Friday, April 26, 2013

Watching the world

What week is this? How long have I been here? Time marches on...

I haven't been getting out as much or doing as many tourist based things. Did I say that last week? I have been busy living and doing pretty well. The focus has turned to art and because of this, I completed another painting in my new series.

One last time
Mixed media on paper
2013 Megan Chapman

Besides painting this week, I walked a lot and attended my two yoga classes. I also started reading a good book. With all the walking and yoga it seemed like a self help book was in order. I really like this one as it is not fluffy or guru like or too whatever self help books can sometimes be. This one is straight forward and focused on the brain and self observation. If you are in the market I highly recommend it. 

Remember before I left I was thinking about some basic questions that one might want to ask themselves in order to lay the foundation for an artist to create or for anyone to live a little better or more happily? Well I think I answered the questions I proposed like once at the time and flitted on to something else (probably getting ready for this trip). Well, now I am happily able to answer yes to most of the questions regularly which makes me feel so much better about myself and the world and helps me get to the place I need to be to make art.

Here is a refresher: 

Did you move your body today? 
Walk, Yoga, Dance etc. 
Did you express yourself through art today? 
Not a big project, just something creative.
Did you drink water and take vitamins today? 
Basic self care is so easy to forget
Did you reach out to friends or family today? 
Make plans to connect outside yourself.
Did you explore someone else's art today? 
Keep learning and exploring as not to grow stagnant
Did you do something for your own art career today?
Update your website, write a blog, return an email etc.

Anyway, I just want to leave you with a random thought:

I like taking the bus to and from one of the yoga classes I am signed up for. I don't listen to music or read a book or anything. I just sit and look out the window, breathe and watch my thoughts go by. I look out at the people walking, I look at the statues and ornate buildings. I look at the castle and the church yard. I look at the people getting on and off the bus. I just sit and observe and usually I feel myself fill with gratitude. I am far from home and I am alone on a bus. I am on my way to or from a yoga class full of strangers at a place I have never been until recently. I don't know the names of the streets as they pass. I am not scared, I am not agitated, I am not concerned. I am just sitting on the bus watching this beautiful world pass and being part of it at the same time. This is my greatest accomplishment. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Soil of the south

The view from Calton Hill on Wednesday evening
Hello hello!

Thanks for joining me here again!

All is well here in Edinburgh and spring looks like it may have really sprung. The daffodils are all blooming and I have seen some flowering trees and shrubs. The sun was out all day today as well, which was a real treat. As many of you know I lived in Oregon for six years so I am no stranger to rain and grey skies but it is just so amazing when the sun does come out and it changes everything for the better. You just can't take the sun or even spring for granted over here but when it happens it feels like a true gift not to be wasted.

This past Saturday I went to my second art club meeting and it was a good session of decoupage. It really could be called cake club, as that is what we seem to do for the first hour or so; just eating cake, drinking tea and making small talk within our small group. It is lovely to be around people and to be making new friends this time around.

On Sunday we went to the Royal Scottish Academy's new contemporaries exhibition and then on to the National Gallery of Scotland to enjoy some old masters. Then we walked through new town and had a super yummy curry at Haq's on Leith walk, a new discovery in curry close to the flat.

The rest of the week, Monday- Friday is a blur of walking in the evenings and afternoons while exploring local graveyards, parks, Asian markets and the view of the city from Calton hill. There has also been a smattering of family research, the attending of two yoga classes and a pizza dinner with Pat Bremner.

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that I completed my first painting in my new series of works for our two person show at Cross Street Arts in England! I am really pleased with how it turned out.
So, without further ado I will share with you and bring some art back to this art blog.

The soil of the southern states
Mixed media on paper 30x22"
Megan Chapman, 2013

The soil of the southern states
Mixed media on paper
 Megan Chapman, 2013
the soil of the southern states

Mixed media on paper
 Megan Chapman, 2013

My heart got the old familiar fluttery feeling it gets when making something. I love solving all the problems that coming with making art. I am looking forward to seeing how the series evolves. The first piece is always the hardest and I have a tight schedule to turn it all around.

So I think that is all for this week. I have been here for 5 weeks and I have walked 109 miles, attended 5 hours of yoga and completed one full sized painting, among other things. Thank you to all who have supported me, followed my work and travels and to those who have encouraged and inspired me. I carry you all with me. Until next week, keep fighting. 

Everyday we paint is a victory...

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Room of One's Own

Warriston Cemetary, Edinburgh


Well it has been another exciting week in Edinburgh! In some ways it feels like I am doing less tourist type stuff and more living type stuff and that doesn't make for the most exciting entries. However, something very exciting happened this week, so let's get started!

On Saturday I decided I really wanted to see the sea and walk on the beach. I looked up the bus schedule and figured out the route and made plans to spend the day in Portobello. Stewart and I got ready and were out the door (a 3 minute walk to the bus) and for 1.50 (pounds) each, the bus took us there in about 20 minutes. It is so lovely to be able to just walk out the door to reliable public transportation.

Once at Portobello, we went to a lovely outdoor market in a local park that had fresh soap, pastries, jams, etc. and then we walked up the High street and visited numerous charity shops, from there we walked to the promenade to a beautiful stretch of beach. It was really lovely and just so close. I didn't make it to Portobello the last time I was here, so it was quite a revelation. After we walked a little over 5 miles we got the bus back to town where I finally had the gumption to go into this little corner pub (which is catty corner) from the flat, called The Tourmalet. The place was perfect, with a friendly attitude and comfortable decor. A great find and so amazingly close! Saturday was a great day full of new discoveries.

Sunday, I stayed in mostly recovering from our long walking excursion the day before but I still put the day to good use. I did some family research and I thought more about the upcoming exhibition in Manchester and what kind of work I want to do and researched some techniques and ideas. 

On Monday, I ordered my supplies. That took more time than it probably should have but of course I was working with an unfamiliar art supply company, products and sizes. With a a lot of help from Stewart I finally managed to place my order. I also wrote out a stack of post cards to some of my supporters of my project, it felt good to write and start working on getting some of the requested perks sent out to my supporters of my project. I also went to the local art shop, Greyfriars to get some other supplies. It is so nice to have access to a sweet little art shop. I bought some paper to start making some small works while waiting for the supplies I ordered to arrive. 

On Tuesday, I started prepping the small papers. I have 10 small works in progress with the surface gessoed and tea stained. These will be collage paintings and used as experiments with the techniques and ideas I want to use for the Manchester work. 

On Wednesday, I started typing up some words and ideas for the show and the small works. I am also experimenting and getting to know the printer that was purchased to help me produce some of the effects and elements I want to put in the paintings. Wednesday night is the night my yoga class meets, so I went to my second hour long yoga session around the corner. I am so glad I signed up for this class. I love it. I hope my instructor teaches another session after this one. The other yoga class I am signed up for starts a week from today and is 2 hours/session and lasts 10 weeks so I am looking forward to that. It just makes such a difference in my life.

Thursday is the day that it all gets exciting. On Wednesday I had called about a studio at a large studio and gallery complex and I made an appointment to view a space on Thursday morning. Stewart accompanied me to show me the bus route and check out the space. It is a quick and easy bus ride. The studio is only about 1.3 miles from the flat, a short 7 minute bus ride once you walk the 10 minutes up the street to the bus stop. I was just going to look but once I was inside and saw the space I just went for it and signed the lease on the space!

I will move in May 1st if not sooner! My studio has two south facing windows filled with an amazing view of Arthur's Seat. The complex has 200 artists working there and 3 galleries, a lending library and a swap shop. It is my kind of place. We walked home from the space so I could familiarize myself with the walking route, I think I floated home. I smiled the whole time and there were even a few tears. I have been heartbroken ever since I lost my studio space a year and a half ago and have found it terribly hard to work and focus on the bigger picture. Having a studio is like having a home for my dreams and a place to put them into action. I have felt homeless without a studio environment. Knowing now that I have this space to work and dream in is like having a missing puzzle piece found and locked into position and now I am whole again. I am really excited and again so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you to all my donors and supporters. To celebrate we walked around town and explored, visiting a graveyard in Leith, some charity shops, some ethnic food markets and there was also another visit to the Tourmalet.

Today, we went for a lovely 6 mile walk and ended up exploring Warriston Cemetery. The cemetery is such a dreamy place, filled with forgotten treasure, there are so many stories, I can't wait to go back and explore further.

So that has been the week. Today marks 4 weeks and 1 day since I have been here. I have walked 89 miles and attended 2 yoga classes, drank a lot of good beer, seen a lot of art and each day I push forward reaching towards my goals. Each day I make a choice to say yes with gratitude in my heart.

Thanks for going along with me.


Portobello beach sounds and sun

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Week 3: Edinburgh, Scotland

Dean Village on the way to the Modern Art Gallery


I will catch you up with some of my past rambles around this lovely city of Edinburgh and then I will tell you a little about art! Because after all this is an ART blog right? Right!

The time seemed to fly by as we approached the end of my third week in Scotland.

On Saturday I got up early and waited in anticipation for the opening of the flea market at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. Once inside, I quickly scored 6 lovely old maps of Scotland for just 10 pounds. The oldest map was from 1908 and the youngest from 1940. I imagine these are raw materials for future art. Later in the evening, there was a brisk walk to Ocean Terminal, which is a large shopping complex next to the Firth of Forth. We met up with Stewart's Mom, Dad, Sister and Stewart's niece for an Italian dinner, in a large glass front restaurant over looking the water. I don't know why exactly but there seems to be an abundance of good Italian food here in this town.

On Easter Sunday, there was some family research at home and later, another family dinner, this time at Stewart's Mom's place where we enjoyed Chinese delivery with his sister again. I had made hot cross buns on Friday, so we took some for dessert. Family traditions are always sweeter when far away, they seem to provide some sort of grounding or reassurance. We caught the bus home and sat up front in the top deck, like a proper tourist. I always enjoy the night time bus rides back from Stewart's Mom's place. Something sort of warm and cozy about the night bus and after the walk there it feels almost luxurious to get a ride home.

On Monday, we took a long walk to the Modern Gallery of art to take in the currently exhibition. I love this walk by the water of Leith and through Stockbridge and Dean village and Dean cemetery. Once at the gallery, I was thrilled to see five Francesca Woodman photographs on show. I had only ever seen one print in person before, so this was a lovely treat and even better because it was a total surprise. The rest of the show pretty much left me cold. You can read Stewart's review of the exhibition to get a sense of it. 

On Tuesday (after Monday's long walk) time was spent indoors and researching my great great great grandparents, Murdoch Campbell and Christian McNeill Campbell. I also made arrangements and enrolled two Yoga classes. A four week class that meets for an hour every Wednesday night for 4 weeks which is around the corner and then a ten week class that meets every Friday for 2 hours which I will have to take the bus to and where I will meeting up with a friend who is also taking the class. I am really looking forward to the yoga, it has always done more for me than almost anything else I have tried to do to bring me a sense of calm and ready my brain for art making. I am so pleased I am taking advantage of all the city has to offer.

Wednesday saw the brightest day, full of sun. It is amazing the difference in the town and the mood of the people in it when the sun shines. It was a perfect day to begin my yoga class at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. It was a small class with a teacher and eight other women and it was really great- I was so happy I signed up! I am looking forward to next Wednesday's class.

Yesterday was spent doing more research and thinking of supplies that I need to begin painting. Later there was another visit to Stewart's Mom's place, this time  to celebrate her birthday. Stewart cooked for us and also made Rhubarb crumble. It was another lovely visit. Then we caught the bus home. Like I said I do love a night time bus ride. Pat loaned me this amazing book which got me all stirred up again researching late into the night.

Today, I have been doing some project stuff, getting ready to send out some postcards as a perk to some of the lovely folks that helped to get me back here. I also got a printer for some things I want to do soon....

Enough with the soon, let's cut to the chase. This week was very exciting in the art front! I am thrilled to report that we just received confirmation from the director and curator of Cross Street Arts that Stewart Bremner and I will be having a two person exhibition in Manchester, England in mid May! This is a huge and wonderful opportunity for us both and we are very grateful for it. I have pretty clear vision of what I want to do, I will just have to see if I can pull it off...

Stay tuned...

PS. In the past 3 weeks I have walked 64.7 miles.