Studio Visitors

Recently my husband and my daughter went to Disney land for a couple of days. They did it to celebrate her 4th birthday. I opted to stay home, have some personal time, and paint. Any true artist would understand the gift in alone time. The minutes, the hours, I relished all of them. I don’t think I slept much…I didn’t want to waste a single second!

I vowed to take care of myself though and went for a massage. On the way back I remember telling myself; “ I won’t stop by the art store, I don’t need anything, I know what they have” of course the universe only hears “art store” so next thing you know I’m walking back from the massage and I’m at the art store. It was right next door to the massage place, hardly easy to avoid. There on the front door was a posted sign for a play about Jackson Pollock. Suckered in immediately, I got my notebook out to write down the place and time. Turns out it was that evening – my last evening alone before my crew came back. I made the decision right there to go.

[“We think we are alone but we are not” I Diptych Deb Chaney 2007 Mixed Media, Acrylics, collage on 300 lb paper, 23” x 30”, unframed $1500. Currently on exhibit at Sojourner Café. For sales contact ]

I am not a theatre person. My mother likes to go to plays and will often ask, sometimes drag me to plays when I visit. Last time I was up in Vancouver she asked me if I wanted to go see a play. “What about?” I asked. “It’s about mothers, mother hood, teenagers and stuff” my mum told me. We ended up going to see Mums the Word II at the Playhouse theatre on Granville Island for a nice little date out together. The play was fantastic. Hilarious. Heart wrenching. I was close to tears and then close to standing up and yelling “you go girls! Go mamas!” So the last experienced was a good one I thought I’d risk it again and went downtown that night to stand in line outside the playhouse on Victoria Street in Santa Barbara.

I have not seen the Jackson Pollock movie. Nor have I studied in any formal art classes, art history, whatever. So for me, since I started painting full time, I have learned along the way who is who and how abstract expressionism emerged into America and became ‘acceptable’ even popular art. For me the still continuing journey of discovering Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, William de Kooning , Hans Hoffman and the rest of that gang started out by a teacher here in Santa Barbara, Rick Stitch, who said to me if you want to be a great artist you’ve got to study the great artist. He loaned me a couple of books (yikes, still need to return the last one! Sorry Rick) and my education began. This play was the next step in my art education.

Jackson Pollock, as depicted in this play was angry, frustrated – it seems- and extremely ego driven “what about me? How is my art? Will they buy it?” He also seemed incredibly insecure. I could relate but also felt like this time has past. Living in the “me” game is the recipe for suffering. I would hope artists today could start moving on from this. He got so volatile in the scene where the photographer came to photograph him in his studio close to the end of the first act, that I left. I couldn’t handle the energy.

Anyways, in the process of getting my ticket and being seated for the play I had connected with the artistic director, William. I knew I recognized William from a movie or two – his face was so darn familiar – but more than that there was a spark between us and when I mentioned I was an artist, he expressed an interest to come visit my studio and see my work. We talked on the phone later that weekend and invited him for dinner a week later on a Friday night.

[“We think we are alone but we are not” II Diptych Deb Chaney 2007 Mixed Media,
Acrylics, collage on 300 lb paper, 23” x 30”, unframed $1500. Currently on exhibit at Sojourner Café. For sales contact ]

I haven’t had a whole lot of studio visitors at this point in my career as a working artist. I’m sure there will be more. I think the concept of inviting people into my studio needs to be done with keeping a balance. When I am in full-on creative mode I don’t want anyone near within a mile. (my dream is to own 10 acres with a big studio space and trees all around, quiet, quiet, quiet. Gulf Island preferably, thanks for asking. J) but sometimes it’s fun to have people come over and play - so to speak.

William brought me his movie set prop portfolio (His card does not have a website otherwise I’d give you the link . Hey William, if you’re reading this send me your link so I can put it here for people to see you awesome work! ) and I showed him some of my finished new works ( The Raw Expression series) and a number of other paintings and projects I was working on. At that time I was working on the painting that ended up being called “We are not alone” but at the time of William’s visit it was going in a totally different direction.

When I first started creating this piece I was really inspired by the beginning and ending images in the Matrix movie. I enjoyed the first movie and the whole concept within the movie of taking a pill and waking up to this life being a dream. For me, I watched that scene and went “wow!” that’s really how it is. This life is a dream. I was really taken by how they presented this concept. So I was moving towards imitating those green computer screen images that the matrix is known for. Funny thing is when William looked at the in-process painting he saw a city. Turn it around and it does look like a whole bunch of high rise buildings, sort of New York-esque. I liked that and it caught. The whole piece changed from his comment and opened up a new door for me.

I like that I was open to the new idea. To changing where the painting was headed. I’ve always loved the views of high rise buildings in the night with their windows lit up and the yellow and orange light bursting out into the night. There were some paintings depicting this beautifully in a newer book put out by Natalie Goldberg. She did a wonderful job of capturing it. I looked at the paintings in her poetry/art book several years back when the book first came out and thought; “ I want to paint those”. So here I was doing collage in the same theme, exploring the beauty of cities and all their buidlign and the lights through the windows. Funny how things happen.

So, studio visitors, well I think it’s good to let people in once in a while. Not all the time. Not just anyone. After all, our studios are sacred. We must preserve the energy, the space, our time. But once in a while I think inviting someone in to take a peek, have a look, come an dplay can’t hurt. I think it can even add to our growth as artists.

So, William, thanks for the help with that painting.

Much love,