Today we’d like to introduce you to Chai Wolfman.
Chai, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ll start at the beginning… when I was three years old, I declared that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. That dream stuck around as other career ideas – astronaut, psychologist, musician – came and went. Growing up, I took painting classes alongside my grandparents in Door County, Wisconsin. I studied painting and drawing in college when I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine and starting sewing my paintings in various ways. I fell in love with the process, the textures, and the feel of what I could stitch together. I could get messy and be precise at the same time. I liked the symbolism of taking my paintings apart and using the pieces to create something new. The traditions of quilting and the communities that grew around them inspired me. Now, I use paint and thread on both canvas and paper to create bold, textured images. Guiding a painting through the sewing machine connects me to past generations who created quilts to warm their loved ones. I infuse that same love and intention of warmth into my paintings.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Creating my own path to being an artist has been exciting and terrifying because I only know what that path looks like in hindsight. After college, I worked in nonprofit development and played my electric cello with a couple of bands, which I loved, but I really missed painting. I knew I wanted to put my focus there and found my opportunity to do so once I became a mother. I left my nine-to-five job, so I could raise my twin daughters and get my artistic practice back on the main agenda. As my children have grown, so has my practice, and now I have time to spend almost every day in the studio. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to believe that I am able to live this life that I once dreamed about.
Chai Wolfman Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
One of my customers recently posted on social media that a new print they had purchased is now their “window into warmth and peace.” I knew I must be doing something right because my goal as an artist is to bring something positive to a person’s day. I focus my energy on creating images that feel warm and inviting, grounded and hopeful.
I just closed an exhibit that I titled “Bright & Beautiful,” as this group of paintings stems from the idea that every person has something positive to offer the world. In our individual ways, we can all shine a light, motivate, inspire, and feel. Sometimes, we need a reminder to look for the beauty in ourselves and in each other. The title of this show was not intended to describe the art itself as bright and beautiful. Rather, the title highlights the idea that if we look closely, the feeling of bright and beautiful can be found everywhere.
Right now, I’m working on some new paintings for an exhibit coming up in August at The Compassion Factory in Brookfield, Illinois. I’m expanding on all of these ideas and focusing on some Midwestern-inspired imagined landscapes with new textures and stitching techniques. You can also find my original work as well as prints and cards at Sacred Art in Lincoln Square – https://www.
I also continue to work on The Found Painting Project that I started in 2014 as a way to give back using my work as an artist. I hang small (3”x4”) paintings on trees for people to discover and take home. There’s something special about making something with your hands and holding something that someone else made with theirs. I hope people enjoy the experience of discovery as much as the work itself. Everyone is invited to post about their experience on social media or my website. Some of the responses are quite moving – you can check them out here: http://www.foundpainting.com/i-found-one/.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I feel a sense of pride after putting together a new show, or when someone tells me how a painting makes them feel, or when someone posts about how finding a painting on a tree helped raise their spirits as they battled with depression.
I feel proud when I inspire my daughters to create as well. When I was preparing for my first outdoor art festival, my then, three-year-old daughter made a drawing of the two of us at an art fair and we hung it in the tent together. It now hangs in my studio with some other notes and drawings by my children.
- Fine Art Prints start at $25 (8″x10″)
- Original Paintings currently range from $95 – $950
- Website: www.chaiwolfman.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chaiwolfman/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChaiWolfmanStudio/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChaiWolfman