Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: Year in Review

During the last week of each year, I try to do a year in review blog to condense and summarize my life as an artist. I do this mostly for me, so that I can look back and remember the ups and downs of the past year. As it is happening it is so easy to forget what we are living through and I find taking the time to look back and reflect illuminating. It also helps me to get excited about the year to come.

So, here goes! And once again, if you actually read this post through to the end, you deserve some type of gold star or medallion.

2011 started with my largest commission request to date. I painted a 7x5.5 foot painting for the entry way of a private residence. It was an interesting experience. I remember it was a bit of a struggle, simply from the physicality of the painting size itself, as I am only 5ft 2". Also, the clients wanted a painting that spoke of my earlier color works, specifically the painting called Olivine from 2007, that had always been one of my favorite paintings. It took a while, but we finally got there and the client was ultimately pleased.

At the same time I was working on my commission, I started a new series on paper, called Maps of the Night. I remember the excitement that propelled me through that series combining words and charcoal on crinkly paper. It was the beginning of my documentation of the new relationship in my life with fellow artist Stewart Bremner from Scotland. The Maps of the Night were a way to feel closer to Stewart as he was asleep across the ocean six hours ahead. I remember feeling nervous about this process, as I shared my excitement of this very new long distance romance in a cryptic manner, through the one liners that floated across the drawn page. I remember many long nights painting this series and I remember feeling so pleased when the series was a sell out. I took a risk and was richly rewarded. There were twenty paintings in this series.

I was also very busy working within the Fayetteville Underground. If you want to read a summary of what I did as Co-Artistic Director at the Fayetteville Underground, you can click here.

After the commission was completed and the Maps of the Night had all found their homes I began the Flashcard series. Works on paper were a big part of my year, it is often an affordable medium and if you know me, you also know that I feel strongly about the power of original art and that I believe everyone should be able to afford it. I created twenty-nine of these miniature works and this series sold out as well.

While these works on paper were selling, my older color works and paintings from last year's series Falling Into Sound were selling as well. I met a lot of wonderful people in 2011, new friendships, new collectors, and new fellow artists all came into my life to make it richer and better. 

While this blog is based on my artistic life, I have to mention Stewart Bremner's first visit to Fayetteville in April and his exhibition Iteration/Span with Craig Munro in May at the Hive Gallery. We scheduled that show long before Stewart and I were in a relationship and I am so glad we did. It served as the extra impetus perhaps for him to get on a plane to come over here and for us to meet for the first time. A very magical moment. Stewart has been a huge inspiration for my work this year and a huge source of happiness. We also created nine paintings together side by side in my little studio in the basement of the underground. The series became known as A Question of Chemistry and by the end of it there was no question. After a few initial stumbling blocks, we managed to create a meaningful and cohesive body of work. It was a thrill to work with Stewart and we were both pleased by the attention the work received.

While Stewart was here, the title for my next series Sometimes I love you and other stories was born. I had the title and the concept before I had started the work. I remember starting to paint alone again after working with Stewart was more difficult than I had anticipated. My thoughts from this time as quoted in my blog, "this body of work seems like it is going to be a stretch, a bit like pulling teeth with a heavy dose of trepidation but also unbridled excitement and inspiration." That pretty much sums of the experience of putting my heart on the line and on display for everyone to read and see. I created twenty-two paintings in this series for my exhibition in September in the Vault Gallery at the Underground.

As I was painting the Sometimes series, I was also creating another small paper series as I explored my ideas for working my own typed words into the paintings. This series consisted of ten pieces called Letters never sent. This series sold out as well.

While all this was happening, I went through a divorce and learned that the artists had lost the lease at the Fayetteville Underground and that we would have to move out in January. It was a lot to take in and handle, and truthfully I am not sure if I really handled it or just put it aside while I focused on what I could control, which was my work. I am very lucky to have such a good and solid support network of friends.

Sometimes I love you and other stories debuted in September and Stewart returned to Fayetteville as well. He designed a brilliant postcard for my show, updated my website and created a promotional video that I adore. It was a wonderful time and I sold nine pieces during my exhibition. Also two of these paintings were selected for publication in CALYX journal. CALYX has been publishing a high-quality journal of art and literature by women since it was founded in 1976.

Sometimes I love you and other stories from stewart bremner on Vimeo.

In December four of my Sometimes I love you and other other stories works are shown in Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the Winter Wonderland exhibition at the UNION gallery. I love that the works are shown next to Stewart's on the gallery wall across the ocean which seemed fitting. I am even more thrilled when my works are written about in this article.

Also in December, I had my first solo exhibition after three years at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They have represented my work since 2004. The exhibition was called, A certain trajectory and was a combination of Falling into Sound and Sometimes I love you works. It was well received and I enjoyed being at the gallery for the opening.

I returned home and realized that I needed to make some more small works for the holidays and I updated my etsy shop artmaven with a new series called, Silently and still. I enjoyed working in my old attic studio as I reflected on my time at the Underground. I participated in my first Cyber Monday sale on Etsy and it went well. I also had a sale of my older color works and many collectors snapped them up at a steal of a deal. While this was happening, my etsy work was being featured consistently in many treasuries.

While I created the last series of the year, Silently and Still,  I started thinking about creating small works in Scotland with limited supplies and space. Soon after, I book my ticket for my trip in January! I am very excited about my upcoming adventure and the opportunities that will come with it. I will be showing new small works that I create in the new year at a cafe that shows art in Edinburgh. The idea of this makes me happy and feels right.

As I let go of my studio and my experiences at the Fayetteville Underground, my exhibition schedule starts filling up for 2012, and I move forward on the path.

2011 concluded with one hundred and nine paintings created and one hundred and ten new and old paintings sold. I am amazed, proud, grateful and very ready to start working on the next series on a different continent.

Thank you to everyone who has had a kind word for me this year or a hug, a smile, an email. Thanks to my supporters and patrons, my gallery owners, my studio mates, special thanks to Jennifer L. Fay for her love and support and for a lot of paper! Thanks to Stewart Bremner for all the music, for inspiring me daily and for doing the impossible. x.

Until next week and next year, keep fighting. The world needs your art!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ready to start...

Where we meet © 2011 Megan Chapman

This is where one story ends and another begins... I thought I would be writing my year in review blog today, but I was reminded that I still have until next week to do that. So today I will take the time to mention the future.

Soon I will take my first solo trip in a plane and I will take my first trip overseas. I will be going to Scotland on January 10th- May 3rd. I am very excited! I am looking forward to leaving my town and getting some perspective on the world and my place in it. I am looking forward to seeing new things and meeting new people. I am looking forward to the inspiration and the freedom that shooting through the sky will allow. Like time travel, landing in a new place where everything is similar yet different and where I can regroup and become whole again. This has been an exceptional year but it has also been extremely taxing and exhausting. I am hoping to slip through this portal to a kind of renewal.

 I don't think I will return the same person. In fact I know I won't. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I have grown a lot as a person and as an artist through taking calculated risks and by being vulnerable and surrounded by love. I am sure this trip will provide me many opportunities to continue on this path.

Once in Scotland, I am really looking forward to seeing my work on the UNION gallery walls, in their current exhibition Winter Wonderland. As many of you know, I have four pieces from my "Sometimes I love you and other stories" series currently at the gallery in Edinburgh and I have only seen pictures of them. It will be surreal to walk into the gallery and stand before them, there on the wall. I was thrilled when my work was recently mentioned in a review of the exhibition. You can read it here. I was already so pleased to be showing at the gallery but to have my work chosen and written about is an extra special thrill. Validation from an objective source and from someone in another country feels important. I want to remember this moment.

In other happy news,  I just found out that I will have an exhibition of some of my new small works on paper in Edinburgh in February and/or March at a local popular cafe. I am grateful to have this opportunity as it will help me have a focus for my work while I am there. This was one reason for my recent collection of small etsy paintings, I wanted to imagine working in a small space and with simplified materials. I will of course let folks know about the work and the exhibition as it happens. Just stay tuned to my blog to stay in the know.

My exhibition schedule is shaping up for 2012.

February/March: I thought I would find you here, a joint exhibition by Megan Chapman and Stewart Bremner,  Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, Arkansas.  This exhibition will showcase several of Stewart's individual paintings and mine, teamed with the remaining Question of Chemistry series paintings that we created last May.

February/March: Selected small works on paper by Megan Chapman, Embo, Edinburgh. These will be all new paper works created in Scotland.

July: All new combined paintings by Megan Chapman and Stewart Bremner, Art Center of the Ozarks, Springdale Arkansas. We are very excited to pick up where we left off and create all new works for this exhibition. When we return to Arkansas in May we will get busy painting in the heat of the summer.

I have also submitted my work to a couple of juried exhibitions, I will let you know if I get in any of them and how they impact my schedule in the coming months.

So the future seems bright with travel, love, culture, art and exhibitions. I am also hoping for renewal, big ideas and of course lots of music.

I just want to say thank you again to all my friends, family, art supporters and patrons. I love sharing this journey with you and the support and validation you give me and my work is unparalleled. You have helped me discover my truth, face my fears and live this live. You have been the smiles, the helping hands, the financial support, and the open hearts that I needed this year. You have been the ones I have worked for.  

Thank you.

Saturday, December 17, 2011



The studios at the Underground are coming apart at the seams, the brushes, canvases and easels are being packed away. Tables moved and disassembled, the spaces we came to know as the studios of our peers are not the same. They are becoming the empty basement office spaces that they once were. The mark we left on One East Center is being erased as the artists pack up their studios just before the holidays.

I can say "when one door closes another one opens" and I can hope it is true. I can put a positive spin on it in the news and say we will be back in January in a new space, bringing you the same great art and artists that you have come expect from us for over the past two and a half years. But I honestly can't be sure. Where is the group of artists that became known as the Fayetteville Underground going? Where is the door that is about to open? I don't know. There are options, there are dreams, and there is reality.

Many of us worked very hard to bring the city something that the citizens and the artists seemed to want, need and appreciate and I am truly saddened that it was cut short by no fault of the artists or our landlord. It was an amazing run and I have never been more proud to be affiliated with an organization.

Who knows what will happen with the artists of the underground. Many will move back home to their abandoned extra bedrooms, attics and basement studios because it is easier than not knowing where they are going, and it is a way for them to control their own destiny. A few will stick together and continue trying to build the Fayetteville Art Alliance, trying to find studios together and manning a gallery, perhaps recruiting new artists into the fold and attempting new strategies. Some will just take a break and stop producing art for a while or perhaps look for gallery representation elsewhere. Perhaps there is space for some in the Old Post Office basement. As artists we may fragment and splinter yet there will be a tie that connects us, our time at the Fayetteville Underground.

The Fayetteville Underground taught me so much about people and it helped me become fully invested in my community. Working with many other organizations and groups was exciting and beneficial for all involved. Getting to know so many of the artists throughout the community was wonderful as well. I met people just like me who worked hard to create the work they needed to, in order to be true to themselves. Many amazing artists passed through the gallery doors of the Fayetteville Underground during these years. It was an honor to meet and get to know not only their work but them personally. We shared a lot of ups and downs together as a family, such as illnesses, separations, divorce, money troubles, depression, anxiety, artistic blows, blocks, and more than a few parking tickets! We also shared new love, special commissions, big sales, artistic triumphs, new visions and opportunities, inspiration and many bottles of beer, glasses of wine, and good meals in the restaurants and bars around the square.

I can't stand to see my artistic family fragmented. It is sad to see us come ungrounded and lose the vision that we as a team so brilliantly executed for so long. If I am willing to dream big, I hope we rise to this challenge and create something new, perhaps something never seen here before. Something perfect for this sweet town of art lovers and buyers. Studios on one side of town and a gallery on the other? Pop up shops in abandoned buildings? Take over a motel and turn it into a gallery for a week? Take the basement of the Old Post Office by storm creating a new hot spot? Retreating to the calm of Mt. Sequoyah and hoping that the patrons will follow?

I love these big plans and big dreams. One of my big dreams came true when I rented my studio at the Underground in April of 2009.

From my Journal:  

Monday 20 April 2009: Studio 19  
I have just returned from the leasing agent's office and I now have a key to my very own studio space downtown. I can't wait to move in and paint. This is so much more than just a key to me...

I guess it is time to wake up now. I have some boxes to pack and a studio door to close one last time and soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Are we having fun yet?

Winter Wonderland at Union Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
December 8th-January 24th.

I love my job and I rarely complain about it as I feel I am truly privileged to do the work I am on the planet to do, the work I have trained for, and the work that I love to share with the world. However there are various negative stereotypes and ideas about artists that get in my way and clutter the path I walk. I have been thinking about these and thought it warranted a discussion.

1. Being an artist must be fun! It must be just great to lock yourself away from the world and play!

I hear this a lot from folks after I tell them what I do. Most of them mean well and most of them hope that my job is fun, because perhaps theirs is not. I understand. We all would like to be having fun more often than not. However, if I came up to you and said, "Wow! You are an account executive? That must be fun! A surgeon? Fun! A mail carrier? Even more fun!" You might get a little huffy... Not at the suggestion of fun per say but the idea that your job is easy, child like, simple, or less than.

You might think that I am taking people's comments too seriously or that I am being defensive. But imagine if you had studied for years, spending time and money to work up the ranks in your profession year after year and then over and over again you are dealt this patronizing comment. I'm not playing.

I think this comment comes from this dreamy and ignorant idea of the artist, the person who either has a trust fund enabling them to frivolously play at being an artist or the idea of the overly emotional sensitive soul that just can't quite make in the real world so they called themselves an artist and now they are safely ensconced in their attic studio with their only true friends, their paints and brushes.

Being an artist is working a job like anyone else. Being an artist is a legitimate career. As an artist you produce, promote and sell your work. Sure it can be fun at times, but it can be equally hard and unsatisfactory like any job.

2. Artists only use one part of their brain, you know that zany art part!

I hear this again and again in varying and worrisome terms, this idea is so wide spread that artists actually start to believe it themselves and perpetuate the myth. Making art is a huge part of my life, but being a successful artist means I also have to use a whole other set of skills. I am my own secretary, publicist, marketer, sales person, accountant, shipper, and the list goes on and on. I am an independent business owner as an artist and I have to use a business mind to make sure that I succeed. I have to keep an eye on the market, I have to network and stay connected to my patrons, just like any other small business owner.

I have had many intelligent conversations on the subject of the business of marketing ones art. People often act surprised that I can carry my weight on these subjects or that I even make it on time to the meeting (you know how flaky artists can be about time). Again, this is just another stereotype that needs to be put in its place.

I love my job and I hope you love yours too. Just try to remember I am showing up and working just like you and that I am using my whole brain while I do it. Artists are multidimensional people that work insanely hard at what they do, at least the successful ones.

If you want to compliment an artist, offer them your validation, tell them how hard you know it is and tell them not to give up. Tell them that you value their work and you appreciate what they offer to the community. You are likely to have a much richer conversation with that artist and you will have made their night.

To be seen for what we are and to be appreciated for what we make and bring to our communities and world through our art is what we are striving for.


As promised we have a winner! Randomly selected.... Sharon Simmons!!! Congratulations- You will receive this miniature paper painting from my etsy shop!

A change in the atmosphere
© 2011 Megan Chapman

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When I look into the future (I see this)

Sure of It, mixed media, 30x30cm £270 © 2011 Megan Chapman 
Currently available through UNION gallery

Hello Blog Readers!

I was in Hot Springs last Friday (hence my post being late) for my opening for A Certain Trajectory at the Blue Moon Gallery. The turnout was lovely. I really enjoyed being back down at the gallery for the first time in several years. It was wonderful to see my friends and fellow artists down there as well as talk to all the art lovers out for gallery walk! My exhibition is up through the month so if you are passing though the Hot Springs area please don't miss it. There are several affordable pieces still available.

I am so thrilled to be a part of the Winter Wonderland exhibition at UNION gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland. Four of my recent paintings from my Sometimes I love you and other stories series will be included in this exhibition. The opening is tomorrow night, December 8th so if you are Edinburgh please go! Stewart Bremner has six pieces showing there as well. I can't wait to see a photographs of the exhibition! That will make it even more real for me. It truly is a highlight of my career as an artist.

From UNION gallery's website, "A wonderful, mixed exhibition of work from some of the gallery’s regular exhibitors, including new work from award-winning artists Colin Brown and Audrey Grant, Janet Melrose RSW and Trevor Jones. We are also delighted to be exhibiting work from the nomadic painter Tadeusz Deregowski along with Olivia Irvine, Stewart Bremner and, new to the gallery, American artist Megan Chapman." Winter Wonderland: 8 December 2011 - 24 January 2012

In other news, Stewart and I have another combined exhibition scheduled for which we will create all new paintings! We are very excited about this opportunity. There is so much to do before all that, but it is exciting to have it in the back of our minds, we look forward to the challenge!

I am still having my half off holiday sale of my older color works, please contact me if you would like more information on any of the pieces you see here. I also have some affordable small works on paper available in my Etsy shop ArtMaven.

I think that is about all I have to report. Thank you for reading my blog, checking in on facebook, twitter and for coming to my shows. You make my path so much brighter.

Holiday Giveaway Alert! Leave a comment on today's entry and be entered to win a small piece of my art! I will randomly draw a winner and announce it on Friday, December 9th!