Deanna Chêne


CAAF Residency st[art]@art central, January – February 2013




Deanna Chêne studied Visual Fine Arts at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia earning a Diploma of Fine Arts. She has recently relocated to Calgary, Alberta and is working towards becoming more involved in the local arts community. Although her current main focus is painting, Deanna also practices photography, drawing and graphic design. With goals to become a local exhibiting artist in 2013, Deanna is eager to showcase her work and welcomes visitors and discussion to the st[art] studio.



Through recent works, I have started exploring the relationship between eye and hand. I am working to understand the process of drawing and recreating what my eyes actually see rather that what I think they see. Through blind contour drawing (a method where you look at your subject, not your paper, and continuously ʻ traceʼ  its contours) I am working to retrain my hands and eyes to work together to create purely from observation, leaving behind learnt imagery. I am interested in the shift that happens when we stop looking at the paper and suddenly the sense of sight and touch have to work together in new ways. By taking away the visual of what I am actually drawing I can focus more on seeing the subject, studying its shape, form, and emotion.

I enjoy the element of surprise, not know what the drawing will look like, and the challenge of understanding what I have created. Through paint I add another layer of complexity adding contour, colour, form and emotion. Part of the challenge is looking at my drawing and understanding what each line represents, to see the drawing as I saw the subject. Although my works are not photorealistic I do feel that they capture the essence and personality of the subject. There is a sense of freedom in my works and it is the lack of controlled drawing that brings life to the subject matter.

Throughout this residency I will be working on a series of portraits that are somewhat process oriented. Starting with a blind contour drawing, looking at a photograph of a face and not at my paper, I draw a continuous detailed outline of the face. Once complete, I review my drawing and try to understand what I have created. I build on this initial layer using paint to fill in the spaces, staying true to the shape and form of my original drawing. I work to add depth, emotion, contour and life to the imagery.

As I continue to work on this series I will experiment further by exploring different working surfaces, size of drawing/painting, medium etc. I hope to add another layer to the process by working from photographs of people who visit me in studio, possibly doing the initial drawing from life. I am interested in seeing where the interaction with others will take my work and am eager to be working in a space that is solely dedicated to my practice. I have no end goal or final expectations for this residency, I plan to start with this process and look forward to watching my work evolve.