Friday, October 31, 2008

Fire and Noise: Note to self and others.

"I found her on a night of fire and noise
Wild bells rang in a wild sky
I knew from that moment on
That I'd love her till the day that I died
And I kissed away a thousand tears
My lady of the Various Sorrows
Some begged, some borrowed, some stolen
Some kept safe tomorrow..."

Opening lyric from Do you Love Me by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I am happy to report I have a featured exhibition coming up in February at the River Market ArtSpace in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now is the time to solidify my ideas and concepts, make my plans and get started. I am relieved to have this new focus. I have been drifting a bit since the last show in June and July and taking some serious down time. I have painted many small works on paper for my Etsy shop and managed about 12!?! canvas paintings since then as well, but just sort of floating through, un-moored.

I decided I would call my next exhibition "Fire and Noise" inspired by the above song. I am a new Nick Cave fan, always knowing his name but never listening to his music, well that has changed. This song has been on constant repeat in my ears for about 2 weeks, and I have watched the song's video (another inspiration) hundreds of times by now. Something about it just speaks to me currently.

When I am germinating ideas for new work, I feel the need to talk it out, test it out and share it with others and that is what I have done for the past week; sharing my thoughts with my community of artist friends near and far. The concepts become more clear when I write them to someone else rather than keeping them solely in my head. I want to compile some of this early correspondence here to remind me of what I want in this new body of work as I move forward in the process.

I recently wrote to a friend about my art career and he asked me the following questions. I think they are important and I want to remember them.
"...Why you paint like you do? Why you don't paint like you could? Why you're lost?"

My answers follow. I have a show in Feb. and I want to do all new work, perhaps work that won't even sell.( why I don't paint like I could).
I need money and I want galleries to be happy with me- If I paint like I could the paintings might not be as "lovely"(why I paint like I do).
I am lost because I am conflicted about marketable work/money vs. art/passion/purpose

Rest assured I am oversimplifying things in my response to his questions. I do not feel like I am just churning out art that looks good over someones couch simply to make money. I paint with the colors I do because I love those colors. I paint the way I do because it is the way I know to paint and it fits my brain most of the time. I do feel pressure (mostly self imposed) to paint things that have the ability to sell (we all have bills to pay), and perhaps are not the most challenging ie: nothing that new or revolutionary in the grand scheme of the art world. However, I don't really want to create "high art." A lot of what I see in famous art magazines is bizarre self indulgent pretentious shit (there I said it). I don't want to produce that, but I do want to put more of ME into my work, whatever that means. If I don't feel "lovely" perhaps the paintings don't have to be jewel toned, perhaps they can resonate a darkness or coal-like quality if that is how I really feel. (I told you in the title this was a note to myself) Anyway, I digress, back to my conversation with my friend about inspiration for the upcoming show.

I am serious about what I said about the Nick Cave song. I need something to fuel my fire and when I look at that video I would like to dive into that seedy world of fire and noise. But will it sell, who knows... and am I capable of making paintings full of noise and interference???

This is the thing, I doubt my ability to change, I know how to paint the way I paint, it is very intuitive at this point in the game and I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I don't want to begin again, I just want to be more free, and find a way to put more of me into the work, and as an abstract painter, I find that difficult. Certain colors could represent emotions, certain lines can mean things to me, but in the end, how different can it be? My hand does what it does.
In a different conversation with another I artist I talk again about what I am hoping to capture.

I want to take all the doubts, the highs and lows, the passion and drama and try to put them in this show. I am going to try to create Art and perhaps art that won't even sell, and try to be okay with that. We will see. I am tired of painting " lovely" paintings. I want a little more substance, something to ruffle my own feathers if you will. I need to get excited about a concept again. I want to go into something a little darker. If you look up the video for the song( Nick Cave's Do You Love Me?) those are the colors I am aiming for. I am not sure I can really pull this off, I may change in mid swing.. interference will feature prominently.. Buzz, hum, the shit that gets in the way.. electronic prattle of emails, and e-dreams, friends that are friends but not, borders and boundaries.

Sounds like an interesting concept, but again with only color and line, how is the prattle of email portrayed, how is the increasing bombardment of electronic noise captured in an abstract painting? This will be my challenge. I seem stuck in this idea that my work is simply lovely and has no substance as it is, and I don't think this is exactly true. I guess I do give into the pressure that "Art" should not be pretty or decorative but mean something. I am not sure if I can put meaning to the abstractions I create, even within this newly proposed conceptual framework.

Another conversation, again trying to put into words what I want to accomplish...
The ups and downs, the messes that I make, the mix of identities and self imposed pressures, the lines and darkness- I want all of these things to factor into my new work. Perhaps,
if the Evidence of the Disappearance was the rise, this show will be the fall- which may actually be free of all the nonsense and soar to new heights?!? Like dirty electricity, a certain truth, static, interference, not pretty- not perfect- Can I ? Do I dare?

Who knows? But I must try...

Today is the last day to purchase work from my Etsy shop and have 20% donated to my friend Will's health care fund. I appreciate all the purchases so far. Also if you put "blogger" in the memo to seller when you place your order I will gladly refund your shipping via paypal after your order is placed.Free shipping to anywhere in the world! So if you have been thinking about it, today is the day to act! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Also if you haven't already, please do not forget to Vote November 4th- this one is too important to miss- thank you.


  1. I have a talented musician friend who always used to say “fuck’em if they can’t take a joke!”

    I think if you feel the challenge then you do have to try. If in the end the galleries don’t like your work, if potential purchasers don’t like your work then so what? “Fuck’em!” Even if you yourself don’t like the end results and think that you have failed your own challenge “so what?” I think you will learn a lot about a lot just trying. Just the things you will learn about yourself will make it all worthwhile – you know that.

    Its a challenge rich with possibilities.

    The dark, seedy side of life is a world I have never inhabited but there is an attraction and a glamour to at least being a voyeur into that world. The colours of a Sam Fuller movie or Fellini’s Satyricon and Roma, Lynch’s Blue Velvet or Fassbinder’s Querelle. The flaming red of a hooker’s lipstick, the bright whites of illicit powders, the tacky polyester colours of pimp’s clothing, gaudy neon, the black of the shadows of the sleazy nocturnal world. So many emotions from the joys of a quickie with a lonely over-the-hill hooker, the warming embrace of a whisky bottle, the comforting heat spreading through the veins from a hit of heroin, the darkness & despair of broken lives and twisted minds.
    Sorry, Megan…it’s your show.

    Go for it Megan!!!!!

  2. Wow Kev...

    It is my show, but you have got the vibe... What a great comment to receive from you! You have just added more fuel to the fire.Rock and Roll and many many thanks!

  3. Well done putting out there in public my friend. Its not an easy subject to convey, but you have put it into words, and I think you should feel that this hump is the first to get over. Don't underestimate the power these words will have when translated with paint and colour. The mood/ideas/frustrations/darkness you are about to express on canvas will come easily. You once said to me that the voice of your art will be heard and resonate authentically if you let yourself do it. This process, I predict, will be cathartic and very, very worthwhile. Someone out there will appreciate it - we will! Even though our cyber support doesn't bring you sales, maybe the last ten years have been a stepping stone to this point. You NEED to do this. As I said before, the colours are already there - its only the combinations that will change. I also want to quickly add that some of the work in EOTD wasn't all "lovely". Some of it in my opinion was touching the void at times. This new series is just a progression. Don't be afraid - just do. Loves xx

  4. Thanks Debs for your support and encouragement as always. I do agree with you about some of the work in the EOTD- I appreciate you saying that and I certainly don't want to discount that work, I learned a lot in preparing and painting for that show.I painted those paintings because I needed those paintings and those paintings fit the moment. As the moment changes I hope the paintings will change as well if I have the guts to allow myself that freedom. I already started a work of "Fire and Noise" yesterday, and felt inspired and excited.. so yes I need this!

  5. Ooooh, I am so psyched to see a Nick Cave-inspired show of yours! I've mentioned many times how much I love the secretive, dreamlike quality of your paintings...I'd love to see you dig into the underbelly of that quality. What's lurking in the shadows of those dreams? I foresee explosions of color and layers of meaning. Yes!

  6. Alannah!

    What a great comment- thank you so much. If I need this from my work, it appears you all need/want this from the work just as much! This is so affirming to me. I can not wait to meet "what is lurking in the shadows of these dreams!"

    This is getting exciting!!
    I have the best friends and readers in the world!

  7. Hello Megan Chapman,

    "A lot of what I see in famous art magazines is bizarre self indulgent pretentious shit (there I said it). I don't want to produce that, but I do want to put more of ME into my work, whatever that means."

    (Not entirely your whole point, but I hear this).

    Your resolve should exacerbate the fire therein. When I first came upon your page, this resonance kept me; your humility, awareness, passion. It is not some megalomaniac-inspired competition, intellectual pugilism, high art whampus thumpus, it's a love. And with that, FIRE. And yes, fuck 'em. The last two shows I did, I prepared the work not wishing to sell anything (who needs laundry detergent anyway). And the work is honest from this approach. (And I didn't sell anything, so I WON lol).

    I am so looking forward to this show of yours. Go big, go lava, you will succeed, your focus is evident. Good luck, feed the trash can often if it comes down to it, you know, no pressure.

    Much respect,


    Oh, P.s., since those 'no sell' shows, the work has moved since... it's funny what diversity those shows will add to a body of work. How enticing a piece that stares at you saying "don't even think about it" can seem after time.

  8. Thanks Cody!

    I will hold on to this- "It is not some megalomaniac-inspired competition, intellectual pugilism, high art whampus thumpus, it's a love. And with that, FIRE."

    Now, don't get me wrong I am not setting out to make work that will NOT sell, but I am trying to remove the pressure associated with selling.(Some of the gallery owners that represent me do read this
    blog and I don't want to freak them out too much);)

    and yes Cody, I will "go big, go lava." Thanks!

  9. You gotta go with what is inside of you... and it will be a success because you did it.