Friday, October 26, 2007

Unnamed and Mysterious

Yesterday was cold and foggy almost. It looked like it could rain at any moment. The leaves in my back yard have turned a bit golden, and they look heavy and ready to drop. I felt very inspired yet, I didn't exactly want to paint. I looked at other people's art, and felt in awe of all the unique and individual voices that are working out in the world, simply creating. The artists that capture the magic and mystery that is seldom seen. I was aching to do something, and then it hit me. Why must I always paint in order to create something, in order to feel productive?

I don't- and with that I got out my camera and melted into the hours that followed. I wasn't a painter with clients or obligations, or projects on the back burner.

I was simply being free to express something
unnamed and mysterious.

When was the last time you were just free and let yourself experiment with something other than your medium?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Talking Heads This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) Live

Talking Heads under Jonathan Demme's direction in "Stop Making Sense" This is so wonderful. One of my favorites.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Fall

The fall is here, and I love it. It is the perfect time to listen to music and feel the wind and dream about the past and the future. The fall makes things seem too important and deep. I easily get caught up in the romantic versions of my life. Everything feels better, maybe a bit more melancholy, but I am comfortable in this place.

A wistful passion sets in. I long for things I don't have, things I can't even put my finger on. It is a beautiful longing, that I enjoy. It is a type of hope, of leaves falling, poetry, love, and passion. Music in the air and in my mind. My music can't get loud enough for me now. The warm fading light in the tops of trees in the evening. I walk through my childhood streets with my headphones on loud, as the leaves blow across the street. Something growing within me, frustration and intensity. It is a good thing.

When I was a child, I really wanted to let people inside my brain for a while, and that feeling has returned. I really wish you could experience the fall with me. I am returning to myself somehow. I lost my way for a bit, and at least for now, I am walking back home into myself. I have my own priorities and agendas, and they might not make sense or be reasonable and I love that.

The studio is clean, new painting supplies are ordered, a new body of work is waiting to be released. I am ready.

Pictured above, Megan Chapman's "Restore my Grasp"
Mixed Media on Canvas
20x16" 2007
Coming soon to a gallery near you

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Art Road Trip!

I am back from an overnight visit to Kansas City and I am filled to the brim with great art, music, architecture, and a kind of lust that comes from visiting somewhere new and then returning home. Kansas City is only 3.5 hours away from Fayetteville, and I plan to visit much more often now that I have become acquainted.

This summer I have been to Dallas twice, St. Louis and now Kansas City. My inspiration for these travels was simply to see my favorite band, Interpol, as much as I could. I was richly rewarded each time, not only by Interpol but by making sure to check out the galleries, and museums in these areas as well.

When I first arrived in Kansas City, I went to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The museum has free admission(donations are appreciated) and parking is only $5.00. I knew that I wouldn't be able to absorb the whole museum, so I hit the modern painters wing, and again I saw the usual suspects- funny how the summer of Interpol also turned into the summer of Rothko, Kline, Motherwell, and Diebenkorn. I am not complaining! I enjoyed some Warhol as well as other important painters. I then saw a Kiki Smith installation that was pretty dreamy entitled Constellation, and was made of cast glass animals and stars on the floor atop vibrant blue paper.

I stumbled into an amazing Photography exhibit, the museum's collection is spectacular. They have many of the heavy hitters of early 20th century American photography. Weston, Adams, Cunningham, Stieglitz, Steichen, Evans, Avedon, Lange, and more. They also have the more modern work of Arbus, Woodman, Probst, as well as others and currently a feature exhibit of Harry Callahan. It was stunning to see such a selection.

I thoroughly enjoyed the indoor Noguchi sculpture garden. I then ran back into the older part of the Museum with its impressive columns and marble to make sure to see the Caravaggio. Oh, that was amazing! I was walking to find it and then caught it out of the corner of my eye and was drawn to it like a magnet. Just magnificent. I will be back soon to take a more in depth tour of the museum, but for the amount of time I had, I saw a lot of jewels of the art world.

Interpol played at a wonderful old restored theatre called The Uptown. If you ever have a chance to see some music at this venue, I highly recommend it. It is an intimate venue of about 3,500 with theatre seating in the back and balcony, and then an open floor for the fans (like me that have to be near the stage). Needless to say the concert was great, I was in the second row and I am now ready to translate all the energy, poetry, and beauty that I find in Interpol's music into my next body of paintings. The Uptown is a beautiful theatre palace, restored with vivid colors, and to quote the Uptown's website it "resembles a venetian courtyard," there are sculptures up high along the balcony. It really has a unique and majestic feeling and is a work of art in itself.

The next day, I went to check out the Crossroads Arts district. I enjoyed walking along the streets and alley's of this vibrant and hopeful area. Tall old warehouses, and brick industrial buildings are being reclaimed as galleries, studios, cafes, and live/work spaces. Very inspiring, and the old brick architecture is lovely. Had a great decaf soy latte (yeah I am one of those people) at Coffee Girls, a charming place with art on the walls that played good music and had a nice laid back atmosphere. Then I wandered around, taking pictures of these colorful buildings, some forgotten and some being reborn. Walked over to HammerPress, and completely fell in love. The space was glorious, and the amazing designs were like a beacon. I dropped some cash in this design and letterpress studio, and it was money well spent. This is a destination spot, so don't miss it if you go to Kansas City. HammerPress has an easy friendly vibe and they let me take pictures of the place, I am telling you it is a slice of heaven. I then went to check out Blue Gallery, another lovely space, featuring some great art. Then I was off to some other galleries in the area. I went to the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, and entered another great large light filled space, with great art of all styles and mediums. There were artists present having a business meeting and sharing tips with each other about taking care of the business side of the art world. I was especially impressed by the photogravure work of Deborah Riley. The art center also rents live/work studio spaces. Seemed like an energetic place. Last but not least, I headed to an impressive and expansive gallery, the Sherry Leedy Contemporary, they were exhibiting the impressive ceramic works of Jun Kaneko and I enjoyed the photography of Misha Gordin and saw several pieces of Michael Eastman's work through the modern glass doors of the gallery storage section that was off limits to the public.

I really enjoyed walking around the Crossroad's Art district, I would love to live in an area like that, modern and electric yet still charming and friendly all the while celebrating the past through rehabilitating the old structures and providing support and affordable options for the emerging artists in their city.

I returned to my car and headed to Kemper Contemporary Museum, again free admission(donations appreciated). I really enjoyed their collection. I was thrilled to be able to get up close and personal with Michael Eastman's work in the museum's collection since I had been tempted by it in the last gallery. I saw the Michael Vasquez: Authority Figures exhibit, and an exhibit entitled Backstage pass: Collecting art in Kansas City. These were important pieces of art that were borrowed from corporate and private collections in Kansas City. I really got the feeling that this city takes its art pretty seriously. This museum had an impressive collection of modern paintings, mixed media, and photography as well as what looked like a lovely restaurant to dine in.

The Kansas City Art Institute is right by the Kemper Contemporary (it is actually sandwhiched between the two museums) so I walked through the campus, talked to an art student, and looked in the painting building and studios just to get a quick feeling for the place.

That was it, my trip to Kansas City. I got there around 1:30 on Wednesday and left at 1:00 on Thursday and was back home in time to support my local art scene by attending the opening for Photographic at the DDP gallery. Photographic is a stellar show. Gallerist Dede Peters created an elegant exhibit that really celebrates the medium of photography and the impressive local talent we have right here. Don't miss this show, it will up until November 24.

Art is everywhere, in old buildings, fields of down-turned sunflowers along the highway, museums, galleries, chain link fences, falling down shacks, and of course in the music that loudly enters my soul. I can tell this is going to be a great fall.

Pictured above, Henry Turner's "Patiently She Waits"
The DDP gallery
7 East Mountain St. Fayetteville.
Open: W-F 12-7 and Sat. 10-5
and by appointment.

October 10- November 24, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

I can't stand the quiet!

A brilliant scene from my favorite director Hal Hartley.
Another form of inspiration.

15 Minutes

I had to skip the column last week as I was out of town in Dallas happily seeing Interpol on Thursday night, and then on Friday I had an art opening to attend in Little Rock. My work is currently being featured at the M2 gallery in Little Rock this month. The exhibit is entitled "Best of Northwest." It is a thrill to have my work featured along with several other talented Northwest Arkansas artists such as Nathan Beatty, Sean Fitzgibbon, Christina Mariotti, and L. Eric Smith. It was a wonderful reception and a good time was had by all.

My exhibit at the DDP gallery in Fayetteville has come to a close. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, it really was a great show. I loved showing my work with Helen Phillips, and working with the DDP gallery owner, Dede Peters. I will look back on the exhibit fondly.

My exhibit entitled "Spellbound" at the Julie Wait Designs gallery is currently up in Rogers, Arkansas until October 19th. If you have not made it out to a third Friday art walk in historic downtown Rogers, I recommend it.There is music, food, and art, not to mention the beautiful old architecture of an historic downtown.

Today, I would like to get back on track with some hints, help, and advice to other artists out there, as this is the reason I started this studio blog in the first place. I want to talk about self sabotage, self censorship, and other negative garbage artists fall prey too.

Does this sound familiar?

I need to paint(or add your medium here), but something stops me from climbing the stairs to my humble studio oasis. I need to get my art finances organized, and inventory up to date, and thank you cards in the mail, but I am frozen in time. I need to write my blog, update my website, and do some research on some new galleries, but I am not quite getting to it. Something creeps in between me and my purpose and my passion.

Sometimes when we first find our passion nothing seems to get in our way, nothing can pull us from it, and we take this as a sign that we have found our true calling. Right now, I find I am dreaming again and all the time. I am dreaming about the future, and I ache for it to be my reality. Then I snap out of the dream to realize that I am not getting anything done in the here and now, and if I really ache for my dreams to be my reality, then I really need to get to work.

As a working artist, my schedule is fairly open and flexible. I know that I am a person who works best with some structure but at the same time it can't be too rigid or I will rebel and do nothing, and then fail at my over ordered schedule and feel miserable about it. So, I know it is always a careful balancing act. I am betting it is this way for some of you too.

When I find the dreaming is taking me into the clouds and the painting studio is not seeing enough of me, and sleep is such a good escape, it is time to make some small changes towards action. I am going to share a few of the action tricks that work for me. Some of these I have read, some of these friends have shared with me and others just came about organically. Perhaps, they will be helpful to you as well, when you are in need of a kind and reasonable form of action, to get you out of the clouds and back in the game.

First, a dear friend of mine told me the other day to just "shoot for good, not perfect" and I have been coming back to this again and again. How many times in the day are you shooting for perfect and feeling bad about yourself? You could have just shot for good, and felt okay and know that you are making some progress. I think a lot of creative types battle with this. We want to impress, we want to make something so amazing and original, we want to always show our newest and best work, we want to be at every art event we can as we build our reputation, and we may want to please others. If you don't suffer from any of this "pleasing or perfectionism" stuff, then I hope you will share your secrets with me. At the same time that these behaviors or beliefs can be stifle ones creative juices, they can also stoke them- so again the balancing act is necessary.

Another roadblock to your creativity might be time, or your lack of it. You might finally get to work and be creating, and that little voice might rise up within, and tell you to give up, that you really don't have enough time to really work on or explore anything of any real substance. The chores suddenly seem more important, the voice says you are being selfish for taking this time away from your family, spouse or dog to be in your own little world creating. Or maybe you think you need a whole large block of time before you to even attempt to work.

Well, I am here to tell you that amazing things can happen in 15 minutes. I use this method a lot. I will set my timer for 15 minutes and just start something I am putting off, and make it a game. You can use this to get all those chores done and then paint with a clear conscience, or you can use it to start some work in your studio. If you haven't been in your studio in awhile. Just go hang out in there for 15 minutes one day, then maybe the next time go clean it up for 15minutes, then the next day perhaps just a splash of paint on a canvas. By the end of the week you will have worked 1 hour and 45 minutes in quick and painless sessions, and since you know that you are now trying to be good and not perfect, you also know that you are now moving towards your goals. Creating something, is much better than nothing for the week.

From personal experience, starting something is the hardest part, once you do 15 minutes you most likely will continue the session if time allows. Also, about that "guilt voice" that says you are being indulgent or taking time away from the family, friends, or pets. I know that when I create I am a better person. I am a more free and content person, and feel so much better about myself and the world that my family will thank me for taking that indulgent time and I bet yours will too.

Okay, so you are now in the studio, the chores are done, you finally have the time, and then the self sabotaging voice comes on strong and says "what can you do that hasn't been done already, and since there is nothing new that you can do, what is the point in trying." Voices like, "this is too different from what my clients expect from me," or "this will never sell." Well, this can be a hard one. First, I will say, it happens to the best of us and you are not alone. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Remember the idea that you are special because you are an individual and no one else in the world is quite like you, so all the work you create is unique like you. There is a type of collective unconscious that the art community has, we do recycle and reform and reclaim ideas that have been used before, but we add and explore them further and make them our own eventually.

Only you can create your work, and that is pretty amazing, so tell that voice to pipe down unless you are totally ripping someone off... The voices that come about pleasing clients or creating something that won't sell must be silenced too. Clients expect and hope that the artists they admire will keep growing and exploring, they really don't want you to stay stuck in a people pleasing rut, so break out and have fun. Your clients will come along for the ride for the most part. Some art isn't meant to be sold, or even shown. Sometimes you just want to work, and play and grow, this time may then translate into the work that you will show and sell in the future. Keep this is mind.

Being a working artist is challenging enough, stop trying to make it harder for yourself. Dispense with the guilt, people pleasing, and self censorship, it will only drive you crazy and stop you from sharing the purpose and passion that I know is boiling up within you. I want to leave you with a few famous artist's quotes on the subject.

Diego Rivera, "I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious." ( I was glad to come across this, and I have to agree with him- so perhaps I will take that nap after all...)

Andrew Wyeth, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

Scott Adams, "A lot of it's experimental, spontaneous. It's about knocking about in the studio and bumping into things."

See my painting "Something Once Before" at the M2 gallery
Pleasant Ridge Town Center
11525 Cantrell Road
Little Rock, Arkansas
Open: M-Th. 10-8pm and Sat. 10-9

"Best of Northwest" Works by Megan Chapman, Nathan Beatty, Sean Fitzgibbon, Christina Marioti, and L. Eric Smith on display through October at the M2 gallery.