Coquitlam artist featured during inspirational talk hosted by Surrey Art Gallery

Deb Chaney is a mixed-media artist inspired by her spiritual journey and self-empowerment

A painting by Deb Chaney presented in the livestream. (Submitted/Deb Chaney).

Local abstract artist Deb Chaney was featured at the Thursday Artist Talk Online presented by the Surrey Art Gallery Association on Feb. 4.

Thursday Artist Talk Online is a weekly event for local and regional artists to discuss their work and bring more awareness to what’s happening in the community. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the talks have been moved online to their Facebook page, where they live stream the events.

Chaney delivered a talk titled “Abstract Painting for Personal Empowerment,” where she shared her projects, inspiration, and details about a workshop she is currently offering viewers. She says she wants to teach her viewers that inspiration can be found within oneself and creating art can be a tool to help people heal.

“Making art is what helped me heal from my suffering … I learned to feel good by making art. It showed me how to feel good in the world,” said Chaney during the livestream.

Chaney is a self-taught contemporary abstract artist with a degree in earth and ocean sciences from the University of Victoria. Her work is featured in TV & film, and decorates the sides of buildings such as the Hilton Hotel. Most recently, her art was displayed as a public art installation with Adera Developments in North Vancouver.

In the talk, she discussed her paintings’ meaning and the adversity she has overcome through her career. Her first series was painted in 2009 called “Raw Expression,” which explored her feelings of passion, anger, desire, and frustration at the time.

“Red is about power and energy. It’s a primary colour. When I think of red, I think of primary emotions like passion and base emotions,” Chaney said.

“I want to share from a perspective of healing and being on a healing journey as a painter. Depression is anger turned inward. When we find a way to express that anger in a way that’s healthy, it can be a really great way of getting it out,” she said.

At the end of Chaney’s presentation, she quoted a line from the movie Dead Poets Society, changing the word poet to art to make the quote relevant to her life.

“We don’t observe and make art because it’s cute. We observe and make art because we are members of the human race. The human race is filled with passion. Law, engineering, medicine; those are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But art, beauty, romance, love, passion. These are what we live for.”

Nalini Bhui, the Thursday Artist Talks Coordinator, asked Chaney questions sourced from the audience and herself.

Currently, Chaney is working on a series of paintings of quotes which resonate with her from the book, The Universe Has Your Back, as she continues her spiritual journey. The book discusses using self-reflection to achieve happiness, security, and have a sense of clarity.

“For anyone wanting to be an artist, to have a very strong connection with yourself and your desires, and being able to find clarity and receive guidance from within yourself is one of the most powerful tools you can develop,” she said.

She says that the COVID-19 pandemic has not influenced her as she creates her new series.

“I’m inspired by what’s going on within me, and translating into these abstract paintings that are really interpretations of my journey, experience, learning and my growth,” said Chaney.

The next Thursday Artist Talk will feature Lalita Hamill, and will be held on March 13 at 7:30 pm.