Friday, October 28, 2022

Another one comes forth (removable face)

Another one comes forth (removable face)

People are very curious… lots of questions. "What does this mean, what do these portraits mean?" I don’t know for sure, but concerning the most recent crown portraits, perhaps it goes something like this... I’m originally from a democracy now living as a subject, under a new king with new prime ministers currently changing on a dime - with systems of power shifting- and I am in a country that wants to be independent. Also thrown in the mix are capitalism, wealth inequality, cost of living crisis, identity, daily life and worries reflected in news headlines. Just a hunch, but I think all of this factors into the work. 

The world is a mess and people need to make sense of it - I know I need to. Bright colours and faces seem to help. These portraits haven't just sprung up overnight (as social media algorithms may have you thinking). I have been working on these pieces since 2017. Recently, for the first time in over 20 years, I didn’t paint for a calendar year, and then when I started back, the faces jumped to the front of the queue and they are all I have painted so far in 2022 except for one abstract piece.

They are all self-portraits of sorts - fragments of self, various characters, feelings, and my thoughts captured in an impulsive charcoal line. These portraits are a more direct way to express the past 8 years of my life in the U.K.

Eventually, as I get to know the work better, I will know what’s truly going on. I need the work to be more easily felt or understood right now. The faces are fun for me to create and more obviously expressive and easier to swallow for some people. I can be free with them and show all elements of myself. Another factor in all of this is that I've been frustrated that at times it seems people here don’t always understand or appreciate abstract art (the work I have dedicated my adult life to). So here we are, portraits seem to fit the bill. I just have to show up and make what comes forth - and right now there are a lot of voices knocking at the door. 

It’s a personal expressive rebellion and one I am enjoying. I think that shows in the work. I’m an abstract painter who happens to be going through a portrait phase and maybe that's all there is to it.

Thanks to fellow artist and dear friend Steven Heaton for prompting this blog post with an impromptu interview of sorts. Follow him on Instagram: @steven_heaton

Until next week, keep fighting! If you missed my Tuesday Studio Video Visit: Find it here. 

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Divinations, declarations, and whispers

Divinations, declarations, and whispers
mixed media on unstretched canvas
Megan Chapman  

I spent the rest of last weekend making the seals for the bottom of the painting. Each one is hand stamped and painted. This week I went into the studio to apply them along the bottom of the piece. I also added any glue that was needed on the collage bits and did colour matching where the tape had been holding the canvas up against the painting wall. After that, I spray varnished the painting to protect and seal all the mixed media elements. You can watch the Tuesday Studio Video Visit below for a more in-depth discussion about this if you missed it on social media.


Today, I went back into the studio to check the varnish and give the piece a last once over to make sure the charcoal was properly sealed. I also wanted to go over it again with another coat of matte finish varnish. I recorded a couple of quick supplemental videos today that you can see here.


And here


After I decided that I was pleased with the varnish and that everything else was in order, I decided to take the painting for a walk through the studio and take a couple of photos of it temporarily installed to get a better sense of it out in the world along with a few detail shots below. 

Thank you again to everyone who has been so interested and enthusiastic about this latest painting. It has been fun sharing this piece and the experience of creating it with you. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

A declaration

The new piece

The new piece in my studio for scale
The Tuesday Studio Video Visit

Example of wax seals to finish off the bottom of the painting

Example of wax seals to finish off the bottom of the painting

Seals I made today that I will adhere to the bottom of the canvas

Are they kings, queens, or something in between? I am not yet sure and everyone seems to come up with their own take. Are they wearing one crown or two? What are they thinking? Are they nice, mean, or ambivalent? Are they related or in some other sort of union? What is this painting all about? Balances of power, mystery, a declaration, an experiment? Do they know something we don't? Do I know something you don't? Do I know anything much at all? 

All I know is that I saw the impressionist exhibition on Sunday and went to sleep knowing I would go into the studio on Monday morning to paint and then I went back on Tuesday and painted some more and it was fun and bewildering. Then before I knew it I had a whole Pinterest board on wax seals - which I have loved for a while but now it's serious. 

And now I have made a rusted metal box full of them. I researched, I experimented, and now I think I have a solution. It's all fun and exciting and still bewildering... and maybe being bewildered is the right place to be. I didn't relax on the sofa on a Friday night and watch some bullshit - I made these seals and got hyped up. I listened to music while I made these (pictured above) and thought - this is what it feels like to be alive.

Besides the impressionist exhibition on Sunday I saw the fabulous Richard E. Grant on Thursday. Being enveloped in culture and humanity helps with the feeling alive part too. 

Things have changed, I do declare. 

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm for this latest work. I really appreciate it and can't wait to see where this path is taking us. Until next week, keep fighting.

Friday, October 7, 2022

I still believe

Well, hello there!

I can't believe it's Friday already but here we are. I just made myself a cup of coffee (it's still a thrill to be back with my old friend). I have an inspirational song playing on repeat at full blast on my headphones and I am ready to sit down and let you know what the hell is going on. 

Check out Mx freaky up there with their oversized crown. After last week's larger canvas filled with multiple faces, I decided this week I wanted to continue to work on canvas rather than paper. Stretched canvas - this is significant (probably only to me). These faces are also significant and I have been pretending that they are not because I think I still don't know them too well and "this is not the work I usually produce." However, it is a series I have been working on since 2017 - in bits and pieces and fits and starts. So perhaps I know these faces better than I realise and perhaps you all know them better than you think as well. 

I am often perplexed by the reaction of folks to my "accidental portraits" (might be time to change the name of the series). However, in my own living room, I have more than 15 faces staring back at me (including animals and buddhas) in various mediums from own my art collection. We all like a face - even one we don't know and one we don't understand. What I understand about these faces, is that I have fun when I paint them. I like that they are often not any particular race or gender, and some of them might be considered disabled or hold a different standard of beauty with their smeared eyes and mouths. Some might be considered fully formed but wrapped up in emotion, trauma, power, or curiosity. It's not for me to figure out how they are understood or experienced. It is my job to show up so that they can show up.

As an abstract painter for what feels like forever I get a little surprised at the reaction to these beings that I have FUN painting. Yes, I do. Y'all are supposed to only like the hard shit- the stuff where I have toiled and suffered - the stuff I have sacrificed everything for. The stuff I am "good" at. Don't try to reason with me - I am trying to share the conversation as it stands in my head. I am working to see it differently now and I am getting there. You might like the more accessible stories in these faces - and I might like them too. There is nothing worse than speaking in a language that people can't understand or doing a song and dance that no one can hear or see  - and sometimes being an abstract painter in Scotland feels like that. So roll on faces... 

This portrait above (Woman of the storms) is very loosely inspired by one of my favourite paintings. Part of me doesn't want to show it to you as I don't want you to have an association, expectation, or judgment. However, I would rather share the beauty of the painting that I love with you than get caught up in any of that ego bullshit. So here you go, isn't she lovely? She reminds me of my mother for some reason. I think my mother must love this painting too. I think a print of this might have been collaged onto a piece of our furniture growing up. How could I have turned into anything other than an artist... 

Portrait of a Lady
Rogier van der Weyden 
oil, panel
34 x 25.5 cm

I enjoyed putting the pair of them together on the painting wall. I might have partially hidden behind the door of the sink room and looked at them through the gap in wonder. Tears may have come to my eyes. Happy Bob Ross tears. Another good week in the studio was brought to us by music, Oreos, coffee, and my stubborn dedication and curiosity. 

If you missed the Tuesday Studio Video Visit, you can see it here. The woman of the storms didn't exist yet so I speak of the crowned one.

In other news, the photo below
 is of my dear friend and fellow artist, John Simpkins (find him on Facebook at The art of John Simpkins). John creates sublime and wonderful works of art. Here he is pictured in front of one of his latest paintings at his studio in Oregon wearing one of my shirts! Take a minute to learn more about his fabulous work.

Buy yourself a "Polly" t-shirt like John or perhaps another design from my shop Thanks to everyone who has bought a t-shirt or a tote! Keep sending me your photos! 

And last but not least, in the excitement and sheer delight category - a painting of mine (see below, "On the wind") just SOLD from the fabulous Solo Gallery in Innerleithen in the gorgeous Scottish Borders! Kate, the gallerist, contacted me yesterday to share the good news! I am thrilled! I started showing my work at the Solo gallery the month before the pandemic so you can only imagine how that coloured the experience. I am so happy that this sweet abstract has found a good home with another fellow artist who also shows at Solo Gallery! Thanks again to Kate at the gallery and thanks to Eleanor for choosing my work for her collection! Check out Eleanor Cunningham's work and of course Solo Gallery.

On the wind
Mixed Media on Canvas, 20cm x 20cm framed,

That's all I have for you this week, thanks so much for your support and for reading my words and enjoying my art.

Special thanks go out to my Ko-fi crew for their financial support and emotional backing in the past 30 days. Thank you: Tamsin, Jennifer, Pat, Jen, John, Mas, Bekky. Join the club and support me here!

Also thanks to the artists and mentees who have trusted me with their art and process. Looking for a mentor? Sign up here!

Until next week, keep fighting and keep showing up!