Friday, July 21, 2017

The luxury of the loaded brush

This week was a bit slower in the studio but work got done nonetheless. I have to be somewhat reasonable in my expectations of myself, I know I can only maintain the fervor that comes at the start of a new series for so long. The important thing is to maintain and accept the new pace after the initial rush. I didn't take that big overall look over of the series that I had meant to at the start of the week. I just kept moving forward, leaving several paintings behind to rest. I did start a large 80x80cm./36x36in. canvas this week and really enjoyed the size. It's a luxury to paint work of any real size because of course, it's a luxury to have enough paint to cover the larger canvas. I have some new paints as well and it feels so good- oh, the luxury of the loaded brush!

I think I worked on two or three pieces this week as well as finishing off one of the Accidental Portraits so I could send it off to its new home. Any week I make it to the post office is a real victory. I also created my Tuesday video as well and if you missed you can catch it here.

Besides painting, my week was punctuated with several wonderful cultural opportunities. I spent some time Monday and Tuesday of this week with poet Terry Blackhawk who was visiting Edinburgh. Terry's work is featured in the current Interim: Journal of Poetry and Poetics, the same journal of which my painting graces the cover! It was a wonderful reminder of how the arts connect us and make our communities richer. Terry and I took in the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland. I am a Caravaggio fan and we were both excited to see the exhibition. I think I have only ever seen one of his paintings in the flesh, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness at The Nelson - Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. I think the National Gallery should really call this current exhibition Beyond, Beyond, Caravaggio as there are only 4 of his works surrounded by other works by his school, contemporaries, or thieving admirers. The La Tour was a good inclusion but I am also a fan of his. I am not saying that the other works, notably the Gentisleshi works are anything to sneeze at but when you come for Caravaggio you want Caravaggio. However, the four works in the exhibition delivered. So, I have now seen 5 Caravaggios and I am all the better for it. To see The Taking of Christ in person is stunning.

Now to another artist I admire, I happened to make an emphatic comment on the Facebook page of artist David Mankin and was delightfully invited to the private view of the Night Tide exhibition at Arusha gallery on Dundas street in Edinburgh. I made sure to make it and was richly rewarded by David's strong and turbulent work, Ground swell running. The painting was a show stopper and it was lovely to meet the artist in person.

David Mankin with his painting in the studio. Photo from his Facebook page. 

The sun was out, I met a poet, I met an artist, I saw two brilliant exhibitions and continued to work on the Resilience Series. That my friends is a good week! So until next week, keep fighting, keep making, keep dreaming and know that the world needs you and your work, and I bet you need your work too. I know I do.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A perfect nest

I am sitting in the back of the flat, listening to music on my headphones as I type. The sun is shining through the green leaves of the tree in the back garden. The wind makes the leaves dance and the sky is blue with a thin layer of cloud. My Resilience Series continues as I work the best way I know how. If you missed last week's blog post about this new series, click here.

These are the pieces I worked on this week. Some are finished and some are almost complete. They will rest over the weekend and then on Monday I will greet them with new eyes. These are just mobile phone shots and aren't the best but they give you an idea. These are all 16x16" or 40x40cm.

Here are some studio shots as the series takes shape and to capture the hum of energy as my space fills with the new work.

I hope you are making your own perfect nest of paintings and papers. I hope you can take the time to watch the tree tops sway in the breeze. I hope you can feel the excitement of an energetic mark and the beginning of something new and unknown. Keep fighting, the world needs you and your work. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

A series about resilience

I am showing up again, doing the real work for myself. Everything I do is the real work of course but sometimes it is in the way some work comes about that feels better and more concentrated than others. I am in that place again, feeling more focused and working exactly the way I need to.

I have firmed up my work schedule. I am also remembering and making myself be okay with how I lay the foundation for pieces in a series. See, I know that I have to show up every day or at least a string of days in consecutive order to make the best work. I also know that I have to work on several canvases at once and work the paintings at the start a bit like an assembly line. I also know in my heart I don't like that word or action, it makes it seem rote or mechanical so I resist it. I know that I need to put down a lot of garbage to tease out the good stuff but who enjoys painting like garbage? Not I. However, if I don't allow myself this assembly line garbage process or if I don't have enough paint or canvases to work in this manner then I will never get to the weeding and true gardening part of the painting process that I love.

At first, it is simply showing up and putting in the time. If I don't show up, how is my best art going to find its way to me? It won't and then I will be disappointed and then I will show up even less and it's a vicious circle. The next step is the ability to make marks and paint without censorship and judgment, laying it all out there, experimenting and manifesting the pure energy required to transfer something of myself out into the world through the brush and onto the canvas. Then comes the looking, editing or loosening what is too tight. My paintings have been too tight off and on for years. You might not think this, but I know. If you talk to any massage therapist that has ever worked on me, you would also know I hold myself tightly. I have been protecting myself from this world for decades. So my goal as I get older is to trust myself and the world and fall into it all and take you with me in my work. Things are getting looser, especially in this series.

Of course, I didn't mention my palette. Color has always been extremely important to me. Even though the bulk of this series seems to be covered over with a neutral grey, there are ochres, greens, blues, pinks, Payne's grey and charcoals dancing or wrestling together. The colors are flickering, sputtering, jumping, and clawing their way up out of the grey. There is a faded beauty, something beneath the surface dripping and aching yet energetic, always making its way through the grey. Sometimes the grey is well known and comforting in its nothingness. This is a series about resilience.

In other news, I am honored to have my painting, A Change in the Frequency, featured on the cover of the brilliant Interim, Poetry & Poetics Journal. From their website, "Interim was founded by poet Wilber Stevens in 1944. In his tenure as editor, he published such luminaries as William Carlos Williams, Henry Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner." Please visit the journal here and be sure to give their Facebook page a like as well.

Besides reading my news here, be sure to tune in every Tuesday for my weekly video studio visit. I publish them on my facebook art page but you don't have to be on Facebook to enjoy them. Just click here.

That's all I have for you this week, I hope you are well and happy. Thank you for being here. Please keep fighting, the world needs you and your art!

Friday, June 30, 2017

I follow the new

This week, I continued to be pulled along by the new series that seems to be materializing. Having many canvases on the go in the studio always seems to work well for me and because of this, the series seems to be growing rapidly.

This week there was an addition to the series' palette, the beautiful and seductive Payne's grey joined us. I was richly rewarded by allowing the color into the mix. I was trained to avoid using black paint when another color will do and I have broken the rule often by using charcoal or charcoal powder mixed with walnut oil in previous paintings. This time I used a tube of Payne's grey and fell in love. The color is so rich, like the perfect shade of punk rock blue-black hair dye and with the texture of crude oil. I was hard pressed not to cover the whole canvas in this color and call it a day. I fear I will have to hide this paint, the way it holds a brush stroke is divine. Everyone talks this way about a tube of paint, right?

In other news, I wrapped up the Rothko module in the MOMA course (a few days behind). It felt good to get caught up and take the quiz. I wasn't as inspired by this module as I was of the others strangely. I am looking forward to lovingly cramming all of Agnes Martin into this weekend. I am so glad I came across the course, I am not sure if this body of work would have materialized if I hadn't. It's just so good to see work of well-loved painters in a different way and to read their words and thoughts and to learn their techniques. To feel connected and supported by the painters that came before is such a comfort and joy. Because of courses like this, I know that there are people on the planet that see color the way I do, as well as people that fall in love with tubes of paint.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

I am the work

Last week, I said I was getting serious this week. I did not tell a lie. I was back in the studio inspired with purpose and somehow a new series emerged.

I think what really inspired me to get back to more serious and focused work was an essay I read as part of the Pollock module of the MOMA course. Harold Rosenberg's, "The American Action Painters" from Tradition of the New, originally in Art News in December of 1952 set me on fire! I read this article out loud to myself and was so excited by what I read, I was cheering and clapping! What a joy to discover a language that ignites, reinforces, as well as challenges, my own beliefs about modern abstract art. I ordered Rosenberg's essays the following day. It was wonderful to feel embraced by and connected to this period of art and time not only by the paintings but also by the critical thinking surrounding the work.

It reinforced again, that I know what I am doing (yes, after 20 plus years I still (at times) have my doubts) and that I am to remain on the path in order to simply further the "creation of private myths" and "...just to paint. The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation, from Value—political, esthetic, moral." Doesn't that sound, great? Where do I sign up? Every day in my studio, that's where!

To paint is true liberation and that is why I have stuck with it. I feel my most free when I paint and I feel most like myself. Painting is the way I share my secrets and my truth, it's the way I see the world and it's where I create my own. The work is me and I am the work.

As I wrap up this post, I will leave you with this final Rosenberg quote. "The lone artist did not want the world to be different, he wanted his canvas to be a world. Liberation from the object meant liberation from the "nature", society and art already there. It was a movement to leave behind the self that wished to choose his future and to nullify its promissory notes to the past."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Soon to get serious (again)

Tidy Studio
I spent this week in the studio cleaning it up and organizing my materials. It always feels good to touch all my tools and get everything back in order before I begin a new project.

I also got caught up with last week's blog post and filmed my usual Tuesday Studio Video Visit for my facebook page. I dipped my toes in the Jackson Pollock module in the MOMA course.

Besides these art related things, I did manage to prepare and start working on an art book. Something I have not done since 1999. For those of you relatively new to my blog, here are a few images from my old books series from 1999.

I have always loved the texture of working on paper. The idea of working in a space that is to be closed up, contained and then opened to experience the art within appeals to me. I went into detail about this in my Tuesday art video, so check it out from the link above if you haven't already.

The book I started this week has a good sturdy front cover. The yellowy pages and small vintage type appealed to me and it seemed like the perfect choice for an art book. It's early days yet, so we will see how the piece (or pieces) progress within the book. Here are a couple of photos of the beginning of the process.

I have set Monday as the day where I will get serious again. I need to regroup over the weekend, order some larger canvas and start painting like there is no tomorrow. Thanks as always for checking in and being part of the process.

Until next week, just know that the world needs you and your art. Perhaps now, more than ever. Keep fighting.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Politics, paint, and hope.

I stayed up all night on Thursday watching the GE 2017 election results come in. I went to sleep at 6:30 Friday morning not sure what I had just witnessed and knew my day and possibly the days ahead would be a bit off kilter. Hence the delay in this blog post.

One thing I do know is that it is wonderful to see the youth being active, politically engaged, and voting. More of that, please! It's your world you are creating. Keep fighting for it!

Back to art, this week, armed with some new materials in the form of Pebeo brand acrylics I purchased on sale (they really are pretty nice) and some different mediums (inspired by the MOMA course), I set to work on 5 small works on canvas. Mostly just experimental and probably to be reworked again. I also started accidental portrait #7. She is staring at me from the wall as I type and though she has no eyes (yet), she has quite a gaze.

I got word while I was watching the GE2017 results that accidental portrait #6 was desired by the patrons who put me on the planet (my parents) so that will make the third portrait headed to the States. I am grateful for the support! Thank you!

I have been exploring other means for supporters of my work to become patrons but that is another conversation for another day. I will keep you posted. In other news, I am having a studio sale of some small original paintings in my Etsy shop.

That's all I have for you this week. Thanks for tuning in. Don't let the bastards get you down and keep fighting!

Friday, June 2, 2017

A place to belong

Accidental Portrait #6
This week I painted another accidental portrait and completed an abstract diptych that I am quite pleased with.

Diptych in the studio courtyard

I started week two of the MOMA course, with the focus being on the work of Barnett Newman. I thoroughly enjoyed being reminded of his work and his methodology. The course, in general, has reminded me how much I love learning about art and artists and how much more there is to learn and explore. It does take me back to my time at the University of Oregon and how the individual professor's interests and passions influenced what we were taught and who we studied. I still feel incredibly fortunate to have had that opportunity and to have studied with the particular professors that I did. For a split second today I even thought about pursuing a Masters but then I thought better of it.

Truthfully, I haven't been spending enough time in the studio, my energies have been a bit scattered but I plan to rectify that this month. I am grateful for having art in my life and having a place among all the painters before and after me. For me, art is a calling, an identity and a place to belong. I hope you have something like that in your life.

Until next week, you know what to do.

Friday, May 26, 2017

All the time it took to remember

All the time it took to remember
Acrylic on canvas
2016 Megan Chapman
This week has been full of sun and warmth and delightfully so! I spent some time in the studio this week sketching out the start of a new accidental portrait as well as laying the grounds on a few canvases, big and small. I also rediscovered some small canvas works that I have now decided are done and will be documenting them soon.

I have started the MOMA course and completed week one just before I sat down to write this blog post. I like the course so far and have enjoyed the refresher on canvas and paint basics as well as some of the back story surrounding the New York School and the critics involved in helping make that time as it became known. The readings are quite thorough and took me back to my university days. Looking forward to starting week two and the Barnett Newman module. If you are taking the course, I hope you are enjoying it as well. I hope to discuss more of the course in my Tuesday Studio Visit Videos as well as on here, once it gets a bit deeper into the meat of the subject. Again for a free course, it seems to offer a lot of good information and is a real treasure for those on a budget that need some structure or inspiration.

In other news, I had another sale! This time from The Colour Purple exhibition at Union Gallery last month. I was delighted to learn this news! This weekend I plan to visit an art supply store and get some new materials, the MOMA course already has me thinking about new ideas for my studio practice. 

Besides the art world, I've been cleaning the park, the street, and practicing my ukulele everyday since I brought it home. I have also been meditating and practicing yoga as well. To balance all this out I also made my first ever pitcher of Sangria. Tasty. 

Again, few words for you this week, but I am glad I posted on time! Love and light to you and yours. Keep fighting.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The storm in my head and other people's art

This past week was all about migraines. Every day for six days. I decided it was a type of shamanic journey I just needed to take. So I listened to the storm in my brain until I came out the other side.

I remembered the value of yoga and meditation and returned to them again. I remembered the value of making space within. Thanks to a dear friend I was reminded to no longer water the rocks in my life. So I watered (and visited) a friend and sat in the glorious sun of her incredible garden. All of these things, plus an appointment with a doctor made me feel a whole lot better. Also, I now own a Ukulele and that has to be good!

This week, I also enjoyed seeing a friend, Ever Dundas realize a dream and speak about her debut novel, Goblin like an old pro in the beautiful setting of the grand old Edinburgh Central Library. These things were good for my soul. Celebrating other people's hard work, seeing their efforts pay off, to be a witness as they put their art into the world is a joy.

The storm in my head is now quiet and for the moment so is my studio, but I have a feeling the winds of change will be blowing in soon.

Thanks for checking in and being part of this experience. Until next week, keep fighting, the world needs you and your art.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Litter, Resistance, and more Accidental Portraits

I seem to be a person of few words right now. I love my blog and the practice of writing it, but I have been a bit sad lately as well as under the weather. I currently also have this obsession with the litter problem in my neighborhood and that is cutting into my art brain. I need to be mindful that my community litter picking doesn't become a form of studio resistance.

Speaking of resistance have you all read, The War of Art? I am sure I have mentioned it in the earlier days of my blog but I would highly recommend the book if you struggle with any forms of resistance. I need to read it again.

I did manage to paint two more accidental portraits so it can't be all that bad. If I am honest, after coming out of the gate so strong at the start of the year with 180 pieces of the distillation process, everything feels a bit of a let down. It's all temporary and I will return to my art heart and brain. I can balance my community involvement with my calling, I am sure of it.

I am still creating Tuesday Studio Visit Videos over on my facebook page, so go have a look if you have missed any. I am also looking forward to starting the MOMA course on Abstract Art.

All will be well. There has to be time to pause and reflect to keep the fire burning.

Here are the latest Accidental Portraits. 

Until next week, keep fighting!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Recent Sales!

I am delighted to report several recent sales (from several different bodies) of my work!

Two of the Accidental Portraits have now found homes, both in the states. One of the pieces from my Reconstruction series shown in the Fenix & Friends exhibition in the Walker-Stone House in Fayetteville, Arkansas sold as well! Even though I now live in Scotland, it makes my heart happy to know my work is still loved and appreciated in the states.

This year has been very quiet so far and these three sales were a soothing balm for my artist's soul. As well as these originals, a several of my small prints have sold recently from my Etsy shop as well, with two also going to the states, and two staying here in Scotland.

It is very encouraging and helps me to continue on the path, so for all that support me with your hard earned dollars and pounds, I thank you and am grateful for your continued support.

Accidental Portrait #3

Accidental Portrait #2

On the brink

Friday, April 21, 2017

Remembering William Mayes Flanagan

My dear friend Bill was a gift to the world. I will miss talking shit with you, drinking with you, talking about art and the community with you. No one worked harder to make things happen. No one had more passion for art, social justice, and for living life to the fullest. Loyal, funny as hell, a talented painter (no one paints moons like you, Bill), a great storyteller, and so extremely kind. I am a better person for knowing you and I will never forget you. I bought you a wee half pint at that pub we all had fun in and left it on the table for you and there's a glass (a french jam jar) of red wine for you on our mantel. You and Barbara (your beloved) are part of my chosen family. Thank you for all the kindness and love. You were like a father, a delightfully irreverent uncle, and a much older brother all wrapped up in a revolutionary package. I love you, Bill. I love you, Barbara.

William Mayes Flanagan hung my 8 pieces at the Fenix & Friends exhibition at the Walker-Stone house at the beginning of the month. He is the reason that I offered my work for the exhibition. I am honored that he touched every single one of those paintings of mine and he will always have a special place in my mind and heart. One of the greatest gifts the Fayetteville Underground gave me was getting to know and love William Mayes Flanagan. I made a short video tribute to my dear friend that you can see on my facebook art page, here.

Please take a minute to look at Flanagan's work and read his statement on his website. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

A strange phenomenon

My work at Union Gallery

The opening of "The Colour Purple" exhibition last Saturday at Union Gallery in Edinburgh was a lovely way to spend an evening. The space looked wonderful as the light streamed in through the windows illuminating the art while friendly chat was enjoyed.

I am so pleased to have these seven paintings on the main floor as part of this exhibition. It is always wonderful to see the work out of the studio and on a gallery wall. For me, it is always like seeing the work for the first time. It is a strange sensation to know the paintings intimately and to have spent such time with them and then to see them in an entirely new light. They become something else once they are in the gallery or on a patron's wall. It's a delightfully strange phenomenon that I will never get used to.

My work at the Walker-Stone House.
Photo credit: Mayor Lioneld Jordan

Also, last Saturday and at the exact time, but 4,000 miles away in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Fenix and Friends exhibition was opening its doors at the Walker-Stone house. I was able to see photos of the exhibition from friends and on the city's promotional social media pages. What a wonderful light filled space, the exhibition looks grand, a perfect place for my Reconstruction series. I wish I could have been in both places as once, but at least my art was.

In other news, I decided to introduce a new weekly feature over on my facebook art page. I created a quick check in video chat from my studio. For me, the point of this is to have more immediate interaction with my peers and patrons. Nothing slick or filtered just a quick hello and sharing of my studio space and what I am working on, inspired by and thinking about, in hopes of creating a deeper connection with folks. I need the private dreamy time of creation but I also need the community aspect of conversing about the alchemy of art making. I don't want to be just words and still images on a glowing screen but instead, someone that viewers can get to know. If you haven't seen my studio video chat already, you can view it here.

The Art Scotland interview is getting promoted here and there on social media and I love how they are teasing out the quotes from the piece.

In the meantime, I am still promoting my Distillation Prints from my Etsy shop all the while unexpected abstracted portraits have been popping up in the studio lately when I work. I think they are mostly to entertain myself and for me to just keep moving in between series.

Thanks to a recommendation from one of my friends on facebook art page, I watched a brilliant Joan Mitchell documentary this week. I highly recommend it. Here's a quick phone grab of one my favorite scenes from the film.


It's been a good week of being present in the art world of my making. I hope you are well, wherever you are. The world needs you and your art.