Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking back to look forward

Happy New Year! I hope 2016 is off to a good start for you. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may remember I usually ended the year with a year in review, a lengthy post mostly to remind myself what I had accomplished and experienced in my art world during the past year. That is my plan for this week's blog as well but hopefully slightly more abbreviated as I am keen to start living in the now. So here we go, let's do a wee bit of looking back so as to look forward and then to simply be.

The Out of the Blue Drill Hall where my studio is located

January - February: I moved into studio G23 at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall with it's own sink (I can't stress enough how exciting having a sink is for a painter!). It's a large space and right around the corner from the flat. I am grateful for the space. It's been a long time since having a studio outside my house or flat since the old Fayetteville Underground from 2009-2012. I am not quite sure what to do or how to start but I am determined. I am using old unused canvases of Stewart's as well as his paint and trying to make art with this on hand palette and size of canvas. I like the challenge of using what is on hand. It takes me a good while to make the space seem less empty and cold and to fill it with art. I am also getting used to the routine of going somewhere to work. By late January I have several large pieces on the go. I am telling myself I am not making a series yet, that I am just experimenting but things do seem to be forming into something more cohesive than I imagined at this stage.

My studio office area, feeling more settled.

March - April: By March the studio is feeling better and more like my space. I move things around to make the studio feel more bright and cheery. I am starting to feel more connected and trusting of things. I keep working on large paintings which are definitely turning into a series at this point. Red features prominently. In April I pass the 6 month mark of having lived here in Edinburgh, not as a temporary visitor but as I resident. I am starting to relax a bit more into this new life with it's challenges. I become more accepting of the difficulty of it all. It's even a struggle to order art supplies like the ones I am used to. However, I start making progress with this and order 5 large square canvases from an online shop to add to the ones Stewart has given me for the series. I find myself missing my art community and supporters back in the states. I am not sure if I will break into the art scene here or if there is even an art scene for me to break into. I slowly but surely create more work.

Reconstruction series on exhibition at the ACO in Arkansas 

May - June: Meanwhile back in Arkansas 8 of my pieces are in a traveling group show and in May the show opens at the Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, Arkansas. I am glad my work can be there and be seen by my friends and family in the area. It was important to be reminded that I am still connected through my art. Towards the end of May I start recording podcasts about my work in the studio. It is a way for me to talk about the work and to form relationships with potential listeners. I know I need to express myself, share my work and create these type of relationships in my life. I hope the podcasts will encourage this and I enjoy recording them. All the while I keep painting on my series and I am starting to think it is almost done.

A delicate balance
Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas
© 2015 Megan Chapman

July - August: I keep recording the podcast series sometimes with guest commentators, namely Stewart Bremner and Philip Dickson. I also take questions from my facebook art page and twitter and try to make the podcast interactive. I also decide that my new series of paintings is complete and I craft an artist's statement to go with them. The series is called A Delicate Balance and without a doubt is about my move and immigration here and the challenges involved. Art always reflects life, one can't really escape it. As the large series of paintings have wound down, I find myself painting small works on canvas as a quick release. Many are abstract but some also contain landscape elements. I list these small works in my Etsy shop. I give these three distinct series names such as Little Meteors (pure color abstracts) A Wintering Heart (abstract landscapes) and my last complete small works series of the year, The New Botanics (abstract flower forms).

The large painting in progress, The Only Constant 

September - October: After all the small works, I want to work large again and properly so. I start an abstract painting on a 100cm by 150cm linen canvas (again another canvas graciously given to me by Stewart that he had kicking around- under the bed!). I relish the chance to work big and differently as so much of 2015 was spent just trying to get work done and to rediscover my seemingly dormant voice. The painting I create is for us, it will go on the wall over the bed. A house gift to mark 1 year of my living here on September 25th. I call it, The only constant. It is a study in knowing when to stop. Often I can work a painting until it is gets too tight and orderly but I wanted to keep this loose and painterly. I think I am successful. I finally feel like I am figuring things out. I even order two more large canvases of the same size because I am so excited, not linen this time but lovely nonetheless.

The New Botanics

November - December: During these months I start applying for upcoming juried exhibitions. As now I have the large body of work ready for show as well as the 3 smaller bodies and the one properly large painting. I am putting myself out there by entering these shows to remind myself that this is what one does and for the experience of doing it. I submitted my work to three of the major art societies here in Scotland but none of my paintings were selected for inclusion. I was disappointed but more proud of my act of doing it and trying.

However, there were two gleaming moments of outward success that happened at this time and I choose to focus on them. I submitted 5 of my small works from the New Botanics series to Cupola Contemporary Art, a lovely gallery in Sheffield England for a juried holiday exhibition. All 5 of my paintings were accepted! The exhibition runs from the 28 November - 10 January. I was so pleased to be included.

Around this time, I also participated in my first open studio event at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. I had my studio looking sharp and open to the public with all of my work on display from floor to ceiling. It was a lovely busy day and I enjoyed meeting people and talking about my art. I made some sales as well which was thrilling to say the least! This event got me excited for the coming year.

At the end of the year the studio is buzzing with new work

The rest of December was busy with the holidays of course but I spent some good time working in the studio regardless and worked on 2 medium sized pieces and more small works as well as another large painting. It felt good to be consistently working and enjoying the process. I also decided to return to my studio blog here and committed to writing again each Friday. I feel all of this is a good strong ending to what has been a very challenging year.

And here we are, it's January 1st. 2016. I am writing my blog on Friday as I said I would and I plan to work in my studio for a bit later in the day. I have a new small work in my studio that just recently sold and will be shipped to a new collector in London later this week.

This latest small work will be headed to it's new home in London soon. 

Thanks 2015 for the lesson in perseverance and for allowing me to go at my own scattered pace. Special thanks to all my friends near and far who have stayed in touch, reached out and encouraged me and reminded me to be more compassionate with myself during this transition. I can't say thank you enough. Thanks to all patrons of my work in this past year, you have no idea how your support encouraged me during this uncertain time. Thanks also to my patrons of the past that helped me get this far.

All my thanks and love go to Stewart Bremner for providing me the tools, space and time to create. Thanks for all your help and support and for believing in my work and for witnessing the process. I honestly could not have done this without you.

And with that, I have blackeyed peas, greens and cornbread (a southern tradition) to make and I have art to create in the now. It's 2016 and I am still an artist. I am still here and I am more grateful than ever.

Thank you.


  1. Wonderful! Can't wait to see how the year unfolds for you. x

    1. Hi Debs! Thanks for stopping by and reading! I appreciate your friendship and support over the years.I hope 2016 is bright for you! x

  2. Megan, you constantly amaze me with your vision and honesty and how you reveal so much of yourself in your paintings. And as you give so much to others, remember to not be hard on yourself.Your challenges have given you strength and inspiration. You have accomplished so much with love given and received. How fortunate Stewart is by your side.You are always supported "by unseen hands lifting you to their peace crowned heights". Love

    1. Thank you, Antoinette. You are right, I am pretty hard on myself... so thank you for the reminder. I love the unseen hands. I love you.

  3. I like the challenge of using what is on hand. I definitely think that this is a sentiment that a lot of artists can relate to. Sometimes the limitations brought on by not having access to all of the materials and equipment that's available forces us to dig deep.