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Cheney Lansard

‘Artists can reveal the truth outside the cave only if they actually choose to leave it.’

Cheney Lansard is based in Winnipeg, Canada, and works in a representational style to explore the human condition. His views on relationships manifest into finely detailed paintings representing the unseen and often uncomfortable.

Where is your current studio? What would be your dream studio?

In our backyard in a heated, ventilated “shed” built by my Dad and I about 13 years ago.

My dream studio would be my existing one about 4 times the size and most importantly connected to the house. Otherwise I’m not super fussy.

Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you?

I rarely work in silence unless I get into a zone and forget to turn on the music. Its 80% electronic music (usually Detroit techno-inspired, 20% folk rock, classical, punk other) when I need to work through problems, design and often switching to a familiar DVD in the background when I’m just executing. Futurama is a personal favorite.

Studio life can lead to isolation, how do you address this/ keep a balance?

I have no balance. My studio life is currently crammed into the hours of about 11pm and 4am and then I go to work 9-5, Monday to Friday. It’s general mania and exhaustion most days.

Describe a moment you had an epiphany concerning your creative life.

A few years back, while sitting at my desk at work when things were really terrible for the company I worked for (ie. slow) I decided to pick up my pencil and start drawing pictures of people I knew just to see if I could still do it. After about the 3rd drawing I realized I could and proceeded to complete 200+ illustrations that turned into my first public showing of my work in over 15 years. My previous attempts were half-assed but this time around I realized I wasn’t getting any younger so the gravity of this realization made me decide to stop wasting my time.


What is your favourite/ least favourite part of the creative process?

Favorite part is making the mental connections of elements in a painting as it develops. These are the moments when it all makes sense like some comical, weed-induced high where you and your buddies marvel at the interconnectivity of everything, man, but it derives solely from being immersed in a thought process about a work of art.

My least favorite part is the moment you first step back from an underpainting and feel like you have no clue what you are doing and feel like your brain has voided itself of all knowledge forever.

Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you?

Shut up and paint.

How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes?

I’ve always procedurally tended towards a result that seemed forced and overly “realistic”, but it always seemed disconnected from my vision when completed. My admiration for more abstracted and less deliberate work has, I think, helped to make things more honest even if the end result of the work is not that much different. I’m still at a very early stage of things in my work despite my age. Ask me again in 10 years if I haven’t dropped dead.

Describe an obstacle you have faced and how did you overcome it.

“Finding” time to paint. I stopped looking for it and just started to make the time instead. Made it a bigger and bigger priority. Trying to balance that with the ingrained “responsibility” gene has been the hardest part. I’m still climbing that hill.

Nature versus nurture- do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions?

I could definitely draw at a very young age and both my parents and sister had very creative sides but those sides came out as a secondary, recreational aspect of life (or in the case of my father and his woodworking - as an extension of a practical exercise). Environmentally I can only surmise that the general environment both in school, home and the world at large, generally romanticized art to such an extent that it made it seem like a fool’s errand to even pursue it lest I be viewed as either irresponsible, or crazy, or lazy or at worst tragically gifted. (Barf).

Age and the crushing boredom of menial work chipped away at the walls holding back my first love of art. I can’t take the credit for exercising the willpower to pursue it soley out of strength of desire, but it never left me. Environmentally though, things fell into place only after realizing that my control over my life was slipping away and sooner rather than later, my opportunity for leaving a meaningful expression of myself would buried along with my corpse.

Is there something you regard as essential to your preparation or process?

Time away from “responsibilities.” I require a conscious effort to “clear my slate” which can take hours, even if its just mental house-cleaning. I’ve found processes to make it work. Climbing that hill with a wagon then hopping in and riding down the other side would be an apt metaphor for that process.

The White Blanket

Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far.

Showing a painting (that was inspired by the death of someone) which took me two and half years of research and process to complete and having people and members of the community whom this person was a part of see it and be moved by it in a manner that indicated some small bit of understanding had been reached between us. It was one of the most important moments of my life and affirmed why I paint. I don’t need the approval but when a connection happens, it’s a powerful thing.

How does your work respond to social trends?

It doesn’t I don’t think. I may be extra-motivated by ideas that happen to sync up with social events/trends but I prefer to avoid reference and undue influence of/to temporal things as much as possible since I feel that can kill a painting’s value as an object of meaning pretty quickly.

What do you hope to convey through your work?

A sense of bashful connection to the rest of the world.

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