Friday, December 31, 2021

2021: Year in review

I take a deep breath. It's that time again (I guess) - time to review the past year of my art life. This is mostly a helpful practice, as time gets away from me and I am often unsure of what I have done or created. As I sit down to write this, I am weary and I don't feel like I created much at all. These almost 2 years now of pandemic living has messed with my wiring a bit as it has for so many.  So today, I am going into this practice with empathy for myself and all beings and I am going to dig into my past year with curiosity and while searching for clarity. 

Have music, tea, and ready, set, go!

January 2021

Walking is of course crucial to my art life and is fairly well maintained throughout the year except for strangely during the warmer/nicer months. I was slow out of the gates to start working at the start of the year but around the 15th of January, a wee flood of work emerged. 

My palette of yellow ochre, grey, black, and white paint along with yellow, white, burnt sienna Conte crayon and charcoal carried me through. I have definitely drawn more since the pandemic hit. Merging painting and drawing as I switched to mostly working on paper and unstretched canvas since working from home since March 2020. 

These works are all 56x77cm mixed media on some glorious Fabriano Artistico paper I had stashed away long ago and had forgotten about. These paintings were based on medieval genealogical research into my family history. These are strangely still yet to be named and as soon as these five works were completed the thread of this series vanished. Perhaps these will be seen in 2022. 






As I read my blogs from January of last year, I can hear the edges of worry, frustration, and victory as I try to get going again. 

February: 

A small body of work of 8 pieces on paper emerged with the same palette. Again, I remember feeling the pressure to produce but not exactly the drive. The relentless "Insta-productivity" created by social media and business school painters is partially to blame along with internalised capitalism and the real need to pay some bills. This part of things weighed on me more these past few years as I know it has for many of my artist friends and any person trying to make a go of it in this society. However, back to the 8 pieces, I salvaged these out of a large piece of the fancy paper (waste not, want not and all that). They were called the Winter Variations. I was ever thankful when several of them sold.

After more than a year of online meetings, The Abstractionistas collective I am a member of started promoting itself and our work on Facebook and Instagram getting ready for several opportunities that were coming our way, including our debut exhibition together in July. But more on that later. I do a few drawings and have a few messy frustrated mark-making sessions. Sales are slow, I feel stuck in my art so I turn to the outside world and walk in nature.

Winter Variation One


Winter Variation Two
Sold

Winter Variation Three

Winter Variation Four

Winter Variation Five

Winter Variation Six

Winter Variation Seven
Sold

Winter Variation Eight
Sold


March: 

I was very fortunate to have been interviewed by Peter Goodbody for P3DRO, a wonderful music and culture site based in England. A simple interview of 13 questions turned into something much more far-reaching and personal than I expected. I have to say this is one of my most favourite interviews to date. I really enjoyed knowing that it was going to be published on a mostly music-driven site, as music is so important to me and my process. I felt like I could communicate more effusively about the musical connection to my art and be more completely myself- it was a more holistic interview. It all came together so well, it felt like a gift. 


During this month, I added more prints to my ko-fi shop and promoted them along with my smaller original works. I applied to work as an arts volunteer at the Granton Hub in my community and worked on an accordion book that eventually would be part of the Abstractionistas group exhibition. At the end of the month, I have a computer failure which is a tense and somewhat costly situation. It makes me think even more about my digital use. I am thankful for print sales and somehow I manage to paint 5 more small works on canvas board and thankfully all but one sells. 



From there to here
mixed media on canvas board
5x7"/13x18cm
©2021 Megan Chapman
Available


Ties that bind
mixed media on canvas board
5x7"/13x18cm
©2021 Megan Chapman
Sold


Your wild terrain
mixed media on canvas board
7x5"/18x13cm
©2021 Megan Chapman
Sold


Lay it down
mixed media on canvas board
7x5"/18x13cm
©2021 Megan Chapman
Sold


Thunder and the roar
mixed media on canvas board
5x7"/13x18cm
©2021 Megan Chapman
Sold

April: 

I joined the Granton Hub as a volunteer member of the art subgroup to contribute ideas and help run events in their arts programme. I attended my first meeting and I am very excited about the ethos and happenings at the hub. 

Also this month after the computer debacle I started focussing on my archive and trying to get more of my work organised and all in one place. Thanks to the generosity of my ko-fi supporters and patrons, I was able to buy a 1-year membership to Artwork Archive. I still have a lot of work to do regarding this. If you want to try Artwork Archive, here is a referral link for a $10 credit.  https://www.artworkarchive.com/?ref=6f381a  Besides working on the archive this month, I promoted some older framed works across social media and just tried to stay afloat. 

A wave of inspiration hit me, a new series of works on raw unstretched canvas was born! The series, The Andromeda collection and Superman's ill-fitting belt filled me with delight and hope.













May: 

Life seemed a bit frantic at the start of the month, with emergency dentist and veterinary appointments, voting in my first election (milestone!) and thankfully getting my first vaccination. I did manage some "accidental portrait" sketches. Here's a motley crew of assorted faces. 
 





Later this same month I released even more paintings from various older series as limited and open edition prints through my Ko-fi shop. Bringing you more colourful abstracts, bold and minimal selections from the distillation series (as seen on HBO's True Detective), and even work from my Scottish diaspora series. I focused on creating more ways for you to enjoy and support my work while keeping it affordable. The sale of these prints saw me through the next couple of months. They are still available through my shop. 



June:

Things started to get busy with more real-world exhibition planning than I had been a part of in a good long while and with excitement also came trepidation. I helped as a volunteer at the Granton Hub as they prepared for their big open call exhibition. The Abstractionistas got busy finalising our exhibition plans as well. 



I went back to my studio for a rare visit in June as well. I remember not liking it much after too much time away and for whatever reason, I wrote this after my visit, "the room felt hollow and collapsed. A punishment rather than a prize. A lonely place where no one knows your name and you pay for the privilege." Ouch. However, by the end of the month, things were looking up as I was soon to be participating in not one but two exhibitions in July at the Granton Hub and at St. Margaret's House. 

July: 

All energy went towards promoting, installing, and documenting the exhibitions at the Granton Hub and St. Margaret's House while following all COVID safety protocols and dealing with the associated worries. It was hectic, exciting, stressful and more due to the unusual conditions in which the exhibitions were held. Below are a few quick snaps I took of my two pieces from my BOOKS series that were part of the Granton Hub Exhibition. 




Here are a few photos of the Abstractionistas Exhibition. 



Judith Shaylor, Megan Chapman, Susan Wilson, and Esther Donaldson = Abstractionistas

August:

In August I was asked to send over a collection of 13 paintings on paper, panel, and canvas in a variety of sizes and prices, ranging from £40- £285 to the Front Room Gallery in Helensburgh. You can purchase and enjoy those works in the gallery and online here. I am thankful as ever for another exhibition and sales opportunity. I spent time this month considering my other options, retraining or taking a short course towards becoming an art therapist. A dear friend convinced me otherwise and to invest that time and energy into my work and learning new skills to help with the marketing aspects of my work. I committed to bringing back the Tuesday Studio Video Visits after a bit of hiatus and assorted Facebook hijinx. I got everything organised and put all my art videos (some as far back as 2006) and my various podcasts in one place on YouTube and got enough subscribers to get my own username. Excitement! Thanks to everyone who subscribed - and please do if you haven't. 

Later in August, I was invited to participate in another exhibition coming up in September. The real world seemed to be waking up or just getting on with it... I was happy to be invited to participate in Inception, a weekend exhibition in the gorgeous and storied Dalkeith Palace. At this same time, I am thinking about future series and wishing "I could make 100 broken things and paint over them. I have always wanted to paint on dirty and abused surfaces."

I was invited to become a Ko-fi ambassador, which comes with a lifetime membership. I was delighted to be asked and it is a great platform - join us! Thanks again to all my supporters and patrons. 

September:

At the very start of the month, I write the following - 

"I haven't been painting much lately - mainly because I feel that I have exhausted the home studio capabilities. I am ready to "fuck shit up" with paint and I can't do that in a rented house. Also, I have a perfectly good studio just waiting for me. It's so complicated. The studio costs money, getting to the studio costs money, covid is still out there (public transport). Making art costs money and I have a studio full of completed paintings just waiting to find homes. Art sales have slowed to a stop and it almost feels decadent to paint more things to store, document, and archive. I have been quite down about it. I wrestle with the whole point of this art thing. The market is saturated, everyone's work starts to look the same, and social media can feel like a cornucopia of shite. 

However, regardless of my feelings, opportunities keep showing up and I am prepared for them and this is a good thing. 

Front Room Gallery

Solo Gallery

Dalkeith Palace

This month also saw a visit to the fabulous Bannockburn House as a potential venue for the Abstractionistas collective."

Inception opened Friday, September 10th from 10-6pm and will be open again on Saturday, September 11th and Sunday, September 12th from 10-5pm at the incredible Dalkeith Palace. I had 5 large works on show and then several smaller framed works in their pop up gift shop. It was an incredible venue and setting. I was honoured to be invited to participate. It was good to see and meet many of my fellow artists. 

Inception

After Inception, I returned my attention to my Ko-fi page and the introduction of membership tiers. There are lots of lovely perks over there in exchange for your support. Check them out.

The Abstractionistas regrouped after our exhibition and start making future plans. At the end of the month, I think I pay my studio another visit and create this. Feeling a bit deflated I return to a mark-making practise and keep it simple. 



October: 

The month starts with more Abstractionistas exhibition news! The Abstractionistas in collaboration with GOSSIP Collective and Forth Valley B.A. Students show at the fabulous Bannockburn House. 


In other news from this month, I continued on with my mark-making exercises to help me get out of my rut and return to remembering my foundations. After working on several small paper pieces/exercises, I moved on to six A2 sized papers and spent a bit longer with my marks and actually got to a place I liked. It was a good feeling.








These drawings are A2 size on 200 gsm. heavyweight paper. 

I enjoyed the introduction of my favourite inky pen to the mix, along with Conte crayon, charcoal, oil pastel, white paint and some words. 

This month I also celebrated the 7th anniversary of my living in Scotland along with my 1st anniversary of becoming a citizen!

I must have caught a wave of inspiration after my mark-making exercises and these new works on paper because, after these works, I created a series of 12 small works on canvas, mounted and ready to frame. I showed these along with six works on canvas that were framed at the Bannockburn House exhibition with the Abstractionistas. 














Here are a few photos from the Abstractionistas exhibition at Bannockburn. 




I really enjoyed the Bannockburn exhibition. I felt very comforted by the space and atmosphere. Writing, the house kept us just warm enough as we walked the old wooden floors and looked out through the open doors. I balanced a perfect cup of tea on an old radiator behind the red wingbacked chair in front of the window. Abstract art dotted the walls and furniture. It was a perfect rainy Saturday and a sunny and sweet Sunday would follow. It was a good weekend away from Edinburgh getting to know my fellow Abstractionistas even better. The exhibition was a real victory for me personally. Everywhere you looked around the old house and grounds there were stories of perseverance and hope. An ideal setting to show and share art. 

November: 

I enjoyed returning to my artist mentoring work and was reminded how much I love helping artists in this way. If you are interested in working with me please book an appointment through my ko-fi shop. I love helping other artists in their process. 

I was delighted to have a drawing published in issue #3 of 'Less' a journal on degrowth, radical sufficiency and decolonisation in Scotland, produced by Enough! Scotland. It was a thrill to have my work circulated and available at the COP26 civic hubs in Glasgow and then later nationally across Scotland. This paid publication was a real boost and aligned with my values perfectly as well. 


The drawing above can be seen next to
'Unlearning empire ~ re-membering earth' by Vishwam Heckert


As November continued, I was delighted to be asked to work alongside Amy Britton Scotland in a collaborative pitch. "The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside ├śrsted to help them reach out to potential innovators that might have solutions involving the upcycling of Transition Piece (TP) covers. The TP cover is a robust, watertight cover that protects the internal working space during the construction phase of an offshore wind turbine." 

Our pitch to incorporate this material into Amy's designs and for me to also work on the remnants once fashioned into large sewn together substrates for my abstract paintings, while closing the waste loop for the material, made it to the second round of talks and we then had the opportunity to pitch it via a video conference call. It's not every day that I am on a call with business leaders and from such a different field. It was an exciting experience and I really enjoyed painting test works on this waste material. Here are a couple of my favourite examples. This all came about as a result of the Bannockburn exhibition and social media, proving once again the need to be ready for any opportunity that comes along. 

Samples capturing the wind and sea energy 


By mid-November, it was time for my second annual studio sale and a deep discount of some of my larger canvas paintings spanning several series. I wanted to try out a unique feature of the Artwork Archive program. My sale is ongoing - see it all here: https://www.artworkarchive.com/rooms/megan-chapman/b92e55 I am donating 10% to Bicycles for Refugees from the sales of these works. 

As late November rolled around, I discovered a couple more paper pieces that were finished this year. I got busy signing, dating, titling and varnishing a huge pile of drawings and paintings on paper from 2020 and 2021. 

Way down inside
mixed media on 200gsm acid-free paper
42x59.4cm/16.5x23.4"
©2021 Megan Chapman


I know the way
mixed media on 200gsm acid-free paper
42x59.4cm/16.5x23.4"
©2021 Megan Chapman

December:

I was gearing up to participate in the Christmas Exhibition and Makers Market at the Edinburgh Palette on the 11th and 12th of December. I was to have three paintings on the walls of the gallery in the exhibition and I had loads of works on paper and canvas for the Makers Market along with my fellow Abstractionistas at our stall. 

Omicron was starting to make the scene and I was starting to have my doubts about participating. For the first time ever in over 20 years, I backed out of an arts event. 

Once I decided I felt relieved and I also decided my part of the show could go on, just differently. I updated my online ko-fi shop with everything I was going to show at the art market and added the three pieces on canvas to my online studio sale. I set it all up in my house and documented and promoted it just as I would any other show. I donated 10% to bicycles for refugees and ended up having a fun and productive weekend. Thankful for the understanding of my fellow Abstractionistas, the exhibition curator, and my patrons who supported me online that weekend. 

I mounted these seven small works on paper for the art market - these were from my mark-making series a couple of months prior. Now they are available in my shop. 








And here we are dear readers, patrons, friends, family, peers. This is the last day of December 2021. I started this blog thinking I hadn't done much with my year in art. How wrong I was. I created around 70 finished original works, started numerous other works. Introduced an affordable range of prints. I had an interview published that I adored. I had a piece published (and was paid for it) in a journal I admire. I was part of a collective of artists that I respect and we had two successful featured exhibitions. I had my work in 3 group exhibitions, one of which was in a palace of all places and I volunteered in an arts organisation helping with one exhibition. I mentored an artist whose work amazes me. My work was part of an important collaborative pitch to reduce waste. And I was able to support my favourite charity, Bicycles for Refugees. 

The pandemic is the backdrop. Politics is a constant noise, the earth is in deep trouble and somehow I still think it is important to make art and share it with you. 

Thank you so much for your support, your patronage, your inspiration, encouragement and friendship. This is a hard gig - I doubt what I am doing and the merits of it constantly, you are crucial to the process. Never doubt my appreciation - thank you for the gifts you bring and share with me. 

2022 starts tomorrow. I don't know what to think but here I am and I choose to greet it with compassion for us all and our planet. Wishing you luck, health, and happiness. Take good care. Celebrate, mourn, curse, spit and move through it. I am right beside you. 

Love, 
Megan

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