Friday, August 28, 2009

Shake me skyscraper...

all that is left behind © 2009 Megan Chapman

I am awake at 4am to bring you the Friday Studio Blog. I was pulled here by the strong winds of my dream, another Tornado dream (I have always had tornado dreams). Thanks to everyone who commented last week and joined the conversation about the "job" of an artist and the mystery of the world. I really appreciated the response and it always gives me new hope for this blog.

Today's entry will be a little more free flowing, with less of a theme. Perhaps some pictures of my studio in a truer state than you have ever seen; an homage to the hopes of Fall, or to the talented soul of Paul Banks who always seems to plug into my head in the most perfect way to shake me up in all the right ways... Let's see what happens.

1. Studio.
As some of you know, I moved into a studio outside of my house and downtown this past May. This idea thrilled me to no end. Thoughts of being free of the clutter and personal traps of home, being around other artists, being a bit more professional with a "real" studio to meet potential patrons, and a steady downtown presence for my work along with the ddp gallery (across the street gallery that represents me). However, I am going to just admit that I have a love/hate relationship with my new studio. I have painted and rearranged it twice, bought more and more lights for it, a new flash studio stereo (we know how I am about my music). Anything to make it better, brighter, and more enticing.

The main problem is the way I started to create a little over a year ago, and that was at 3am. I loved waking up at 3am like a bolt ( there are so many of my old posts that allude to the power of 3am) and stumbling up my steep stairs to my attic studio to paint. Something so appealing about being up at the wrong time, watching the dawn come to life slowly and seeing the lights come on in houses, and knowing I had already worked. I can't talk to people and then work, I can't think about business and then work, I can't worry about you and then work (well, maybe some of you). Anyway- my creative brain just won't stand for any interference from outside sources. It will, but the results never feel as good or strike as hot and fast as they do when I am undisturbed. I use this serene dream/wake time to really let go on the canvas, or even the time spent with my camera. Speaking of my camera, at least I have that- and I do take the majority of my photographs first thing in the morning and this practice has relieved some of the loss I feel from not painting in the wee hours. Maybe someday I will be comfortable enough to roll out of bed and drive to the studio in my pajamas to listen to blaring music, sing and paint at 3am.

Successful art making for me comes right from the edge of sleep, with loud music, singing and dancing. I miss those 3am days. I am determined to make it work somehow... I would love to know where your successful art making comes from? Do you have a set of variables that come together to help you dive into that creative magic time?

2. The Fall.
The Fall is fast approaching, and it is to me the most inspiring, melancholic, and hopeful time of the year. I find it very transporting. A couple years ago I wrote a post about Fall before anyone really read this blog... I think some of my feelings about the Fall and how much it means to me are still valid and worth a revisit. Click here to go back in time. Feel free to share your season of inspiration and passion.

3. Paul Banks (aka Julian Plenti).
If you have been reading this blog long enough or if you know me, you know I love the band Interpol, as they have been a constant source of inspiration for my work for the last 4 or more years. Their three albums, assorted b sides and bonus tracks, videos, and the 4 times I saw them live woke me up from a dull sleep. They got me interested in music again, and in going to see live music again. Music has always been one of the most important things in my life, and it has always taken me away to new places and provided the atmosphere and soundtrack to my life, dreams, and art. Anyway, Paul Bank's is the lead singer of Interpol, and he just released a solo album under the name "Julian Plenti" earlier this month, and I am so excited and inspired! I had been waiting for Interpol to release their 4th album, and I will continue to wait as the 4 of them together create my soul's music, but having a new offering by Mr. Julian Plenti will certainly tide me over in the meantime. As I type, one of his songs is on repeat and I am caught in between the lush wall of noise and his melodic voice. I can't tell you how excited I am to paint, photograph, write, do anything to this album. I have the wind in my sails again. When I discovered his new album, I was shaking as I gave it the first listen through. Oh yes. Julian Plenti...Is Skyscraper will be the soundtrack of my fall. Do you have bands or musicians that have such a strong effect on you?

Here are some samples from the Talented Mr. Plenti ( his album is available on itunes for less than $8.00 or even cheaper directly from Matador)


"Babe you played my heart, but the way that you played, it was art...
Oh, this is how we learn."


  1. Wonderfully personal and insightful. I especially love getting to see the studio photos -- Wow!

  2. i really enjoyed the view of your old studio in"Gathering The Evidence" (i assume that was the old studio)it had a warmth to it that i would have preferred personally. the new studio, and cold white bricks seems less hospitable to me...that's JUST ME!! i've always worked at home. tried studios out of the house, but found myself still working at home...and more and more until i never went to the external studio. my art day never is literally ALL i do. maybe not a good thing. but allowing art 100% constant access to my brain means that every impulse can be immediately persued. you never know which of the ideas are the ones that will in the end be the best. some things that seem so brilliant at first blush turn out to be dead ends, and sometimes the silliest little glimmer becomes the work which changes everything...and becomes a brand new path. i try not to edit and allow every thought at least a moment to show itself. unfortunately a lot of my time in the studio is spent producing my "commercial" work, but i'm in there brush in hand, thinking art and working with paint and color. so i'm at the right place, just not doing the best thing. but if something occurs to me i can drop the landscapes and head out to the papermaking studio and build a mold or cast some paper. or over to the press and pull a print... etc. BUT..."Successful art...where does it come from"??? i call my method "50 shots in the dark". if you are in a totally dark room with a gun a 50 bullets (metaphorically) and a target, you get to shoot 50 shots at the target having no idea where it is. you are likely to hit it at least 1-2-3 times, maybe more. as time goes by and day after day you do this. eventually you start hitting the target more and more. after 48 years doing this you're hitting the target 30-40 times. BUT you have to go in that room EVERY DAY and shoot ALL 50 shots.

    on fall; me too, something so wan and wistful, nostalgic, saddly happy, calmly hopeful.

    Music; #1 Tom Waits, and recently Eels, and M. Ward, but my tastes wander far and wide, just like my artistic pursuits. new music brings new emotions...another tool to pry creativity out of the corners.

  3. I loved the song... I'll probably need that cd to get
    me through the next few weeks. I wake up a lot lately thinking I can smell fall just a hint. I, too, am missing something in my work by having a studio outside the home. i think might be something as simple as not having windows. with no light to structure my internal clock things get wonky. I also think I have needs to connect to myself over anything else and like you said- it's not ok to be interacting before work, before art. it just taints it. I think that's ok to feel. I haven't worked in weeks... so, I am not sure, but Might be hitting the same wall.

  4. Really interesting post.
    As you can see in my work I paint autumn with a passion. The colours are so vibrant and resonate with my soul. The changes in the trees are spellbinding to me, along with the angle and change in the light. I love that the grass is no longer green, but a dried out colour that I don't mind painting into my scene.
    I suffer from SAD so autumn brings a challenge, but with the melancholy there is a deepness that I can explore and listen to. I can paint my best when I am a bit depressed!

    As for painting hours - well I can't do anything before 2pm and then I can go on into the night usually wrapping up at midnight. I am an owl - I "wake" up at 9pm and find my work is at its most intense and successful between 9pm and 1am. I love to be able to paint in my home studio. I also would hate the distraction and people. I would probably find that I would paint unsocially then go down separately to catch up with everyone.

    Music - well I can't live without it, or paint without it now. My best work has been done to the sounds of Peter Gabriel, Chicane, Incubus and now Interpol. As long as it has drive and hypnotic sounds I can paint to it.

    Love your blog - this week has been like having a conversation with you :)

  5. I love fall also, seems like Creativity and Insight always come visiting then. Where were they all summer?

  6. I'm a few days behind commenting here. I enjoyed the post, I also like Debs have to deal with SAD. It's great to read others feelings on fall I think it help's to be a reminder of the beauty of change.

    Someday I would like to try a studio outside my home, there are many trappings when you work from home. Being a mom there is always a million little somethings, maybe a million and one or two... On the other hand I can show my kids so many wonderful things and spend time with them which is something I am grateful for and wouldn't trade right now for anything. But someday it would be nice to try something differnt I find myself talking to myself quite a bit :) Thankful for the computer, some sort of social interaction and friendship can be a really good thing.

    Music I've been listening to The Knife Silent Shout just lately. Thankful for music too :)

    I'm likeing the color of your studio Megan from the photos it looks like a calming color.

  7. well, having read this... and in my chemical haze.. leaving no comment..
    i find myself back here in the cold light of day re-reading with a new found and curious interest..
    of course, things have changed and i now have a much deeper understanding, or will probably acquire this quite soon..

    fear of the unknown..

    i will also be subject to all of the above,
    mistakes are going to be made..

    i have no idea what to expect.

    i look forward to reading more from you and sharing what i discover for myself.

  8. There is a stir in the air... i can feel it too. It's like magic.

    Loved seeing you latest creations and your new studio space. I am a believer in fusing the arts in order to keep our minds OPEN for what ever needs to happen creatively. i can see where your photography has fueled your painting, your painting has fueled your photography. I wonder what will develop as more time passes...

    Just as music is important to your creative process, it is to mine. In addition to the music i play, i am very selective about the tracks i choose, it's a ritual of sorts and can take up a good half hour or so for me to "Set the stage" and allow my door to inspiration to unleash itself. To me it's like beginning ballet class at the barre each day- i need to go through my rituals to get my mind in the right place- OPEN - before creating. So, inaddition to the music, i may choose a movie to let play in the backround for later in the day as i paint for very long lengths of time and mix it up a bit. What i am reading is just as important to me and my art as what i listed to. It's other-worldly and i love that.

    Here's my list for today:
    David Bowie: "Slip Away" (the lyrics: Sailing over Coney Island, twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd- really get to me)
    "Slow Burn" (After watching an interview with DB, there was reference made that this song, the album was recorded the day after 9/11. Written well before everything happened, yet i listen to the song now and am shocked by his clarity)
    "Dead Man Walking" (Lyrics that grab me- And I'm gone, now i'm dancing on angels, and i'm gone through the crack in the past, like a dead man walking)
    Movie: "Basquiat"
    Books: "De Kooning, an American Master" and "Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit"

    great post, as always megan! You've inspired me to post on my blog more often, however i feel it is turning more into a journal than anything.
    Thanks, be well!

  9. Ok, that's crazy; I have tornado dreams too. Really vivid dreams where the tornados are really detailed and real feeling. Weird.