Friday, December 25, 2015

Is this thing on? I'm back!

Hello Dear Readers! Or hello dear self as I suspect this will be a solitary adventure for awhile as I regain focus. Just like that I have logged into my dormant blog and clicked "new post" and here I am writing after a tremendous break.

Rest assured I have written other places. I tried to keep a blog on my website for a while, "A cup of tea and a blether." I liked the idea of keeping everything together in one place, especially as a website can be a bit stagnant. I was trying to flow with the tide of being a one stop shop and move away from the older and perhaps outmoded blogger format. I even created a Tumblr to track my first year of art in Scotland. These new formats just didn't stick with me though. They always seemed like some other hurdle to jump, simply to write. Sadly over time the routine was broken and I stopped writing regularly.

My studio in Leith

So now here we are at the end of 2015 and I realized that I really missed writing about art each week. I really missed the routine and the way it kept me grounded to my art practice. I missed the way I could express myself here, in regards to my art, my experience of being an artist and the way I could share my triumphs and disappointments.

I think when I first moved to Scotland I wanted to completely start over, a tabula rasa on life, however as the months ticked by I realized that some basic foundations are essential. My weekly studio blog was one of my foundations. I think I also got disheartened over the years. My mind ran with the thought that "no one reads blogs anymore." We all have our facebook twitter and our instagram. "We now like short, sweet and to the point and blogs are too much work."

Yet, I realized that while I wanted to communicate with artists and patrons out in the ether that the practice of writing weekly was more for me than for anyone else. It became part of my life and identity, it also became my record and history. I need all of those things now more than ever. The past five years of my life and especially since moving to Scotland at the end of September 2014 has been a bit like performing an exploratory surgery into a new world. I need a record to keep me grounded and I need a place to settle into again. It seemed like returning to my home blog, that straddles both the past and present might be a good place to return.

Work in progress in the studio

So here I am again. I will be writing here every Friday on my studio blog about art, the creative process, inspirations and everything the header says since I started this blog in 2007. If you are an old reader, thank you for being a witness to my creative life over the years. I am so glad you are here. If you are a new reader, welcome, I am glad you have found me.

Work in progress

Everyday we paint is a victory...

Friday, April 10, 2015

The other side of six months

Here we are on the other side. I have never stayed here this long. I would have been on a plane on March 26th and back in Arkansas if I didn’t have my visa. It feels like an important threshold to cross. Everything that happens now is new in a way. I visited Edinburgh for 4 months in 2012 and six months in 2013 and now I live here and I am passed the six month mark.

I have now witnessed every month and season in Edinburgh. In 2012 I was here from mid January to the start of May, in 2013 I was here from mid March to the start of September. This time I arrived at the end of September and I witnessed October, November and December and I made it. The dark months conquered, perhaps with the help of too much beer and cake but conquered none the less. Holidays were also observed, my first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter. This marks the second time I have celebrated my birthday here and this time with friends! There have been ocassions marked with my Scottish family and my Scottish friends over these past months, even a beautiful wedding was attended.

I witnessed the clocks change and the first days of Spring.

The art studio is not temporary this time and it has started to feel more like home in the days on the other side. This feels like the first studio I can count on since the old studio on the sqaure in Fayetteville. This space has a sink and is only a four minute walk from the flat in a beautiful old building. I feel so fortunate.

There are paint splatters on the wall and drips on the floor and there is plenty of space to move and work. I’ve got big headphones again and I am remembering to dance when I paint. The canvases are getting big and people say the work is getting bold. I say it is returning to bold, just like me. There is color, gesture and movement. I think I am making some of the most painterly work I have made in probably almost five years. I feel like a painter again. Not a catch all artist but a painter. There is a rembering and a returning to self in the process of making this new work. There are thirteen large works in the series currently, most in various states of progress but at least five are finished. To be able to make work like this again makes my heart sing. I am free again.

Stewart and I are also on the other side of six months of marriage and learning how to be together in this space without a leaving date looming over us. Just like my paintings, it’s a work in progress and I hope it will always be. As I get more comfortable with this new life we get more comfortable together and the dynamic ebs and flows. We are two artists supporting each other, taking turns, fighting, crying, loving and moving ever forward, growing together as we create what we are on the planet to make.

As I write this, Theo, our cat sits in his favorite cardboard box looking out one of the windows lovingly cut for him by Stewart. He is the most beautiful creature, he has not yet crossed this threshold with us but he certainly has helped me get here. His soft fur, wide eyes, loud purr and spirit have been a wonderful addition to our lives. He too is feeling more and more comfortable as he learns to trust and relax into his new surroundings. This is not going anywhere, Theo. This is your house. We are your people. This is your life and you get to have all of this.

This is not going anywhere, Megan. This is your house. These are your people. This is your life and you get to have all of this, on the other side of six months…

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This is what I know

If I don’t just start writing again, I never will. I had my big review of 2014 and then I don’t know what happened. Life got in the way, the practice was disrupted or perhaps I didn’t have anything to say.

I have to remember what makes me. Writing helps make me so I want to keep doing it. I can’t catch up, I can’t go back and remember or fill in the gaps. I just have to start where I am and keep moving forward.

This moving stuff is tricky. To fit into someone else’s organized life and scheme seemed perhaps easy on the surface but it’s hard. I wish I had brought more things with me when I arrived to make it feel more like my home. I wish I had looked for a job or volunteer opportunity in the community right away rather than wait. There is no point in looking back and trying to figure out what would have made this move easier or the transistion smoother. I don’t think it is meant to be easy or smooth. It’s been a challenge and I’ve been a little lost, floating through the days not sure what makes me or who I am here. Not sure how to be an artist here, how to be comfortable here.

This is what I know.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with much to explore. Keeping exploring it. With Stewart, alone and with friends. Keep trying new things, going to new places, ordering new foods and drinks. This reminds me of who I am and inspires me.

I have a wonderful studio around the corner. Embrace it. Stop worrying about the money. Make the space your own, use it, hide out in there, sing songs, listen to music, dance, drink tea and just PAINT.Have people over there, talk about your work. Make eye contact with those in the building. You deserve to be there.

Write your thoughts. Explore your fears, celebrate your triumphs, tell the world your visions. It’s too much trouble keeping it all inside. I know when I don’t express things it manifests as pain and tension in my body. Don’t censor yourself.

Explore opportunites. Revamp your Etsy shop. Paint a small body of work and submit it to a gallery. Show some art in a coffee shop. Volunteer in a gallery or somewhere else. Join a group, a club, make something happen that is bigger than yourself. This is when I am truly happy.

Walk in nature. Get away from the traffic and loud sounds of the city and explore the gardens, the sea, the cycle paths. Listen to the wind, bird songs and smell the flowers. If it is sunny, I need to be out in it.

Ask for help. Tell your friends and family when it is hard. Cut yourself a break more often. You left everything you knew behind in September and moved with just two bags to a foreign country at the age of 42 to start again. Celebrate your courage, the beauty and love that surrounds you but acknowledge the difficulties. I feel better already…