Friday, July 19, 2019

I can see clearly (better late than never)

book work in progress

Pardon my tardiness, only my true readers will pay attention or notice that this is being written on a Monday and backdated for Friday. I just don't have much to say. I feel quite stagnate, hollow, and not very inspired at the moment. I have my work in two shows in Edinburgh right now and that's great. I also will have work in the Artists’ Book Market, to be held at the Dalriada on the 7th and 8th of September in Portobello, Edinburgh. 

However, that's not the same as being swept away into a new body of work and expressing myself. Right now, I am unable to express myself and that feels awful. It feels a bit like my mouth is sewn shut, my hands are empty of the knowledge required, and my mind is blank. I took a break from my daily yoga and meditation routine and I ate a bunch of junk food and watched too much tv. I thought I could get away with that (the old ways of coping) for a few weeks or a month, but I don't think I can, at least not right now. I also don't think I want to. My body is aflame and I feel stiff and weak. I have betrayed myself and of course, this affects my art and my mood. 

Betrayed is probably a strong word, but remember I am an artist and I like words and sometimes when you feel this stuck you need to be dramatic and express something, anything - no matter how poorly just to get moving again.

This year is flying by and I feel like it's getting away from me, maybe that's all part of the plan. I am not sure what I have created and if it has been "enough." This goes back to my counting up the evidence ethos (which I have slowly been trying to move away from) but this method of validation can still work if your brain works like mine. Perhaps, I will just do that here, gather the evidence and prove some things to myself in this public forum (shout out to the few of you publics that still read this). 

2019 Paintings: 

I painted the 10 Bikes for Refugee paintings on paper and they all sold, raising £550 for the charity and helping to put 10 bikes on the road for our New Scots. That is something to feel good about. Creative, productive, and helpful, I fulfilled my goal. I am grateful to the patrons who purchased those works, I hope you feel good about what you helped accomplish through your support of my art. 

I painted 6 other small works on canvas, 20x20cm and had them framed. They are all currently at the Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello. 

I completed a large commission in February for Paper + White that consisted of 4 new paintings.  I recently was able to share and enjoy the photos of the completed project, a gorgeous Kensington flat in London. This was a big moment.

I started a new series of large works, "The Dark Series" (working title) currently consisting of 5 pieces with three more in progress. I was excited about this series and others seemed to be as well, I am not sure why I am not ready to go back into it yet. 

I started the scroll series and enjoyed documenting it on the stairs at the studio. 

I have worked on a number of small paper, canvas, and cardboard pieces and of course many studies. 

So I think I have created about 26 "proper" paintings on paper and canvas and have 3 in progress and many small works on the go still, as well as book works in various states of progress. 

Megan, is painting 26 proper paintings with 30 plus more in various states of progress enough for the first 7 months out of the year? Only I can answer that. Are you a machine? No. Do you want to live like a machine? No. Are you being hard on yourself? Yes. I appear to average about 8 paintings a month - some are scribbles, sketches, some will be painted over, some will morph, some are on top of older work I started last year, does this matter? No. Will you paint more paintings before January 2020? Of course.

2019 Exhibitions/Television/Open Studios/Online Studio Sales/Union Membership/Mentoring

I have had my work in 1 solo exhibition since the start of the year.
To Tell You Everything, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Alleyway Gallery, Edinburgh
I created an opportunity to show a small 6-piece body of work in an outdoor pop-up space. 

I have had my work in 4 group exhibitions since the start of the year.
The 25th Anniversary Exhibition, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh
The Stars Go Waltzing, The Velvet Easel Gallery, Portobello, Edinburgh
Spring Exhibition, The Dancing Light Gallery, West Linton, Edinburgh
Off the Wall, The Velvet Easel Gallery, Portobello, Edinburgh 

My work made its international television debut on HBO's True Detective. This too was a big moment.

I submitted and had my work accepted in the previously mentioned and upcoming Artists’ Book Market. I celebrated and will continue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my book series (I am gathering raw materials right now to continue the books).

I have opened my studio to the public 3 times so far this year, with the February and May, Makers Marque and then again in June during the Summer Arts Market.

I have stayed true to my ethos of "art for all" by continuing to create and sell value-priced small works and promoting them online through my online studio sale via social media. I also became quite transparent about the prices on my gallery sized works - by putting the prices on my website as well as creating a payment plan option for patrons. 

I am delighted to have just recently sold a good-sized painting to new patrons back in my home state of Arkansas. I also sold a small work through the Fenix Gallery back home in Arkansas at the start of the year. Two of my paintings have sold through The Velvet Easel Gallery this year and I have sold numerous paintings through my studio and of course through Paper+White commissions. Thank you to all my patrons who purchase my work- you keep me going!
I joined the Scottish Artists Union and attended two events so far this year, one to help shape the Fair Works Contract for artists (this was a paid group consultation of union members) and attended a presentation on basic income. 

I created a new art mentoring website and formally mentored two artists so far this year and perhaps some others on an informal basis. I can't help myself... 

2019 Art Documentaries/Exhibitions/Refilling the Well/Routine:

I have taken in a number of good and varied exhibitions in Edinburgh so far this year. I have also viewed a number of art documentaries that I found inspiring. All part of the process to refill the well, to keep learning, and exploring this wonderful world of art.

I have continued with my Friday Studio Blog (sometimes late) and my Tuesday Studio Video Visits, always with the hope to create a community around art, to share knowledge, skills, fears, doubts, successes, and inspiration. I appreciate all who read and view my offerings - you keep me accountable. 

So, is the year really getting away from me? Am I truly not painting enough? What more do I want? What more do I need? How do I want it to feel? What can I change? What can I accept? What can I let go of? What can I invite in? How can I make my studio space an inviting and exciting place to spend time even when I am stuck? 

Here's another thing through all of this. I have made time for family and friends, and my communities. I have made time for walks, flowers, photography, the beach, the patio, and the plants. I have done more yoga and meditation and ate healthy foods more often than I haven't. I have seen and experienced new things, discovered new books, films, music, and art. I have challenged myself and I have stretched outside my comfort zone. I have taken breaks but I haven't given up. And this is why sometimes, it's still good to gather the evidence. It's hard to see it all, it's hard to feel it all, it's hard to give credit where credit is due. It's much easier to betray (that word again) ourselves with our fears and dark thoughts. 

When I write and read all of this it sounds like I am doing pretty well professionally. I can understand being uncomfortable if I am not painting as much or in the way, I want to be, but I also understand I am basically doing just fine and the best I can. I will return to the dark series, I will make more book works for the market in September. Another commission will come along. I will feel inspired again. I will keep fighting. Thank you for reading and for fighting along with me. 

See my work in Edinburgh: 
Out of the Blue is 25 Exhibition, Thursday 18th - Thursday 25th July. The exhibition will be open daily from 10am -5pm. On through this Thursday."An exhibition of our studio artists’ work to celebrate 25 years of Studio provision in Edinburgh by Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust.

Velvet Easel Gallery.
The Stars go Waltzing will run from Saturday 6th July to Sunday the 27th October and the gallery opening hours are: Thursday - Saturday 10 - 5, Sunday 12 -5

Visit my website to see my available large works.

Visit my art page on Facebook to see my small works

Like what I do and want to buy me a coffee? Thanks!


  1. Megan, I do sympathise, I get that feeling at least once a year and it's usually as a result of burnout. From the phenomenal amount of art business and painting, exhibiting etc you've done this year (and we're only just over halfway through), I'd say you've had a pretty damn good year but are also experiencing burnout. But of course, it's horrible and we need to emerge from it asap - my own solution tends to be to get away if I can, a fresh place/perspective even if only for a few days sketching (after experiencing the same kind of hopelessness, confusion and depression about my art, after a very productive few months of painting and exhibiting, I'm off to Dungeness in August on my own to just refresh my spirit and get some new visual input). It might work for you too, but if not something else will. You're doing fantastic, give yourself a pat on the back and have some kind of break or change of scene or activity. Hope it helps. Thanks for the great blog and your inspiring work!

    1. Thank you Mari for reading this and for your kind comment. I know it is part of the process. I always feel like I could be or should be doing more and I know I need to celebrate what I have done and give myself some slack. As you know, it's easier said than done. I am so glad you are going away for August, sounds perfect. Thank you again for your time, your thought and of course your beautiful art. xx

  2. Yup - what Mari said - take the summer off - cultivate curiousity!
    I'm hamstrung with illness at the mo - so very frustrating - but an audit like yours (tho not as busy!), reminds me I'm still moving forwards. For that I am grateful. You take care x

    1. Thank you, Elaine. I really appreciate your comments. I am sorry to hear you are unwell, I hope you get better soon and return to work when you are able. These setbacks are difficult but you are right you are still moving forwards and so am I. I am grateful too. Thank you. You take care too. xx