Ep 47 Featured Image Podcast

The Art of Curiosity – Jaq Chartier – Ep 47

September 14, 2022


I’m always trying to take time in my practice to experiment. It’s always about figuring out what it is, or where I might go next. When I do, it’s so satisfying. It reinvigorates my art-making. I love the idea of letting curiosity lead the way. What if your art was entirely experimenting? What if learning and curiosity were the primary informers of your art? How cool would that be? 

Meet Jaq Chartier. She is a Seattle-based artist fascinated by experimenting with pigments, dyes, and color. She explores how paint and stains behave in the moment and over time. Her art, consisting of catalog formal-like presentations of color tests, is beautifully offset by her saturated, soft, and hard-edged color stains. Her art is non-objective, but one can’t help feeling the universality, the grand scale of the force of Nature in her gorgeous art. Join me now for this fascinating conversation with Jaq. I think it will make you rethink your relationship with experimentation and curiosity.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • How Jaq Chartier found her art and the power of curiosity [2:18]
  • Removing our hands from the canvas and diving into discomfort [14:04]
  • The bigness of Jaq’s work and deciding which pieces make the cut  [20:06] 
  • The mysterious force that is color and the role it plays in Jaq’s art practice [30:01]
  • Creating an art installation for Microsoft and working on a massive scale [38:20]
  • Using curiosity and surprise as a roadmap for art-making and the experience of women in the art world [41:16]
  • Jaq’s incredible advice for any artist [49:41]

Chase your curiosity

One of the things I absolutely love about Jaq’s art practice is that she’s using curiosity and surprise as the roadmap. She believes, and I agree, that there’s an endless body of work to paint as long as you stay curious. When we chase our curiosity, we find the things we are truly passionate about. Jaq would have never found her art if she didn’t indulge her interest in DNA electrophoresis. More on that by listenting to this episode! But one way curiosity shows up in Jaq’s art practice is her constant surrender of control. In fact, she doesn’t even want to attempt a piece if she can predict the outcome. That’s why she works in photosensitive pigments, dyes, and colors. She has an entire series where she creates large metal prints from a constantly changing original painting that’s only five inches. Talk about removing your hand from the work?

Follow your yes 

Jaq Chartier is someone who follows her own yes. She’s making art so unique and so intrinsically her that it’s hard to believe she’s ever struggled to find her voice. What helped Jaq solidify who she is as an artist was kicking anyone who wasn’t her out of the art studio. No, not actual people, but all the voices in her head. You know the ones: Your high school art teacher or college professor. Your colleagues. Some random gallery owner. Every art textbook you’ve ever read. All of those voices can scream at you until your yes is nothing but a faint memory, and you forget why you’re making art in the first place. Jaq could have let those voices win, but instead, she decided to shut them up and clear them out. She decided that the only voice that mattered in her art studio was her voice. That is how we need to approach our respective art practices. The art world will always have opinions, but the only one that matters is our own. 

Use your art, not your words

“Write a sentence instead of a novel.” That was the advice Jaq got in grad school that permanently impacted her art practice. As artists, we often try to say everything we know about painting in every painting. But as Jaq so beautifully put it, musicians don’t try and explain their music. They just play it. So why in the world do we try and paint novels? When we do, our art practice can feel like a massive struggle. Nothing is ever right, and every piece is under an incredible amount of pressure to meet, let’s face it, completely unrealistic expectations. Sure, any finished work could be a masterpiece, but not every work needs to be. We NEED joy in our art studios. We have to learn to have fun and play with our creativity. Let go of what the painting SHOULD look like! Our best work happens when we embrace curiosity and surrender the outcome.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Jaq Chartier 

Connect with Nicholas Wilton and Art2Life

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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