Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Year-End Review

Sitting in the dark at 9:35 in the morning, it is decidedly grey and rainy. I am about to start writing the year-end review blog - this annual practice daunts me. As I say at the beginning of this post each year, it is more for me than it is for you, so if you make it through this - gold star all the way and thanks. 

I feel like this year wasn't that great of an art year for me, so it will be interesting if I am left with a different opinion by the end of this post. I felt very removed from art, in general, this year, very disenchanted and honestly disappointed. If you have been following me for any length of time, you will know that I am a bit of a cheerleader when it comes to art. If you get me talking about art, my passion knows no bounds. I am not sure this is the case anymore, or at least for right now- smack dab in the middle of my life (if I am lucky) and definitely in the middle of my art practice. But let's see how it all pans out after I review it. Deep breath, here we go... 


It starts with a hopeful post about "calling forth the magic and getting clear" about a few things as I prepare to turn 50 in March. My studio is not yet running at home or in the Drill Hall for the new year. Next up, I am calling up "the warriors" - this idea of finding the people that understand and support what I am here on the planet to do. I feel like an alien while I come to terms with the grief I have given myself over the decades of being an artist. I write, "I am ashamed that this path leaves me vulnerable to living on a shaky foundation." The blog post resonates with folks. I manage one drawing of a face I like enough to share. I record a video of a mark-making practice rather than my usual Tuesday Studio Video Visit. It also seems to resonate. After talking to many artists about the slow start to the year, I try to reassure others and myself. My advice is to "rest in nature and trust." I meet up with the Abstractionistas (Judith Shaylor and Susan Wilson) for our first meeting of the year to discuss what lies ahead for the group. We plan our first exhibition of the year at Detour Espresso in Marchmont in Edinburgh.


I show a collection of 5 pieces alongside work by Judith and Susan as part of our exhibition, "Awakenings" in Detour. I write, "I love showing art where folks can go to be comfortable and cosy, such as in a coffee shop. Art is a natural part of that equation - we live around art, eat, drink, solve life's mysteries, and share laughs and tears around art." 

At this time, I am also really focused on building my archive of older works on Artwork Archive. It's a labour-intensive process and allows me to see just how prolific I have been over the years and what a taskmaster I have been. This awareness creates a shift in how much art I create over 2022. The process also drives home how much work it takes to document, archive, and care for the art. How much information is involved in each piece, and how expensive this process is. Seeing all of this information shifts my views on the creative process. Honestly, it's all overwhelming. 

While the exhibition at Detour is fine, I miss the in-depth discussions around art with patrons and fellow artists. The type of discussions I would have at open studios and exhibitions back in the states. Communicating about the work is central to why I make it (as many of you have gathered from this blog which is now over 15 years old, along with my Tuesday Studio Video Visits, now 5 years old). As a workaround to this desired communication, I filmed my first picture-in-picture Tuesday Video Visit. I talk more in-depth about the work I am showing at Detour. 

Besides this, I continue my data entry on my archive. I write, "as I go through the archive, I am reminded of conversations, emails, chats, faces, and memories of everyone who has bought and supported my work." 

At the end of February, I enjoy a delightful studio visit with two new patrons who purchase two of my works on canvas. My first sales of the year! This is a real boon and very much needed. You can relive my joy by watching my Tuesday Studio Video Visit again. You will sense how necessary these face-to-face conversations with like-minded individuals and supporters are to me, my work, and my process. 

In the shallows
Mixed media on canvas
80x80cm © 2018 Megan Chapman

Darkness comes in stages
Mixed media on canvas
30x122cm © 2016 Megan Chapman


The world seems heavy - the war in Ukraine is front-page news. I try to notice the good things. I turn 50. I am a bit pissed (not about getting older - I know I am one of the lucky ones). I am pissed about everything else. It's been two years since the pandemic began for many people. Rather than summarise it - you can read what I wrote here.

Later in the month, spring starts to bloom. I write, "What "good" and "bad" art can do - it can change us, it can shake us and make us remember. Art wears a groove so deeply while it partners with our memories and melds with our emotions that perhaps we can no longer watch that film, read that book, hang that painting, or listen to that album - it's like sad time travel. But sometimes, we can delve into the magic and feel better. It opens the door and welcomes us home."

So while I am writing at this time, what I am not doing, is painting. By the end of the month, I take myself out for an old-school artist's date. I am reintegrating into the world after staying in for almost 2 years during the height of the pandemic. I walk through the city centre: I see art, I see friends, I visit charity shops. I write, "If I am going to re-engage with this world again, I want to do it as closely aligned with my values as I can. I emerge changed, and I am more certain of what I value. I am paying attention and taking notes."

 I am enjoying the Scottish Artists Union educational programs online. I write, "there are a lot of people out there thinking radical thoughts and working for the betterment of us all -this excites me." I encourage everyone to join a union. Again, you will notice what I am not doing... painting. 


I start the month by writing, "My head is spinning from everything I have learned in the past 3 weeks with the Scottish Artists Union. I took a 12-hour course, "Let's get organised! A 101 for Organising the Arts." This course was meaningful and important for me and helped clarify my thoughts. After the course ends, I am asked if I would be interested in participating in a pilot scheme for a Fair Work Representative development training course starting the following week. "The training will cover the role of reps; an overview of Fair Work; Advocacy and Organising; and Equalities." I am delighted!

Around this time, I go on a field trip with the Abstractionistas to the Dalkeith Palace to see the room we will be showing our work in for the Inception exhibition in May. I am dealing with anaemia (again) and a few other garden-variety ailments. I continue my union training, mentoring a brilliant artist and not painting. I write, "I'm still not painting much this year - and it's already April. I am not sure I have ever gone this long without creating new work. I think I am okay with it. My previous work was fueled by internalised capitalism and built upon a foundation of doubt and fear. The good news is that I don't have to work like that anymore." I continue writing my studio blog, creating Tuesday Video Visits, being involved with the Abstractionistas, union work and mentoring. More than enough. 

I visit my studio at the Drill Hall a couple of times this month and give it a good once over and enjoy being there, cleaning it up and making space - getting organised. I visit a three-woman show, buy some original art from Esther Donaldson and start enjoying the spring. I enjoy walks, yoga, aerobics, and meditation. The Abstractionistas take down the exhibition at Detour and prepare for the Dalkeith palace exhibition. I do more studio organisation to get ready to start sharing my studio space with my pal Aoife at the start of May. This is a big step for me to share the studio with another artist. It is a good thing and makes sense financially. 

I start (with the help of Jeanne, Barbara, and Maggie) organising an online sale of a selection of works already in Northwest Arkansas. 

With my union work firmly in my mind, I write this. 

"Dear Artists,

Stand up for yourselves. Stop working for free. Stop underselling your work and yourself. Challenge how the art world functions and who it is set up to benefit. Set boundaries. Understand that exposure doesn't pay the bills. We need to support and encourage each other. We are in the same fight, not in competition. Share your secrets, and let's reach our goals together as a unified front. Get organised. 

Don't forget to rest and allow yourself time for joy. Remember what you wanted to express in the first place - you probably won't find it on Instagram. However, you might find it in your heart, your mind's eye, or in the pit of your stomach. Let it out. We can take it.



Later in the month, I start promoting my online Arkansas sale from April 29th to May 13th. This sale brings me a lot of joy and reconnects me to my community back home. 


The Inception exhibition opens Friday - Sunday, May 6-8, at the Dalkeith Palace. On the first day of "Inception," I step out to attend my union meeting in a side room. This marked a change for me - the union was growing in importance in my life. In previous times, ducking out of an exhibition would be unheard of. This time, I saw it as progress. The union was paying me for my time - the palace was not (or at least only speculatively). 

My online sale back home continues. I write: "Thanks again to my Arkansas patrons and the good folks in Georgia and Louisiana who have purchased works from my special sale. It really warms my heart to hear from you - even just notes of support or a quick hello in reaction to my sales posts on social media and through email. You are a tough act to follow. You must know that when people ask where I am from, I proudly say Arkansas. Your spirit is in my heart and shines through in everything I do."

I am delighted that 5 originals and 4 limited edition prints sold during my special 2-week online sale. I am also thrilled to raise some funds for AbleTalks.

A most perfect obstacle
signed limited edition print
© 2017 Megan Chapman

What should have been said
signed limited edition print
© 2017 Megan Chapman

Just under the surface
signed limited edition print
© 2017 Megan Chapman

signed limited edition print
© 2017 Megan Chapman

Tomorrow's mysteries

Mixed media on canvas
© 2017 Megan Chapman

To unwind the darkness

mixed media on canvas
© 2016 Megan Chapman

To return

12x12" mixed media on panel
© 2014 Megan Chapman

In the house you live

12x12" mixed media on panel
© 2014 Megan Chapman


12x12" mixed media on panel
© 2014 Megan Chapman
At the end of the month, probably buoyed from my Arkansas sale, I wrote an inspired piece about art and light. I remember really enjoying writing this post for my blog. I had no idea what was about to come next...


Along the John Muir Way

My niece Elena has some time off work and visits Scotland. I invite myself on her holiday, and we walk the entire John Muir Way (Helensburgh to Dunbar) and then some! 

This is hands down the highlight of my year, and it still seems like a dream. I write this at the time: "Scotland, you are a magical wonder, and your people are golden. I am so proud to call you home." I needed to get out of Edinburgh and spend some time with Elena laughing and putting one foot in front of the other. The weather was glorious, and I am proud of myself and us. 

After completing "the way," I write "it is my daily exercise habits that enabled me to "just go" on the 135-mile (official) John Muir Way (it was 170 miles in total with extraneous walking) over 10 days, spontaneously without too much issue or injury." I find it hard to get back into daily life and miss my niece.

By the end of the month, most women around the world are mad as hell due to Roe V Wade being overturned in the states. This news, along with the continuing war in Ukraine and everything else, is just a bit much...


It's summer, and I am determined to enjoy it. I write, "I don't want to talk about the same old things. I don't want to think about the same old things. I don't want to make the same old things." 

Another Abstractionistas exhibition is planned for August. I look for beautiful moments, I keep writing and making my videos, I keep mentoring, my studio mate gets settled in, and I enjoy soup with friends. I create music playlists for the kind patrons that support me each month on Ko-fi

However, I am still not painting. 

I write: "Move forward, take a risk - we need YOU and YOUR work - not their work, not her work or his work, we need you. It's not easy - it's actually really fucking hard, but it is important work. I'll see you there." 

During this time, I am having recurring migraines caused by a medication I am taking. 


The Abstractionistas "Paper" exhibition opens August 12-14th at the Granton Hub. I show a selection of works that had never been shown before. I sold two small pieces.  

A reason to believe
20 x 25 cm
Mixed Media on Paper 2021

Celebrations remembered
20 x 25 cm
Mixed Media on Paper 2021

By the end of the month, after a while of not offering prints of my work, I add loads of new designs to my online shop. I offer a range of signed limited and open-editions priced from £20-55. These archival giclee prints are all created locally in a not-for-profit community interest company in Leith. I love having my work reproduced affordably in the community in alignment with my values.

I also started offering a selection of my works on sustainably sourced t-shirts and totes. These had been requested a while back, but August was the month they became a reality, just another way of keeping my work more accessible to a larger audience. Gutless Apparel was born.

But probably an even more important development was that I returned to my studio at the end of August and started a new series of portraits.


I set a modest schedule of going into the studio every Tuesday and Thursday. I work on portraits on paper and try to work when my studio mate is in. At this same time, I returned to drinking coffee, something I had loved throughout my youth but had quit when I was 21 due to increased anxiety. Now, it seemed coffee was like magic! It was great to get reacquainted with it as I got to know all the faces pouring out of me. 

I write after a few weeks of returning to my studio habit: "I am just trying to get back into the habits of showing up, being in the space, and sharing the space with my studio mate who has been there since May. I wasn't expecting any hard or serious work, but then a flood of portraits came forward. I got excited, and suddenly I was expecting things of myself, my work and my time in the studio."

At this time, I received a gift of a collection of lovely canvases from a patron, and I decided to do a large abstract. The queen dies the same day. 

I write: "While I create new patterns and schedules, I want to be careful to not return to being the taskmaster I once was. Creating work to prove to you that I do indeed "work." This is leftover programming that no longer serves me but is deeply worn into my brain. I have done a bit more walking in the past week as well - Autumn always seems to be the walking season as I prepare myself for the darker and shorter days. 

For my Tuesday Studio Video Visit, I want to try something different and talk about one of my favourite paintings from childhood. Paolo Uccello's "St. George and the dragon."

At the end of September, I painted over the large abstract. "I took the large abstract painting I had done on a gifted to me 100x80cm linen canvas (thanks, patron!) and turned it on its side and then quickly drew these charcoal faces. Red cheeks, white cheeks, wobbly cheeks, eyes getting more impatient and smudged, mouths quick and dirty - that's how I work. I don't have time to waste - paint around the shapes - everything is abstract - see the old painting peeking through. Spirits come forward."

In other news, my contributor copies of LESS #4 produced by Enough Scotland arrived through the letterbox! I am honoured to have my work purchased for print in LESS, where ideas of degrowth are shared across Scotland. 

More faces come forward, expanding onto canvas, not just paper. I am challenging myself, and I am having fun. 

While this is happening, folks are buying my t-shirts and totes and sending me photos of them in the real world, and this delights me too - more connection - what I crave most.

In good news from this month, I am notified that an abstract painting of mine, "On the wind," has sold from the fabulous Solo Gallery in Innerleithen in the gorgeous Scottish Borders!

On the wind
Mixed Media on Canvas, 20cm x 20cm framed
I am beginning to feel overwhelmed by my studio space and all the new work I have created. I am concerned about where I'm going to keep it all. I toy with the idea of cleaning and organising my studio but then stop myself and pull out a large piece of raw canvas and make something hard to store instead. This project takes me somewhere else entirely. Suddenly there are two faces, and they are sharing a crown. I am researching declarations from antiquity and making wax seals. 

Once again, I am challenging myself and having fun. I take myself to the Impressionist exhibition in the city centre and see the fabulous Richard E. Grant in the same week. Being enveloped in culture and humanity helps me feel alive - this goes hand in hand with making art. After the large painting gets squared away, I paint one more portrait of the year, another on raw unstretched canvas with an additional collaged element for the face. I write about the portraits and try to process them.


My cat Theo takes priority this month as a 6-month check-up for his chronic kidney disease shows his condition is progressing, and we need to take some new actions. This is distressing, and my studio schedule falls apart. I also make the decision to leave the Abstractionistas. I am thankful for my time in helping to start and facilitate the group with Judith and Susan. I am proud of our exhibition record, original aesthetic, and mission statement. I wish them all the best as they go from strength to strength with the group and their art. 

I explore some other creative outlets. I make a hair fascinator, a crown made from vintage lace, homemade clay dough, a miniature paper cup, and some things from commercial air-dry clay. I have been practising my ukulele too. I vote in the American elections, keep writing, and keep posting my videos. I keep looking after Theo.

Next up, a solo exhibition of my portraits comes together! I am beyond thrilled to be able to present the entire body of work in a cohesive solo exhibition. Starling & Campbell Gallery is born! 

A partial view of the Starling & Campbell Gallery
I am pleased to share this body of work as I had envisioned it and with international audiences. I feature the exhibition in my Tuesday Video Visit. Click HERE to view it again. I also create a selection of t-shirts and totes to accompany the exhibition.

I continue to promote the exhibition and compile some comments and reviews in a video. I am pleased that folks enjoyed the work and the virtual experience. 

I am even more thrilled when two pieces are sold from the exhibition to collectors in the states. 

She knew you yesterday
mixed media on paper, 2022
20x16" Sold

At a moment's notice
mixed media on raw unstretched canvas, 2022
20x16" Sold

I was so pleased to see the gorgeous Christmas window at the fabulous Solo Gallery in Innerleithen, Scotland, featuring 5 pieces of my work. You can read why this was especially meaningful for me here

A wonderful way to end the year

Like many makers and artists, I try to capitalise on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but it was quiet this year. By the second week of December, all my thoughts were back on Theo with a week's stay in the animal hospital. It was a very stressful and worry-filled time. I missed a few Tuesday Studio Video Visits and didn't promote the close of my portrait exhibition. Thankfully, he is doing much better in time for Christmas and his 8th "gotcha" anniversary. 

I do my best to promote my shop, my t-shirts and totes, and the exhibition, all while grateful for my patrons over on ko-fi who help me financially through their generous backing.

As Theo improves, I get out to see a painter friend for lunch in the city - we think big thoughts, catch up and have some laughs - it is a balm for the soul. I post a photo of Little Edie Beale and Andy Warhol, suggesting we should all dream and be too much. I stand by that advice. Christmas happens, and afterwards, I meet up with a writer friend in a graveyard, again reminded how important these moments are - to be around kindred spirits in the rain and snow. Mascara running, sopping wet - alive. 

Dear reader, we've made it! 2023 is just around the corner. What will it bring? Let's find out together. Wishing you all the best with love and gratitude. Until next year, keep fighting and showing up, but do it your way. Let's dream and be too much! I'll see you there!