These week's theme was movement. After working with my coach on Tuesday this last week after a breakup and other such heartbreaks, my coach told me to focus on movement. Jeffrey Watts is a no-nonsense kind of man. He won't ever let me give a PR friendly response and get away with it. He always has a way of calling me on my shit and getting me to admit my true feelings. He could tell I was feeling down last week and so he prodded me to explore them and allow myself to grieve but never to stop moving. He said, "A lot of vile things come from still water. You've got to keep it all moving, don't let it stagnate." So that's what I did and it absolutely helped. I kept creating. I have been writing and gardening like mad and I've really enjoyed that. When things are ending in your life, there is no better remedy than to create new things. And this is where I'd like to introduce you to Deb Chaney...
The Power of Creating Stuff
After graduate school, I was looking for work in Vancouver, Canada, which is an incredibly competitive job market and wicked expensive city to live in. I applied for over 200 jobs, and got 3 interviews, after which every employer told me I "didn't have enough experience." Needless to say, it was a tough period of time! My best friend found a flyer for an art workshop and I figured, why not? It might feel good to create stuff in the midst of employment stagnation. As it turned out, Deb's workshop changed my life. And because of that, I recently interviewed her. And now, I'm going to share that with you :)
Meet Deb Chaney
Deb Chaney is in a word: Fabulous. She is a contemporary abstract artist with an incredible collection of work, whom I still credit for helping me to reconnect with my inner painter and meet some life-long friends at her workshop Layers & Process: A Journey In Mixed Media Abstract Painting after I finished grad school. Thank goodness that Deb was living and teaching for her passion because it cracked upon my creative potential and helped it to grow over the last 6 years. Thank you Deb for being a total bad ass.
Q: Deb, thanks for writing an interview for us! First up, how did you discover your love of painting and artistic creation? Was it always your life work?
Hi Lindsay, my pleasure to be here with you online. Thank you for interviewing me. To answer your questions.... I was very creative and artistic as a child, and in both 6th and 7th grade won awards at elementary school for outstanding achievement in fine arts. In high school I would collect leaves and dry them in my text books, I was always making something. I was swayed away from this natural calling at university where I pursued science and obtained a B.Sc. in Earth and Ocean Sciences. At that time I held the belief that I needed to follow a 'practical path' and that a life in arts would not be a ‘real’ career. After working in Environmental Geology, drilling, and hydrogeology during and after my degree I felt more and more unhappy doing this work. I would make art and paint in my free time. The turning point was during a six month trip as crew on various sailboats, sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Mexico. As I travelled and sailed I read a book by SARK ‘Wild Succulent Women’ that really shifted what I thought was possible. I saw a woman hand-writing her books and speaking from her heart about her life and journey in creativity. I remember thinking: If she could do it, so could I. When I ended my trip I started and painting and writing and have not stopped since then.
Q: What do you love most about your craft? What inspires you most?
What I love most is being in creative process and as I grow and mature in life I realize that I can attain this feeling and state in more than one way, which is very satisfying. For example, If I meet someone new and they ask what I do, I let them know that “ I inspire people, and I do this in several different ways". I write and give inspirational talks about creative process, being an artist, and living an empowered life. I have written several books and I am currrently writing a new book. And I am, as per the last fifteen years now, working on layered mixed media art pieces in my studio. What inspires me the most is being in creative process - whether I am writing a speech or giving it, writing a book, or making art all, these things satisfy me and make me feel on purpose, excited, and empowered.
Q: We both loved Lady Gaga's interview where she talked about unconsciously telling lies and saying no to that shit! What message would you have for our readers today about being authentic?
What I am learning currently in my life is that being authentic is really about honouring yourself and what is true for you, and what serves you most to thrive, feel good, and be healthy. It can be challenging because there are so many pre-disposed beliefs, rituals, and unconscious behaviours running our culture that have been in place for a very long time, that we often do not stop and reflect; “Is doing this thing that everyone else is doing in my very best interest and for the highest good for others?”.
In Lady Gaga’s talk about herself and the music industry, she stated that she has no interest in taking selfie’s because feels strongly her time/image/talent could be used to serve in greater ways. When we continue to violate what is true for us - in this case for her its doing selfie’s - we drain our energy and create dis-ease within ourselves. In my own case as a fine artist producer of paintings, something I and many artist do, and I am asked for frequently, is to donate for my art for charity. Many artists do this and I have donated more pieces than I can count in the past. But these days I’ve been asking myself, does this really mean that its in my best interest and highest good to continually give away original hand created artworks for no compensation? This past year I have been questioning this, just as Lady Gaga is questioning things she has been doing.
I believe, we would all be so much happier and healthier if we could simply take a moment, stop and think: What is really true for me in this situation? Does this thing I am considering doing make me truly feel alive? Am I feeling honoured, appreciated, respected? Am I being motivated by ‘what will they think?’ aka by fear, or am I inspired, motivated, and excited to do this thing I am choosing?
My message for readers about being authentic is to step back and get clear on what is motivating you to do the things you are doing. If you are being motivated by fear; stop, and re-think this thing you are about to do. If you are being motivated by joy, peace, love, compassion, excitement, go forth and make the world a better place by contributing these positive feelings and your passion to us all!
Q: As a last word of encouragement for our readers, if you could go back in time and give yourself some loving advice during a difficult moment of uncertainty, what would you say to yourself?
When I read this question, I imagine myself at 80 years old. My art is selling around the world for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Celebrities, dignitaries, and wealthy collectors own and appreciate my artwork. I have a beautiful home near a forest with my loving husband. My daughter is grown and healthy with beautiful grand children who visit regularly. Love, laughter, friendships, music, art and the feelings of peace and safety fill my home. I am scheduled to give a talk next week to a group of ten thousand people about living your dream, being in creative process, and how to stay inspired at 80. And, as I write this, I am in my beautiful art studio, cat on my lap purring away, and gazing at a bookshelf lined with books I have written and created. I transport myself now back in time to my 26 year old self on that sail boat, sailing down the coast, sky full of stars, a heart full of dreams. I sit next to her. Deb, don’t be alarmed. Look at me closely. It’s me! I am you! I am you at 80 years old, and I want to share some loving advice for you. My intention is to give you hope, to empower you, to inspire you to trust. You are going to go through some extremely challenging circumstances in the next 10 years. You are going to get through it. When you are 40 the tides will turn and life will be getting better and better. All your dreams and aspirations will come true. Deep breathe, trust, when you look at the stars you will remember our talk, relax, trust and know its all working out that the hard and challenging times will serve you into the future. You will help and inspire many on their journeys. You will have a great and beautiful life. You are here for a magnificent purpose. I love you, I believe in you, and I am here to let you know everything works out!
*Background music: “Look at the Stars… Look how they Shine for you…” Cold Play, Yellow.
More Tidbits about Deb
My life’s work is to inspire people. I do this in a variety of ways ; I give talks to groups, I write books, and I facilitate workshops. I also passionately create contemporary abstract paintings which add beauty and healing energy to people’s work and living spaces. What I deeply believe in, is that we are all artists, and that each of us are in the process of creating our own masterpiece - our life. With the work I do, I inspire and empower people on that creative journey.
Deb Chaney - social media
Tumblr blog: debchaney.tumblr.com
Linked In: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/debchaney
Saatchi online: http://www.saatchiart.com/debchaney