Deb Chaney: Self-expression at its most powerful

by Harriet Goodwin, 2017 (Originally published on Kabuni)

It is easy to get lost in reflection when stood in front of a painting by local abstract landscape artist, Deb Chaney.

Deb chaney in her studio in vancouver, BC, Canada

Deb chaney in her studio in vancouver, BC, Canada

Pieces from her recent series, ‘Where Physicality meets Spirituality,’ are defiantly calm and although they are abstract, are reminiscent of the lines of the horizon. When looking up close at her piece ‘Grounding’, the bottom third of the painting plays with tension and depth. Her work is thick with texture and mixed media - layered colours and patterns mixed with sand, give way to an expansive, calm sky as you follow your gaze upwards. Deb’s intention is that the painting exists as a reminder to live in the now.

Upon entering Deb’s studio, you are first struck by the number of materials she has at hand. She describes the workspace as ‘organized chaos’ but it is easy to feel like a child in a toy shop as you take in the shelves of gold leaf, gravel, enamel, glass beads, stencils and sand that she uses for collaging - a big part of her process. Deb is also a master of polymer mediums which she uses as varnishes to create oily or waxy effects on the surface of her paintings in the final stage of her work. Deb believes that you can always keep going with a painting but the beauty is knowing when to stop. She explains ‘you know once all the elements are connected and the colours are really working out together. You know you’ve got it when you’ve got it’.  

Reading and writing have always played a big part in Chaney’s creative process. She surrounds herself with inspirational materials like vision boards and quotes to drive her progress each day. Deb is an avid journaler and a big advocate of The Artist’s Way. In one corner of the studio, a stack of journals from the last 20 years exists as a testament to her creative development. Although she has a background in science, Deb has been working as a full-time artist for 15 years.


There’s no doubt that Deb is a giver. She is dedicated to building community around her wherever she goes which is what initially attracted her to become a member of Kabuni. “It felt so supportive and I knew I needed to get out there and network. It felt like a safe, loving and supportive space where I could go and keep moving forward with my dreams and running my business. The people are great and of course the space is cool too.” Deb supports and empowers other artists to earn a living from their work and has recently sponsored 10 artists via the online service, Patreon. Passionate about all facets of being a working artist, her studio is divided into different zones, including a photography studio, painting workshop and an admin/marketing area. She also runs her own classes at the end of the every month which offer support to up and coming artists as well as practical demonstrations of different techniques.


So where does she get her inspiration? Deb explained that most of her inspiration is internal which is reflected in her expressive mark-making that conveys the tension between ‘beauty and the pain, freedom and the frustration’. However, when she lived in California, her work was influenced by the sun and now, the natural beauty of the mountains and BC’s nature in general has subconsciously rubbed off on her. She has found a grounded, calmer style that she feels is more authentic to her. Deb will work on up to five paintings at any one time and each painting takes a couple of months to complete due to the fact she uses up to 30 different layers for each piece.

Deb Chaney’s work was recently displayed as part of our first birthday spotlight exhibition at Kabuni House. To find out more about Deb’s work, subscribe to her monthly newsletter here.

Written by Harriet Goodwin, Communications Manager at Kabuni.