Art Speaks

By Leslie Chandler

My business manager, my dear husband, has just asked me to consider what my value proposition is. In other words, what problem does my creative expression solve? Great question. Now I have to put into words something that has been driving my creativity. It isn’t going to be easy.

I am probably a lot like you. Pretty content, but not entirely. Perhaps uneasy with the thought that “There must be more” but having a hard time peeling back that layer which thinly disguises who we are destined to be, in order to reveal what our value proposition is.

Apparently, we all have one.

So, I am going to start with what I do. I make stuff. I paint. I create. I see a need for art, something made, and I look around to see what I can use to fill that need. I get a kick out of solving creative dilemmas in ways that surprise people, like using items for unintended purposes. Not too long ago, I had to laugh when a colleague of mine called me “McGyver” when we were setting up installations and displays for our annual Arts Show at the school where I teach. (I’ve just dated myself.) That sort of thing makes me smile. Makes me want to make more stuff.

That being said, if I am going to honestly examine my creative side, there is more to my value as an artist than that. I would have to say that I am awestruck by people who get awestruck.

Nowadays, we are caught up in a lifestyle that is preventing us from pondering.

Consider light pollution, for example. Because of this, many of my suburban students have never, ever seen stars. Or the Milky Way. Really. How can we ponder the existence of God if we can’t sense the vastness of the night sky?

Tonight there is going to be a super blue blood moon and partial lunar eclipse. I am getting up early to peek out of my window to see what is happening from my vantage point —out of sheer curiosity and awe at the dances that happen above us while we all sleep.

And then there is the Aurora Borealis. Perhaps because most of Canada’s roads are along our southern border, I suspect most of us have not yet had the privilege of being awestruck by the Northern Lights’ mysterious, graceful beauty. Only rarely do they dip far enough south for Canadians to catch a glimpse, and then only if they happen to be somewhere without light pollution. Myself, I have only seen them a handful of times in person, but that has just made me want to see them more.

Borealis Beauty by LeslieChandlerArts

So, back to my value proposition. When I paint, I choose a subject that strikes me with awe, something that would stop me in my tracks and make me ... wonder. About the majesty of the natural world. About the vastness of the universe. About the awesomeness of my Creator.

I think it is probably true to say such scenes are actually concept illustrations, in a way: they strike something universal in each of us, perhaps that certain something that we cannot yet quite put into words. (I have one friend in particular who often interprets or puts into words the meaning behind what I have painted, which I find equally surprising or unsettling or revealing.) So the scene grabs us, and we end up pondering it. It keeps coming back to us.

To answer my husband's question, my value proposition is that my artwork, inspired by Canada’s natural beauty, can give those who are typically caught in frenetically-paced lifestyles a venue to experience serenity in awe.

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day.                

-- Calvin and Hobbes