Saturday, June 30, 2012

After the work, we finally see

waiting to be varnished, our paintings ©2012 Megan Chapman

Dear Readers,

It's been a busy week as artist Stewart Bremner and I have been doing last minute touches on our work and we are happy to report that we have completed our new series of collaborative paintings for our "A place called home" exhibition.

We have created fifteen 12x12" mixed media paintings on panel. Fifteen seemed a bit spare at first, but I always listen to a body of work, especially when it tells me it is finished. These fifteen pieces while being entirely abstract hold fragments of land, sky and the colors of Stewart's country and mine. They represent us both and yet they become something completely singular and new. While looking at them on the walls and in the studio as we varnished them, I felt a sense of pride at what we had created together. These works are again so different from what I would paint alone. They are related to what I paint but they would never have been born this way without Stewart's hand and vision, without his experience of living and I think he would say the same thing about my influence in the work as well. The paintings become bigger than ourselves, and that is a true accomplishment.

Looking at them and thinking about how they were created, feels a bit like an out of body experience. I know time was spent laboring in the studio and I know that there are many underpaintings, layers, pencil marks, mistakes and hidden stories within each piece. They are infused with memories of the summer heat, the music we listened to, the chocolate, the wine and silliness and the tense reality of painting with a tight deadline. Despite the fullness of them they feel open and clean, direct and honest and a coolness can be felt. I feel Scotland, the view from a train, a plane and the lines and trails that thread through Stewart's city and the red clay earth and the verdant green of Arkansas. We created the body of work we wanted and now that we can step away and see it, we can also start to let go as we prepare to show it at the Art Center of the Ozarks in July. We will be hanging our show on Monday.

Here is our statement: A place called home

Home is an everyday part of our lives. It is both a place and a state of mind. Some might think of home as family, friends, familiarity, comfort and ease. Others might think of opportunities, connections and a place to work. Still others may think of it simply as a place to live. Yet what happens to the definition of home when one is in a relationship that spans an ocean? For artists Megan Chapman and Stewart Bremner, who live four thousand miles apart, home became a question and something to search for.

Chapman, from Fayetteville, Arkansas and Bremner from Edinburgh, Scotland, live and work together as best as they are able. Currently, no single place is their home and there is uncertainty about where in the future home may be. However, no matter where in the world they are, a sense of home can be felt when they paint.

As artists, it seemed only natural that their latest series of works should reflect both this search for home and the distance that separates them. In their paintings, the two artists reconcile not only their different backgrounds but also their individual voices in this search. The cool colors of Scotland are balanced by the warmer ones of Arkansas. Graphite lines reflect the geology of both regions, as well as the trajectory of planes slicing through space and hint at the sense of being pulled in two different directions.

While the artists float between two locations on two continents, they paint, they live and they continue their journey to find a place called home.

If you are local to the Northwest Arkansas area we hope you can visit our exhibition and join us at our opening.

A place called home 
Megan Chapman and Stewart Bremner
July 3-27 

Reception: Tuesday July 10th 6-8pm
Art Center of the Ozarks
Springdale, Arkansas

Learn more about our work:

P.S. Thanks to everyone who tuned in and read and shared last week's blog. Your support and feedback mean a lot to me. I think it is good for us to tackle the hard questions and the bigger picture as a community. We all come from different places on the path, but we are in this together. Until next week keep fighting, the world needs your art!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The soldiers of culture

Making art is like tight rope walking (but we'll keep doing it anyway)

I have been thinking a lot about making art and why I do it. Why my artist friends do it. Why many of us live in poverty for the love of art.

Distance becomes us
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner

It is happening all over the world, I hear my artist friends say they won't be able to afford health insurance, travel, or take the risk of creating a new body of work this year due to their finances and lack of sales. Due to the economic down turn, we are beginning to wonder if it is time to admit defeat and get a “real” job. We are amassing stacks of good paintings in our cupboards and closets, so why paint more? We turn to teaching classes, workshops, and weekend yard sales to scrape by. We take the odd job here and there, anything to mostly keep working on our true calling of art. We borrow money from friends and family and of course the food stamp application is always a possibility and let's not forget kickstarter or some other type of fundraiser. These extra jobs and fundraisers take us further away from what we need to be doing, which is spending time in the studio making our art and fulfilling all the other managerial tasks that come with being a full time artist.

We hear buzz words such as “creative economy” and “cultural commodity” used by city officials and others across the country and world, wanting yet another draw for tourists and transplants to come visit and eat, drink and spend in the hotels, restaurants and bars. The creative economy idea works and the revelers come in droves, they drink, they spend, but are they buying the art? Sadly we as artists begin to feel used, just another cog in the wheel that benefits others but not us. We give so much to the culture and feel of our communities yet we are left empty and depressed. As artists, we aren't just looking for inclusive feel good opportunities, we are looking for sales.

We have trained, we know how to sell our work, how to network, and we create quality art and are working as hard as we can but sadly it is just not enough. We know about pricing, watching the market, and saying yes to every opportunity that comes our way. We show our work near and far, thinking outside of the box and creating our own opportunities but again it is not enough. Even after periods of success, we find ourselves walking the tight rope again.

Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner

In our meetings with our community members and leaders we continually fight the stereotypes of the dreamy flamboyant artist and the slacker. We keep the feeling of loss and struggle to ourselves, we maintain a positive attitude when we promote ourselves and our work, never admitting defeat or struggle until we can no longer deny it. Well meaning friends and family tell us that it might just be time to again get that “job.” We then turn to the buzz word using community members and leaders but are surprisingly told to try to another style or medium or just move on to something else to make a buck. The lack of true understanding and acceptance of what it means to be an artist fuels our growing distress.

When we as artists are struggling, our work struggles as well. It is hard to get to the place one needs to be to make the good art when one is thinking about the bills, shut off notices or the empty fridge. It is a stressful time for the artist when on the one hand we are celebrated for our gifts to the community and yet are rarely paid for the enjoyment of them.

What can we do as artists and as art lovers about this situation? How can we better understand and support each other?

Some other future
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner

We can all acknowledge that it is tough all over and that people are struggling to get by right now whether as an artist, a teacher or an office worker. In order to better support ourselves in this economy many artists offer small affordable works, have turned to making prints and have special sales to help meet most budgets. Many artists accept payment plans and some are even willing to barter and trade for things they need. Perhaps it is up to all of us to think about art as a necessity rather than a frivolity. To paraphrase one of my recent clients, you have to put money aside for art just like you do for a utility bill, a new shirt, or a night out on the town.

If you truly cannot buy art from an artist right now then how about supporting their work through sharing their website, etsy shop, or facebook art page with your friends? How about writing a note to an artist and expressing your love of their work. Sometimes a few words of encouragement are all it takes to keep an artist from falling off the path. Acknowledge that being an artist is hard work and that it is valuable and necessary. Acknowledge an artist as a worker with a career like any other. The first time someone told me they understood how hard it was to be an artist, I burst into tears for the relief of finally being understood.

We are nomads
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner

Being an artist is not a choice for many of us, this is not a hobby, a phase or a passing fancy. This is in our life's blood, this is our purpose, this is our soul's work and it is heart breaking when people dismiss what we know is true to our core.

We are artists. We work. We give. We make the culture a more exciting place for you to live. We ask for little and we tread lightly. We will keep making our art but wouldn't it be a lovely thing if we could also be paid a living wage? We are not some magical class of citizens that thrive under dire conditions just because we know how to shop for second hand clothes and eat well on little.

 We are artists and we do it because we have to and for the most part we will continue on with our smiles and our can do attitudes. We are the soldiers of culture and we must keep fighting not only for ourselves but for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

News and the first few works...

Dear Readers,

We have been riding the high of last week's successful east prospect exhibition. We are so glad that after our Thursday night exhibition we decided to do it again on the following Saturday. We had a smaller crowd on Saturday but it was lovely to enjoy the people who came and it allowed us all to have a more intimate appreciation of the art. Another perk of our encore was that the Sun Boxes were singing with out interruption all day long. It was a real thrill opening up the house to the public for this special two day exhibition. We wanted the show to be a success for everyone involved and we feel it was. Works were viewed, connections were made and many pieces of art found new homes! What more can anyone want from an art exhibition? Thanks again to all the east prospect exhibition artists and team members that helped us put on such a beautiful and diverse show.

In other news, I have decided to list all my remaining available works that I have in my possession in my Etsy shop, ArtMaven. It just seems to make sense. People often want to know where and how to buy my work and this makes it easier for all involved. Currently my small works on paper, my newly released limited edition prints, and works from my Falling into Sound series as well as some pieces from my more recent Sometimes I love you and other stories are now featured in my Etsy shop. I have even included the last four color works from the 2007-2009 season in my color super sale section.

Speaking of Etsy, I am really pleased with the response of my limited edition prints of A manual for living. I had been thinking about releasing those for a long time and I am glad I finally got around to doing that. So far nine prints have flown overseas and three have stayed local since I released them two weeks ago. I am grateful that the works are finally being seen, appreciated and purchased in print form. Besides my Etsy shop you can find even more of my work at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You can click here to see which works of mine they have. Currently eleven of the works listed on their website are still available.

While I have been busy processing and paying the east prospect artists for their work, thinking about putting on another show and updating my etsy shop I am very happy to report that Stewart Bremner and I have been back to work in the studio! It has been hard work... really hard work, like pulling teeth actually. However, despite all of that we have eighteen pieces in progress for our upcoming exhibition, A place called home, next month at the Art Center of the Ozarks. I am excited to share the first three pieces from our upcoming exhibition with you here. I like how I can see hints of our series from last year but I can also see the blues from Stewart's last individual series and I can see the coolness of the white paint I adore from my recent series as well. I can feel the land of both our homes and I can feel the sky as we cut through it all to try to be together and perhaps find a place called home. I hope to have more new work to share with you next week.

Until then, please enjoy our new paintings and keep fighting! The world needs your art!

Sleeping on planes
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner.
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner.
We live between hills
Mixed media on panel 12x12"
© 2012 Megan Chapman & Stewart Bremner.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Home is where the art is

 just add sun boxes...

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to report that east prospect exhibition was a smashing success! We had a lovely crowd and everyone's art looked beautifully installed in all the rooms on the main floor of the house. We had the Sun Boxes singing in the back yard and happy art patrons nibbling on snacks, drinking wine and enjoying art. It was a lovely evening. It is kind of fun temporarily living in an art gallery.

We had worked so hard to bring the exhibition together that suddenly at the end of the night, we realized right away that we had to do this again and soon! Due to popular demand east prospect exhibition has been held over for one more day! If you are local to Northwest Arkansas please stop by 545 E. Prospect in Fayetteville, Saturday June 9th from 11-4 to enjoy our world class art and of course to hear the brilliant Sun Boxes.

There are more than one hundred works of art that make up the exhibition, from original paintings to photographs, multimedia installations to wearable art. The work flows throughout the house in this intimate setting. Stewart Bremner, Craig Colorusso and myself will be present during the exhibition on Saturday. The talented Jennifer Libby Fay had to return to her studio in Kansas City but her work remains with us for just a while longer so please come and enjoy it and so much more!

There is a lot of art to look at on the walls but there are also some hidden gems in the exhibition. My recently released prints of A Manual for Living are available as are my new small works created while I was recently in Scotland. Stewart Bremner's has his new camera illustrations, Animal and Edinburgh greeting cards and his small abstract works on paper and Thomas Petillo has two boxes of intriguing and beautiful photographic test prints for you to rummage through and purchase for a song! These test prints are the result of preparing for two recently published books of his work. There is so much art to enjoy and discover and many great deals to be found as well. There truly is something for everyone's taste.

So that has been this week. Nails, hammers, levels, design and formatting, inventorying all the art, placing and hanging the work to maximize it and the space and then the big event that went from one night only to a Saturday encore.

Thanks to all the east prospect artists. I wish you all could be here to see your work in this space and have a chance to meet each other and all the lovely patrons. I am lucky to be part of such a talented world wide community of artists and fortunate to be able to share this work with my local community.

Sun Boxes at East Prospect from stewart bremner on Vimeo.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Manul for Living/ East Prospect Exhibition

 We grew homes inside each other's bones. 
Limited edition print. © 2012 Megan Chapman

Dear Readers,

It has almost been a month since Stewart and I returned to Arkansas from Scotland. We have been busy and have hit the ground running since our return. It is really kind of amazing to think of all we have seen and done in the past four weeks. But rather than look back just this minute, I would like to look at the now and the exciting near future.

First of all, I am very pleased to announce that A Manual for Living is now available as a series of signed limited edition prints! I am thrilled to present these affordable limited edition prints of this rare and sought after work. These prints will be sold exclusively through Etsy. From a set of 50 prints, each of these professionally-printed reproductions have been signed and hand numbered on the front. The artwork is 6.5x4.5” with the paper size being 5x7" making them ideal for displaying in any off-the-shelf frame. 

I had been thinking about having some prints made of select pieces of my work for quite sometime, but I just didn't know which pieces. With Stewart Bremner and Jennifer Libby Fay's help and encouragement it was decided that A Manual for Living was a prime candidate for reproductions. This body of work was the first of the new white series that began in 2010 and inspired everything that I have created since. A Manual for Living has been shown only once publicly during my exhibition, Falling into Sound at the Hive Gallery.

During that exhibition, the heartfelt response to the work was palpable and I was so pleased. I had many requests to break the series of works a part and sell them individually, however at the time I was showing the pieces as a conceptual book of “stills” that were always to remain together. Each page its own chapter, the viewer was to “read” the work starting with the wordless prologue, the eight pages in between with their text, and concluding with a wordless epilogue.

In print form, I feel comfortable with the body of work being sold individually and it makes sense to me. There are a range of moods and sentiments within that body of work and the whole may not appeal to all but the fragments might readily. I just released these affordable prints yesterday in my shop and I am so thrilled that three have already found good homes in the U.K. with two going to Scotland and one to England! I hope more fragments and moments from this body of work will also find homes. We could all use a chapter from A Manual for Living...

In other news, we have also been getting ready for east prospect exhibition and we are so excited! Just yesterday, the permanent collection came down while we took inventory of all the amazing works of the east prospect artists that will be filling the walls for next week's one night only exhibition.

Works are slowly and carefully being placed as we change the atmosphere of one artist's home into a space filled with world class art. We will be showing the work of photographers, painters, multimedia artists and the sunbox installation. We can't wait to present work by artists from our own backyard, around the country and around the world. Four artists will be present at the event. It is going to be intimate, comfortable, inspired, and there will be art for all tastes and budgets. All the art will be available to go home with our patrons the night of the exhibition. Cash, Check, Credit Cards and payment plans will also be available.

It will be one great night to enjoy art outside of the traditional gallery setting, to expand your collection, and to enjoy and support our worldwide community of artists. If you are local to the Northwest Arkansas area please join us on Thursday June 7 from 5-8pm for east prospect exhibition in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Click the image below to learn more about the artists that will be participating.


Thanks for stopping by. Until next week... keep fighting!