Friday, April 29, 2016

Winter comes around again

Painting in progress from the studio
This week in the studio I worked on a 30x30" canvas that was perfectly fine but wasn't fine enough. I completely took it apart to rebuild it. I am pleased that I did.

The yellow and white series (for lack of a better name currently) is in full force. I am looking forward to getting them all properly documented and then trying to find the right exhibition space for these new works as well as adding a few more to the mix. Besides painting in the studio this week, I also packed and shipped another small work to a new patron in Glasgow. I am always grateful for new and repeat patrons and Glasgow has been especially kind to me this year. Thank you!

Two sides of the same story
A series coming together
I also had a lovely studio visit this week. Last week I wrote about my visit to the country to visit friend and fellow artist Louise Blamire. This week Lou came to the city and we had a great chat, laughing and looking at art. There was even talk about a future collaboration. It is always good to have other artists in the studio to look at things and bring their insights and energy into the working space. Thanks, Lou!

The weather has gone wintry again but not in that nice introspective drink too much tea and get things done kind of way but in more of the "I'm not going out in that" kind of thing. Therefore, I haven't had my best art week but it certainly wasn't my worst. I baked a pie (definitely an art form) listened to new music, watched films and watched exciting art being created on the street by Stewart Bremner. Nothing to complain about there.

Next week, I hope to have two new 16x20" canvases to share with you and perhaps some better photos of the series. You know what to do until then.... Keep fighting! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Refill the well (again and again)

Last Friday after my early morning blog post, Reaching outI got on a bus and went to the country. My friend and fellow artist Louise Blamire invited me to spend the night, ramble and talk about art.

We walked in the rain by a flowing river and past daffodils and through fields. We shared food, we talked about life, politics and humanity. We talked about families, hard times, dreams and aspirations. We enjoyed the fire and drank tea. We schemed and planned for what will be, what we know and what we don't. We shared our fears and were mirrors for each other.

We slept, we woke and talked some more with our notebooks open and pens at the ready. We walked by another river, through mud and newly green shrubs and blooms. We went for a drive through the hills, through the sheep, through the big cloud filled sky and looked down on the sea. We saw old cars as they rallied along the hills. There were piles of drawings, materials, art on every wall. Raw beauty was everywhere, life was being lived in East Lothian and for that night and the next day I lived it too and I wore the wet socks, muddy shoes and jeans to prove it.

I took the photographs of the stolen light coming in at angles on the cottage. I felt my weight in every step in the mud. I felt the sunshine on my back and the rain on my face.

I relished my time there and on the bus to and from. I refilled my well. It was required living. Thanks, Lou.

Now, let's see what I do with it all...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reaching out

Work in progress in the studio

Thank you to everyone who read last week's blog, Taxes and Manifestos. I really appreciate the positive response, private messages and the shares on social media. In the end it is always the more vulnerable posts, the ones I am not sure about posting, that resonate the most. Sharing our struggles as well as our triumphs is so important as that is how we make real, honest connections. It is also how we learn we are not alone and that hopefully we do have a community that can empathize with us and offer support. I am grateful to be continually made aware of this and supported in this way.

Thank you.

Since the blog posted another small painting has sold and I was asked if I would like to be interviewed as part of a "meet the teacher/artist" post on a beautifully designed art site based here in Edinburgh. I appreciate both so much. I will tell you more about the interview once I complete the questions and it has posted. It's been a while since I answered interview questions and I am very much looking forward to it once I sit down and get in the zone.

This week I worked on the canvas that I had begun to get into last week and made some good headway with it and felt pleased. I think there is still a bit further to go. I also picked up the local arts publications for my gallery research and just to get more connected with where I am as I try to make inroads in the Scottish art scene.

I am trying to connect. I am reaching out. I believe in the power of art. I believe that art has saved me more than once and has taught me most of the best lessons I have learned, so I will continue to stick by it and stick by other artists that make it. I have never met more kind and interesting souls.

This gig is a hard one but this is what I am on the planet to do. Artists of the world I see you and I get it. Thank you for your hard work and your dedication. Thank you for being vulnerable and brave and for reaching out.

Until next week, keep fighting. The world needs you and your art. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Taxes and Manifestos

detail from a work in progress
This past week I shipped several small paintings to the states, communicated about an upcoming commission for another patron and worked on a new painting. All in all, it was a productive week.

It's tax time in the United States so I had to gather my records of receipts and sales and all the things one keeps track of in this profession. I am grateful to my accountant Diane Hagerty and of course Stewart for being the spreadsheet wizard that he is.

Even with this help, I still kind of lost it. There's nothing like tax time to showcase my vulnerabilities. It did not come as a suprise that 2015 was not a good year for me professionally. I would even say it was close to one of my worst on record, if not the worst.

Suddenly looking at the figures before me I took a one way trip to loserville and have been crying pretty much all week. I even broke out into hives and have felt pretty much incapacitated. I think the hives are related to something else but I am sure they were not helped with my full blown "stop the charade, get a real job" pity party I threw for myself.

While in the midst of freaking out, a patron bought another piece, someone wrote a lovely comment about my art and I took some time to look back at all the work I have created. I thought about the exhibitions I have been a part of and how many of my paintings have lovely homes all over the world. I started to feel little better.

I never thought I was going to make a steady living as an artist. When I was at University I borrowed as little as I could so I would have as little debt as possible to repay because I knew my prospects weren't good. I joined AmeriCorps and worked with them for a year after school to help pay off what little I had borrowed, quickly.

I have planned my life in such a way that I try not to cost myself or anyone else too much money to feed, water, house and clothe. I am the ultimate comparison shopper, bargain hunter, trash to treasure finder and creator, make do and mender, wear it until it is threadbare as well as being a good cook who can cheaply add warmth and life to any home.

This is my life as an artist. I don't often understand it completely and I question myself and my art mercilessly. I don't think the way I have gone about it has always been the smartest or cleanest way. I could have taken more risks. I could have priced my work higher and I could have kept better and more organized records. I could have networked more or perhaps I could have gotten that M.F.A. after all so I could teach for my security as I move into the deep middle of my life.

I could have done a lot of things but this is what I did. I kept my prices as affordable as I could so that the most people could live with my art. I helped other artists polish their art and helped them get ahead in their careers anyway I could. I gave of myself for the greater good of the community of artists and patrons because that is what I believe in. I have sold hundreds of paintings all over the world and that is unbelievable and wonderful and more than I ever imagined when I was graduating with my B.F.A in 1999. Don't lose sight of this, Megan.

So here I am and I just ran my figures for 2016 and we aren't even through month 4 of the year and I am already doing better than the whole year of  2015. This is a wonderful trend and one that I hope continues.

I have to remind myself how I am starting over now and that I always knew it would be hard to maintain my connections, momentum and livelihood while I figured out everything over here in Scotland and tried to forge new connections. I have to allow myself the time and keep moving forward.

For most of us, being an artist isn't exactly a job or a career and to treat it like one or to try to judge my success through the norms of society is foolish. It's time once again for a new manifesto and a new plan. At this point in my life, what do I want from my art? What does success look like for me? How can I do what I love and support myself? What is working and what is not? Is it time to reproduce my work as affordable prints? Is it time to learn a new skill? Take a class? Find a job that helps me live better while giving more love to my art and less worry? How can I find and maintain the joy in my work? How can I take more active steps to creating an art community around me here in Scotland?

I look forward to investigating these questions in the future and I may just use this space to do it. I hope you will stick with me, I have a feeling many artists struggle with these same things.

Thank you to everyone who purchased my work in 2015 and so far in 2016 especially as I start anew over here, your purchases have lifted me up and given me hope. Thanks to everyone who has ever supported my work as an artist whether through purchases, support, mentoring or a kind word. I wouldn't be here without you.

Until next week, you know what to do. Keep fighting, the world needs you and your art!

Friday, April 1, 2016

On target

In the studio, waiting for a name

I finished a large 100x150cm painting this week and for that I am grateful. I also returned to "my plan" and felt much better for it. The two go together without a doubt. I also went out and explored and took in new surroundings, history, art and architecture. It was an intensive week of refilling the well as it had run dry while I wasn't looking.

"The plan" works if I work it. At first it seems like a drag to have a list of things I need to do to survive but many of them are enjoyable tasks and I always feel better and more grounded for having done them. What is the plan? Well it's a combination of meditation, writing, yoga, walking, working in the studio, drinking enough water, taking my vitamins, limiting my Internet exposure in the morning especially, exploring Edinburgh and the culture and art around me and not isolating myself. It also requires that I pace myself as I go about all my other activities. Little and often is the key as I try work the plan regardless of how I feel. Sounds like a regular spa day.

Currently I am back on target.

We are now out of ebb and back into flow territory. Always a welcomed return. I will be in ebb again soon. That is the part I must remember and accept. I hope that the process gets more consistent with time or perhaps I hope I get more understanding of the process and flow with it rather than fight against it.

Ever onwards...