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


  1. Morning! Well, I already made a small change to my statement - I took out "I aim" and made it into a postive statement! Thanks!
    Excited about receiving your book - its on its way :)

  2. Freaking Sweet!!! Also, congratulations on the book which I do intend to order a copy of, but I wish there were some way for the actual artist to share in a greater percentage of the purchase price :( Someday when artists rule the world, my friend, things will change.

  3. I just wanted to first of all say I love your choice of colors...
    Your work and words are very inspirational... What you wrote about the Artist Statement was very soothing to someone who is just begining to start this journey...

  4. Debs- you are amazing diligent and thanks again for ordering the book!
    Ginna- Yay! and thanks!
    Ronda- Welcome and enjoy this wild and sometimes bumpy road before you... Thank you for your compliments on my work. Thanks for the link on your blog as well. I have returned the favor.

  5. Deborah Diligent - makes a fab psuedomym!! :D

  6. Hey Megan!

    Writing artist statements has never been one of my strong points, and until my last show...I never really wrote one.

    Thanks for all the great tips though. I personally love the first one..."Get over yourself." Ha! Yeah, definitely. :)

  7. Michele-
    Thanks for stopping by!
    Glad you liked that first "tip"...
    I have to "get over myself" all the time. :)

  8. I read a great artist statement the other day - an old friend of mine from school - Larry Carey. It was so spot on professional that it made me smile, because in reality he's all t-shirt and chucks! The point, I think, which you have implied too, is you've gotta market yourself, objectively, as a professional. This is the juxtaposition, because as artists, we're so often subjective and intuitive.

  9. I meant to link to that artist statement example:

    (Artist: Larry Carey)

  10. Stephanie!!

    You are on carbonmade now! Awesome... and you are painting and working on your "map"... more awesome! Glad to hear one of those canvases has broken free from its plastic! Progress...

    This all makes me very happy. Congratulations.

    Thanks for the link- I liked his statement..and his disclaimer...: )

  11. Hey I received your book today - its awesome! :)
    To everyone else - BUY IT, BUY IT!!

  12. So much great, helpful, and inspiring advice! Thank you, Megan. :)

  13. Debs- again thank you buying my exhibition catalog and then encouraging others to as well. : )
    I am so glad you received your copy and are enjoying it!
    Susan- I am glad you find the information helpful and inspiring. Thanks for reading and letting me know.