The Heroine’s Journey of Chuka Susan Chesney

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love that I can work at home with such flexible hours. My husband has remodeled my studio and the closet. He put in shelves to store my art and cedar walls to keep any bugs away. He bought me a super comfortable chair. My studio has gorgeous views of the city. Art: I love dipping my brushes in water and I love spraying my painting with my water bottle. Poetry and Creative Writing: I love it when I’m half asleep, but I have to get up out of bed and write because the thoughts are flowing out of me.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? The museums and the square in Santa Fe, New Mexico, old town and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Grand Canyon National Park, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Carmel, and my own cliffside house in Glendale

What is my greatest fear? Driving off a cliff or on driving on a huge bridge that goes up in the middle. Makes me want to scream!

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I am scatterbrained!

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? artists: Scott Trimble, Rob Sherrill, Simone Gad, Frederika Beesemyer Roeder, Bibi Davidson, Scott Hague poets: Celia Drill, Jane Wong “I Put on My Fur Coat, Michael Holt

What is my greatest extravagance? Framing, submitting to shows and magazines, paying for gallery space

On what occasion would I lie? Sometimes on Christmas morning when I am opening my presents!

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Lots of times I work hard on a painting and then I just cannot figure out how to make it rich and rhythmic. Then I have to put it away for a week or a month or several months in order to see it with a fresh eye. Then I start on another painting and again I get to that same point. Sometimes the color yellow or the color red really helps to save my paintings. Patterns work. Sometimes I breathe heavily and add bits of pastel. Pastels are some of my best friends.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? When the book “People Like Cats” that I collaborated on with Laura Madeline Wiseman was published. Also when I won third prize at the California Open for “Coffee with Jesus”.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I would have better health – no more asthma, no more arthritis, no more bone spurs on my neck, no more huge burn scars on my leg, etc.

What is my greatest achievement in work? Overcoming depression and anxiety by exercising and eating healthy food so that I can work every day.

Where would I most like to live? Pasadena or South Pasadena

What is my most treasured possession? My painting “Coffee with Jesus”.

What is my most marked characteristic? Probably my smile, but my teeth are slightly yellow. I should get them bleached, but I never get around to it. What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Descanso Gardens in La Cañada.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? La Cabañita in Montrose, California – amazing chicken soup, kind of like a stew. It’s called pollo de caldo. Homemade tortillas, entomatadas, delicious, homemade salsa and tortilla chips and killer limonada. Their rice is not greasy and so yummy. That is why I have to live somewhere near Montrose. They serve homemade mole, too.

What books influenced my life and how? “Jane Eyre” – Jane had an extremely unhappy childhood, but she was a survivor. I have read “Jane Eyre” at least 20 times. Jane was tough but also sensitive. She was able to get through her depolorable school where her best friend died of tuberculosis. She went to live at Thornfield Hall, the home of Mr. Rochester where she knew no one, and she made a life for herself there. Then she had to leave, but she was sensitive enough to hear Mr. Rochester’s voice in the wind: she knew it was time to return. I wrote a poem about that is inspired by this book. It was recently published in Peacock Journal: Jane Eyre’s High Desert Honeymoon Dear Edward, Your Thornfield brow meanders like a crooked desert creek, we’re nestled in this trailer park like cactus intertwined. Crazed winds blow through the cottonwoods: the noisy roof’s a sign that no Bertha in the attic with her frenzied face and mind will ignite our chenille bed ablaze with mischief and mystique. The desert stretches out below my snowy widow’s peak. We dine on rainbow trout prepared with curried rice and leeks on speckled, turquoise dishes, paired with aromatic wine. Fierce gusts assault the trailer walls; your gruff voice calls me Jane. The wild desert donkeys bray; they make us more inclined to vacation in our Airstream for at least an extra week. Your Thornfield brow meanders like a crooked desert creek. We off road through the bushes in our Chevy pick-up truck, and relax in sulphur ditches that repose in alkaline. Crazed winds blow through the cottonwoods: their rustling leaves a sign. We stroll out on the desert in the slanted afternoon and foxtrot silhouetted by a sunset magnifique. The desert stretches out below my snowy widow’s peak. Fierce gusts assault the trailer walls; your gruff voice calls me Jane. This poem combines the love story between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester with my husband’s and my honeymoon in a trailer park near Bishop, California. Sometimes I love to pretend that I am Jane.

Who are my favorite writers? Colette, Barbara Pym, Truman Capote, Marilynne Robinson, Vladimir Nabakov, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., JD Vance, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Madeleine L’Engle, William Carlos Williams, C.S. Lewis

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Moon River, Blue Moon, The Girl from Ipanema, The Blood that Jesus Shed for Me, Precious Lord

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Elisabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee Jane Eyre in “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte Dolly in “The Grass Harp” by Truman Capote Captain Corelli in “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My pastor Reverend Matthew Colburn Maya Angelou e. e. cummings Laura Madeline Wiseman, a poet and professor Michelle Obama

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? “Roman Holiday”, “Some Like it Hot”, “Dear Heart”, “Rear Window”, “Sabrina”, “Paterson”

What role plays art in my life and work? Writing poetry and short stories plays a role in my life and work, too! These disciplines keep me happy and sane, and give me something to live for. I am passionate about art and writing. I work every day, creating, submitting, and encouraging other artists and writers.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My husband Kent!

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? Wendy Tigerman, artist and writer, Lida Parent Harris, poet

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017? Celia Drill, an amazing poet in Northern California, Mark Strickland, an artist who used to be one of my teachers years ago. I wish I could see my teacher Dwight Harmon again, but he died many years ago.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? I am in the process of collaborating on an illustrated poetry book about Marilyn Monroe with the poet Dr. Laura Madeline Wiseman. We are writing the poems about Marilyn together. Then we will be choosing which of my Marilyn paintings (I have 100 or so) to include in the book.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? The Hive Gallery in Downtown L.A., Aarnun Gallery on Green Street in Pasadena, The Neutra Institute and Museum in Silverlake.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I will work as long as I am able to. Matisse drew women’s faces on the ceiling with a long stick when he could no longer get out of bed.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Shana Nys Dambort, Jane Szabo, Gina M. Fernandez, Genie Davis, Diane Greenseid, Simone Gad, Nancy Goodman Lawrence

How can you contact me?


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