Friday, February 28, 2020

Exhibition News!

Irving Gallery in Oxford presents 'A Place to Breathe.'

The exhibition will include paintings by Gina Parr, Helen Booth, Megan Chapman, and Kate Shooter, prints by Maxine Foster and Julie Leach, and photography by Ian Hoskin and Gina Parr.

The exhibition opens tomorrow Saturday 29th February from 1pm - 5pm. 'A Place to Breathe' will continue until Saturday 18th April. 

I am beyond thrilled to have six new works showing as part of this heavy-hitting exhibition in Oxford, England. If you are in the area, please make plans to attend and send me photos! 

Irving Gallery
28 Essex Street, Oxford OX4 3AW, UK
Phone: 07969 673349
Gallery hours:
Wednesday and Thursday 11am - 5pm Friday: 11am- 3pm Saturday: 1pm to 5pm
Follow the gallery's Facebook and Instagram pages to stay updated.

Solo Gallery presents ‘First Impressions.'

The exhibition will feature the work of local artist Louise Turnbull and will be shown alongside the work of Anita Phillips, Mary Morrison, Pascale Steenkiste, Megan Chapman, Debbie Lee, Moy Mackay, Barbara Cameron, and Hilary Forbes. 

If you're in the Scottish Borders on Saturday 7th March, come along to the opening from 2-5pm for nibbles and a glass of something bubbly. The exhibition continues until Saturday 4th April. 

I am delighted to have seven pieces in this exhibition and to be sharing the walls with such good company. 

Solo Gallery
51 High Street, Innerleithen EH44 6HD 
Phone: 07495 710687
Gallery hours:
10am - 5pm daily, except on Tuesday when the gallery is closed. The gallery is also open on Sunday from 12-4pm. 
Follow the gallery's Facebook and Instagram pages to stay updated.

The Velvet Easel Gallery presents 'Where the Shadows Come to Play.'

A new and exciting mixed exhibition featuring a broad range of mixed media artists. Make plans to come out and support this sweet and varied gallery with something for everyone and receive a kind and warm welcome on Saturday 7th March. Join us from 10am to close on Saturday for the opening and enjoy drinks and nibbles whilst taking in some superb art. The exhibition continues until the 28th of June.

I happily have four new works in this exhibition.

The Velvet Easel Gallery
298 Portobello High Street, Portobello, Edinburgh, EH15 2AS
Phone: 07813 916684
Gallery hours:
10am - 5pm Thurs, Friday, Saturday. The gallery is also open on Sunday from 12-5pm. Follow the gallery's Facebook and Instagram pages to stay updated.

Besides having my work in these exhibitions, my Studio G23 will also be open this Sunday, the 1st of March from 12-5pm at The Out of Blue Drill Hall as part of the Makers Marque. Come say hello! It will be my first Open Studio of the New Year and it would be great to see you there. 

36 Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG 
Studio G23  
I am on the ground floor before you get to the cafe, look to your right, and follow the signs.
Follow The Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Facebook and Instagram

And of course, in April I will be having my solo exhibition and art talk at the Helensburgh Art Hub, in Helensburgh, Scotland. Do keep that in mind, but rest assured we will talk about that as it gets closer.

I am thankful for all the opportunities coming my way for my art here in the U.K. in 2020. I hope you will make an effort to support these galleries and artists. Until next week, I hope you are well, happy, and inspired. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Now showing at Solo Gallery

This week I thought I would shine a spotlight on the seven paintings that are currently with the lovely Solo Gallery in Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders.

A Shift in the weather
Mixed media on canvas

To Tell You Everything  
Mixed media on canvas

Where We Say Goodbye
Mixed media on canvas

Far Away
Mixed media on canvas

Mixed media on canvas

On the wind
Mixed media on canvas

The sea whispers to me
Mixed media on canvas
£325 (framed)

Contact gallery owner Kate Hayes or go by the gallery in person to enjoy these works of mine and the many other brilliant works on show at the lovely Solo Gallery.

51 High Street, Innerleithen EH44 6HD 
Phone: 07495 710687
Gallery hours:
10am - 5pm daily, except on Tuesday when the gallery is closed. The gallery is also open on Sunday from 12-4pm.
Follow the gallery's Facebook and Instagram pages to stay updated as well. 

I am delighted to be showing with a new vibrant and exciting gallery specialising in contemporary arts and crafts.

UPDATE: I have created a short podcast to go with these works. I hope it will add something to your enjoyment of the work. Listen here: 

Listen to "Megan Chapman: Solo Gallery: Innerleithen" on Spreaker. 
Next week, we will be talking about all things Oxford, and the Irving Gallery's exhibition, "A place to breathe" which opens Feb. 29th, featuring six of my paintings as well as the wonderful work of many other talented artists! Until next week, I hope you are well, happy, and inspired. Thanks for being here with me.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Take that dive

I SHOULD write about all the exciting exhibitions that I am participating in or that are coming up or about the paintings that are on the go in the studio. Some weeks it is more complicated than others to separate it all out and get quiet and reflect on what I am doing in the studio. 

Some weeks I just want to break script, tell a story, spin a yarn, or just dream out loud. I get frustrated and it holds me back from writing at all. I hope you enjoyed last week's origin story. It felt good to look back and tell a bit of a story rather than just reporting. 

This internet world is extraordinary in so many ways but it also drives and molds us in ways that I don't think are so great. I don't want to learn a formula for selling my art or how to find the perfect clients or whatever Instagram and the like are selling these days. 

I want to paint and the older I get the more I want to protect my right to work as an artist. I don't always understand this calling or even always value it as I should. As you read last week art is always just something I have done, but these last 20 plus years I have done it with dedication, perseverance, and reverence. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to be a painter. It was decided for me and I resent trying to fit it into society's ideas of work, worth, and value. I have beaten myself up for years because I can't seem to make being a painter fit. Fuck that. I want to stop that. All I want to do is preserve my right to work as it is in my true nature. I'll figure it out. We will figure it out. 

This is not a hobby, a gimmick, a thing you turn off and on when you have a free weekend. This is constant, it's the way I see, feel, hear, it's the way I process information, it's the way I use language, it's also about the values I have, not to mention the skill, experience, and practice. It's about what is important to me and what I feel is important to the larger society. To dive into sound, art, words, a film: to dive in and swim away in the story of it all but to come back to this world knowing yourself and your fellow humans better, richer, deeper - that is what it is all about for me. This is what I am fighting for, to be able to take that dive and resurface here and still feel safe in this society. 

Thanks for joining me, the world needs us and our work. 

And as always find my work currently at the following galleries and sites. 

Solo Gallery
Innerleithen, Scottish Borders
I currently have seven pieces in the gallery.

The Velvet Easel Gallery
Portobello, Edinburgh
You can catch my work in the Of Night and Light Exhibition until the 1st of March and in the upcoming exhibition, Where the Shadows Come to Play that will open on Saturday 7th March, 2020.

Fenix Gallery
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Ask to see my available small works and limited edition prints

Small works shop:

On all your favourite channels!
Youtube: (I am in the process of transferring my Tuesday Studio Video Visits over to Youtube)

And of course, at my studio G23, located at 36 Dalmeny Street Leith, Edinburgh EH6 8RG. I will gladly open by appointment. Next Open Studio March 1 from 12-5pm as part of the Makers Marque! Make plans to attend.

Walls too crowded, budget tight? You can still support my work. Click the link to buy me a coffee. Consider becoming a one-off or monthly supporter for exclusive content. Thanks! Support Me on Ko-fi

Friday, February 7, 2020

Life of a painter : Origin Story

A place to breathe, mixed media on canvas 2019, 62 x 76 cm, Irving Gallery, Oxford. Exhibition Feb. 29 - Apr 18th.

I remember my hands around a crayon and a long roll of white butcher paper on the back porch floor during the summer. I was a realist back then, drawing my favorite doll Jenny (that my mother had made). Once her piercing green eyes and broad nose and wild hair were captured, I moved on to draw my stuffed animal, Ricky the Raccoon (my spirit animal if you will, after being gently bitten by one in Little Rock, Arkansas, I would joke that I was now part raccoon, or at least I hoped I was). These drawings had flair in the mark-making and a psychic understanding of the subject. They were not hard for me to do. There were spider plants captured in oil pastel and batik, abstracted and with a strong color palette created in the summer art guild class that my mom taught. Mom thought they were better than some of the older students' work and they were framed and hung on the wall for years. There was the little house print with its sweet and ragged line, not unlike the house we have all drawn but this was a monoprint done at a ridiculous age. I remember sitting on the steps of the old Catholic church with my mom on Lafayette Street across the road from the big old house that had the same windows as Old Main on the University campus. We sat there just thinking and drawing, her perfect version of the red brick home and mine, always off-kilter but still very much the same place.

Once I was school-aged, my second-grade teacher Mary Nordan championed me in my art and made sure I stayed on task with my reading (I fell behind for a bit but she caught me back up). Later in my life, fresh out of art school, I would end up working in her classroom catching up children on their reading too and this wonderful teacher would become a collector of my work.

In what is mostly called middle school these days or Junior High, I took all the art classes offered and yet I wasn't particularly good or bad at art, it was just something I did. Writing inched a little closer to stealing my heart then, as a way of dealing with the trauma, I felt by being subjected to this structure, age, and peer group. Junior High was my idea of hell, and I etched "Sex Pistols" onto a mirror in an art class that horrified my school teaching mother. I did draw E.T. upside down, dabbled in perspective, painting, and all sorts, thanks to my art teacher Kay Berkley. At home, the conversation was all about drawing from the right side of your brain. I started failing math, struggling in science, and being quickly left behind and so I disappeared into a haze of music and boys.

If I could just hold on to until High School, I heard rumors that all my peers would mellow out by then and not be so cruel, cliquey and status hungry. Well, that didn't happen but I ceased to care, as punk rock had rooted in my heart and given me hope and my individuality back. I did all the theatre (my first love) I could and after not taking any art for two years, stayed up one night creating a portfolio of paintings so I could try to get into advanced art my final year of high school. I succeeded, (thanks, Mrs. McNair). Again, I wasn't particularly good at it once in class or perhaps I didn't particularly care. I drew a woman in a fetal position trapped in a bag of water like a goldfish on its way home from the pet store. I will say my copy of "The Scream" on canvas board was spot on.

What I really wanted to be was an actress, and if that didn't work I told my 10th-grade English teacher, I would just work in the chicken plant, live in a tiny apartment and use candles to save money on electricity so I could drink beer and go to as many punk gigs as possible and do community theatre. I had it all planned out. I never worked in a chicken plant.

Art, dancing, singing, writing, acting and making people laugh. That's all I wanted to do. The arts fused in me like the rumble of a generator in the background, a continuous buzzing, and all of this before the age of eighteen.

And then I stopped. I had to get real. I had to go to University (or did I?) I had to get a job (or did I?) I definitely had lots of beers to drink and gigs to see (I excelled at this - straight A's). Let's call that my gap year.

My barely caring school years showed on transcripts, but I still got into the University of Arkansas. I majored in art (surprise!) not because of passion but because of doubt and fear. I needed a win. Well, I didn't get it. I got one semester of Drawing, Design, History, and English and then I withdrew the second semester during the week of spring break. I did get a love of Brian Eno from that first semester (thanks, to my drawing and design teacher, Kirsten Musnug). So perhaps it was worth it. I enjoyed the painting class I withdrew from that second semester but I couldn't understand the point in all the paintings looking like the professors.

Back to the bands, beers, and all the dishes I could wash at our local, fancy fine-dining establishment on the square. I did keep painting along with writing and was even in a community theatre production.  I was also 20 years old, drinking jugs of wine while listening to Robert Johnson during thunderstorms and smoking on the porch. "I've got mean things on my mind..." Oh, did I ever.

Finally, in a crazy flash of clarity or was it an obsession with the film "The Lost Boys" (because I liked the grandfather's house - the light and wind in particular, and the window over the kitchen sink). It was time to pack up and move away to Santa Cruz, California in 1993. My little town was about pop - gentrification: the first wave - and I couldn't sit there and watch. I was twenty-one. My two best friends had also decided to split the scene a few months earlier, so that made it easier to leave.

Santa Cruz sucked. My partner (who became my first husband) and I went to the library to check out a book on Eugene, Oregon. A music promoting friend had said it was a cool town. We read the blurb and it did sound good. On up the I-5 corridor, we went. We arrived in town and drove around. I asked Hank to pull over the truck so I could call my parents collect from the payphone. I told them that the light was incredible and that it already felt like home (very Mary Anne Singleton from Tales in the City, which would come to be PBS soon after and ignite my passion for the books by Armistead Maupin). The light always brings me to my knees. I remember much, much later crying over a plate of Pad Thai in Flagstaff, Arizona once because of the fucking light coming in through the windows. (If I ever doubt that I am an artist, I should remember my obsession with light). No wonder folks always ask me how I cope with painting in a windowless studio.

More dishes were washed, more beers had, more gigs were enjoyed as we made our way in this green and grey new world of the majestic Pacific Northwest. There were some false educational starts in Oregon too, first at the community college, it looked like I might be a theatre and art history major for a minute but then I was accepted to train as a drug and alcohol counselor and had to stop the drama.

Rest assured I came to my senses after a while and ran back to art history and then finally transferred to the Univerity of Oregon on a scholarship firmly to study art. No more hiding from my reality, I had to do this. I traded dishes, for selling newspapers, and then to reading books on to tape for the blind while I worked my way through University and I sank fully into painting, drawing, design, sculpture, photography, lithography, and art history along with my core liberal arts and language courses for my degree requirements.

Most importantly, I found the mentor and the professor who would change the game for me, Professor Ron Graff, a painter. Wonderfully talented and wry, branded demanding and difficult, I thrived under his guidance. I stayed on and was allowed to be my rebellious self as I went for my BFA in painting and drawing requiring yet another year of more formal and rigorous studio art practice. I received more scholarships and graduated with honors all while wrestling with a debilitating anxiety disorder which at times made the outside world too threatening to bear. My heart pod paintings and books were born, I learned how to talk about my work - I had finally found the calling that had been with me all along (there's no place like home) and I proved to myself I could stick with something and excel. I was twenty-seven.

These last twenty years have been dedicated to art but as I write and read this, my whole life has been. I moved across the country from Oregon back to Arkansas upon my graduation and tried to give the art scene in Fayetteville everything I could, before moving to Scotland. There have been countless paintings, exhibitions, galleries, studios, sales, blogs, videos, podcasts, communities, mentors, losses, relationship endings and beginnings, storms weathered, financial hardships, and of course, uncertainty and fear are still at hand and probably always will be.

However, it's the thread of art that has kept me together. The arts built me, and my family and many teachers listened and saw in me the need, ability, and passion. Various communities and patrons have supported me throughout these years and I keep finding more and more members of that community wherever I go. To say I am grateful is an understatement.

I have doubted myself so many times, I have thought that being an artist might be the biggest cop-out, the biggest fraud, and simply an exercise in ego, inherent poverty, and irresponsibility. I sadly still think this many days. Then I step back, I put on my headphones and listen to a piece of music that pierces my heart, I look at a painting that makes my pulse quicken and holds my mouth agape. I watch a film that breathes new life into my tired soul, I look to the flowers, the sky, and the glorious light and I catch my breath, tears come to my eyes, and I know I must stay free.

At forty-seven (forty-eight next month) this is no cop-out. This is my life. The life of a painter.

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