Friday, September 26, 2008

Success: What is it?

Are you a success? Am I? How do we know if we are or not? Should it matter? What does success mean anyway? There is the textbook definition, but then there is what it means to us personally. Our personal success can be loosely defined, a floating feeling or it can be measurable and marked by certain milestones. As we work through our art and grow into our process, our personal ideas of success will hopefully change and grow just as our work evolves over time.

Is success about money, acclaim, a studio downtown, or is it about leaving our mark in the hearts of people who come across our work? Is success quitting the day job and painting full time?

Success for some, could be as simple as believing in themselves enough to not flinch when they tell people they are an artist. Success is so personal and abstract, yet at the same time we may tell ourselves stories about what it should mean, making it rigid and unattainable.

When I was much younger, I thought success was to have a simple life of my own creation, free of complications, while being able to see as much live music as possible and just being happy or just having fun. A very loose definition. Then as an art student, it became about getting good critiques and respect from peers and professors, and an occasional showing of my work with no expectation of sales. After school, success became about getting into juried shows, getting more exhibitions on my resume, and finally taking a risk and deciding to quit my job to focus on my art. The focus still wasn't on selling, but on building my body of work, name recognition, and additional lines on the resume. After a couple of years, naturally the next step was the gallery route, this is where my personal definition of success got fuzzy. Success here becomes more rigidly defined as I entered into business relationships with various galleries, this brought on an all new set of rules, expectations, demands, and of course pressures to sell, to have a viable product. This wasn't necessarily created by the galleries, but by myself within the gallery structure. I experienced a heightened sense of being a professional and being responsible not only for myself, but to the galleries taking a chance on me and my work. 

It has been suggested at times, that I might want to re-evaluate my personal definition of success, so that I can gauge my progress and celebrate my milestones along the way. However, I find myself a bit stumped. I have at times, lost sight of what my original purpose was, or what I truly desired when I first started showing my work. Not uncommon, I fear it happens to us all. 

Is success a certain number of paintings created in a month or a year, or a certain number sold in that same time period? Is it earning a specific yearly dollar amount? Is it painting consistently even if only a few times a week? Is it being picked up by a major NYC gallery, having a solo show and selling out on opening night? Is it being on the cover of an international art magazine? Perhaps it is simply having lots of adoring MySpace fans from all over the world. I don't really know the answer. 

So, I am asking- what is success for you? 
Please share your ideas with me in the comment section.

For more information about me and my work and the galleries that represent me, please visit my website 
For my affordable small works on paper please visit

Pictured above
Hover Like Ghosts
Mixed Media on Canvas
40x30" $1,200
Megan Chapman 2008
Currently on display at the River Market ArtSpace
Little Rock, Arkansas

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stories we tell and the games we play

Oh the games we play, with ourselves, each other and with our art. Some of these games can be beneficial and help us to move forward, while others seem to keep us stuck in place.

How many times have you had a new idea for your art and become excited only to then systematically dismantle it, coming up with a laundry list of reasons why your idea couldn't or shouldn't work? All the sudden, your idea is not worth your time or energy or isn't suited to your audience. All the doubts start coming to the forefront of your mind, and you decide to leave well enough alone. Maybe you want to explore a new medium or style but decide it is too risky. Maybe you were thinking of selling your work online, but you then convince yourself that it isn't the proper venue, or you worry about what the galleries will think. How many stories do you make up in your head that you are starting to believe? How many times do you shoot yourself and your work down so you can safely stay with the pack? We all know the story that misery loves company and that it is lonely at the top, so we decide to stay put.

These are just some questions to be aware of. What is one story you are telling yourself about your work that you could examine or challenge?

There are the games we play, that work. The games that challenge, motivate and cajole you into action. Currently I am playing a 28 day game of "one stroke." I wanted to get back into a consistent routine and schedule after not having one during the summer months. For the next 28 days, I will put down at least one stroke of paint either on a paper or canvas painting. That is all I have to do to be a success. My usual motto is "everyday I paint is a victory." For the next 28 days, all I have to do is put down one stroke to be victorious. I know it doesn't sound like much. What can one stroke of paint do? Only one stroke relieves the time pressure of any marathon painting session, it tells me that no finished work needs to emerge. The process and routine is of equal importance to the finished painting. One stroke seems easily manageable, and after one stroke is down, usually another follows and then time starts to pass and paintings are now being created and I have set myself up for this relaxed victory.

What stories can you confirm or deny so that you can rise above? What games can you play to make yourself victorious?

It's your move...

Pictured Above:
The Games We Play,
Mixed Media on Canvas
Megan Chapman
2008 Copyright
Patron's private collection

PS. There are new affordable paper paintings over at my Esty shop: Art Maven. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

"I don't want to set the world on fire"

I was reading my old journals again, looking for inspiration for this blog post. I think the only solution for today is to go back in time.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my art created towards the end of my education was painted inside the pages of discarded books, and how much I enjoyed working in this manner. The works were small and on paper, created during pure inspiration and filled with stories and characters.

Today, I found my comment book from my 1999 B.F.A. terminal exhibition from the University of Oregon. Inside on the painted white pages, I let one sentence from the original text remain,
"I don't want to set the world on fire."

But, this is not true, and you know I already have the matches...

What follows is a spontaneous review of my show I found inside my comment book, written by my old friend Hayyim (Howard) Cohen. We worked together side by side in little cubicles selling the newspaper in a tiny downtown office, and became fast friends. He would share his New York Times Arts section with me during breaks.

Megan by Hayyim Cohen

"Combining subversive parody, red (life), black (nothingness) and white (blinding light), duct tape to shut out the noisy excess, upholstery tacks, and the dead bodies of obsolete technical books, Megan Chapman (see your dictionary- "Chapman" means seller) creates lyrical southern "talkin' blues" between the pages of discards (found objects) she collects from the free bins of the Smith Family bookstore in Eugene Oregon.

Providing at her B.F.A. commencement (the beginning of her life as an artist) a comfortable pink sofa with fresh green throw pillows, a little Gene Autry and "A Sunday Kind of Love" musical background for a gathering of "found" people who "read" her books often with whimsical smiling faces.

Megan nails the defunct corpses of old books (now frames for her poems and designs) on the gallery walls with the tacks she loves, this is interspersed with machine blowups of her photographs, which add a nice contrapuntal theme to the shards of books behind the sofa and on the coffee table. Megan is a southern woman and now she has a B.F.A. to nail to the wall when she goes home (tell your Maw,tell your Paw I'm gonna send you back to Arkansas-population 40,002). It is all here in the art, the depths of introspective experience, from one who knows how it all fits together in the package. It's a "found" life for the pack of us, don't you think? Megan has definitely found something...To do and to make a difference, and she does it all with southern hospitality to boot!"

I am so fortunate to have this nugget, and like the art closed up in those old altered books, I thought this needed to be aired out and shared. My friend, Howard did this on his own accord, and I am grateful for his tangents and details; his writing helps me to remember myself at that time, as well as the show and the atmosphere. His words bring back everything about the experience and are even better than a photograph.

Have you ever considered having someone write a piece about your art? Think about asking a friend or fellow artist to write a statement or a review of your work. Perhaps your friends have already left you helpful comments. Have you thought about asking them if you could edit and use them to promote your art? I bet many of you have these nuggets hiding in letters, emails and blogs, just waiting to brushed off and put out there to a larger audience.

Let's set the world on fire...

Take me here often
mixed media on paper
Megan Chapman
Paper paintings only at ArtMaven

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pace is the trick...and she's back!

Hello Dear Readers!

It is September 5th and I am so excited to be here with all of you! I missed you all very much, and thought of you every Friday. However, I did make good use of the 3 weeks we were apart. I hope you did too.

Oh, where to begin...there were books, films, bike rides, photographs, friends, family (a newborn nephew), drinks, of course music, yoga classes, vitamins, ups and downs, new plans, directions and of course new paintings. I wish I could make the sound of a needle dropping on a record, (imagine that sound for me, okay) ? What did she say...New plans, directions, and of course new paintings!?!?

Alright, here we go.. I said I would come back with a BANG, and I don't like to disappoint.

After much careful thought and consideration, research and guidance ( thanks to the amazing Michele Maule). I am excited to announce my own little shop on!!! My shop is called ArtMaven, and I view it as my laboratory, where I can explore new mediums, techniques, and ideas on the smaller scale. My Etsy shop will only offer my small paper paintings/studies. These are not available in galleries.

I decided, I needed a low pressure way to maintain my enjoyment of painting. I have always believed in the power of original art and I want to share my work with as many people as possible, and at many different price ranges. Showing some work on Etsy seems like the perfect solution.

My paper works are painted on sturdy 140lb. gessoed Arches paper and are ready to frame. They come in two sizes, the larger size is 9x12" and sells for $40.00. The smaller size is 6x9" and sells for $25.00. I have also kept shipping reasonably priced as well. I want my friends, from around the block to around the world, to have a piece of my art if they so desire. I also list all the galleries that represent my larger canvas works, so that people can learn more about my larger paintings as well, which are still reasonably priced at $275-$2,200. I think this will be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

I really enjoyed painting these smaller works on paper, and I hope you will enjoy taking a look and perhaps buying one for yourself or a friend. If you have any questions about the work you see on Etsy, don't hesitate to ask. I must say, I was very encouraged when I first listed one of my paper paintings on Etsy, and it was purchased by a person in Canada within 3 minutes!

I am so happy to share this new adventure with you...

In other news, I also created six new larger paintings on canvas! I had started working on a few of these right after my recent exhibition, The Evidence of the Disappearance ended. These works took some extra time and care to settle and get sorted out, or perhaps that was just me. I am very pleased with these new paintings. These are not in the galleries yet, but most will be released into the world soon. For my devoted blog readers, a first look.

Pictured above is one of my most favorite paintings ever, and it is already spoken for. This piece will be traveling to a collector in England soon.
The Games We Play, 20x16"
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Spaces to Keep
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Things Stolen and Misplaced
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

Hover Like Ghosts
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

She Sleeps Underwater
Mixed Media on Canvas
2008 Copyright Megan Chapman

So, that is what I have been up to. Thanks again for reading my blog, leaving comments, supporting and encouraging me and my work. It means more than you will ever know. Have a wonderful weekend. See you next Friday!