Deb Chaney - Featured Artist for April 2011 

  Little Gem 2010, 9" x 12", Mixed Media & Acrylics on loose canvas

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

I work in mixed media which for me is a base in acrylics and then on top of that nearly anything goes - from thick polymer mediums such as moulding paste and pouring medium to create depth, to collage including tissue papers and corrugated cardboard for texture, also earth materials such as sand for colour and texture, and finally to artist quality pens and pencils such as Lyza pencil crayons and PITT india ink pens for detail and fun.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection? What is it that draws you to them?

Mark Rothko - big bold paintings, his application of colour.

Helen Frankenthaler - staining techniques, her tenacity and art making spanning decades

Michelle Y Williams - my favourite modern artist, I own one of her original pieces and would give my right arm to study with her!

Michel Keck - her business acumen and her ability to really succeed as a contemporary abstract artist in the marketplace. I admire this tremendously.

Eve Leader - the quality beauty and mystery of her work is amazing.

Sabrina Ward Harrison - her freedom, rawness, venerability in her journalling and art making capture me and I appreciate her risking it all to share her thoughts and words with the world.

What process or technique in art-making interests you?

What intrigues me is creating thick paintings that have thick multi layered encaustic wax-like effect, yet no wax has been used. Instead, the layers are accumulations of acrylics and mediums.. The process of applying and layering acrylics and mediums, scraping away paint, and doing so without leaving brush marks intrigues me.

What technical challenges do you face in the process of making art?

Trying to re-create Serenity! I did this painting a couple of years ago and have been trying to figure out how I get to my end result and emulate that in other pieces,.. no such luck so far but lots of fun along the way!

What in your artistic training do you value most at this time?

My ability to share what I know in an inspiration and organized format in my workshops.

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?

Making art is an interplay between careful thought and planning and pure unbridled passion and accident.

It's like the juggle between right and left brain, push and pull. There is a component of both control and accident that I experience in my work. Often, the more I let go the better the resulting piece!

What are some of your artistic challenges at present?

Prioritizing the plethora of opportunites available today for artists such as for art shows, competitions, grants, artist in residences. It can be daunting and it takes a big effort to set goals, be clear on my values and stay on track.

What are some of your artistic accomplishments at present?

Participating in the 2010 Vancouver East Side CULTURE CRAWL with my fellow studio mates.

Working as a consultant for Rainmaker, Inc. in Vancouver doing some commission art for one of their movies.

Selling two pieces from my Kerrisdale gallery (now closed).

Teaching workshop independently every month since August 2010.

Being a mentor for a Director Studies art student with the University Southern California Santa Barbara.

Can you share three things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

1. Keeping the three 3 C's in mind help make the process of art making easier.

C- content ( be clear on what you're communicating),

C - composition (have a solid design as your foundation),

C- colour ( know what colour scheme you're using).

2. Three Secrets that make an abstract painting "Wow". That is, having a sense of breathing space in the piece. Having something unique - a variation in the piece. And, having an area of strong contrast in the piece.

3. When it's not working, put it aside!

When you need inspiration, how to do you get it?

Sit and wait and let it come.

Walk in nature.

Stop painting and take a break.

Paint when I don't "feel" like it and let the inspiration come to me...

Hang out with other artists.

Look at art online.

Go visit a gallery or see a coffee shop art show.

Look at children's art - always so free and inspirational!

Look at art books and magazines.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it?

DVDs, workshops, talking to other artists, asking questions, looking at art, reading, art magazines, teaching- they say you teach what you want to learn, i agree, I've learned so much about my own art making process by sharing it with others!

What is exciting on your artistic horizon?

A Possible Art show in San Francisco summer 2011.

A Possible New York show March 2012

An upcoming trip to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico and to check out galleries!

What is it about this artwork (Little Gem 2010) that led you to choose it for this feature? What specific challenges did you face in making this artwork?

This one of my favorite pieces over the span of the last 3-4 years. I chose the small 9 x 12 piece on canvas because it represents the work I do while I'm teaching and demonstrating. I chose to show a piece with many layers of mixed media, sand and collage elements because it’s the springboard to where my work is leading me currently.