up prints and small paintings. It all just makes so much more sense. I am delighted! I moved my table across the room and now I have more space to stand back from my paintings as I am working. This is a much better arrangement!

We signed the lease on the studio in the second week of December 2014 (just three months after I arrived in Edinburgh from Fayetteville, Arkansas) and I have been working in Studio G23 at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street in Leith since January 2015. It has taken a lot of time to get to know the space and be able to feel comfortable and loving towards it.

I barely speak to anyone there and don't know many of the artists that work in the building but the space has been a wonderful companion here as I create my work. I am glad to be seeing it for what it is and utilizing it's potential. After losing a studio space once that I dearly loved back home at the end of 2012, I have been hesitant to commit or believe this space is really mine or that it is really here for me. It's time to trust again. I finally think I am ready.

Art mirrors life. I finally think I am ready.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The lessons I hold dear

I am pleased to write that three new limited edition prints from my latest series of small works have been released into the world! I love the quality of these reproductions and I'm thrilled that two of them have already found homes! A small original painting and two other prints from my collection also sold this week. It fills me with joy knowing that people live with my art.

I think I have mentioned this before on my blog but I think it is worth mentioning again. Another thing I love about my limited edition prints is the fact that each time one is purchased two artists are being supported! My prints are made to order in Edinburgh by brilliant artist and designer Jenni Douglas at her studio. Your purchase helps support two women owned independent art businesses and allows us to keep doing what we are on the planet to do. Thank you.

Just a reminder that I have a coupon code sale going on right now until November 1st. over in my Etsy shop, Artmaven. Use coupon code INSTAPAL20 at checkout and save 20% on your order. As the days draw in and the politics is grim, don't let it get you down! Buy art and support artists! I think it is a revolutionary act to make things of beauty and to support the arts in these days. Be part of the solution. Thank you very much for your support.

When words escape me
Paper size: A5 (21cm x 14.8cm)/8.3 x 5.8 inches 
Limited Edition of 50
SHOP

The lessons I hold dear
Paper size: A5 (21cm x 14.8cm)/8.3 x 5.8 inches

Limited Edition of 50
SHOP

The ache at my fingertips
Paper size: A5 (21cm x 14.8cm)/8.3 x 5.8 inches

Limited Edition of 50
SHOP

In other news, I still haven't got my hands on a copy of SOGO magazine to share the article about my work with you. So stay tuned and perhaps I will get a copy by next week! I am very excited to read the article and see my work in print within this beautiful Scottish publication. Until next week don't let the bastards get you down! Keep fighting!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The new language

After last Friday's blog I decided I had indeed finished the two large pieces in my latest series. As a result they were documented. So here is the series as it stands now with the completed paintings. There are many more in progress currently but it feels good to share the finished ones as I go.

A change in the frequency
Acrylic on canvas
41x51x4cm/16x20x1.5"
2016 Megan Chapman
All the time it took to remember
Acrylic on canvas
76x51x4cm/30x20x1.5"
2016 Megan Chapman
Out of my mouth come flowers, come barbs
Acrylic on canvas
41x51x4cm/16x20x1.5"
2016 Megan Chapman
The new language
Acrylic on canvas
76x51x4cm/30x20x1.5"
2016 Megan Chapman
In other very exciting news, I was interviewed by artist and art editor, Brian McFie for SOGO magazine. "SOGO magazine is a Scottish based quarterly lifestyle and arts publication, which promotes and provides a platform for Scottish creative industries and communities." It is a beautiful publication based in Glasgow and the Autumn 2016 issue including the piece about my work comes out this weekend. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! I am honored to have been included. I will have more on this in next week's blog. Here's a wee sneak peek captured from SOGO's facebook page.

While attempting to contain my excitement about the SOGO article I have been working on new small paintings in the studio and walking in the cool autumn weather every chance I get. I am trying to savor the season before the skeleton trees arrive.

I think that's all I have for you this week. Thanks for being part of my art world, it makes the journey so much sweeter. Until next week you know what to do...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Believe me

The first four in the new bright series complete



After last weeks country jaunt, I got right back into the mix in the studio while the news of the world filtered in...

Paint it all pink I say! Pink is the new black, really! I see a red door and I want it painted pink...or yellow ochre or both! I read the news today, oh boy... cue the PINK!

Or if we want to be classy, paint it magenta! But for god's sake just paint it! Okay, back to the blog and my week. I have now had the three new small paintings properly documented and I am quite pleased with them (which you can see below). I also finished (I think) two larger paintings in my new bright series as well (which you can see above).

The lessons I hold dear
Acrylic on canvas
8.5x6"/21x15cm. 
2016 Megan Chapman 
http://etsy.me/2cXEEkC
The ache at my fingertips
Acrylic on canvas
8.5x6"/21x15cm. 
2016 Megan Chapman 
http://etsy.me/2dyo8J4
When words escape me
Acrylic on canvas
8.5x6"/21x15cm. 
2016 Megan Chapman 
http://etsy.me/2dymKWQ
In other news and in celebration of the fact that it's been just a little over two years since I chose to make Scotland my home, I wanted to acknowledge this milestone by having a 20% off sale in my Etsy shop, Artmaven. Just use coupon code INSTAPAL20 at checkout until November 1 to get your discount! New prints of the three small works pictured above will be added to the shop soon- the originals are available now!

Painting by Alice Neel 1965
And last but certainly not least, I took a little time to appreciate the culture around me and ventured out to see the Alice Neel exhibition at the Talbot-Rice Gallery. It was a wonderful exhibition and really made me appreciate the work and the woman in a new way. The documentary made by her grandson was playing as part of the exhibition and I found it mesmerizing. I could identify with so much of what Alice said.

I have been thinking of her often since seeing her work. I hope to watch the full documentary soon and perhaps buy a collection of her work in book form. I think it is so important to find the people who have blazed this trail ahead of us and find solace in their works and words.

We are not in this alone. People do think like you, some even see and act like you. Not like drones, not like copies but like true originals. True flesh and bone humans with the wild ideas. You will find your people eventually even if they are long gone when you do. It seems unfathomable at times. That is why we must keep fighting. I write this to myself and also to anyone who comes across this. I know how lonely it can feel, please hang on and fight with us. Someone one day will need to hear your words and see your work. They may not even be born yet. Believe me.