Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Getting Stuck and Continuing on to Completion With a Creativity Project

When the idea of painting the Raw Expression painting series really took form and I was at the beginning/ “Oh yeah…this is co cool!”/ “I could paint a 100 of these things!” stage of this creative project, nothing could stop me. Plus I was on a painting retreat, so really, nothing could stop me. It was like this for the first six paintings in the Raw Expression series. “I think it was me who needed to listen”, “It was a glorious way to live” “ I had to become the painting (Before I could proceed)”, “ Maybe making the art was the only risk she needed to take” and “She fucked him for breakfast, lunch and dinner”. They came out and it was easy, fun and new. However, getting back home to life, my studio and the other 12 paintings was another challenge.

It’s funny the timing of the universe because just as I was in process with what would turn out to be the last six paintings of this series (time constraints and a show deadline helped determine this) I had just started taking an online/teleclass class on becoming a Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach. In the first class one of the instructors, Jill Badonsky, talked about how it’s common in when we immerse ourselves in creative endeavors – like painting a body of work, re-decorating our home, writing a novel, new job, new relationship, etc.- to be excited in the beginning and then mid-way loose interest. She was saying this because it might happen with the class we were just starting.

"I must not get too caught up in all the details I and II" Deb Chaney 2007, Diptych, 23" x 30" Mixed Media, Acrylics, Collage on 300 lb paper. On exhibit at the Sojourner Cafe from now until August 25, 2007. Originals are for sale, contact Megan Havrda (805) 637-3670 or meganhavrda@hotmail.com. Prints, posters, mugs, magnets, of these images are being made available at http://www.cafepress.com/debchaney.

I laughed internally as she spoke these words because it was happening to me right now, in the middle of this body of work. My show deadline was fast approaching, I had six paintings in process but not completed and I was ‘bored’, ‘no longer interested’, ‘out of inspiration’ and whatever other word you can come up with for basically not enjoying the process and not being able to finish the job.

The solution, Jill explained was in understanding the excitement often carries us through in the beginning of a project, but good habits and positive self talk will carry us through the end. I resolved to get in my studio every morning and look at the paintings, *even if it was just for a minute. I also embraced her catch phrases; “Close enough! Good enough!” These helped tremendously at hte very end to get the paintings out of hte studio and h ung at Sojourner Cafe.

[*Note – doing something for one minute a day is an extremely powerful way to over ride the resistance, fear, boredom, procrastination, etc. How this kaizen theory works (Japanese for small step) is explained beautifully in Dr. Rober Maurer’s book One Small Step Can Change your Life the Kaizen Way.]

So, one morning, I went into my studio first thing and looked at all six of those last paintings laid out on the counter top. I worked on two of the paintings but I was stuck on the two diptychs. It was then that the words flew out of me and I ‘wrote them’ in gesso on the red ground I had pre-painted; “I must not get too caught up in all the details.” As well I was stuck with “ I need to let go and go deeper into the wild unknown of abstraction”. After writing the words and letting them dry several days later I still felt stuck on how to progress. I think part of me knew inside what I wanted to do, but part of me was afraid to let go and go for it. Scared to move forward, Ever had that feeling?

A couple of days later I went hiking with two friends Lisa and Lori. Lori Katz is a friend of Lisa’ visiting from San Fran whom Lisa had been telling me about for months. She’s been painting for well over 15 years and is a dedicated studio artist. I figure I’d ask her opinion with being stuck on this work while we hiked. She suggested putting the work aside. I told her I didn’t have time. We then talked about other more interesting girly topics like Prada hand bags and jeans that make your ass look great since if you do 5 classes of yoga a week or hike regularly or whatever you are doing to keep your body trim and fit you might as well show off your great ass. We all laughed it was a great hike. Good times. Girlfriends rock.

I got home and I had the courage to finish the paintings. Pouring black paint all over those nice little white squares. It was liberating. I love those two sets of paintings!

"I need to let go and go deeper into the wild uknown of abstraction I and II" Deb Chaney 2007, Diptych, 23" x 30" Mixed Media, Acrylics, Collage on 300 lb paper. On exhibit at the Sojourner Cafe from now until August 25, 2007. Originals are for sale, contact Megan Havrda (805) 637-3670 or meganhavrda@hotmail.com. Prints, posters, mugs, magnets, of these images are being made available at http://www.cafepress.com/debchaney.%20and

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Raw Expression

Sunday July 29, 2007

The purpose of this blog is to explore the next step in my current painting project "Raw Expression". This is a body of work of 18 mixed media abstract paintings currently showing at the Sojourner restaurant in Santa Barbara. So the work is up and the question is: so now what?

I painted this work to apply to galleries and to show myself I could do it, and for the artist I would become doing this series. So the paintings are done. The show is up and now I move into Phase II of this project - getting the work to work for me!

("I learned I was enough" Deb Chaney 2007, mixed media, acrylics, collage on 300 lb paper. Currently on display at Sojourner Cafe in Santa Barbara)

So, as much as I'd rather be in my studio, I knew it was time to learn about marketing and promoting my work. I've got myself a super -duper art biz coach (I'll tell you all about her later...stay tuned) and her first suggested was to start a blog - so here I go!

So why did I cal this series 'Raw Expression'? Really it all started out at the annual watercolor retreat at Kanuga in North Carolina March 2007. I met a bodacious group of woman artist; Katja, Patou and Alice-Marie who really inspired me to well, be me. I had come to the retreat with the intention of working on something else - some other paintings- which I was really struggling with. After taking off from the retreat center one evening and having a fabulous gourmet dinner with extremely titillating conversation I came back and these paintings started to unfold. Unplanned, unrestrained, pure raw expression.

Katja, one of the women in our newly formed Kanuga art click, was telling us about how she and an older gentleman she was dating had decided to, well, 'get together' one evening. The event took all night and all morning appearntly because the viagras her lover pooped took well into the morning to finally allow him to "get the job done" if you know what I mean. All of us women listened to this story at the edge of our seats, laughing hysterically . I came home that night and started painting. These were the paintings that emerged. I felt free. It was divine. This was new for me.

(first painting in the series; "She Fucked him for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and still it was not enough" Deb Chaney 2007, mixed media, acrylics, collage on 300 lb paper. Currently on display at Sojourner Cafe in Santa Barbara)

Six paintings were completed while I was at Kanuga and then the next 12 were completed in my home studio in Santa Barbara from March through to June. Yeah, production slows down when you get back to your 4-year old, husband, business, house, laundry, life distractions…you know the deal.

A little bit into the painting mechanics for the curious artist readers ( Personally when I see work I like I always want to know how it was done)

I started each painting by laying down texture using Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso (great stuff!) and then pushing and indenting it with everything from corrugated cardboard to pieces of floor grip and bath matt to make cool textures. Then I did the under painting with several layers of Quinacradone Crimson ( I use Golden Liquid Acrylics) mixed with gloss medium. Obviously each layer had to dry before the next one could be added. And then came the fun part – writing down the thought or feeling that consumed me at the time, using white gesso from a squirt bottle, right over that brilliant red base layer. The last part – finishing of the pieces- ( I always worked on 6 paintings at a time for this series) – was all about playing with the collage pieces and adding black and white paint to balance out the compositions.

(Photo of Deb at the Annual Kanuga Watercolor Retreat Clotheline Show with her first six Raw Expression pieces in the background. March 2007. Thank you Katja for the photo.)

So now begins the business of marketing my art and here is what I have on my to-do list:

  1. Email an art show announcement to current (old) database.
  2. Continue building the new database in ACT!
  3. Consider lowering original painting prices to incentive sales
  4. Get Credit card processing – Costco Merchant Services has best prices.
  5. Continue uploading images and setting up www.cafepress.com/debchaney to sell prints, posters, mugs and t-shirts based on my art images.
  6. Research sites for high quality art prints (get site names from Tammi again)
  7. Make a meeting date with my web woman regarding
    New 2007 Raw Expression Brochure
    Websites for just art prints
    My website image updates
    Overall website update/re-vamp
    Html newsletter template
    Blog dashboard creation
  8. Blog thoughts -
    Put up dashboard
    Learn how to create side snippets ( really like the favorite books Claudine Hellmuth put on her blog)
  9. New 2007 'Raw Expression' Brochure
    Choose 8 favourite images
    Re-write Feng Shiu and art relative to Raw Expression paintings
  10. Newsletter
    Keep adding ideas
    Talk to Tam about template that mimics website
    Find out where I could get snippet little facts about art
    Think about different sections to write about: creative inspiration, mixed media painting techniques, events/shows, other.
  11. Photos – get black and white professional photos of myself in my studio for the new brochure and updated website. List an add on Craig list.
  12. REsearch if I can convert digital images to slides? Find online sight
  13. Application for 3 art organizations Lana mentioned
  14. Find out date for entry to SB and LA Art organization
  15. Call Natural History Museum about Art walk show in September
  16. Learn how to write a kick-ass query letter to submit to galleries – choose 3 galleries to submit to. Maybe pick up the Artists Market book
  17. Organize binder with promotional tools, tips and resources for art marketing.
  18. Prioritize this list (!) - do on next blog
  19. Breathe!!!

    Meanwhile, I am continuing to paint daily. I paint every morning and I’ve started working on a new series of techniques, paintings, and ideas. I just got back last week from a week’s painting in Door County Wisconsin at the Peninsula Art school where I studied with Lana Grow. So there is plenty of new stuff to keep me busy. I will start to post some of the new emerging works as it appears as well as some studio shots. I've got lots of great stuff to share with you. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading. Deb