Friday, July 31, 2009

Update: 100 Flashes of Memory

Oh where to start... my pet project merging my photography with a type of poetry, conceptual art, and music has been very interesting and a bit frustrating for me so far. A lot of thinking, talking, and writing has gone into it, without many results. Many experiments, but no real results; and many rants to my dear friends about this lack of results...

While I am writing this, I have another set of "experiment" blocks (I think this is the third set sacrificed) on the table in the other room, waiting for the next step. This fabled next step that will turn them from mere assemblage into art. This is the final step that has been going awry in all my experiments so far. As I write this I am feeling a bit more hopeful, that perhaps I have learned a few things in the past few weeks and that I am streamlining my process and that tonight might be the night. Truthfully, I am a bit scared to take the next step as I don't want to be proved wrong and go back to square one again.

I also know that this project is becoming a metaphor for my life. I am at a crossroads, I have the concepts but I am not sure of the next step. I find myself feeling a bit back at square one. I am a little scared and a little excited.With the recent gallery closure, and an overflowing inventory, I do wonder sometimes about the gallery system and if it can sustain me. I enjoy promoting my work, and I like having a certain amount of control in that process. I have seen many younger artists really maximizing use of the Internet so that they do not only rely solely on the gallery system. I have tried a bit of that route as well, as you know. Anyway, without getting too specific, I feel like I have many options that are available to me, that perhaps I have pushed away, because I was tied up in galleries or I assumed the gallery would take care of that for me. Don't get me wrong I am not knocking any galleries that represent me and my work. I am just saying that I have dropped the ball a little bit here and there and because of this, sometimes my art career has felt like it veered off the road. However, I keep correcting and keep on the path.

It is all a big experiment. I do not know the answers. I try some things on the path and learn a long the way. Perhaps I have gotten a bit complacent, or afraid to try and take much needed risks as they might have yielded only failure. Or not even failure but the experience of just trying something new. It is that feeling of not knowing what the hell I am doing that is so uncomfortable but yet is also so worthwhile. It is so easy to become stuck in a rut, producing the same work day in and out, just because you know how. At the same time you may not be challenging yourself enough to keep motivated, to keep learning. It is hard to find that balance.

Anyway, by working on these blocks I have been learning all sorts of things about the project and about myself as well. I forget how second nature making my kind of paintings has become and while that doesn't make them less than, it does keep me locked into a type of comfort zone. My safe abstract world, of color, texture, shape and form.

Today, I was in the studio planning on just being around my things and not working. I looked at one of my abandoned paintings on the easel and it just opened up before me and told me what color it needed and where it needed it. This was something that took me only twenty or thirty minutes, but the feeling I had while listening to that painting was so reassuring. It wasn't about fighting against the tide, it was about just being there, listening and following. It felt so good. I didn't finish the piece and I didn't push on, I just listened for those few minutes and felt the pleasure and relief of painting.

I am not sure if I would have had that experience, if I hadn't been fighting against these blocks. They have been challenging me in different ways, so that when the painting called I could relax into it and go with the flow. Then tonight when I got home, the blocks also seemed to open up just a tiny bit and tell me where to go next with them.

I have tried many things with the blocks of 100 flashes of memory, copper and silver leaf, distressing the leaf, printing photographs on opaque photo paper and gluing them on top of the leaf, printing the photographs on self adhesive transparency paper, covering the blocks with epoxy resin, wax, glue, and now the leaf has changed to silver spray paint, and I am about to build a mold of sorts and plan to try the epoxy resin yet again. I have written on them, have rub off letters for them, and now an inky pen is seeming better to write certain words or fragments around the edges....this has all included many trips to art supply store, and asking people for advice.

I still have not done the crucial last step, (the coating of the blocks) but I am feeling hopeful. I have to remind myself the end result isn't always the goal, but the process of working, just having my hands moving, my mind thinking, just my headphones on and flowing is really the best success.

I am learning this slowly. I will forget it again as well.
But for today, I remembered.

I dedicate this post to you, on the days you remember and on the days you forget.

Pictured above
selections in progress from
100 flashes of memory
before the final step
© 2009 Megan Chapman


  1. Oh I hear you!
    I know about that listening to the painting - and for some reason I only listen when there's a problem too.
    Perhaps we should learn to listen better all the time....
    I know you'll find your way with all of this - because you've done it before but its just been a long time thats all.
    I'm a strong believer in doors closing and new ones opening - that doesn't happen often, but when it does its a scary but thrilling journey. With your kind of determination, you will find that open door and walk right through it...

  2. good morning...several ideas. on earning one's income from "art"; as i said before i started drawing and painting at age 12...62 now...guess that's 50 years of drawing and painting (and sculpting, and pottery and quilting, embroidery, beadwork), but not always doing my "personal art"...just drawing and painting. the goal for me has always been constantly learning and growing (art is SO VAST in it's many guises). i wanted to spend my days in the studio, brush in hand. most days it has not been "pure art", more a "commercial" product. in my "professional" life i have had my own Needlepoint Design company (long, interesting story), done restoration of antiques, worked for larger design companies, had my own design company, illustrated a children's book. So i wasn't doing what i thought i would be doing as a student in college. often it wasn't "FINE art", but i WAS drawing and painting in my own studio every day. It has been a very WONDERFUL learning experience, but a painful struggle as well. That almost never ends. The gallery sytem is good, but can be a "star" system. a kind of poularity contest in the larger, bigger selling galleries. it is just one of many tools to earn a living. i've used art reps for the last 15 years. the percentage is lower (only 25%), and i have to do a "product" they can rep and sell. not work i would hang on my own wall, but work i'm very proud of and happy to sign my name to (see my landscapes on my Myspace page). but it has been a reliable income while i develope my own directions which are now rising to the top. I recently cleaned out my flat files of 35 years of older work. sent it all to my ex-wife and daughter. it was great looking at where i'd come from. work i thought was so profoundly relevant. but i could see it's shallowness now. i'm 62 and feel my work is just now starting to find it's own true voice. lots of other factors in this new revelation as well. this is turning into a "blog" i should have written on my own page. maybe i will. sorry for the rambling. guess i'm trying to say what i said before. stated so much more simply, "the journey is the destination". if your love of art can carry you through the decades, think how joyous and rich your work will be in 20 years. try everything. when i was a wild young lad in college if someone would have told me i'd spend 8 years designing and painting needlepoint canvases. i probably would have slugged them. but it taught me SO much, that i would never have guessed. things i could not have learned any other way. and it led to all the rest.

  3. this is really inspiring. I feel like I am at somewhat of a crossroads myself, and trying to go in a new direction. It's ridiculous how scary it is.

    In fact, I am lamely procrastinaing against it as we speak!

    I like the way these blocks are looking though. Can't wait to see how they turn out.


  4. "However, I keep correcting and keep on that path." I've been fighting with being angry at myself for something ( that has to do with my art) that in the end isn't a big deal but of course I feel like it's a humongous deal. It probably could be humorous in a week or so. I've been trying to concentrate on the fact that you learn from making mistakes. So when there's a next time I'll know a little more than I knew this time and I'll keep on this path :)
    I enjoyed this blog for many reasons. And the photos we are seeing on the internet are absolutely stunning, this struggle is defiantly not in vain.

  5. The new work is very intriguing and looks/sounds like it's going to be very cool -- thanks for sharing this :) --stvj

  6. Megan, this project continues to fascinate me. It's wonderful to hear you talk about your epiphanies and your process.

    As to your concerns about work venues and directions: I remind myself regularly (to very little purpose some days) that I'm a fairly intelligent being who spends a reasonable (whatever that is) amount of time looking at markets, marketing, and where it seems to be going, and that I will try new things based on whether they make sense to me and how much time I have to devote to them. And that that's GOOD ENOUGH. I do this because I have a tendency to feel that I'm never doing enough, that I'm not learning enough, etc., etc. (you get the drift).

    GOOD ENOUGH, and IN MY OWN TIME have become two of my mantras. Maybe if I saw them long enough, I'll believe them.

    P.S. Received your painting and love it. Many thanks for offering it in your give-away. It was a prize well worth winning.

  7. Thanks to everyone who has commented so far on this post. The best thing about this blog is when I share something I am struggling with and then you all come back with all sorts of your own personal experiences and perspectives. I thank you all very much for sharing them with me.

  8. I remember them all... in time. ;)

  9. thanks Megan an inspiring post as usual... I think most arty people struggle with this, it is part of being who we are I guess.

  10. Okay, I am *way* too excited about this. Really interested in seeing what it turns into. You'll have to post pics, unless the display won't be until December... ;)

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