Friday, December 26, 2008

"You're more than what some people let you know..."

I hope all my readers had a wonderful holiday yesterday with friends and family. Perhaps you had a few minutes to yourself to just be still with a good song, a dream, a book, anything that makes you happy and that you were all safe and warm.

Time marches on, and this year seemed to go at warp speed. I know we still have some time and I am jumping the gun a bit. I just feel the need to see where I have been before I move into the next year. This may make for boring reading for you, but I hope it will encourage you to really think about all the things you have done with your art/life this past year. I don't care if you are only a part time or sporadic artist, or a seasoned professional. Last year in my post Bravery and the Art of being an Artist , I challenged my readers to set some goals and really go for it in 2008. I know that many of you have really been working hard this year and you deserve to give yourself credit for all your efforts. Sometimes it is easy to disregard your accomplishments unless you write them down. Feel free to post them in the comments or keep them to yourself. I try to keep up with many of you, and I must say how impressed and inspired I have been with your amazing paintings, your promotions, and your shows over this past year.

My 2008...

We will start with some of the negatives...

I dealt with a major rejection last January after my work had been sought out and was considered for reproduction by one of my favorite stores, an international company based in Sweden(you know the one). Going through that long process was a thrill and filled me with hope, confidence, and excitement but also drained me. It looked like it was a "go" right until the end and then it just wasn't. I posted about it vaguely in my blog and said I was going to give myself half a day and some soy ice cream to be really miserable and then just get over it. Ha! If you noticed less "rah rah- you can do it", and more "what is this all about?" in my blog posts this year, I suspect this had something to do with it. It took more than a half day to get over it to say the least. All in all, it was an honor to be considered and I did learn a lot about the process and also how I feel about the business of reproductions.

Last year, I said I was going to enter a particular juried publication, even though I always get rejected, well I entered and I got rejected again! I will probably enter it again this year as well; sometimes we just have to do these things.

Also, two of the galleries that represented my work unfortunately closed this year due to the economy among other things. I was sad that they closed, but like they say "one door closes, another one opens." Thanks for the memories, Gallery Fraga and Remy Fine Art. It was a pleasure to work with you both.

Alright, enough of that.. lets get to the fun stuff.

I didn't get in the one publication but I did get in another. Studio Visit accepted my work, and the reproductions of two of my paintings in that journal were stunning. I was very pleased to be a part of the first issue of that publication. I also received a very nice letter from a stranger who had come across my work in Studio Visit and they shared how my work had moved them and that meant a lot to me. Also because of the Studio Visit publication, I was approached by a company that specializes in reproductions for the hotel and hospitality industry, and was offered a contract to have my work reproduced. This was again a thrill to be sought out, but in the end the contract didn't meet my needs and I passed on the opportunity. I learned a tremendous amount about the reproduction/art licensing industry in 2008, and I am grateful for that knowledge and I hope I will be able to use it in the future. I am now getting pretty good at processing these types of contracts from these experiences. I am also getting pretty good at listening to my gut and making sure I don't jump on every "opportunity" that comes my way.

Another of my goals for 2008 was to submit my work to at least two new galleries for consideration, and I am pleased to report I did fulfill this goal. I submitted my work to two galleries in Atlanta, Georgia, one gallery in Kansas City, Missouri and one gallery in Portland, Oregon.We will see what happens. At the present time, none of these galleries showed me much, if any interest, and I did get one firm rejection but I am putting myself out there and that is part of the game, you can't win them all. One day soon, there will be an opening for my work in these larger markets.

Another positive in 2008 was my newly revamped website, created and updated by myself using iweb on my imac. I am so happy to have a website that is easily updated, that I can managed quickly and easily by myself. I am very proud of myself for taking care of this part of my business.

I had a successful exhibition at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs in June and July, Evidence of the Disappearance. This show taught me so much about myself, my art, and my need to share the experience with other creative people. I felt that I had been working in a vacuum before this exhibition and it was such a wonderful experience to bounce ideas off fellow artists and receive invaluable feedback and inspiration. I picked up a lot of blog readers during this process as I promoted my work in progress through as many online outlets as possible. I blogged and MySpaced about it, I made youtube videos, I vlogged, pod casted, created an exhibition catalog with, and a beautiful postcard. I explored all means available to me in promoting this show. I was very proud of the paintings that were created, and my use of technology to promote and share these paintings. I will always look back on Evidence of the Disappearance as a success and an important time in my life.

I also tried to diversify and offer other services as the economy took a down turn. I offered portfolio reviews for the first time ever, and really enjoyed the opportunity to look through other artist's work and give them feedback or answer their specific questions at an affordable rate. I am still available for this service.For a $25 suggested donation through my paypal button on my blog, I will look at up to 20 images of your work and give you detailed written feedback, note themes or problems or answer your specific questions regarding your work. Artists who have used this service in the past have found it helpful. Contact me for more details.

I also started my own shop at called ArtMaven this past September. I have been thrilled with the response to my Etsy shop, and happy to be able to offer people my affordable, one of a kind original small works on paper.I have sold fifty five small works to people all over the country and world since opening my shop. Every time a small piece sells for $25 or $40 it is a thrill and keeps me excited and hopeful while waiting for my larger paintings in the galleries to sell. The galleries that represent my work sold quite a few larger paintings this year as well, and I enjoyed working on several commissions through the galleries as well.

And now as 2008 wraps up I am busy finishing up my next exhibition, Fire and Noise which will open Friday Feburary 13th at the River Market ArtSpace in Little Rock Arkansas. I look forward to seeing this body of work to completion and sharing these works with you all as well as the public that will come to see them.

These are just some of the highlights of 2008, a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of learning, a lot of communicating and making connections, a lot of wonderful and new friendships forged. A lot of 3am wake up calls and many many many paintings of iron oxide, blue, textured atmosphere, lines and shapes. Many great songs played full blast over my headphones while jumping up and down in front of my easel. I want more of all of that in 2009.

I have many more coals in the fire as well, I am currently looking at getting a studio space outside my home and talking to an out of state gallery about a possible show in the Spring. I have some goals planned for the new year as well. I want to take more risks with my work. I want follow up with the galleries I submitted to earlier this year as well as submitting to more galleries this next year. I want to travel more and get out to see more great art in museums and galleries. I also want to keep painting small works and restocking my etsy shop regularly. I want to enter more juried exhibitions like I used to do before I was represented by galleries. These are just a few ideas...

How was your 2008 and what do you have planned for 2009 ?

I wish you the freedom to know your talents and strengths and to be more kind to yourself this year than you were last year. We are all going to get rejected, have slow months, question our work, question ourselves, but just know we are in this together. In the new year when you are painting and it is clicking, when you suddenly feel free and like everything is possible; hold on to that moment. They come and go so fast but those moments are why we do this work. Those flashes keep calling us back to this madness, this amazing life as an artist.

May 2009 be filled with these flashes for us all...

At a loss for words (I wanna be adored)
Mixed media on Canvas
copyright 2008
Megan Chapman
Fire and Noise series

Friday, December 19, 2008

Inspirations: There is no end to this...

I was working on a 2008 wrap up post, but I got completely overwhelmed. So I decided to put that on the back burner for now. Sometimes people just want to know what inspires me and I have written several blogs about my inspirations in the past but it has been a while. So here goes... Enjoy...

My number one inspiration over everything is music. If you ask me what inspires my paintings, I am not going to give you another painter's name but the name of a band or a song. If you want to know what bands inspire me, just take a listen to my play list. I have music on all the time from the moment I wake up until I sleep, and sometimes I even sleep to it (mostly in the summer.) Music helps me day dream, tells me stories and makes my life much more exciting and beautiful.Music is my constant companion and friend.

Another major inspiration are the films I watch. I love all types of films but I really love the films of Wong Kar-wai. Such as Chunking Express, In the mood for love, and 2046. If you are not familiar with his films, I highly recommend them. Many of you know that I am also a huge fan of Hal Hartley. Favorites include, Surviving Desire, Henry Fool, and Book of Life. Here is a scene from Book of Life

Next, the books I read. I have been a sporadic reader in the past, but have read considerably more this past year. I have always been a huge fan of Armistead Maupin and have read everything of his. But I found myself in reading lull, I just couldn't find what I was looking for until about a year ago. It turns out I just didn't know where to look. Thanks to a good friend, now I do. The works of Huruki Murakami stir my mind up in the best way. Favorites include, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark, South of the Border West of the Sun, and Sputnik Sweet Heart. After the quake, is a good collection of his short stories to get you started. I also throughly enjoy the books of Douglas Coupland, my favorites so far of his being, The Gum Thief, Girlfriend in a Coma, and Hey Nostradamus. I am also inspired by the blogs that I read, please check my blog roll on the right, and explore some of those that I frequent, you won't be disappointed.

Now to art, you would expect that I am inspired by art and of course I am. Some of these people I admire for their art, others for their business sense or lust for life. Some favorites include:
Basquiat, Hirst, Warhol, Modigliani, Schiele, Rothko, Bacon, Munch, the list could go on and on. Photographers Mann, Woodman and I truly love the works of Robert Polidori in his book Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl. These photographs are haunting, the colors are lovely and it is amazing to see these places returning to the earth after being abandoned due to the Chernobyl disaster. I highly recommended this book. I found it in my local library, perhaps it is in yours?

I am also inspired by the art that my friends and family produce. Artists in general inspire me, to be an artist is a labor of love and it takes courage. I admire all the artists that are quietly going for it or beating down doors to be seen and heard.

I hope I have turned you on to some new inspirations or that you have gotten to know me just a little bit better. I thank you for reading my blog and sharing some of your precious time with me. It means a lot to me and you all inspire me as well.

If this wasn't enough of my inspirations and you are new to this blog, there are several previous posts you might want to check out.

Inspiration Grab Bag
Six Amazing artists you should know
Rainy Day? Say goodbye to boredom with Fun
What my mind needs

Monkey Wrench

The printing press had issues this morning, but maintenance is looking at it and we should be back to full production shortly. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An end has a start.

These past three days were unusual for me. I gratefully had a job, and I was being paid an hourly wage. I was working for my good friend Dede Peters at the wonderful ddp gallery. It was a great experience in many ways and taught me a lot about myself. Interesting how getting out of my little home studio enclave can do that. Learning abounds outside. Anyway, lets just say I got a healthy dose of perspective and I hope I can hang on to it for a good long while. It may be more valuable than my wages earned this week.

First of all, sometimes I doubt myself. We all doubt ourselves, I know. But when people believe in us and trust us, it is such an honor. I had responsibility to more than just myself the past three days and I handled it and that makes me think I can handle a lot more than I give myself credit for. I know I sound like some shut-in or something, but I haven't been working "outside" for quite awhile and I wasn't sure if I still could. Anyway, I managed pretty well I think. It was a fun challenge and I took pride in my work and the hours I spent in the gallery. I used to think I had a character flaw when it came to work. I thought I was actually flawed somehow because I didn't work in the same way as everyone else. I have worked numerous odd jobs, even some hard labor, etc. you can check one of my early blogs for the list. I am a hard worker when I am out there. I don't want to waste any one's time, but at the same time I never feel at home in a job for long. I thought it was because I was simply lazy, like I said, a flaw, but now I know it is just a character trait, something within me. I like to live my life in an unpredictable manner, apparently as an artist and this scares me but it also comforts me.

Working these 3 days showed me how lucky I am to do what I do to pay my bills. I do admit sometimes I feel like a caged animal working alone in my studio, while the rest of world takes coffee breaks with co-workers.However, I felt like a caged animal behind the gallery desk as well, so I guess that is just how I feel and it is not a flaw, it is just within me. I might never find peace, but all this nervous energy needs a channel and luckily I have one. I want to dive into a painting and take a good long roll around within and I want to breathe it in and just know how lucky I am to have this world that I thought I had created only by default. I now know my being an artist is not only my birthright but also truly a choice and I want to burn this realization into my brain.

I care for painters (artists) and painting, I know what I like and what I don't. I know color and atmosphere. It isn't about the money; it is about me and my soul and how I feel while painting and how I feel while being a painter. I needed some perspective and I got it. Today, as you are reading this, know that I am in my studio cleaning it up on my time, listening to music and drinking my coffee and moving my hands over my things to take inventory. I will be painting new works for Fire and Noise and beyond and maybe someone will view them one day and dive within them and be taken away from their work-a-day world. If that happens, then I will have served my purpose.I will have honestly worked the way I was intended to work in this world...

PS. Some of you have already seen the progress on the Fire and Noise series and for others these will be new.In the next week I expect much more progress to be made and I will share the results.

I am inspired again and I ache to paint and that is all I ever really wanted.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My heart is golden and so is yours.

If you are new to this blog please refer to my post, May our worlds collide for any background information you may need to make sense of the events that will be expressed in the following post.

I had a friend named Will Boyd, he was really sick, his heart was failing and he was in medical debt. In October I heard about all of this and I felt compelled to make a difference in a small way, just on my own. I decided I could help by donating 20% of the proceeds from my art sales through my Etsy shop to his health care fund. I wanted to give small amounts of $5.00 and $8.00 dollars over the course of the month; that was my simple plan.

I also happen to have an amazing group of friends. Friends in my local community and from MySpace and Facebook. Friends from around the country and around the globe.These friends were very moved by my blog post regarding Will. They were also moved by my Facebook and MySpace bulletins and memos asking for help on his behalf. They rose to the challenge and put skepticism and doubt aside and gladly offered their support and help. They donated column inches in their blogs to promote my Etsy shop and my donation goals for Will's cause.They donated their own paintings, giving either all or part of the proceeds to his health care fund. My friends told their friends, through additional blogs and bulletins. My friends also held Will in their thoughts and prayers with love and concern. These friends bought my works from my Etsy shop during the month of October in order to help Will. Just through this, I/we raised $245 in October which I then donated to help offset Will's medical debts.

I think we felt connected, helpful, and empowered. We were happy to be a part of a grass roots movement to take care of one of our own. We were working under the concepts of idealism, hope, and trust.

Well, last night I received an email that shook me to my core. An email that for a moment made me doubt my judgement and doubt my good nature. Unfortunately, my friend Will Boyd exaggerated his health issues. His heart was not about to fail. He now claims to have Bi-polar disorder and things just spiraled out of control. You can read his apology here at the website.

So, our worlds collided and got bigger and bigger, and unfortunately our trust was broken and our hearts were abused and I am sorry I dragged you all into this mess. However, I did get a refund of the $245 dollars that I donated to Will's health care fund, as well as a personal apology email from Will. I am in the process of returning any money that was given to me from other artists from their sales to benefit Will's cause. The remaining money that I had donated as a result of my Etsy sales for the month of October will now be donated to the Humane Society of the United States. So that we can all still feel good about our actions in October. If you bought a painting from me through my Etsy shop in October I thank you sincerely, your heart is big and I appreciate your willingness to give to a stranger and I hope you are enjoying my art. Know that your 20% has now been given to the Humane Society "to stop animal cruelty and suffering wherever it occurs" and I hope you feel good about your donation.

We have big hearts, and I don't regret that. I hope you don't either.
I hope you know how proud I am to be a part of such a wonderful community of friends and artists. Your caring and generosity inspired me in October and continues to do so. I won't let anyone take that away from me. I hope you won't either.

Thank you for your understanding.

For those who don't know, my Etsy store has been fully restocked with new small works just in time for the holidays and I am offering free shipping through the 7th of December. Please visit my shop, Art Maven.

pictured above : The Wheat Fields
6x9" Mixed media on paper $25.00

Monday, December 1, 2008


And on a Monday.Wow- I just wanted to shake things up...
I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that I have restocked my Etsy shop and that for the entire first week of December I will be offering FREE WORLD WIDE shipping!!

So, please visit my shop. I will be adding more paintings through out the week.If you have any questions about my work on etsy please don't hesitate to ask.

Affordable, original art for all, that is what ArtMaven is all about.
Thank you for supporting a living and working artist!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Friday, November 28, 2008

I carry this refuge within me.

Come in and shut the door.
You might want to take your shoes off. Splash some cold water on your face from the basin, and look out at the street from the window. Smell the air and hear the sounds.
Try out the chairs, they may not look comfortable, but they are. Try out the bed, it feels firm and solid, so nice to recline and look at the art on the walls. While you are there just look up at the ceiling, you may start to feel yourself letting go. You have everything you need here, perhaps there is a good book in the drawer or even hidden under the pillow. You may find some paper, and decide to write a letter. In this calm and simple room, ideas start to form in your mind quickly. Excited by this you may get up and pace the floor, feel it underneath you, it gives a little and crackles under your feet. Just a few minutes in this room and you feel restored for the time being. Have a glass of water, put your shoes back on and it is time to leave. This perfect room is always waiting for you.

I carry this refuge within me.
Does your mind take you to a particular painting when you need to get away?

Friday, November 21, 2008

One thousand arrows point to the uninitiated

Freedom is available to you if you want it. If you will allow it in. Freedom is so revered and yet so feared. Most of the obstacles I put in my life are of my own creation. Most of the limits I put on my art are as well. Realizing this is a huge step and at the same time it seems so obvious.

I know I am free to make and do any type of art I want and that you the viewers, the readers, the gallery owners and the patrons will go along for the ride. The work will either be appreciated or it won't- and that is all there is to it.But now what to do? Sometimes all this freedom seems too much.

Right now everything feels like a riddle as I paint the works for my show "Fire and Noise." The original goal was to create art with more "me" in it or more meaning that was personal to me. People have encouraged me to express what is within, but they also offer conflicting advice to try it this way or think of it that way, use these colors but not these, remember this and explore that and don't rely on this familiar device but do make it easy on yourself, let go but perhaps just not like that.I know they are trying to help me reach deeper within and offer guidance as well as new ways of thinking about the problem.

They sense that I am frustrated and searching or that I am holding something back, and they are not wrong. One of my favorite Interpol songs, has the line "I have seven faces, thought I knew which one to wear..." and this has always resonated with me. When I am painting I tend to try too hard to maintain just one of the seven faces and I box myself into a corner. With the knowledge of true freedom comes the ability to put on the other six faces. I worry that if left to my own devices my work could become inconsistent or groundless and this is uncomfortable to me. I then start listening to all the voices around me and become overwhelmed.

Just as things seem to work on a Monday, they can also fade away by Thursday and I am back at square one. What am I after? I sometimes feel like an actor asking "now, what's my motivation?"

As I was working yesterday, trying to express something (something = the true problem, it seems my signal got jammed this week, it started off questionable and bleak, then moved into useful and familiar and then got so filtered and watered down that somewhere I lost it), I found myself attacking the surface with pencil and scrubbing pad, marks and words.The surface was absent of color, and it was so many things I wasn't, so unsatisfactory. The end result was like a piece of forgotten homework left in a mud puddle. Tomorrow I will go back to retrieve it, and I will attempt to return to the pure state I used to know, where color meets color and perhaps nothing more.

I will step once again into the fire and noise, and attempt to deflect all one thousand arrows...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hide all your yesterdays (and start again)

My studio has been a bit frenetic this past week, blotter papers filling the floor, brushes full of paint strewn about, water, oil, tubs of paint,powdered graphite, music music music, and a lot of looking, questioning and running up and down the studio stairs. I ordered my supplies like I told you I would, and in record time the Fed Ex man was blocking my door with large cardboard boxes, oh so exciting!

I have been exploring the Claybords in more detail, just messing around, and I don't mess around. This is different, if you read this blog regularly you know I don't sketch, doodle, or visually plan out my art. I may map out my strategy of attack but never the art itself and usually once a painting is started I plan on showing it. I don't have a lot of work around that I wouldn't feel comfortable showing in a gallery. Yes, I fall out of love with some pieces and some are stronger than others, but what I create usually leaves the studio. However, these panels are so foreign to me that I am really having to slow down and get to the know them.There is a lot of mediocre painting and more important learning going on currently. I get satisfactory results and then I take a steel scrubber and scrub it all away, and start again. I feel I still have plenty of time to get to know the material before I create anything permanent.

I love it. I love painting and tearing it apart, I love being able to take my time and revise. It is a long process getting to know a new material. Sort of a strange conversation, "Hello, oh you don't like that, but you kinda like this, but I don't like this... and so it goes." However, I have a fever to actualize this work. My paintings are not usually about struggle nor are they ever fevered. Yet in the past I wished they were- like the work of those mad passionate artists working in their studios as portrayed in Hollywood films. So, this new material is giving me that for now, but I suspect only for a little while, and then I will be able to manipulate and cajole it into something that fits the fire and noise concept. I don't usually have concepts either, so all the rules have changed. All of them! I am without footing and this is great too. Who knows if this will work, who knows if this will sell, who knows if they are staying true to the original idea. Again this is very exciting and freeing to think about for me.

So, today as I write this, there is a sloppy painting on the table waiting to be finished; more likely waiting to be found. There are two new paintings sitting propped up against the wall, that dare I say, rock!?! Another on the wall that is a maybe and another one already hanging in my living room because it too, is a keeper. Fire and Noise is spreading, not only through my paintings, studio, and house but through my life as well.

I just ordered all my old paintings to face the wall. I don't want them looking at me right now as they whisper, "Hey old friend remember me?" My reply, "Nope, sorry- not right now, I will again soon but just not now..."

I am hiding all my yesterdays...

Friday, November 7, 2008

A New Day...

First things first: I must say that the sun seems more beautiful when it shines, the wind blows me kisses, blankets feel softer and warmer, and my mind seems to be coming out of a dark dingy hibernation, things seem truly possible once again.

We elected Barack Obama as our next president and I am so proud of America! That is a new feeling for me. We have a long road ahead to repair the damage of the last eight years, but I think we actually have a shot. I don't talk politics on my blog but I had to make note of one of the most amazing experiences of my lifetime.

Back to art now- thank you again for all the support and comments about last week's post "Fire and Noise." I really appreciated hearing your excitement about my upcoming show and the concepts I hope to express. We will see where it goes, but I do feel like it is possible. I feel that change is in the air all around. I can afford to be a little bolder in my art and in my life and it seems you all are itching to go along for the ride!

I have completed two paintings for Fire and Noise this past week, and I am very pleased and excited by the results! I think new materials are going to be equally as important as the concepts I express. My friend/artist and gallery owner Dede Peters, did something above and beyond last week and had a Claybord shipped to my house as a surprise- she wanted to shake me up and see what I would do with a new material in a new size.

Hm.. what happened?? Well, I fell in love with the material right away, all my old tricks didn't work anymore, they acted new and strange- which was so thrilling! So, I have decided I will be ordering some more claybords for myself to supplement canvas pieces that will also be in the exhibition. I will also be experimenting with powered charcoal and graphite as well. I am placing my order right after I finish this post!

I haven't offered much advice here lately, but one thing I will say; if you are feeling stuck in a rut and not sure- then try something new! Splurge on a new material or a new size that you never work with. I have been exploring that idea to some degree while painting on paper for my Etsy shop and the rough wood scrap panels right after my show. Something about a new, fancy material makes you stand a little straighter in reverence, as well as scratch your head and wonder about the possibilities. I am thankful that I had a friend that saw this need in me and stepped in with a claybord intervention. If money is tight, trade a supply with another artist, trade a technique, get out of your creative cul-de-sac and try something new.

On another note, thanks again to everyone who purchased my small works on paper the month of October from my Etsy shop. I was able to donate $245 to Will Boyd's health care fund, from my sales and from the donations of other artists who sold their work to benefit his cause. I really appreciate how inspiration and compassion can grow, expand and shoot around the country and the world to help someone in need.

Next week more Fire and Noise...

pictured above
4 by Sea
mixed media on paper
only at Artmaven on Etsy

Please visit my website and learn more about the galleries that represent my larger canvas paintings as well.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fire and Noise: Note to self and others.

"I found her on a night of fire and noise
Wild bells rang in a wild sky
I knew from that moment on
That I'd love her till the day that I died
And I kissed away a thousand tears
My lady of the Various Sorrows
Some begged, some borrowed, some stolen
Some kept safe tomorrow..."

Opening lyric from Do you Love Me by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I am happy to report I have a featured exhibition coming up in February at the River Market ArtSpace in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now is the time to solidify my ideas and concepts, make my plans and get started. I am relieved to have this new focus. I have been drifting a bit since the last show in June and July and taking some serious down time. I have painted many small works on paper for my Etsy shop and managed about 12!?! canvas paintings since then as well, but just sort of floating through, un-moored.

I decided I would call my next exhibition "Fire and Noise" inspired by the above song. I am a new Nick Cave fan, always knowing his name but never listening to his music, well that has changed. This song has been on constant repeat in my ears for about 2 weeks, and I have watched the song's video (another inspiration) hundreds of times by now. Something about it just speaks to me currently.

When I am germinating ideas for new work, I feel the need to talk it out, test it out and share it with others and that is what I have done for the past week; sharing my thoughts with my community of artist friends near and far. The concepts become more clear when I write them to someone else rather than keeping them solely in my head. I want to compile some of this early correspondence here to remind me of what I want in this new body of work as I move forward in the process.

I recently wrote to a friend about my art career and he asked me the following questions. I think they are important and I want to remember them.
"...Why you paint like you do? Why you don't paint like you could? Why you're lost?"

My answers follow. I have a show in Feb. and I want to do all new work, perhaps work that won't even sell.( why I don't paint like I could).
I need money and I want galleries to be happy with me- If I paint like I could the paintings might not be as "lovely"(why I paint like I do).
I am lost because I am conflicted about marketable work/money vs. art/passion/purpose

Rest assured I am oversimplifying things in my response to his questions. I do not feel like I am just churning out art that looks good over someones couch simply to make money. I paint with the colors I do because I love those colors. I paint the way I do because it is the way I know to paint and it fits my brain most of the time. I do feel pressure (mostly self imposed) to paint things that have the ability to sell (we all have bills to pay), and perhaps are not the most challenging ie: nothing that new or revolutionary in the grand scheme of the art world. However, I don't really want to create "high art." A lot of what I see in famous art magazines is bizarre self indulgent pretentious shit (there I said it). I don't want to produce that, but I do want to put more of ME into my work, whatever that means. If I don't feel "lovely" perhaps the paintings don't have to be jewel toned, perhaps they can resonate a darkness or coal-like quality if that is how I really feel. (I told you in the title this was a note to myself) Anyway, I digress, back to my conversation with my friend about inspiration for the upcoming show.

I am serious about what I said about the Nick Cave song. I need something to fuel my fire and when I look at that video I would like to dive into that seedy world of fire and noise. But will it sell, who knows... and am I capable of making paintings full of noise and interference???

This is the thing, I doubt my ability to change, I know how to paint the way I paint, it is very intuitive at this point in the game and I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I don't want to begin again, I just want to be more free, and find a way to put more of me into the work, and as an abstract painter, I find that difficult. Certain colors could represent emotions, certain lines can mean things to me, but in the end, how different can it be? My hand does what it does.
In a different conversation with another I artist I talk again about what I am hoping to capture.

I want to take all the doubts, the highs and lows, the passion and drama and try to put them in this show. I am going to try to create Art and perhaps art that won't even sell, and try to be okay with that. We will see. I am tired of painting " lovely" paintings. I want a little more substance, something to ruffle my own feathers if you will. I need to get excited about a concept again. I want to go into something a little darker. If you look up the video for the song( Nick Cave's Do You Love Me?) those are the colors I am aiming for. I am not sure I can really pull this off, I may change in mid swing.. interference will feature prominently.. Buzz, hum, the shit that gets in the way.. electronic prattle of emails, and e-dreams, friends that are friends but not, borders and boundaries.

Sounds like an interesting concept, but again with only color and line, how is the prattle of email portrayed, how is the increasing bombardment of electronic noise captured in an abstract painting? This will be my challenge. I seem stuck in this idea that my work is simply lovely and has no substance as it is, and I don't think this is exactly true. I guess I do give into the pressure that "Art" should not be pretty or decorative but mean something. I am not sure if I can put meaning to the abstractions I create, even within this newly proposed conceptual framework.

Another conversation, again trying to put into words what I want to accomplish...
The ups and downs, the messes that I make, the mix of identities and self imposed pressures, the lines and darkness- I want all of these things to factor into my new work. Perhaps,
if the Evidence of the Disappearance was the rise, this show will be the fall- which may actually be free of all the nonsense and soar to new heights?!? Like dirty electricity, a certain truth, static, interference, not pretty- not perfect- Can I ? Do I dare?

Who knows? But I must try...

Today is the last day to purchase work from my Etsy shop and have 20% donated to my friend Will's health care fund. I appreciate all the purchases so far. Also if you put "blogger" in the memo to seller when you place your order I will gladly refund your shipping via paypal after your order is placed.Free shipping to anywhere in the world! So if you have been thinking about it, today is the day to act! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Also if you haven't already, please do not forget to Vote November 4th- this one is too important to miss- thank you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Songs about Painters and Painting

Talking Heads- Artists Only

I'm painting, I'm painting again.
I'm painting, I'm painting again.
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning again.
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning my brain.

Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.
Pretty soon now, Will be a quitter.
Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.
You can't see it 'til it's finished

I don't have to prove...that I am creative!
I don't have to prove...that I am creative!
All my pictures are confused
And now I'm going to take me to you.

Please visit to learn more about
my works on canvas and the galleries that represent me.
Visit for my affordable small works
on paper, and remember that 20% of my Etsy sales during
the month of October will be donated to Will Boyd's health
care fund. Thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tortured Artist: Myth or Reality?

Are you a tortured artist? Am I?

Wikipedia defines a tortured artist as "a stock character and stereotype who is in constant ferment due to frustrations with art and other people. The tortured artist feels alienated and misunderstood due to what they perceive as the ignorance or neglect of others who do not understand them, and the things they feel are important. They sometimes smoke, experience sexual frustration and appear overwhelmed by their own emotions and inner conflicts. The tortured artist is often mocked in popular culture for being attention seeking, narcissistic and unable or unwilling to make plans or just averse to happiness and fun. Often demonstrating self-destructive behaviors."

The wiki definition seems a bit humorous but perhaps it is actually accurate. So many of the artists that I know feel misunderstood; they are always comparing themselves to others, always wanting more attention and adoration and when they do not get these things to their satisfaction they rebel or shut down. Being an artist is such a weird job. It is so easy to give up and simmer in our own brooding stew of dissatisfaction.

What if I told you I think it is okay that you are "tortured?" What if it is okay to be a "starving artist?" So many books for artists these days make it seem like you should balk at these old antiquated ideas. They say today's artist can have your cake and eat it too. They say the starving artist is an old out-dated myth or paradigm. They say there is no room for "tortured" because you are too busy living the dream.

While this can be very encouraging, I also think it can put unrealistic pressure and expectations on one's self and art career.

Being an artist is a hard job. It is a job that does not always pay well and is erratic and unpredictable. Being an artist can be a very insular position, full of judgment and qualifiers for yourself and the work you produce. Over time I have decided that being an artist is not a choice. I think you are birthed into this position and hopefully learn to rectify and embrace it over a life time.

It is not all bad of course, but some days being an artist can seem like a form a torture. I know you come here for inspiration and hope, but I also think it my responsibility to be honest. This position has plenty of hardships and one can find themselves riddled with self doubt.

However, I am forever and always will be an artist. I will question, I will doubt and I will envy, but I will also feel great pride in the work I produce and I will always help other artists find this path, and attempt to make it as comfortable as I can for myself and those that follow. This position, this career, has many thankless tasks, and we will be at times misunderstood by ourselves and others.We will also feel unparalleled heights and be a part of unprecedented beauty and awe, that we can manufacture all on our own. I feel that is why we put up with the occasional torture, because the heights that we achieve can not be matched. The mythologies that we create are sacred and unique.

So, if you are feeling tortured, frustrated and misunderstood, don't feel the need to put a happy face on it right away and please know you are not alone. Keep fighting, keep trying, and give yourself a break. The lows can be dark, cold, and lonely but the highs are pure light and love and all of your own creation.

This post is dedicated to all the artists struggling on this path and questioning this way of living.There is something that you felt once, that was strong enough to sustain you and keep you here. Hold on to that and keep fighting and you will find your way back eventually. This will never be an easy path but it is worth it. Onwards and Upwards...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fade into you....

Dear Readers,

First, I must say how amazed and overwhelmed I was by the reaction to last week's post and all the support of my fund raising efforts for my friend Will Boyd. Many of you responded by not only purchasing my small works on paper from my etsy shop, but by taking it a step further and re-posting or linking to my blog on your own blogs! Some of you even donated art for Will's cause, giving a percentage or all of the proceeds to Will's health care fund. Also, many of my myspace friends re-posted countless bulletins to call attention to Will and our fundraising efforts. These are all very inspiring and selfless actions. I appreciate all of this and I know that Will and his fiance Elizabeth appreciate it greatly as well.

A short list of major players:
Michele Maule : (Amazing etsy shop owner and awesome artist) promoted my blog with mentions twice in her very popular blog, How to draw a cup of coffee.

Beth of Tangled Sky Studio: gave me another blog mention and then she donated 30% from the sale of this beautiful painting from her shop to Will's fund.

Deborah Burrows from England, purchased one of my small works on paper and then donated this painting from her newest series and 100% will go to Will. Her lovely painting is still available and can be found in her shop. $87.00 and free shipping! Please visit her shop or contact Deborah for more information about this painting.

Tim Lane donated a minimalist abstract painting from his pale series which sold right away in a myspace bulletin and 100% went to Will. Now, Tim has donated this painting from the same series and plans to donate 100% to Will again. $75.00 Please contact Tim if you are interested or want more information about this painting.

Istvan Ocztos from Budapest, Hungary bought Tim's first donated painting and then is donating the painting below for $95.00 and free shipping and 50% will go to Will's cause. Please contact Istvan if you interested or want more information about this painting.

Jerome Montens from France purchased one of my small works on paper and then posted this painting in an ebay auction with a minimum bid of $40 and has pledged to donate 50% to Will's cause as well. Please visit ebay and take a look if you are interested the auction ends on October 14. So get your bids in or contact Jerome for more information about this painting.

Thanks again to all my myspace & facebook friends that re-posted bulletins, sent helpful messages, and some even sent healing reiki energy through the cosmos direct to Will- you guys are just as important and major but there are too many of you to name! Thank you also to my dear blog readers for your continued support of me and my art.

And of course, thanks to everyone that purchased my small works on paper from my etsy shop. I sold fourteen small works on paper since October 2 when I started 20% for Will. I will continue to post new work in the shop as it becomes available and continue to donate 20% to Will the entire month of October.

Will's friend's have now set up a website that tells you more about him, as well as his humanitarian work and interests. The site makes it easy to donate to his health care fund as well. If you are interested in learning more about Will Boyd or donating please visit.

This is all about grass roots activism, caring for strangers, and sharing the wealth. There is a great deal of trust involved in all of this as well as idealism and hope. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful and supportive community. This is how we get along in a strange and uncertain world. This is how we shrink boundaries and borders and rise above.

This is how we move onward and upward.
This is how we take care of each other, and this is how we take care of ourselves.

Thank you all.


All images copyright 2008 the respective artists, please do not use with out their expressed permission. thank you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

May our worlds collide...

The world is full of people working in their own circles, with their heads down doing their own thing. Some of these circles are small and some are larger. Sometimes while the small circles are spinning around they bump up against the larger ones, and then both circles become bigger as they overlap and pick up new people.

Today's post is about these circles and the connections that are being created that we have no idea about until, BAM! Our worlds collide and we don't know what hit us; but we do know we are now a part of something bigger and it feels good. What am I talking about?

Here's the deal, somehow last year, my website got passed on to a person in California by the name of Will Boyd. A friend of Will's thought he would like my work, which he did. Will liked my paintings so much, he even printed some up to put around his desk, they made him feel better.

My little circle was spinning oblivious and I was not aware I had this new fan in California. However, Will works with an organization that I was familiar with called Invisible Children. I had recently seen a screening of the film, and was terribly moved, so we had that connection, but that was about it. Larger circles connected the dots between us and I soon learned he was very inspired by my work and unfortunately that he was also very sick. The only thing I knew I could do, was to paint him a painting and mail it to him as soon as possible. The painting came together amazingly fast- it practically painted itself! While painting the piece, I had been emailing with Will and on the sly figured out what colors he liked, and which pieces of mine he responded to, I wanted the painting to be just right and really "click" just for him. I was so happy to have this secret project, it was incredibly exciting for me- it felt like Christmas! I will always remember the email I got from Will the day he mysteriously received the painting. I smile today, just thinking about it. Magic!

I believe there is a type of magic in this world, when people who don't know each other are suddenly connected through art, music, films, books- through so many things. Will is a good friend now- over the months we have traded video clips, short emails and facebook wall posts when he feels well enough. I am fortunate to know him, and proud to be a part of a very large circle of his friends from all over the world.

Unfortunately my friend Will's health is in crisis again and this time it appears to be even more serious, and this makes me very sad. Rather than just be sad, I want to share a little about his situation and how I plan to use my art to help him in a small way.

During the entire month of October, I will be donating 20% of all my Etsy sales to my friend Will Boyd who is dealing with a major health crisis with little funds and maxed out health insurance. That means every time you purchase a $25.00 painting, I will donate $5.00 and every time you purchase a $40.00 painting, I will donate $8.00 to my friend's health care fund.

Will has been critically ill with Lupus since he was 18. He contracted pneumonia during this time as well and the doctors consequently directed most of their attention to his lungs. However, they failed to notice the amount of trauma to his heart due to the Lupus. The latest biopsy tests show that his heart is in such a weakened state that it would not be able to be revived if he has a massive heart attack. Doctor's are unsure how to treat his condition and at this time under the advice of his nutritionist he is refusing treatment, until they can figure out some type of treatment plan.

Will has already racked up over $50,000 in medical debts and unfortunately he has maxed out his insurance and can't get any more because he has pre-existing conditions (Lupus).

Thank you for helping me to help my friend Will Boyd.
I do hope all our circles expand and our worlds collide.

New paintings are posted in my shop and I will continue to post more as the month progresses and as things sell! Enjoy.

please visit

Pictured Above
Favorite Way to Speak ($25)
Wired Communications ($25)
Megan Chapman
copyright 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Success: What is it?

Are you a success? Am I? How do we know if we are or not? Should it matter? What does success mean anyway? There is the textbook definition, but then there is what it means to us personally. Our personal success can be loosely defined, a floating feeling or it can be measurable and marked by certain milestones. As we work through our art and grow into our process, our personal ideas of success will hopefully change and grow just as our work evolves over time.

Is success about money, acclaim, a studio downtown, or is it about leaving our mark in the hearts of people who come across our work? Is success quitting the day job and painting full time?

Success for some, could be as simple as believing in themselves enough to not flinch when they tell people they are an artist. Success is so personal and abstract, yet at the same time we may tell ourselves stories about what it should mean, making it rigid and unattainable.

When I was much younger, I thought success was to have a simple life of my own creation, free of complications, while being able to see as much live music as possible and just being happy or just having fun. A very loose definition. Then as an art student, it became about getting good critiques and respect from peers and professors, and an occasional showing of my work with no expectation of sales. After school, success became about getting into juried shows, getting more exhibitions on my resume, and finally taking a risk and deciding to quit my job to focus on my art. The focus still wasn't on selling, but on building my body of work, name recognition, and additional lines on the resume. After a couple of years, naturally the next step was the gallery route, this is where my personal definition of success got fuzzy. Success here becomes more rigidly defined as I entered into business relationships with various galleries, this brought on an all new set of rules, expectations, demands, and of course pressures to sell, to have a viable product. This wasn't necessarily created by the galleries, but by myself within the gallery structure. I experienced a heightened sense of being a professional and being responsible not only for myself, but to the galleries taking a chance on me and my work. 

It has been suggested at times, that I might want to re-evaluate my personal definition of success, so that I can gauge my progress and celebrate my milestones along the way. However, I find myself a bit stumped. I have at times, lost sight of what my original purpose was, or what I truly desired when I first started showing my work. Not uncommon, I fear it happens to us all. 

Is success a certain number of paintings created in a month or a year, or a certain number sold in that same time period? Is it earning a specific yearly dollar amount? Is it painting consistently even if only a few times a week? Is it being picked up by a major NYC gallery, having a solo show and selling out on opening night? Is it being on the cover of an international art magazine? Perhaps it is simply having lots of adoring MySpace fans from all over the world. I don't really know the answer. 

So, I am asking- what is success for you? 
Please share your ideas with me in the comment section.

For more information about me and my work and the galleries that represent me, please visit my website 
For my affordable small works on paper please visit

Pictured above
Hover Like Ghosts
Mixed Media on Canvas
40x30" $1,200
Megan Chapman 2008
Currently on display at the River Market ArtSpace
Little Rock, Arkansas

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stories we tell and the games we play

Oh the games we play, with ourselves, each other and with our art. Some of these games can be beneficial and help us to move forward, while others seem to keep us stuck in place.

How many times have you had a new idea for your art and become excited only to then systematically dismantle it, coming up with a laundry list of reasons why your idea couldn't or shouldn't work? All the sudden, your idea is not worth your time or energy or isn't suited to your audience. All the doubts start coming to the forefront of your mind, and you decide to leave well enough alone. Maybe you want to explore a new medium or style but decide it is too risky. Maybe you were thinking of selling your work online, but you then convince yourself that it isn't the proper venue, or you worry about what the galleries will think. How many stories do you make up in your head that you are starting to believe? How many times do you shoot yourself and your work down so you can safely stay with the pack? We all know the story that misery loves company and that it is lonely at the top, so we decide to stay put.

These are just some questions to be aware of. What is one story you are telling yourself about your work that you could examine or challenge?

There are the games we play, that work. The games that challenge, motivate and cajole you into action. Currently I am playing a 28 day game of "one stroke." I wanted to get back into a consistent routine and schedule after not having one during the summer months. For the next 28 days, I will put down at least one stroke of paint either on a paper or canvas painting. That is all I have to do to be a success. My usual motto is "everyday I paint is a victory." For the next 28 days, all I have to do is put down one stroke to be victorious. I know it doesn't sound like much. What can one stroke of paint do? Only one stroke relieves the time pressure of any marathon painting session, it tells me that no finished work needs to emerge. The process and routine is of equal importance to the finished painting. One stroke seems easily manageable, and after one stroke is down, usually another follows and then time starts to pass and paintings are now being created and I have set myself up for this relaxed victory.

What stories can you confirm or deny so that you can rise above? What games can you play to make yourself victorious?

It's your move...

Pictured Above:
The Games We Play,
Mixed Media on Canvas
Megan Chapman
2008 Copyright
Patron's private collection

PS. There are new affordable paper paintings over at my Esty shop: Art Maven. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

"I don't want to set the world on fire"

I was reading my old journals again, looking for inspiration for this blog post. I think the only solution for today is to go back in time.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my art created towards the end of my education was painted inside the pages of discarded books, and how much I enjoyed working in this manner. The works were small and on paper, created during pure inspiration and filled with stories and characters.

Today, I found my comment book from my 1999 B.F.A. terminal exhibition from the University of Oregon. Inside on the painted white pages, I let one sentence from the original text remain,
"I don't want to set the world on fire."

But, this is not true, and you know I already have the matches...

What follows is a spontaneous review of my show I found inside my comment book, written by my old friend Hayyim (Howard) Cohen. We worked together side by side in little cubicles selling the newspaper in a tiny downtown office, and became fast friends. He would share his New York Times Arts section with me during breaks.

Megan by Hayyim Cohen

"Combining subversive parody, red (life), black (nothingness) and white (blinding light), duct tape to shut out the noisy excess, upholstery tacks, and the dead bodies of obsolete technical books, Megan Chapman (see your dictionary- "Chapman" means seller) creates lyrical southern "talkin' blues" between the pages of discards (found objects) she collects from the free bins of the Smith Family bookstore in Eugene Oregon.

Providing at her B.F.A. commencement (the beginning of her life as an artist) a comfortable pink sofa with fresh green throw pillows, a little Gene Autry and "A Sunday Kind of Love" musical background for a gathering of "found" people who "read" her books often with whimsical smiling faces.

Megan nails the defunct corpses of old books (now frames for her poems and designs) on the gallery walls with the tacks she loves, this is interspersed with machine blowups of her photographs, which add a nice contrapuntal theme to the shards of books behind the sofa and on the coffee table. Megan is a southern woman and now she has a B.F.A. to nail to the wall when she goes home (tell your Maw,tell your Paw I'm gonna send you back to Arkansas-population 40,002). It is all here in the art, the depths of introspective experience, from one who knows how it all fits together in the package. It's a "found" life for the pack of us, don't you think? Megan has definitely found something...To do and to make a difference, and she does it all with southern hospitality to boot!"

I am so fortunate to have this nugget, and like the art closed up in those old altered books, I thought this needed to be aired out and shared. My friend, Howard did this on his own accord, and I am grateful for his tangents and details; his writing helps me to remember myself at that time, as well as the show and the atmosphere. His words bring back everything about the experience and are even better than a photograph.

Have you ever considered having someone write a piece about your art? Think about asking a friend or fellow artist to write a statement or a review of your work. Perhaps your friends have already left you helpful comments. Have you thought about asking them if you could edit and use them to promote your art? I bet many of you have these nuggets hiding in letters, emails and blogs, just waiting to brushed off and put out there to a larger audience.

Let's set the world on fire...

Take me here often
mixed media on paper
Megan Chapman
Paper paintings only at ArtMaven

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pace is the trick...and she's back!

Hello Dear Readers!

It is September 5th and I am so excited to be here with all of you! I missed you all very much, and thought of you every Friday. However, I did make good use of the 3 weeks we were apart. I hope you did too.

Oh, where to begin...there were books, films, bike rides, photographs, friends, family (a newborn nephew), drinks, of course music, yoga classes, vitamins, ups and downs, new plans, directions and of course new paintings. I wish I could make the sound of a needle dropping on a record, (imagine that sound for me, okay) ? What did she say...New plans, directions, and of course new paintings!?!?

Alright, here we go.. I said I would come back with a BANG, and I don't like to disappoint.

After much careful thought and consideration, research and guidance ( thanks to the amazing Michele Maule). I am excited to announce my own little shop on!!! My shop is called ArtMaven, and I view it as my laboratory, where I can explore new mediums, techniques, and ideas on the smaller scale. My Etsy shop will only offer my small paper paintings/studies. These are not available in galleries.

I decided, I needed a low pressure way to maintain my enjoyment of painting. I have always believed in the power of original art and I want to share my work with as many people as possible, and at many different price ranges. Showing some work on Etsy seems like the perfect solution.

My paper works are painted on sturdy 140lb. gessoed Arches paper and are ready to frame. They come in two sizes, the larger size is 9x12" and sells for $40.00. The smaller size is 6x9" and sells for $25.00. I have also kept shipping reasonably priced as well. I want my friends, from around the block to around the world, to have a piece of my art if they so desire. I also list all the galleries that represent my larger canvas works, so that people can learn more about my larger paintings as well, which are still reasonably priced at $275-$2,200. I think this will be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

I really enjoyed painting these smaller works on paper, and I hope you will enjoy taking a look and perhaps buying one for yourself or a friend. If you have any questions about the work you see on Etsy, don't hesitate to ask. I must say, I was very encouraged when I first listed one of my paper paintings on Etsy, and it was purchased by a person in Canada within 3 minutes!

I am so happy to share this new adventure with you...

In other news, I also created six new larger paintings on canvas! I had started working on a few of these right after my recent exhibition, The Evidence of the Disappearance ended. These works took some extra time and care to settle and get sorted out, or perhaps that was just me. I am very pleased with these new paintings. These are not in the galleries yet, but most will be released into the world soon. For my devoted blog readers, a first look.

Pictured above is one of my most favorite paintings ever, and it is already spoken for. This piece will be traveling to a collector in England soon.
The Games We Play, 20x16"
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Spaces to Keep
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Things Stolen and Misplaced
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Hover Like Ghosts
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

She Sleeps Underwater
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

So, that is what I have been up to. Thanks again for reading my blog, leaving comments, supporting and encouraging me and my work. It means more than you will ever know. Have a wonderful weekend. See you next Friday!