Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's show time!

Patrons milling about The Ghosts of the Past Exposed
Photograph © 2014 Melissa Roberts-Vest

What a week!

The American debut of my exhibition The Ghosts of the Past Exposed was held on Wednesday night at the Anne Kittrell Gallery at the University of Arkansas. It was lovely to see so many of the project's supporters in person, to thank them and to talk to them about the work. There was a good turn out and everyone seemed excited to finally see the work here in Arkansas.

It had been a while since I had an exhibition in my hometown and I was feeling a bit nervous and out of practice but the work seemed to speak for itself and captured the imaginations of many who saw it. The exhibition will remain up through March 7th. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10-6pm and there is free parking next door after 5 pm at the parking deck. I hope if you are local to NWA that you will check out the exhibition.

Folks have been asking me what is next for the series and where it will go. I am not sure at this point. I would love to share it with Scottish/American societies, immigration agencies and more educational institutions. We will see what is next!

My sweet friends in front of my painting at the Royal Blind exhibition
Photograph© 2014 Ever Dundas
On Thursday my piece "At once we could see" debuted at the Royal Blind exhibition and sale at Gallery Seventeen in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was so pleased to be able to participate in this important exhibition. I was thrilled when several of my friends from over there made the trek to see the piece in person and took pictures with the painting! It really meant so much to me. I wish I could have been there myself. All in good time...

A very sneaky peek of my piece that will be revealed at the exhibition at Little Ox Gallery
Photograph © 2014 Little Ox

In other exhibition news, next Friday my small piece "I will" will debut as part of the latest exhibition at the Little Ox gallery in Edinburgh. I thrilled to be part of this great show, putting the art in cartography!

It is wonderful to have my work on display here at home and in Edinburgh, my home away from home at the same time.

Now, it is on to the next thing... What is the next thing you ask? Well, I think it involves a little teaching...but I will keep that to myself just now. Do stay tuned as things develop! 2014 is definitely off to a busy and exciting start! I can't believe it is already almost March!?!

Thanks again to everyone who has supported my project, my work, old and new and all who have encouraged me to keep going. Together, we are making exciting things happen.

Until next week, keeping fighting!



Saturday, February 15, 2014

On the walls for all to see...

Poster for the exhibition at Anne Kittrell Gallery, University of Arkansas

Hello! I've been busy being an artist this past week and I have a lot of exciting events coming up near and far. I like to keep you in the know, so here we go (pardon the third person).

Join artist Megan Chapman for the opening reception and American debut of her latest series, The Ghosts of the Past Exposed this Wednesday, February, 19th from 6-7:30pm at the Anne Kittrell Gallery on the fourth floor of the University of Arkansas Student Union. The exhibition will be on display from February 17th - March 7th. Regular gallery hours are Monday-Friday 10am-6pm.

Megan Chapman received crowdsourced funding in 2013 to visit Edinburgh, Scotland for six months. During this time she created a series of twenty new works that combine genealogy, poetry and painting, exploring many aspects of the Scottish diaspora in the United States. The first ten paintings of the series were on exhibition at Cross Street Arts in Greater Manchester, England in May and June. Two of those pieces were later featured in an exhibition at The Arts Complex, where Chapman kept a studio for four months in Edinburgh, Scotland. Once completed, the whole series was then shown at the Abbey Mount Centre in Edinburgh during the month of August and signaled the Scottish culmination of her project. The paintings have now returned to the United States with Megan, making a similar journey as her ancestors. This exhibition at the Anne Kittrell Gallery marks the series American debut.

If you are local to Northwest Arkansas I hope you will come out and say hello on Wednesday night and view these works. So many local people generously supported my project and I am looking forward to showing the work and saying thank you in person.

In overseas news, I have two pieces currently in Edinburgh that will be part of two separate exhibitions.

I am very pleased to have been asked to participate in the exhibition and sale during the first ever Royal Blind Week to benefit the brilliant work of Royal Blind. The exhibition will be held at Gallery Seventeen on Dundas street in Edinburgh with a special viewing on Thursday evening February 20th.

Regular gallery hours and viewing times are:

Friday 21 February: 10am - 6pm
Saturday 22 February: 10am - 6pm
Monday 24 February - Friday 28 February: 10am - 6pm
Saturday 1 March: 10am - 6pm

For those that can not attend in person you can visit the online auction here

Here is a short blurb about my involvement and thoughts from Royal Blind's website.

American artist, Megan Chapman, has created a special commissioned work for the exhibition which presents an abstract interpretation of the iconic Craigmillar campus of the Royal Blind School.

"I was thrilled to be asked to support Royal Blind as working with blind people has been important to me for a long while. Any time an organization can empower people to live full lives, be treated as equals and live beyond their perceived disability, is the highest achievement and is something I want to support and be part of."

At once we could see
My painting framed and ready for the Royal Blind exhibition

In other Edinburgh art news, I will have a small work on show at the Little Ox gallery on Candlemaker Row as part of the exhibition, Here We Are, putting the art in cartography, which opens February 28th at 7pm. It should be a great show!

Poster for "here we are" at Little Ox Gallery

So as you can see 2014 is off to a great and busy start! If you are an NWA local I do hope to see you Wednesday night and if you are a Edinburgh local I hope to see some photographs of my work alongside your smiling faces, while you enjoy a night out. I wish I could teleport and be both places.

Thanks for everyone who drops by this blog and to everyone that has supported me over the years. I can't do this without you and I am grateful to have you on my team.


PS. Until next week...PAINT, WRITE, DANCE, SING, PLAY MUSIC, DESIGN, ACT, whatever it is- do that art that makes your heart sing whether it is writing a perfect letter, making a pot of soup or making the perfect cup of tea. Please keep giving your passion to the world, it's the only way we are going to make it. x

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Handmade love

This week was dominated by snow and I loved it. I like it when the town slows down, I feel more creative and I like it when everyone else is also inside and the cars stop rushing around and everyone is a bit more contemplative. I live a very quiet, inside life most of the time. I never know where everyone is going or why. I am pretty content with my music and my dreams. I also like the challenge of making something from nothing as is the case when one has been unable to get groceries for a while. Everything seems more creative.

So I took the time to create some cards. You could call them valentines even but they could be given at any time of year, I just happened to make them this month. I found a very icy playlist to go with the cold weather and got to writing and it seems I fell into a trance. It was lovely.

My art, when it is really good, comes from not just me but a place outside and above me. It comes from some pure light place of truth where things are quite clear and honest. To feel this kind of energy is a pure joy and I serve as the conduit and everything comes sharp and fast. That is what happened this week. I was reminded of how good it feels to be present and receiving and then out tumbled these fourteen cards.

secret words
a deep breath


my favorite mittens

yet to come

long time home

untold journeys

golden light

first fire of winter

sugar in my tea

frozen lake

the moment

my favorite old book

under the swallows

The back of the cards are signed and dated in pencil. The insides are blank for your secrets.

Handmade Love : When an ordinary card just won't do...

These horizontal folded cards are 5x 6.5" on cream card stock and include an envelope. They are made from locally sourced vintage book paper, printed words, red stitches and are one of a kind, hand-crafted and blank inside. These would look good framed or in a shadow box after giving. The vintage paper and words are mounted with acid free mounting squares so that the paper floats a bit above the card stock.

I have been selling these from my facebook page currently, however I may put them in my Etsy shop eventually. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment to inquire about purchasing one. $15/card

Thanks for joining me today. Next week I will talk about the shows I have coming up, two in Edinburgh and one in Fayetteville and all of them kicking off later this month! It has been a very affirming time creatively, let's hope it continues and allows me to pay my bills as well.

You know what to do. Keep fighting!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

and what a gift it was...

the piece as I thought it was done...but it had other ideas
I have been making art in one form or another my whole life and professionally for seventeen years or so and there are some days that being an artist almost feels routine. There are also days when the act of being an artist gets all shaken up and in the best possible way. That was my experience this past week as I was making a small piece of art for an upcoming exhibition inspired by maps. Just my cup of tea, where's the challenge in that you might even say?

Well, this piece threw me for a proper loop and not once but again and again. As many of you know I love the thrill of a challenge. I also love solving problems and I love when the problems inspire the next movements and changes to a piece. A small 6x6" work became a teacher this week, presenting me with a lesson of impermanence, perseverance, attention, acceptance and love. Can you imagine? I am just minding my business, trying to make a little piece of art and I get slapped in the face with all that? Well, it happened and what a gift it was. I'll break it down for you.

First, making the work seemed simple enough. I thought to myself, there will be a bit of map, some sewing, some words and probably some paint (since I am a painter after all). I got my sewing machine out, threaded the bobbin with uncharacteristic ease, did that bit and then found my words. Words from another piece long sold that I still liked with words that resonated. Good enough, I thought and I will put this here and that there and do this and that and bam, Art! Easy peasy! But it didn't have the right feeling exactly, it didn't have the depth I was after and why would it? However, I ignored those feelings, called it done and coated it in a gel medium and waited for it to dry. I walked away and busied myself with other important things (hello, facebook).

When I looked back over at my work table, the medium wasn't self leveling as it ought and what I was seeing was this lumpy, bumpy, gooey mess on the surface of the piece that I had once quite liked. This was a disaster! Perhaps I could scrape off the goo and save the piece. As I started scraping, I was relieved that the medium had not yet completely set and it was coming off with ease. However, I also noticed that the words I had put on the piece were coming off too! This is truly a disaster I thought again and then I remembered I hadn't really liked the way the words had covered the blonde wood with a plastic film, more opaque than I had hoped for. I kept scraping the film off the piece anyway even though now I considered it ruined. Next, I started using steel wool on the wood and of course then I saw bit of the map being roughed away into oblivion. Why had I used steel wool? Didn't I know that would happen? Lastly, I covered the ravaged piece with turpentine to "melt" off the rest of the sticky substance and then I walked away for the day disappointed. I vowed to just get up the next day and start again, reminding myself that I could virtually recreate the piece if I wanted.

The next morning I got up and I couldn't find the motivation for a long while to start again, I was still bummed out about the previous outcome and not trusting my skills or judgement. I went to get a cup of tea and walked past the piece in the kitchen by the sink where it had last been tortured. I picked it up and realized there was a lot about it that I still liked. Perhaps I could paint over the scoured bits or put some new words somewhere else to hide the damage? There were actually parts of the piece still covered in the waxy goo that had hardened especially around the stitching that I particularly liked. I also decided I liked the wounded map in the top left corner, maybe I didn't need to hide anything with paint after all. Now the piece seemed to have a care worn patina that made it seem real and not easy peasy or superficial, it had earned it's scars and was more beautiful for them.

I found a new printout of the same words as before and stuck them on the piece, I was determined to make it work. This time I would try to make the plastic backing transparent. As I was coating it with turpentine half the words rubbed off again. I couldn't believe it! This time though I gave into it and saw that I was quite pleased with the words that had remained and that they were transparent! I will, I will, I will was all that remained. I thought about how fitting it all was and that the new sentiment was even more meaningful than the original. Suddenly things were really coming together and this piece was finally heading where I had wanted it to in my heart all along. I decided I wanted to just coat the piece with walnut oil to bring out the warmth and to give it a slight sheen but nothing as heavy as before. I coated the work and watched it pop and come to life! I was so pleased that I put the piece in the sun and took a quick photo of it to share on facebook. We had been through so much together that I needed it to be seen. I couldn't wait to share the piece with Stewart when he got home! Look what I made! As well as the story behind the work, the ebb and flow of creation, the looking and learning, the lessons and the old work from the University of Oregon that was still playing a hand in what I was doing today, full circle thoughts, the materials I use out of necessity and what they give me in return, the feeling behind the work, there were so many thoughts that had rushed out to shake me during the making of this 6x6" piece that contained no painting. I was so excited!

And then everything changed. Again. The walnut oil had crept through the fibers of the map paper changing the shape and colors within the piece. I was crest fallen. I had already shared it with those close to me, facebook and even the gallery where it was being shipped! Oh no! Finally, I would have to accept defeat but I didn't. I coated the piece with baking soda to soak up the excess oil to stop the spread, I blotted it with paper and I let it rest to see if the creeping oil lines would creep further. They did not. I looked at the piece again and again as it told me more secrets and let me discover and accept it's changed beauty. I varnished the piece and let it rest again for the night before I documented it, this time satisfied and complete. The beauty was in the change, the decay, the layers, the scars, the struggle, the lessons and in my loyalty to the work.

I will
I will
I will

I will

mixed media 
6x6" wood panel
©2014 Megan Chapman

This is the finished piece and will be flying to Scotland soon to be part of an exhibition inspired by old maps at Little Ox gallery in Edinburgh. Stay tuned for more details...