Friday, July 26, 2019

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

What a difference a few days make... Thanks to everyone who read my studio blog (posted this Monday for last Friday). I really appreciate the comments and private messages - I still owe a couple of you replies. Thank you for reading and for your concern, suggestions, and support. You are beautiful people and artists that give and give and give. I see you.

So... I spent most of the day on Monday writing that blog and I felt much better afterward. Thanks to some of the feedback I received, I was planning to take it easy for a spell and spend some time on the wee beach across from the house after I filmed the Tuesday Studio Video Visit. I was getting ready to head out to my studio at the Drill Hall with every intention of filming from the 25th Anniversary exhibition there, but then something else happened. 

I was invited to pop by a fellow artist's studio and have a wee cuppa and a blether. I thought that sounded grand, so off I went, putting my plans for the day on the back burner. I had just purchased a lovely piece of work by this artist about 2 weeks prior. That is when we met for the first time and I was looking forward to saying hello and getting to know this artist better. As luck would have it, her studio was just down the road - a few minutes walk. I had passed the area many times before without notice due to a large gate, this time I entered through a wee door and into a fabulous old complex of stables built around the 1840s. It was a hot and sunny morning and all the doors were open to allow the old space some sun and air. I met my new friend and her beauty of a dog and was shown around the charming place before we stopped for our coffee chat. I exclaimed as we entered every room -excited and inspired at once. Ferns growing in a pocket of damp, the old cobbled floors, and ivy trailing through the ceiling in parts made the place feel like a country dream. The curved rock wall and solid old beauty just made my heart sing. As I think you know, I love the old crumbling things and have wanted for a long time to stage an exhibition in a space like this. Possibilities were screaming out from every corner with photos to be taken, art to be made, and secrets lost to history to be heard anew. But, I was just there for coffee and was happy that my new friend had such an inspiring place to make her art. 

We chatted in the sun and at some point, she asked if I would like to sketch in the courtyard. Very generous and kind, she had read my last blog. Perhaps a change of scenery would help. I already felt more inspired just by walking through the place. There was one room in particular that jumped out at me, and somehow I asked if I might be able to paint in there sometime. I was thinking for a day or two... she was keen on having me work there for longer than that. In fact, on the spot, she gave me a big broom, dustpan, coveralls, bin bags, and a bucket of soapy water. A plan was hatched! I spent the rest of the day there sweeping until I had blisters on my hands - propelled by her generosity, the wonder of the place, and a head full of possibility. As I was sweeping, I found the word "freedom" on the floor. 

I filmed my Tuesday Studio Video Visit from the space, red-faced and shocked with joy. 

On Wednesday morning, I was given my own key - putting it on my keyring felt important. I am thinking of this opportunity as an artist residency of sorts to help me gain a new perspective and to focus differently on my work. I have wanted to paint larger for quite a while and this space will allow me to explore the possibilities. I went to my studio at the out of the blue and packed up some essentials - paint, charcoal, paper, brushes, canvases, and called a pal to help me transport it. I also ordered a couple of large canvas/twill drop cloths to protect the old floor and a 5x33ft. roll of primed canvas! I spent the rest of Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning sorting things out and by the end of Thursday I had a completed a painting from my new dark series and worked on several small book works. 

Newly completed painting

Today, I worked on another dark series piece. I, of course, love everything about this experience - how it came about, the generosity, vulnerability, and trust involved. I am thankful for this more than you can know and I am excited to see what comes from this time.

In March I wrote these words, "you'll find me standing against the decaying and water-damaged walls of abandoned houses listening." Well, that's where you'll find me...

With gratitude from my heart to yours, keep fighting and keep giving. Beauty is where you find it. Thank you.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I can see clearly (better late than never)

book work in progress

Pardon my tardiness, only my true readers will pay attention or notice that this is being written on a Monday and backdated for Friday. I just don't have much to say. I feel quite stagnate, hollow, and not very inspired at the moment. I have my work in two shows in Edinburgh right now and that's great. I also will have work in the Artists’ Book Market, to be held at the Dalriada on the 7th and 8th of September in Portobello, Edinburgh. 

However, that's not the same as being swept away into a new body of work and expressing myself. Right now, I am unable to express myself and that feels awful. It feels a bit like my mouth is sewn shut, my hands are empty of the knowledge required, and my mind is blank. I took a break from my daily yoga and meditation routine and I ate a bunch of junk food and watched too much tv. I thought I could get away with that (the old ways of coping) for a few weeks or a month, but I don't think I can, at least not right now. I also don't think I want to. My body is aflame and I feel stiff and weak. I have betrayed myself and of course, this affects my art and my mood. 

Betrayed is probably a strong word, but remember I am an artist and I like words and sometimes when you feel this stuck you need to be dramatic and express something, anything - no matter how poorly just to get moving again.

This year is flying by and I feel like it's getting away from me, maybe that's all part of the plan. I am not sure what I have created and if it has been "enough." This goes back to my counting up the evidence ethos (which I have slowly been trying to move away from) but this method of validation can still work if your brain works like mine. Perhaps, I will just do that here, gather the evidence and prove some things to myself in this public forum (shout out to the few of you publics that still read this). 

2019 Paintings: 

I painted the 10 Bikes for Refugee paintings on paper and they all sold, raising £550 for the charity and helping to put 10 bikes on the road for our New Scots. That is something to feel good about. Creative, productive, and helpful, I fulfilled my goal. I am grateful to the patrons who purchased those works, I hope you feel good about what you helped accomplish through your support of my art. 

I painted 6 other small works on canvas, 20x20cm and had them framed. They are all currently at the Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello. 

I completed a large commission in February for Paper + White that consisted of 4 new paintings.  I recently was able to share and enjoy the photos of the completed project, a gorgeous Kensington flat in London. This was a big moment.

I started a new series of large works, "The Dark Series" (working title) currently consisting of 5 pieces with three more in progress. I was excited about this series and others seemed to be as well, I am not sure why I am not ready to go back into it yet. 

I started the scroll series and enjoyed documenting it on the stairs at the studio. 

I have worked on a number of small paper, canvas, and cardboard pieces and of course many studies. 

So I think I have created about 26 "proper" paintings on paper and canvas and have 3 in progress and many small works on the go still, as well as book works in various states of progress. 

Megan, is painting 26 proper paintings with 30 plus more in various states of progress enough for the first 7 months out of the year? Only I can answer that. Are you a machine? No. Do you want to live like a machine? No. Are you being hard on yourself? Yes. I appear to average about 8 paintings a month - some are scribbles, sketches, some will be painted over, some will morph, some are on top of older work I started last year, does this matter? No. Will you paint more paintings before January 2020? Of course.

2019 Exhibitions/Television/Open Studios/Online Studio Sales/Union Membership/Mentoring

I have had my work in 1 solo exhibition since the start of the year.
To Tell You Everything, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Alleyway Gallery, Edinburgh
I created an opportunity to show a small 6-piece body of work in an outdoor pop-up space. 

I have had my work in 4 group exhibitions since the start of the year.
The 25th Anniversary Exhibition, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh
The Stars Go Waltzing, The Velvet Easel Gallery, Portobello, Edinburgh
Spring Exhibition, The Dancing Light Gallery, West Linton, Edinburgh
Off the Wall, The Velvet Easel Gallery, Portobello, Edinburgh 

My work made its international television debut on HBO's True Detective. This too was a big moment.

I submitted and had my work accepted in the previously mentioned and upcoming Artists’ Book Market. I celebrated and will continue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my book series (I am gathering raw materials right now to continue the books).

I have opened my studio to the public 3 times so far this year, with the February and May, Makers Marque and then again in June during the Summer Arts Market.

I have stayed true to my ethos of "art for all" by continuing to create and sell value-priced small works and promoting them online through my online studio sale via social media. I also became quite transparent about the prices on my gallery sized works - by putting the prices on my website as well as creating a payment plan option for patrons. 

I am delighted to have just recently sold a good-sized painting to new patrons back in my home state of Arkansas. I also sold a small work through the Fenix Gallery back home in Arkansas at the start of the year. Two of my paintings have sold through The Velvet Easel Gallery this year and I have sold numerous paintings through my studio and of course through Paper+White commissions. Thank you to all my patrons who purchase my work- you keep me going!
I joined the Scottish Artists Union and attended two events so far this year, one to help shape the Fair Works Contract for artists (this was a paid group consultation of union members) and attended a presentation on basic income. 

I created a new art mentoring website and formally mentored two artists so far this year and perhaps some others on an informal basis. I can't help myself... 

2019 Art Documentaries/Exhibitions/Refilling the Well/Routine:

I have taken in a number of good and varied exhibitions in Edinburgh so far this year. I have also viewed a number of art documentaries that I found inspiring. All part of the process to refill the well, to keep learning, and exploring this wonderful world of art.

I have continued with my Friday Studio Blog (sometimes late) and my Tuesday Studio Video Visits, always with the hope to create a community around art, to share knowledge, skills, fears, doubts, successes, and inspiration. I appreciate all who read and view my offerings - you keep me accountable. 

So, is the year really getting away from me? Am I truly not painting enough? What more do I want? What more do I need? How do I want it to feel? What can I change? What can I accept? What can I let go of? What can I invite in? How can I make my studio space an inviting and exciting place to spend time even when I am stuck? 

Here's another thing through all of this. I have made time for family and friends, and my communities. I have made time for walks, flowers, photography, the beach, the patio, and the plants. I have done more yoga and meditation and ate healthy foods more often than I haven't. I have seen and experienced new things, discovered new books, films, music, and art. I have challenged myself and I have stretched outside my comfort zone. I have taken breaks but I haven't given up. And this is why sometimes, it's still good to gather the evidence. It's hard to see it all, it's hard to feel it all, it's hard to give credit where credit is due. It's much easier to betray (that word again) ourselves with our fears and dark thoughts. 

When I write and read all of this it sounds like I am doing pretty well professionally. I can understand being uncomfortable if I am not painting as much or in the way, I want to be, but I also understand I am basically doing just fine and the best I can. I will return to the dark series, I will make more book works for the market in September. Another commission will come along. I will feel inspired again. I will keep fighting. Thank you for reading and for fighting along with me. 

See my work in Edinburgh: 
Out of the Blue is 25 Exhibition, Thursday 18th - Thursday 25th July. The exhibition will be open daily from 10am -5pm. On through this Thursday."An exhibition of our studio artists’ work to celebrate 25 years of Studio provision in Edinburgh by Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust.

Velvet Easel Gallery.
The Stars go Waltzing will run from Saturday 6th July to Sunday the 27th October and the gallery opening hours are: Thursday - Saturday 10 - 5, Sunday 12 -5

Visit my website to see my available large works.

Visit my art page on Facebook to see my small works

Like what I do and want to buy me a coffee? Thanks!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye

The sea whispers to me
Mixed media on canvas
2019 Megan Chapman
Available at the Velvet Easel Gallery

After a lovely opening of the "Stars go waltzing" exhibition at the Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello last Saturday, this week got off to a rocky start. A large commission I was all set to begin working on fell through over the weekend. I took a few days off to process my disappointment, cleaned up my studio (filled with the studies I had done for the project), and tied up a few loose ends. As I managed to show up to work and slowly move forward, I bribed/rewarded myself with a film in the cinema, a charity shop dress, and a fair amount of junk food. I also relied on my close friends and family when I needed support and here I am. Almost a week has passed and I am okay. In fact, I am pretty good.

As the Scots say, "Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye." Sometimes, things have a funny way of working out for the best. So now my studio is tidy and ready for the next project, my belly is full, I saw the new Robert the Bruce film (I really enjoyed it- better than the Netflix one) and I am reminded how wonderful it is to have supportive people in my life. And then something else happened...

Fragile once more
Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas
© 2015 Megan Chapman

A dear patron contacted me and purchased a couple of small works from my online studio sale and on the same day, a lovely patron from the states contacted me and purchased one of my larger paintings for their collection! Here I was fretting about the loss of income and in the same week, three sales! Three of those good, affirming, rich communication and connection type sales. Thank you, patrons, your support couldn't have come at a better time!

In other news, a reminder again about the 25-year Anniversary Exhibition at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall opening next Thursday.

Mark your diaries and get your free ticket (see link below- or don't bother with the tickets if that is freaking you out- just come!). I am delighted that I will be participating in the Out of the Blue is 25 Exhibition, Thursday 18th - Thursday 25th July. Join us for the exhibition launch: Thursday 18th July, 6pm - 9pm (book free tickets), The exhibition will be open daily from 10am-5pm (except Sunday). "An exhibition of our studio artists’ work to celebrate 25 years of Studio provision in Edinburgh by Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust.

Out of the Blue is delighted to present an exhibition showcasing the rich array of practices taking place behind our studio doors. Bringing together painters, textile artists, jewellers, and everything in-between as a celebration of ingenuity, imagination, innovation, and craft."

That's all I have for you this week. Thank you for being here.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Exhibitions and studies

One of my paintings that will be on show at the Velvet Easel

It's Friday and I bring news from my personal art world. First, news again of two upcoming exhibitions! The first exhibition opens tomorrow (Saturday, July 6th). I borrowed the following copy from the fabulous Velvet Easel Gallery.

"The Velvet Easel Gallery would like to extend a warm invitation to our new mixed exhibition, The Stars Go Waltzing.

The exhibition will feature a myriad of new and exciting artists as well as work by those already popular in the gallery. Drinks and nibbles will be served throughout the opening day on Saturday 6th of July

The Stars go Waltzing will run from Saturday 6th July to Sunday the 27th October and the gallery opening hours are:

Thursday - Saturday 10 - 5
Sunday 12 -5

The Velvet Easel Gallery exhibits a broad range of original art including paintings, pottery, ceramics, glass, and jewellery...we also have a wide range of prints and greetings cards and provide an ideal venue to shop for unique, unusual and quality purchases and gifts. We also sell Gift Vouchers which have proved popular for wedding, birthday, retirement, Christmas gifts etc.

Thank you as always to customers and exhibiting artists - the gallery would be nothing without you."

I hope you will make it by the gallery for the exhibition, The Velvet Easel is one of my most favourite galleries in town, always a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and a wonderful variety of art on show. A real gem in Edinburgh. I am delighted to have six new paintings in this exhibition. 

Between memory and story, just one of my paintings that will be part of the Out of the Blue 25 Exhibition

The second exhibition opens on Thursday, July 18th. I know I mentioned both of these exhibitions in my blog last week as well but you just never know who will read one blog and not the other, so thanks for your patience. I borrowed the following copy from the fabulous Out of the Blue Drill Hall. 

Mark your diaries and get your free ticket (see link below). I am delighted that I will be participating in the Out of the Blue is 25 Exhibition, Thursday 18th - Thursday 25th July. Join us for the exhibition launch: Thursday 18th July, 6pm - 9pm (book free tickets), The exhibition will be open daily from 10am-5pm (except Sunday)

"An exhibition of our studio artists’ work to celebrate 25 years of Studio provision in Edinburgh by Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust.

Out of the Blue is delighted to present an exhibition showcasing the rich array of practices taking place behind our studio doors. Bringing together painters, textile artists, jewellers and everything in-between as a celebration of ingenuity, imagination, innovation, and craft."

I have worked at my studio G23 at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street in Leith since I rented it in late December 2014, just 3 months after I made the big move to Edinburgh. All the work I have created since has been made within this fabulous old building, so I am honoured to be able to celebrate and become part of the history of the 25 years of the Out of the Blue. 

Now that we have the very important promotions out of the way. I will say that this week was spent on a series of studies. I think I did six sets of six paintings - so 36 small studies for six larger-scale works that I hope to be busy painting in the near future. It was a fun and challenging process. I painted a few things I really liked and am looking forward to transferring them to much larger canvases shortly.

Here is a rough version of one of the studies and then six of the final studies cleaned up. 

rough study

cleaned up studies ready to create on 90x120cm canvases
I think that is all I have for you this week, I would love to hear that you have visited The Velvet Easel or perhaps I will see you at the opening at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. Regardless, let's keep in touch. Keep fighting, you miraculous creature of light and dark. I need you here. We all do. Thank you.