Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving Day!

For those of you that still follow this blog you've probably noticed that I haven't been posting for a while. This is because I've been working on building my own artist website, finishing a series of paintings, and hosting friends this summer from Korea. This summer has been really crazy and it feels like I haven't gotten a lot of work done, but I can say that my website is finished!!

I've already moved all of my blog posts over to my website so you can read old posts and that is where I'll be blogging from now on. I really wanted a website that contained everything I needed in one space instead of blogging on a separate page that I linked to. I'll still keep this page open for people to access the teacher papers (which will not be moving to the website). But this will be my last post on this site.

To continue to follow my art career visit my website:
It has a new blog, a portfolio of my work, my resume, a bio, and ways to purchase my paintings.

So long Blogger! You gave me a great start and a way to get my thoughts out there.

Peace! (and I hope to see you at my new website!!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Failure and Creativity

A couple of weeks ago I had a perfect week. I woke up at 6am and exercised everyday, and was cranking out quality work in the basement. It was sunny weather, I took long walks while listening to my "Happy Songs" mix and I swear to god little blue birds chirped and flew around me as if they just knew I was full of win. Cut to a couple weeks later and while I haven't completely spiraled down into a black hole of sucking-at-life there has been some back sliding. I guess I just figured that all I needed was one good week to get the ball rolling and from there I could coast on my new found good habits. Turns out it doesn't quite work that way. What I can say is that I'm getting better about picking myself back up after a bad day. I know now that I can work the way I want to if I'm disciplined about it so I don't feel as helpless/worthless. I know that I can make up for some the time I wasted tomorrow if I work later or I can still salvage what is left of the day and chip away at something. This might seem like justifying being lazy, but it keeps me from paralyzing myself with guilt so right now it's something that works.

During my good week I got bored of listening to music and began to listen to Ted Talks instead. For those of you that haven't experienced the magic of Ted Talks CLICK HERE and prepare to become a better person. They are basically talks on various interesting subjects that are recorded and put on the internet for free. Usually the people are well known in some field, whether it's science, athletics, literature, etc. The first one that I watched was from the guy who started the 1000 Awesome Things website now turned into a book. It was an uplifting talk about how now matter how much stuff sucks we gotta keep going and find ways to be happy. The second video I really like was JK Rowling talking about failure and imagination. Be careful with this one people...I totally cried watching it. It's one thing to ugly cry in the basement because my cats don't judge but if you're someplace where you'll make a scene you've been warned. I loved this one because she talks about how much failure and poverty suck, but if you survive it you feel like you can survive anything. Bouncing back from failure and reinventing myself have been a major theme for me this year. The third talk I loved was Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat, Pray, Love", talking about creativity and artistic people. She talks about how hard it is for writers, musicians, and artists to put themselves out there and how different people think about and use inspiration. I should try talking the genius in my walls like she recommends. Together as a group these talks inspired me to find happiness in little things, to think of failure as an opportunity, and look at creativity in a different way. I've put all the links to the videos below in the hope that they will inspire you too. Have a really good week that's full of win and possibly blue birds.


Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things I've Learned

Since I wrote my last declarative post about pursuing art full time I'd like to say that I've been working full steam ahead, waking up early to run 5 miles and painting all day only emerging from the studio for a salad then diving back into the art. Truth is I make a sucky boss for myself and I still sometimes doubt that I'm doing the right thing. It's hard when you don't have money to...oh I don't FOOD and you know that you aren't contributing yet to the household income. It makes me feel desperate and worried that things like cars not held together tape will never be a part of my future. I want a house and kids in a couple of years and I worry that I can never have these things if I'm an artist.

I like working from home a lot more than I did at the beginning of the year, but I feel like I'm now just starting to get the hang of it, and I still slip up a lot. When I don't wake up until 10:30 and I think that I'm going running in the evening so I don't shower, then I waste too much time on the internet, and Mike comes home to find me un-showered, depressed, feeling fat cause I didn't run, and guilty that I didn't get more done, it's hard not to feel like a failure. Sometimes when I slip up it feels like it's reaffirming my conviction that I suck at this and I should get a "real job". It's hard to get out of this negative downward spiral sometimes and I worry that I'll end up back where I was earlier this year: eating egg white burritos in my pajamas watching endless episodes of "Intervention" congratulating myself on not being a meth addict.

The art and what to do with it when it's made I think will fall into place with enough research and work and that I just need to take things one step at a time. Without enough time to work with though I know I'll never get anywhere. My problem is time, more specifically time management. So I tried researching on the internet how to be more productive at home, listened to motivational speeches while prepping my boards, and read about time management skills. While things aren't great yet, they are getting better. Take today for example. I woke up at 6am, got out of bed finally at 6:15, did a yoga tape, showered, ate breakfast, did too much puttering on the internet, and am writing this blog post as my wax heats up. Was today a perfect schedule? No. Am I still ready for the day at a reasonable hour and am wearing real pants? Yes. You gotta celebrate the little things. It's taken me a long time to figure out how to work from home and I still sometimes forget, so I'm writing out a list of the things I've discovered that help me working as a full time artist from home. It's the advice I wish I would have read when I started this, and maybe it will help someone else.

-Set an alarm like you're going to work. Don't just set it to "see how you feel" and give yourself an option to turn it off. It's early, you're going to feel tired. Unless you're really sick get out of bed.

-Make the bed. If you're working from home it's tempting to get back into bed when you get tired, and constantly walking past a messy bed in the middle of the day makes me feel that I'm living like a delinquent cave man (maybe your thing is dirty dishes or towels on the floor).

-Have a reasonable schedule. Maybe you're one of those people that can wake up and just get stuff done and waste no time. If so I hate you. Plan a schedule that includes all things you want to do during the day and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to do them in. Too idealistic of a schedule might give you something to strive for but it can also make you feel like you're failing.

-Exercise. Do it in the morning, in the evening, during your lunch break, just do something. I've discovered that I'm in a much better mood if I've run or done yoga in the morning and it makes my whole day feel better. I don't care if it's hard core weight lifting, jazzerise or a walk around the block, you gotta move.

-Get outside at least once a day. I work in a basement and some days it feels like I'm in a cave. Sometimes several days will go by without me leaving the house and I wonder why it feels like I'm going crazy. Going on a run, a walk, a trip to the store, or even just meeting someone for coffee during your lunch break can ease the cabin fever.

-Carry a timer with you. Maybe this is just me, but sometimes my half hour breakfast will become an hour and a half without me even noticing. Using a timer keeps me more on schedule. I also use it for when I'm working so there is an end point in sight. When you work where you live and live where you work sometimes it's hard to leave things behind and move on in either direction. Which leads me to my next tip...

-Work when you're working and play when you're playing. Sometimes I end up doing neither really, and I end up in a zombie state where I'm not really relaxing or doing anything fun because I should be working, but I'm also not really working. I'm plorking.... I know I need to work more on this one so I that can actually enjoy my free time without feeling guilty.

-Get ready for the day. For me this involves not always working in lounge pants, sometimes putting on make up even though no one else is around, and wearing jewelery just for the hell of it. I miss getting ready and picking out outfits to go to work, so I'm trying to create studio friendly outfits that are cute and still functional. I don't know why a little mascara makes me feel like my day has started but it does. Find something that makes you feel good about yourself and do it even if no one but you notices.

-When you do screw up, don't let it ruin the week. If you do over sleep, don't get anything done, get way off schedule, or mess around too much, try not to let it ruin your whole week. This is something I'm still working on and I know that one bad day can send my into a guilt spiral that can suck a whole month down with it like a whirlpool of uselessness (a black-hole of non-productivity?). I'm trying to let those bad days go and start again the next day reminding myself that I'm trying to form good habits, that it takes time and it won't happen overnight. I wasn't perfect when I tried art the first time but I kept trying and screwing up and trying again until I got better. While I'm not perfect at this yet I think that I am getting better, or at least I'm trying to be more positive about my mistakes.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making a Decision

I've recently made a big decision about my life, and thought since I have this outlet I'd like to write about my decision making process and everything that I've been thinking about for the past 9 months or so. It's long, so bear with me...or don't. I really wrote this to get things off my chest and not for other people.

I've been involved with art pretty much all of my life, and one of the first jobs I was interested in as a kid (besides being a rock star) was being an artist. After many different career ideas, some serious and some not so much, I came back to art officially in the middle of my sophomore year. I never thought that I could make it as a full time artist because that plan sounded so vague, and I didn't have much faith in my artwork at that time, so I planned on becoming an art teacher instead. I figured that I could still be involved with art, but through a steady 9-5 (or 7:30-3:30) job with benefits and summers off to pursue my own artwork on the side. I discovered that I liked teaching, and was good at it. I loved putting together craft lessons for the kids at KidSpirit, and volunteering in the schools. Hell, most of the time I even liked teaching random subjects from a script in Korea. However, things started to change during grad school.

I loved the high school I was teaching at, I loved my mentor teacher there, and I loved the kids, but I hated the system that we were working in. I hated the overcrowded classrooms, lack of supplies (and we had a lot more supplies than other schools), pressure of time constraints, the grading (seriously! art can be really objective!) and the complete lack of a personal life that I had because I was constantly running myself ragged trying to keep up with the amount of work. Now I know that grad school isn't what real teaching is like, but I saw what the schedule was doing to the other teachers there, and they were all tired and stressed. My migraines got so bad that year that I would have to turn off the lights in my classroom and teach in semi-dark, and on more than one occasion I would come home and throw up because the pain had gotten so bad during the day. Still I liked the kids and I wanted to do right by them so I kept it up. Things got really bad after I went to the middle school. It wasn't only my mentor teacher there (who made me cry all the time), it was everything. There was NO TIME to do anything in, and the little time we had the kids mostly spent cleaning, I had to account for every single pencil and eraser I gave them because there were no supplies, they had redone the schedule so that I barely had a chance to learn their names before they were out of my class, and many of the kids were downright mean and nasty to me as my thanks for everything that I was doing.

I graduated with my Master of Arts in Teaching and my teaching license, still determined to teach and hoping desperately that my classes wouldn't be as bad as what I had experienced at the end of the year. I went to the Oregon educators fair with my newly printed resumes expecting to find some lead on a job only to leave feeling defeated and rejected. Everyone I talked to there basically gave a me "good luck with that..." when I told them I was there for art positions. Undaunted I watched EdZapp, the Portland public schools site, and Craigslist for teaching positions. By the end of the summer I had applied for 14 teaching positions and only had one interview for a part time job in an after school art program, during which the lady took one look at my resume and before I even sat down announced that I was over qualified. When the first week of school came and my husband and all our teaching friends went back to school I was devastated. I think I moped around the house for a week feeling sorry for myself until I made the decision to put together a studio and start making art.

Once I had a purpose again I started to feel better, but things still moved very slowly. I was starting from scratch with no supplies and no real plan or experience. Little by little I've put together a workable studio in my basement, got the supplies I need, figured out a system for making my art, bought myself a website, and have started getting my work out there in shows and galleries. I'm still not good about keeping a strict schedule, but I have a timeline mapped out that I try to stick with and I'm slowly getting better about being my own boss. I feel excited about the prospect of being a full time artist in a way I haven't felt excited about anything, including teaching, for a while.

However, now it's spring and the teaching positions are starting to open up again. People keep asking me if I'm going to look for a teaching job for next year, or they ask how the job search is going and offer suggestions. The first piece of advice they usually offer me is that I should substitute. Of course! Substituting! Why didn't I even think about that?! Newsflash: I know I could substitute, I just don't want to. I didn't get into teaching to be called randomly at 5 in the morning to teach a subject I'm not familiar with to a group of kids I don't know who will probably give me a hard time just because I'm a sub. Besides, the work isn't that good for people who are not already in the public school system. From what I've discovered the sub job are going to retired teachers who the principals already know and who are coming out of retirement and entering the sub pool because the economy sucks. The one sub list that I had a chance of getting on was closed. I'm not going to substitute. The other suggestion is usually that I should get any job, work as a waitress, work as a barista, work in an office, didn't I hear that the grocery store down the street is looking for bag girls?! Well...if you think I'm the only one looking for work right now you apparently don't turn on the TV, radio, or walk outside and see the shops being boarded up. I've scoured Craigslist, searched the Multnomah county employment website, and applied to tons of jobs I'm qualified for. Everyone right now is looking for work and the only thing I'm really qualified for anymore is to teach (which I can't get into), but my masters degree makes me over qualified for everything else. Besides, I've done those jobs before. I've been the barista, the janitor, the warehouse worker, burger flipper, day camp instructor, office assistant, store clerk, English tutor, and camp counselor. I feel like I've put in my time doing jobs I don't like, I've gotten my higher education, and I'm ready for a career. I want something that I can do for the rest of my life. I'm tired of waiting for my "adult life" to start. I feel like the people in my generation were lied to. We were always told: "Study in school, get good grades and you'll get a good job". I got a f*#$%ing 4 point in grad school! Where is my good job?! I drop thousands in my education for people to tell me I should apply for the part time job at the coffee shop? I don't think so.

Everytime I do apply for one of those jobs my art suffers. Everytime I spend the day filling out online applications for some job I don't really want just to satisfy other people's expectations of what I should be doing I can't paint the next day. Everytime I look for other jobs I'm telling myself that my art is just a hobby, that nothing will come of it and that it's not a "real" job to be an artist. I can't keep straddling the fence like this, making art and creating plans for what I want to do with it while simultaneously telling myself it's just temporary. I need to make a choice, but it's been hard and I have a lot of questions. If I pursue art full time and it ends up being successful then will I ever get to teach? Did I waste all this time in college and grad school learning to be a teacher instead of concentrating more on my art? What about my masters degree? Did I just put myself into debt for a degree and a license I'll never use? Should I continue to pursue teaching even though the thought of teaching in a formal school setting fills me with anxiety and dread now? Will other people think I'm just being lazy and am avoiding work? What if nothing ever comes from my art? I've been asking myself all these questions and have been driving myself crazy for months, knowing that soon I'd have to make a decision by spring.

I have finally made a decision that makes my happy, keeps me sane and that works for both Mike and myself. I've decided not to apply for any more jobs, teaching or otherwise, and to pursue art full time for at least another year or so. Ever since I graduated from Western I feel like my future and my career has been in other people's hands and has been out of my control. Making art and being my own boss gives me that control back. I know that galleries and customers still determine if I make any money, but they don't determine if I'm working or not. I can get up everyday and work without needing to beg and plead for a job, and if I don't make money in one venue I can try something else. I waited 9 months for someone else to give me a job, but now I'm tired of waiting and am creating my own business instead. I don't have to give up on teaching entirely either. Many artists who I admire teach workshops out of their studios, and I've always wanted to teach art to kids after school on a weekly basis as well. When things are more stable and I'm able to buy extra supplies I can start teaching art the way I want to, without the pressure of grading, with whatever supplies I want to provide, for as long as I want the class to last, and with people who are choosing actively to learn about art. Eventually I hope to find a balance doing both, but in the beginning I know I'll need to concentrate on just my art. Mike supports my choice 100% and in fact has been my biggest cheerleader in all of this. He really believes that I can do something awesome with my art and I don't want to let him down. We will be fine living off of his income though things will be tight and certain things like cars, houses, and kids might be delayed a little. I can still afford my supplies because I do data entry for my mom about once a week for some extra cash and therefore am not putting us into debt to get my business started. If we weren't able to make ends meet I wouldn't be pursuing this, but now is really the perfect time to take a chance.

So that's my decision. No more searching or applying for jobs. If you don't take what I'm doing seriously I really don't care anymore. I already have a job; I'm an artist.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First Friday

Hi everyone! Sorry this post is a little late, but this upcoming Friday is the First Friday for the SE side which means that the galleries stay open later and host receptions usually with food, drinks, and sometimes music. This will be the first time I'm participating as an artist and I'm super excited! The gallery my work is in, the Love Art! gallery, will be having their First Friday reception from 6pm - 8pm and there will be live music performed by Gary Kimmel. A portion of the proceeds that night will go to aid in Japan, so you can buy art for a good cause! Feel free to come by, and don't feel that you have to stay for the whole time. If you're interested you can bounce to the other galleries near by that are hosting First Friday events as well. Hope to see some people there!

Peace! Chantel

Here is the address for the gallery:

Love Art! Gallery
8036 SE 13th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I've been pretty busy with life lately, but thought I should post an update on what I've been up to. First off, I dropped my work at the Love Art! gallery so it should be up by now if anyone wanted to stop by and take a look at all the awesome art they have. I believe that April 1st is the First Friday they will be celebrating and I'll send out more details when I know for sure. In the meantime you can check out this First Friday gallery guide for other galleries to check out on the East side that day and make it a day of art (Love Art! isn't on the guide).

The other project I've been busy with this month is creating a painting that can double as my mom's birthday present, and a possible entry into an art show (see above). When I found out that the Froelick gallery was hosting an open call for artists for a juried show entitled "Equine" I knew I had to apply. I was already planning on creating a painting of my sister's fat little red pony, Allie, and thought that I could use the painting for dual purposes. Of course if I happen to get into the show (which is a long shot), the painting would have to be for sale and thus I'd have to paint something else for my mom if it sold. Really though, I'm not expecting to get into the show but I wanted the experience of applying, and I thought I would kick myself forever if I didn't even try. I'll know by March 26th if I got into the show or not, so if you don't see an excited blog post about the Froelick around the end of March you'll know what the outcome was.

In other news, I bought my domain name and website!! I put it off for as long as I could, but there is only so much I can do with this free blog, and I would have to pay for a professional website anyway so I thought "why not make it myself?" I of course will be regretting this decision the minute I start trying to fiddle with code and am swearing at my laptop, but I'm also kinda excited. The website is:
but there is nothing on it yet, just a generic Wordpress homepage. I'll make the grand announcement when the thing is finally up and running, so in the meantime just bookmark the website and keep checking here for updates. I'm not sure if I'll create a new blog on my website, move all these posts over to the new website, or just link to this blog so that the address for this one won't change. What would you guys prefer?

Anyway, those are my updates so far but I'll be writing another post soon about a hard decision I've made recently that's related to my art and the future. Stay tuned!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Exciting News!

I've been bursting with excitement this past week because I had something in the works, but nothing was official so I had to wait. Now I can talk about it though...I have official gallery representation!! I was just accepted into the Love Art! Gallery in Sellwood!! My encaustic paintings will have a permanent space in their gallery, and people will be able to finally see and buy my work. I'm so excited! This is the first time I've had my paintings in anything other than an open call show so it's a huge step forward for me. I'm filling out the paperwork and will be dropping of my pieces on Wednesday, so look for them soon after that. I'll try to come for some of the First Friday receptions there so come on over and visit with me.

Here's the information on the Love Art! Gallery:

8036 SE 13th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97202

  • HOURS:
  • Wednesday - Saturday
    10am - 6pm
  • Sunday
    11am - 5pm
  • Monday & Tuesday
Click here to go to their website