Friday, December 25, 2020

2020. Year in review.

As the last Friday in December was Christmas day, I did not write this blog then, but I am writing on Wednesday the 30th and backdating it. Usually, on the last Friday of December, I do a review - a catch up of the year. I think I have skipped it a few years since 2007 when this blog started, but am not going back to check.

I will attempt to do something like a review or perhaps a timeline with bullet points of this most unusual year. The year of COVID. 

January: I started the year yearning for a community of peers. I wrote in my first blog post of the year:  "I want a community of peers. I want to visit studios and talk shite and laugh with other painters. I want to be challenged and inspired. I want a unified voice that is supportive and even demanding. A group of artists that hold each other to a high standard without being mean bastards. I want places to show work and I want to connect with a public that understands the importance of art and is excited by abstraction in particular."

I started off the year represented by 3 galleries.

I turned to the internet to try to create this community of peers. This didn't go as expected - more on that later... 

I painted one small commission at the start of the year from my book series. I was mostly going to my studio feeling uninspired and not sure how to start back to work, I was rolling up small bits of canvas and sometimes twine and making little sculptures just for the hell of it. 

I made this little prophetic piece: "Wish list - All the simple shit you take for granted" Little did I know what was coming... 

Another one of my scrolled sculptures, I made this one for a friend. More faces would show up later in the year. "I am not a woman of leisure"

Towards the end of January, things started picking up and it seemed like 2020 was going to be a busy and fruitful year of new gallery representation, exposure, exhibitions, and of course potential sales. 

I wrote: "I am pleased to share that I have some exciting opportunities coming up! Later this month I will be showing my work in Irving Gallery in Oxford, England and in the Solo Gallery in Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders, and I will have a solo exhibition and art talk in April at the Helensburgh Art Hub, in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland!
I am excited to be expanding the reach of my work throughout Scotland and England. Over the last five years of living in Edinburgh, I have worked hard to get to this point."

In February, I was doing a lot of logistical work and chatting with the galleries. My focus was on packing and shipping work, arranging rides with friends to deliver work, getting new work to the galleries that already represented me and sharing their websites far and wide and promoting the exhibitions on social media. Nurturing the start of these important new gallery relationships was my main focus at this time. I wasn't yet creating much new work in the studio but had high hopes for the months ahead. 

There were rumblings from the news of the world that a virus was spreading quickly. It still seemed a bit unreal then. I participated in open studios at the start of March and remembered feeling a little worried. I was still trying to be positive and excited and "thankful for all the opportunities coming my way for my art here in the U.K. in 2020."

I promote my exhibition openings at the start of March and give a brief rundown on my productivity in the studio: "I have been painting here and there (there has been a lot going on behind the scenes). I have painted one small work, one small sculpture, and four accidental portraits this year."

I celebrated my birthday during the first week of March with friends (as we used to do), and my niece came to visit (she had a work thing scheduled in Ireland, and it was cancelled as things were becoming increasingly tense around the world. My niece leaves quickly concerned about the virus and borders closing. We see the sights as much as we can in Edinburgh and go out Thursday night staying away from people and washing our hands regularly and she flies out early Friday morning. I pretty much go into voluntary isolation the same day on Friday, March 13th. The writing was on the wall, and I didn't want to wait for the government to call it. I take a couple of weeks to absorb the news, as many of us tried to figure out what this would mean for our friends, loved ones, our lives and businesses.

Frustrated with my often late blogging (this trend hounds me during 2020) I re-dedicate my blog to myself and the practice of writing about my work. I lament the fact that I have stopped going to my studio and that I didn't prepare better to work at home. "So here we are, in our Covid-19 days. I have not been to my studio in 2 weeks. I didn't think when I was there last that I wouldn't be just right back. I didn't gather up materials or supplies to work from home. I wasn't thinking that far in advance to our fast-approaching new reality. I live about an 18-minute bus ride away from my sacred space. I, of course, could walk there and have done so in the past or I could even ride my bike. I am not so sure if that is a good idea anymore... All of my exhibitions have been cancelled and the galleries closed and I won't be venturing out to the post office to mail any art at this time either. So there goes my livelihood along with so many others. My livelihood is probably more predisposed to this type of upheaval. I am used to working alone and I am used to financial uncertainty." Trying to make sense of it and put a somewhat resigned positive spin on it all as is my style. 

Slowly support networks start emerging, support for artists, using my ko-fi page more, friends paying off work in instalments and friends sending me money to purchase new supplied for the new normal working in a corner of my living room (which later becomes my kitchen, the patio space, the bathroom - art takes over the living space. I start to enjoy the natural light and develop a bit of a routine - try to carve out a bit of normalcy while processing the news of the world. Art sees me through as always, just like my community. 

The start of April sees a shift in thought, ideas about crafting a new normal and not going back to the old ways are being talked about - of course, the days of Covid are young still. I write to another painter: "It might be time to reclaim it all for ourselves and back away from the capitalist contagion that soils our craft." LOL.

I start painting with turmeric and tea and use paper board from the recycling as materials until my supplies arrive at the house. Making work makes me feel better and I am not as precious about it - what have we got to lose... I work in the spirit of play and expression. 

April also brings the death of a friend, patron, and kindred spirit. I work prolifically as I process his passing as that is what he would have wanted. Still absolutely sucks. 
My solo exhibition scheduled this month in Helensburgh is cancelled and so I put it all online and dedicate it David. I create podcasts as the galleries switch to online sales. The idea of giving people the gallery experience from home pervades. I start to find my rhythm and really embrace working on paper and spreading it all around my house. I enjoy the natural light, and living and working in the same space. My goal in life has always been Van Gogh's bedroom and I am approaching it. Everything in its right place, maximising space and using the outdoor world as solace in these strange days. 

In April and May, I become more involved in the Scottish Artists Union going to many of their online meetings and information sessions. The topics are varied and I am thankful to have a union to belong to and for the valuable information. The topics turn to various funding sources and support for the artists. Things are beginning to look dire across the board. We are in this for the long haul. 

I paint an accidental portrait and the face is wearing a mask. I am paying for an art studio I am not able to use and I turn to Ko-fi for help. I am so grateful for all the support. 

Things are getting bad in the states, not only are they facing COVID with no leader but George Floyd (as so many other black men and women) is murdered by a cop. People take to the streets in protest and in rightful anger. We have learned nothing. I paint this. In May and June, the world turns to social action and trying to figure out our place in the institutional racism of the world and what we can do to learn and do better. 

In June, participate in an auction supporting two charities, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (The premier civil rights law organization in America). I offer a print of my Fuck print for auction, I am glad to help in a small way. 

I start doing more drawing at this time. I also apply to work on a commission for Leith Late, a virtual open studio a digital project, which will create a virtual map plotting studios in Leith. At each point on the map, there will be one video per selected artist showing their workspace within the studio along with a gallery of still images of their work. Leith Late is working to deliver the project with academic partners from The Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies at The University of Edinburgh. So as you can imagine I was very excited to be accepted into the project with a lot of other wonderful artists and makers from around Edinburgh and grateful for the financial support. 

Also at this time, two of my paintings were accepted into the Paisley Art Institute 132nd Annual exhibition. This year due to Covid-19 the exhibition was online in July. The Paisley Art Institute (PAI) has been at the forefront of promoting and supporting Scottish artists’ work since 1876. These accessible and affordable online opportunities meant even more during COVID-19. A feeling of hope. 

During this time, I launch my prints in my new Ko-Fi shop. The only place you can purchase the new limited edition prints of my accidental portraits! Kofi becomes a very helpful platform during the year for donations and support and for donating to other artists. The addition of the shop was perfect timing. 

I don't start posting sold art to my collectors who purchased work in March, April, and May until the start of June due to covid restrictions. I am grateful for everyone's willingness to wait during the worst of it and to continue to support me. 

I write more just to write in my blog this year, my thoughts about the world, society, capitalism, and the failings of government. Getting more clear about what is important for me and my work and my life during these strange days. I am not alone in this, I hope we will remember these thoughts in the future. 

In August I remind folks about my remaining bicycles for refugee paintings, hoping to raise more funds.
 I also create five new works on paper. These works were inspired by life, real and imagined, and the words, 'the loss of physical touch is distancing my soul' written by my friend Rosa Macpherson. 

These are the first finished abstract works I have created since May 19th (after a spate of faces and drawings). 

This opens the gate again and more pieces come tumbling out. In late August, Theo (the best cat in the world) gets incredibly sick and the diagnosis is not good. A very tense time and he becomes the priority. Luckily, with amazing home and vet care, he makes a miraculous recovery but now has a chronic condition that must be managed with expensive food and follow up visits to the vet. He is worth it and I am grateful. 

Once he is stable and we have our new routine down, I return to promoting work, exhibitions, and looking for opportunities, I apply for grants and funding throughout this time. 

In September, I get real about money in my studio blog, writing: "I have been focusing on selling my older small works, studio sale works, works on paper, and my book works. Working on the promotional aspects of my art world than the making and doing. Honestly, I would rather be painting but I have to stand squarely in the reality that I need to sell the works I have already made so that I can survive and continue to work in the future.

The bottom line is I want to be able to continue being a painter and in order to do that, I have to sell some work. I am still paying rent on a studio that I have only been to about 4 or 5 times since the pandemic hit Scotland in March. I am not even sure if in the future I will be able to maintain or support a studio. Like many people, the virus is making me rethink a lot of things and to consider different approaches to living and working."

I offer up more of my latest portrait drawings as prints during this month as well. These statement pieces capture the collective feeling with a minimal palette and a strong line as we wade through the strange days of 2020 and beyond.

What viewers are saying about the debut of my new print series, “Tell me how you really feel...”

“These are edgy cool and graphically stark, you do it so fucking well.”

“I like the mood, angles, and the honest and brutal mark making, they are severe in their grace!”

I am continually looking for more affordable ways for you to be able to live with my art and for ways that you can help support the work I do.

At the start of October, I share some new larger works on paper. I am really enjoying working on paper while not working in my studio. This spurs me on to keep going and flesh out the series. At this time I am also starting to more seriously focus on walking as exercise, mediation and social action. I think this series reflects that. The series expands into a 13 piece series called, "This is how we tell the story." I am concerned that during all of this home working I have let my Tuesday Studio Video Visits slide. Something has to give I guess. I also start talking with a small group of peers and together, we create a Scottish based women's abstract art collective called The Abstractionistas with the goal of advancing the abstract in Scotland...(stay tuned for more news about this in 2021).

November is all about the presidential election back home in the states. I watch the news, I walk, I work a bit here and there. Biden wins! Also in November, I was delighted that one of my latest paintings, 'The maps have changed' was used in the SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network) member mailout. I am a proud member of SCAN. Find out more about the organisation and consider joining. We are stronger together! It is always rewarding to be able to have my work shared within a community of my peers across Scotland. 

I also created a colourful and fun 8-page pdf pep talk for artists to help us gather up the evidence, gently step into our truth, and believe in ourselves and our art! It's a short, sweet, and kind guide to thinking a little differently about putting ourselves out there. I am offering it in my ko-fi shop starting at £3. I hope to make other guides in the series soon. It's a bit of an experiment just now. Thanks to those that have purchased and those that previewed my wee guide so far. Suitable for most ages and experience levels. You can find it here,

This month I work on spray fixing a large pile of finished paper works that have been collecting - I am using the bathtub as a spraying station. It is amazing how much work has been created all over this house since the pandemic changed my way of working. We are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. I create the last new works of the year this month. Six new original mixed media paintings on 200gsm heavyweight acid-free A5 sized paper (5x7"). They are mounted and ready to pop into an 8x10" frame and with each sale, I donated a nightlight for a refugee. 

December starts to see things winding down as we prepare for the holidays, I decided to have a last sale of the year on some of my older colour series of works on canvas via my WiX shop as I am not planning to renew the shop in the new year. I sell three pieces and am extremely thankful. I  am also the current recipient of the ButterBiggens Prize! The prize is a micro-grant and an interview and feature of some of my latest paintings. I was honoured to have my work selected and love the ethos of the micro-grant. I was interviewed in a chat room, a first I must say. 

To read the interview and see the works featured go here: 

With the larger work sales and the recognition of my work, I am closing out the strange year on a high note. 

I complete a few more drawings just for fun in December, ramp up my walking, cut snowflakes for the windows of the house, and keep my eye on the news of the world. 

What a year. I realise I have been one of the fortunate ones. I completed over 60 original works this year, and have several others in various states of progress. I also launched a series of six prints. I sold 42 original pieces and 13 prints. I raised money for two refugee charities. I couldn't have done this without a lot of support. Besides sales, I have also been the recipient of generous donations and funding from friends, patrons, local and national governments and local organisations and I am grateful. 

I applied for and received £600 from the Bridging Bursary Fund offered through Creative Scotland (almost enough to cover 3 months of studio rent). I applied for and received a second payment of £600 from Visual Arts Scotland hardship fund as well.

I received funding and was commissioned by Leith Late Virtual Studio and Mural Tours. This wonderful opportunity thankfully paid £200.

I applied for and received two self-employment grants from the UK government.

Thankfully the Drill Hall management offered studio holders 1/2 off our studio rent for July, August, and September which I made use of. They also notified me late in the year that I was the recipient of a grant from The Out of Blue Artists Solidarity fund, which is helping to offset half of another 3 months of rent payment. 

To feel supported in my work, to be seen and heard during these days has meant the world to me. Thank you to all involved. My heart is full. I can't do this alone and thankfully this year I didn't have to. 

What will 2021 bring? Stay tuned...

Friday, December 18, 2020

I'll meet you there

Everyone has that one friend

It's Friday night, I have a cup of tea and a marzipan Ritter Sport chocolate bar to my right, battery-powered candles light up the paper snowflakes stuck to the window panes. The fairy lights are ablaze in the fireplace (the gas fire disnae work) and I have some globe lanterns dimly lighting a trail up the wall, woven in and around the art.

I took a good long walk today with a friend. We walked along the Firth of Forth and the River Almond. The colours were so beautiful, purple-blue hills in the distances dotted with warm rust and tan sands while the water changed from a baltic blue to green. The clouds and skeleton trees high above framing it all so perfectly.

Once home, I washed the dishes - plunging my hands into the warm soapy water was a joy. I thought of Thích Nhất Hạnh and meditations past. Anything can be a joy with a certain type of mindfulness. After the dishes, I had a meeting with an art collective of which I am a member.
 We are the Abstractionistas: A Scottish all-woman collective aiming to debate, challenge, make and exhibit abstract art. We have been meeting regularly online since October. We are in the early stages but it is already feeling exciting and hopeful. I will, of course, keep you posted on our activities and our public presence as it develops. 

I have been listening to new (to me) music, as you know discovering new music is the portal to painting for me. The band I am into right now is Heimat and my favourite song of the album I discovered on YouTube is Weider Ja!  It's especially good with headphones. Everything is better with headphones - well, most things. I have also been enjoying the music of Nina Harker

I did a few drawings this week, some small and medium-sized ones, I wasn't in the mood. However, there is really only one way to get in the mood and that is to make some art, draw a line, make smudge and see how it feels. And it feels a hell of a lot better than not making anything. 

Yes, Mary, I cut down your zinnias.

Humour is very important to me and it may be getting more and more important the older I get. I have been laughing a lot and when I can fit that into my work, it is a real joy. I can't afford to take it all so seriously. Life is too fucking short. 

I also managed a Tuesday Studio Video Visit again this week. If you missed it on Facebook you can see it here. 

Besides, all of this, I have been enjoying cooking and walking up a storm. These little rituals keep me grounded and my mind clear. I hope you have little rituals, I hope you have passions and new discoveries and a group of peers to discuss things with whether near or far. One day at a time, one step, plunge your hands into the hot water and wash one dish, draw one line, take one picture, make one snowflake, listen to one new to you song. Feel better. Move forward. Be here now. I'll meet you there. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

ButterBiggens Prize!

First, the big news:

I am the current recipient of the ButterBiggens Prize! The prize is a micro-grant and an interview and feature of some of my latest paintings. I was honoured to have my work selected and love the ethos of the micro-grant. I was interviewed in a chat room, a first I must say. 

To read the interview and see the works featured go here: 

Second, more good news:

I am happy to report I have sold 3 pieces from my "50% Off Sale for Local Collection Only Sale!" And for all you literal folks, there are still ways to get your pieces at a discount without coming by the studio just now (if say you aren't local - as neither of my two patrons has been so far). With a bit of creativity and planning we can make this work, just say the word! 

My first patron sent her kind brother that is local to collect the painting! The second patron asked for a 4-month payment plan for 2 pieces (Yes, I love a payment plan - let's talk) and realised that when March rolls around and the paintings are paid off and more restrictions are lifted as more are vaccinated that she will enjoy a day trip to Edinburgh for fun and to collect the paintings. That's the way to do it! Here's the link for the sale again:

I recorded a long Tuesday Studio Video Visit walking you through my work that is available for £50 or less. These are all available through my Ko-Fi shop. Now, if you are local and want to pick one of these up (say for a Christmas present) because the mail is overburdened we can work this out too. Here's the video and the shop link: 

It's been a great week in my little art world. I am grateful for the support of my work. I hope everyone is hanging in there and taking the best care of yourselves. We need you here. 
Thank you.

If you have any questions about the sales, collecting work or anything art related visit my website and use the contact button. Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Studio sale and small works bargains!

I follow the new
Acrylic on canvas
51x76x4cm / 20x30x1.5"
© 2017 Megan Chapman
Was £1,100 now £550

There was thundersnow in the early hours and it has made national news. I have fed the birds and made banana nut bread and have on my festive cosy socks. I am going to drink too much tea today - be right back I need another cup. I am listening to goth/postpunk/darkwave music from Turkey and it all feels a bit funny to me. I am in a good mood and feel like a child stuck at school on a potential snow day and I can't focus on anything. 

But let me try... first off, I am having a sale of some of my older works that are in my studio. As you know I am not working in my studio yet, but I am maintaining it for storage just now. I have loads of large works on canvas from several series and they are available in a Wix shop online but that shop is closing at the end of the month. I no longer want to support Wix and found the site to not be very intuitive, so due to this, I thought it might be a great time to have a clear out of some of these pieces. I am offering them up at 50% off but the catch is that you have to come to my studio to collect them. You save money and I don't have to pack and ship them. And don't worry about coming into the studio - I will gladly hand them over to you outside, at a distance, and masked. Safety first and always!

I will also accept payment plans on these sale pieces. You do not have to purchase these through the site. We can easily make arrangements to do a bank transfer instead so just message me on the contact form with your questions. Go here for the 50% off sale for collection only:

And no, they are not all square, go to the site to see them full screen. If you are regional or national and still want the sale deal, I am sure we can work something out - just message me. I am delighted and very thankful that a patron who had her eye on a piece of my work for a while was able to snap it up in my sale at the start of the week. 

I also added some more small works to my ko-fi shop. Remember when I used to put small works on Etsy? Think of my Ko-Fi shop as my new Etsy - it is as easy to use and made for artists by artists. There is a handy tab that can show you the 18 pieces (prints and originals) that I have available for £50 or less with free shipping in the UK. Go here to see those: 

In other news, I am delighted that my work was selected for the ButterBiggens Prize for the month of November! My recent work will be featured along with an interview posted soon on the ButterBiggens site. I will let you know when it goes live. 

Thank you so much for being here and for supporting my work. I truly couldn't do it without you. Stay safe and warm. The world needs you and your vision.