Friday, June 27, 2008

News and the Artist's Statement.

Congratulations to Ginna Funk Wallace! She is this month's winner of the small painting give away! Thank you to all my regulars for commenting. The odds were great this time around, sorry you all can't win one.

I would like to take this time to mention my latest offering. With the help of the online publishing website,, I have just published an exhibition catalog for my current show Evidence of the Disappearance.The 8x10" soft cover, landscape oriented catalog is thirty eight pages, with all thirty of my paintings from the exhibition reproduced in full color.

You can preview the first fifteen pages of the book online, by clicking on the "badge" posted here on my blog or visiting this link

If you have enjoyed being a part of the process and reading about my exhibition, then this catalog would be the perfect souvenir. I will receive 5 dollars for each book sold, and those funds will help me to continue my work and encourage me greatly.

I wanted to present Evidence of the Disappearance in a permanent and cohesive way. I also wanted to create a catalog as a souvenir for those who saw the work in person as well as for those of you who may never have the chance and I wanted to provide this at an affordable price.

The book is available for sale in Dollars, Pounds, and Euros, and is priced at $24.95 before shipping. There are online coupons codes for reduced shipping rates that will work in the United States and perhaps elsewhere (click on this link and then istockphoto2008 for $7.00 off) this will open the site. You will then click on "bookstore" and then type my name and the discount will be automatically be applied at checkout. Thank you to those who may have already purchased my book, and to those who will in the future. I do appreciate your support, please tell your friends about my publication, or consider putting a badge or link advertising it on your blog or website.

One more news item before we get to work. There is a new project I am involved with in the blogosphere, that I would love for you to visit and bookmark. You Have Us Now, is an artist curated online gallery maintained by Megan Chapman, (that's me!) an artist living in the United States and Steven Heaton an artist living in the United Kingdom. Together we bring you exhibitions of artists from all over the world that we think you should you know. Our tastes may be a bit different, but our commitment to art and to what we like is the same. Our current exhibition is entitled, Two American Men and Woman from Berlin, and features the work of vrno, Mark Traughber, and Isabel Reitmeyer. This exhibition will be up through July. Enjoy!

The Artist Statement:

This topic usually sends artists running for the hills, it seems almost gauche to talk about ourselves, our inner workings, and our work. It really seems absurd to talk about ourselves in the third person (and you really don't have to). Many artists feel that words just get in the way, and that their paintings should speak for themselves. Some artists may even feel that the statement is just pretentious fluff to help shed light on the process unable to be understood by the inexperienced or bourgeois art patron.

To those artists saying all of that, I say get over yourselves. It is not that I don't understand all those feelings I do, but if we are really going to make a go of this we need to learn how to move forward.

Know that your statement is always going to be a work in progress, it is always going to change, there may be periods of time that your statement will be static, but eventually your work will change slightly and your statement won't ring as true and you will know it is time for an edit or a rewrite. So, even if you have a statement currently, look at it with fresh eyes and see if it is still relevant to the work you are producing now. I think many artists cling to their old statements, because they were an arduous task and they just don't want to go through that process again.

When I approach my statement or rewrite I like to brainstorm for a while first. I may sit in my studio with all my work around me, and just look at it, and see and feel what the work conjures up. Then, I may write down words that come to mind when I look at the work- things that stand out. Color, texture, shapes, balance, and concepts. It is important to let go and really just get the words out on paper, you don't have to use them, this is just an exercise.

I am sure you have read artist's statements that are pretentious, reaching, grandiose, stuffed with artsy jargon, yet they mean nothing, and only serve to confuse the viewer more. Your art may be complex but your statement should be as straight forward and with as little artistic jargon as possible. You are trying to bridge a gap, not create a larger one between your work and the viewer. Think of your statement as a short paragraph to help spell out your process and guide the viewer into your work. This is like leaving a bread crumb trail in the forest, you want to lead them in, to explore your art but you also want them to find their way back out again. Make your statement clear, simple and easy to follow. Don't write statements to create further mystique in your work, create them to help clarify.

Use positive action words in your statement. Eliminate words like: try, attempt, hope, strive, etc. You are doing, not trying, you have accomplished this, you are not attempting, and you are not hoping that your attempt to capture whatever was successful. It is successful. This is going to be stretch for some of you, because it seems egotistical, and you are attempting, trying, hoping in your mind. I get that. Keep the statement positive and avoid the passive voice.

Here are some examples of my statements from over the years, some are more passive and fluffy than I would write today, but you can see an evolution, a tightening, a clarification.

"My paintings are an attempt to catch the flashes of buried insight: a haunting memory, a sound, a stillness from within. I approach my painting as a journey. I let the painting pull me along, as if I am following an internal equation. As I look for the solution, I maintain balance within the work. Using a subtle palette, of rusty orange, yellow ochre, pale greens and peaches, as well as rich black dusty charcoal, I strive to let the shapes converse with each other and the viewer. Using a host of almost familiar organic shapes, layers of texture, and faint colors, I create a primitive dream, and the paintings take on an otherworldly quality. I use materials together in a non-traditional manner to create a new world on canvas."

A couple of years later when I was going through a more abstract landscape period of work, this was my statement.

"When I paint, mysteries unfold before me on the canvas. I feel a meditative, yet powerful, connection to the work-a sense of wholeness. These paintings are a series of strange vignettes- little timeless stories, abstractions that touch the sky, the earth, and the mysterious happenings in between. Abstractions turn into something recognized: a sense of place, the expansive sky and horizon. A place to feel the wind or wander through the darkness. The land simply emerges."

Again a couple of year's later upon my return to "pure abstract" painting, my statement became a close version of what is today.

“I love textures and how layers of color and texture come together. I have been exploring different motifs that I find natural and comforting. These shapes are repetitive at times, and often peek out from a hidden space in the painting or brazenly take the foreground. They reflect my love of mark making and how I enjoy the imperfect smudge of charcoal or the gritty pencil line as it floats along the painted surface. Intuitively, I bring these elements together to create an otherworldly atmosphere.

And my current statement very slightly altered, as my body of work and voice have solidified.

"My work is about my love of color, and the subtle changes that occur when colors overlap, react, and create something new. I also love textures and how layers of color and texture come together. I enjoy exploring space and balance in my work, as well as different motifs that I find natural and comforting. These shapes or design elements are repetitive at times, and often peek out from a hidden space in the painting or brazenly take the foreground. These shapes reflect my love of mark making and how I enjoy the imperfect smudge of charcoal of the gritty pencil line as it floats along the painted surface. Intuitively, I bring all of these elements together to create an otherworldly atmosphere."

There are many resources available either at your library, or online to help you craft a good working artist's statement. If you read a statement by another artist that resonates with you, use it as a template of sorts, but again be careful not to mimic their statement too closely. Remember this is about your work.

Good luck! If you have further questions about this topic, lets hash it out in the comments section!

Evidence of the Disappearance
New paintings by Megan Chapman
Blue Moon Gallery
718 Central Ave.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
June-July 2008
Join me for first Friday gallery walk!
July 4th 5-9pm

We Carry On
30x40" Mixed Media on Canvas 2008
Megan Chapman
Evidence of the Disappearance
Blue Moon Gallery

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nuts and Bolts: Let's get you an exhibition!

This week is all about you, my dear readers...

As many of you may recall this past February, I wrote a popular post called Nuts and Bolts: How to get your work in a gallery. Please refer back to it, if you missed it. This week I am rethinking the concept. I know many of you work at jobs that require long hours and perhaps the whole gallery relationship scenario seems overwhelming or too much of a commitment. However, you still know that you have talent, and that your art is more than a hobby. Perhaps you feel if you don't catch a break soon, you may just give up. Well, today I want to help you create the break you are looking for, or at least increase your chances of being ready when it presents itself. I truly believe if you are willing to follow a plan, be a little uncomfortable, be willing to compromise and ask for help, you can make this happen and have your own exhibition sooner rather than later.

First, you do need a consistent body of work, your greatest hits so to speak- (but not the hits of every genre you have every painted). You need 10- 20 paintings that have obvious connections with one another. Perhaps you haven't even painted these yet. Maybe you have been idly painting away without focus because your work isn't leaving the studio and you feel defeated. I understand that. So, this is where the fun starts. I am telling you right now you have a show. Yeah- you have a show! How exciting...congratulations! You are finally getting your chance, this is not an open call or random charity benefit or even a group show, this is your show!

To quote Eminem's song- Lose yourself, "You only get one shot." (And yes, I do listen to this song when I need to psyche myself up for my own shows- try it.)

Okay, so now that you have a show. You need a title- think of hidden concepts within your paintings, think about what you are painting, think of words that move you or inspire. Perhaps a title of a particularly strong painting could also be the title of your show. Brainstorm on this for an hour or two. You are taking this at warp speed, and everything is a working title right now anyway- so don't freak out. If you really can't handle a show title, call your show something like Your Name: Selected Works 2008 or Your Name: New paintings. Keep it simple and not too pretentious. The title should give clues and tie things together not be its own separate entity.

Now, you are going to make a map, regular readers will recall my map from my post The Map, and then the Reality. You might think this is a waste of time, but I think this quick step will give you a blue print, cut things down to size, and help you to stay motivated to complete the task rather than get overwhelmed. This is simple, write the show title on top of a piece of scrap of paper and then draw the number of squares/rectangles representing the paintings you already have in stock or the ones you will need to paint in addition to complete the show. So, if you already have five paintings that look great together draw them on the map and then add the size and orientation of the work that is yet to be painted as well. I believe in narrowing down your variables and giving yourself direction. Remember all of this is flexible. In the end I did not paint all 36 paintings that I had drawn on my map. Refer back to that post for help.

An important thing to remember, let's not go broke while working on this show. Use the canvases you have on hand, use those paintings you have already done, you can update them, paint over them, or even just orient them a new way. Try to make the most of what you have right now and push it to the limits. Remember consistency is key, and even if you love a painting and have put a lot of work into it; if you prop it up with your others and it doesn't ring true anymore, pull it! Editing is essential for a tight body of work, and if you are not sure ask your friends, family, or another artist for their input. (I would be happy to review your proposed body of work( up to 20 images-online) for a $25.00 donation to my paypal account- see donation button up top to the right- or contact me for more details)

The map of your show will help you spend your precious time in the studio wisely. On your map you have a proposed time frame as well. Lets say your show is in six months, so in November or December, (it could be sooner, depending how quickly you paint, how many consistent paintings you already have in stock, and your personal motivation when it comes to finding a space to show etc.)

Now, how about your web presence? If you don't already have one, you know you need one. It needs to be clean and easy to navigate, and your name needs to be in the URL. So, go over to and make one- it only takes a minute (once you have your best photographs of the work uploaded). Visit my post Creating a free web presence and focus on the carbonmade section. You will need a website to put on your promotional materials.

Next, you need to create those promotional materials. How about a postcard? It is like a business card, but much larger so we can easily see your best piece to date displayed proudly. Here is an affordable online postcard resource, Vista Print, and for my UK readers go to this, Vista Print.You can upload your images, and design your cards right on the site, order them, and they will ship them to you, this is a very affordable service. Look around on the Internet for various coupon codes as well to make it even cheaper.

Find another artist's postcard you like, and use it as a template. Make sure your postcard has a nice image on the front, and your contact information and maybe even a short statement about your work, and of course your web address on the back of the card. Your card will be clean simple, easy to scan. Attractive enough that they will want to put it on the fridge, frame it, file it, anything but recycle it. I wouldn't recommend just sending your cards out to random galleries by themselves. I think a postcard should be a piece of your presentation packet (and you know what you need for a complete gallery presentation). If it is sent to a gallery by itself (and you do not already have a relationship with them) it is likely to get recycled and you and your work are worth more than that. Don't jump the gun and "cold call" with your card, all in good time.

You will have these postcards on hand to give to people who ask you what you do, or what have you been up to. "I am an artist and I am preparing for a show- here is a sample of my work" - done. You are going to carry these cards around with you, (this is where you will be uncomfortable) you will send/hand them to friends, family, co-workers, other artists you know or have shown with in the past, post them on bulletin boards at work, in coffee shops, libraries, anywhere they might get seen, be creative but smart about this- choose reasonable places, every time you put one up it should be worth the 30plus cents you spent on the card.

In addition, if you are a little more advanced and have actually sold work in the past, everyone you have sold to should be mailed a postcard ( yes- you have been keeping up with their contact information). You are just saying "Hello! I am still here, still painting- don't forget about me."

At this point, you have been or are now working on the body of work, the title, the map, the website, and the postcard, but for what? Well- for your show right? The one you are going to organize! We didn't say how long of a show it would be- maybe it is one night only, or a week. Ideally, it will be up at least a month or two. Maybe there will be an opening, maybe there won't be (read this if there is). So, it is time to be creative and do a little more brainstorming. Of course you want a gallery show, who doesn't, and maybe you will get one, but there are so many other alternatives to explore.

First, the coffee house, the classy restaurant, the classy bar or pub, even a deli if it has good walls. Look around your town and city for public spaces that you know would benefit by hanging some of your art. Perhaps, a city administration building, a furniture store, a bank, a music store, a funky boutique, a flower shop? Try your library, community center, colleges, universities and of course all art centers. If you are member of an art collective, studio, or have had pieces in community spaces already as part of a group, it is time for you to approach these places again. Be bold, here is a script: "Hi, I am your name, and I am a painter. I have shown my work with your organization as a part of several group shows, and I was wondering if you are accepting proposals for individual shows currently, if so I would love to apply." Call first and check, remember don't be one of those artists who show up unannounced and take up their time.

Other venue ideas: how about a local park or your own backyard or studio space. You must look at promoting your work as another way to use your creative skills. Don't just accept the gallery as the only place. Don't limit yourself by what society deems as "the" important or meaningful place to show. When showing your work in alternative spaces, you may be responsible for the hanging of your own work, and sometimes the lighting won't be ideal, but you will use the space to the best of your ability regardless and hold your head up high as if you were showing in the best space in town. However, please do not show your work in any place where there is an obvious lack of care or risk of theft or damage, and never pay to show your work!

When you do have your show, everything will be clearly labeled, priced, hung as straight as can be. You will have a statement, bio, and more of your postcards at the venue. If you still have plenty of your blank postcards you can print the show details on sticky labels and update your cards easily that way. You will promote your show in the local papers by submitting a press release as well. It is free and easy. You are going to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make this opportunity work for you as if it was your last. When this show is over, you will take a break, see what worked and what didn't, and then do it again and again. Each show will be better, each venue more inspired, you will probably get a gallery (if you want one) in the process, because you are going to keep track of your solo shows on your resume. Not to mention that people are now seeing your work, talking about it and your name has been in the paper!

I have employed all these techniques with good results. Once, I had a very successful show in my own backyard when I was just starting out. A one day only event, helped to put me on the map with the locals and I was able to donate 20% to the local animal shelter, because there was no gallery involved at the time. Keep in mind that your show isn't all about selling your work, maybe it is more about sharing it. More about proving to yourself that you aren't waiting around to be discovered. Proving to yourself that your work is worth the trouble, time, and the extra motivation and bravery it takes to put yourself out there. Any sales will be the icing on the cake.

Your work is worth it. Stop waiting and start fighting. You really can do this. I can't wait to receive your postcard for your upcoming show- Good Luck!

Next week we tackle the artist statement.

Pictured Above:
They Wanted To Be Seen
Mixed Media on Canvas
Megan Chapman
Evidence of the Disappearance
Blue Moon Gallery
June-July 2008
Hot Springs Arkansas

Oh and here is a little about me.. I just self-published my first exhibition catalog!
Check it out.. Thank you...

Exhibition catalog
By Megan Chapman
Look for coupon codes online for reduced shipping charges. You can buy this book in dollars, pounds, and euros.. So have at it!! Thanks for considering!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Opening success!

The week has passed quickly after the successful opening of Evidence of the Disappearance at the Blue Moon Gallery. Thanks to all who attended. I hope you enjoyed the show, it was wonderful to meet and talk with everyone. Thanks to all my readers who got caught up in the excitement, no matter where you might have been. Glad you all enjoyed my first vlog last week as well!

Six pieces have sold so far, so I am very pleased with the response the exhibition has received. The exhibition will be up for another seven weeks (until the end of July), so I hope as many people as possible will be able to see the work. If you have seen a piece that you might be interested in, don't hesitate to contact the gallery! I will also be present at the July 4th gallery walk from 5-9pm. Hot Springs, Arkansas has such a vibrant arts community and is always an inspiring place to visit. If I missed you at gallery walk this month, I hope to see you in July!

Today, I want to share some of the images from my opening, so you can get a sense of how the show was hung and the gallery space itself. I also included a few pictures from early in the night, as people first started to arrive. It was a fun night! I am really pleased to be represented by such a wonderful gallery. Mother and daughter team/owners Pat and Dishongh Scavo are incredible. Major thanks goes out to them, and their behind scenes team/spouses Phil Scavo and Steve Lawnick.

Enjoy the slide show and as always thanks for your support.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Evidence of the Disappearance: TONIGHT!

Dear Readers, Family, and Friends-
Thank you for everything.



Evidence of the Disappearance
New paintings by Megan Chapman
Blue Moon Gallery
718 Central Ave.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
June-July 2008
Opening tonight!
June 6th 5-9pm