I'm Criss Chaney, an American artist who has taken a very long and winding path to end up settling in Melbourne, Australia. If you had told me as a kid that I'd end up living on the other side of the world, I never would have believed you.
Growing up, art was always a huge part of my life. My mom and I would take art classes together, and we loved visiting Laguna Beach to spot new Wyland Whaling Walls. One year, we went to the Sawdust Festival, and I saw a man building a glassblowing furnace and teaching people how to blow glass.
I was hooked.
I followed my heart to California College of the Arts, where I studied glassblowing and won a scholarship to Pilchuck Glass School. But I had an overwhelming urge to go abroad and explore the world, so I transferred to the University of Sunderland in the UK sight unseen.
But, there was no way I was going back to California with my tail between my legs, so I stuck it out, FOR 10 YEARS!
In that time, I finished my art degree, established an affordable artist studio and glass blowing space, and exhibited widely across the UK and internationally.
Alas, after spending 10 years building a business and a reputation, my heart wanted more.
I decided to burn it all down and go in search of my muchness.
Abandoning everything to adventure around the world.
My first stop was working in a chalet in France, which was a bit like being in a snow globe. I was surrounded by beautiful snow-covered mountains and endless fondue - what more could a girl ask for?
But I wasn't content to stop there. I wandered around the UK, joined a farming commune, and even lived in a Hare Krishna temple (yes, they have some killer vegetarian recipes).
Then, it was off to Japan, where I worked in a traditional Isakaya and lived in the owner's attic (no spiders thankfully - just stinkbugs). When spring arrived, I hatched a simple plan: buy a bike and head south.
So, I cycled from Niseko in the north to Osaka in the south, camping out wherever I could.
While in Japan, I became friends with a traditional Japanese woodworker. Visiting his home, so full of handcrafted beauty, I realised something was missing in my life - art. And I decided I needed to find a way to combine my love of art with my thirst for adventure.
So I did the only logical thing… I packed my bags and headed to Alaska!
Somehow, I landed a job creating a sculpture park overlooking the harbour in the beautiful town of Haines. Working with some incredible artists and surrounded by stunning scenery, it was a dream come true.
During my travels I started drawing, and let me tell you, my artistic skills were about as developed as a toddler's first scribbles.
But as I kept going, my sketches started to resemble something closer to art, and now I have stunning sketchbooks that I cherish more than my first cup of coffee in the morning.
From the snow-capped mountains in France to the neon lights of Tokyo, my sketchbooks are like a passport to my adventures.
And the best part?
They make me look way more cultured and sophisticated than I actually am.
Just as I was getting the hang of my nomadic lifestyle, a whole new kind of adventure came my way.
Buckle up, because this story is about to take a wild turn!
It all started when I met an Aussie bloke during my travels. We hit it off immediately, and before I knew it, I found myself on a plane to Melbourne to visit him… in early 2020.
When I arrived in Melbourne, everything seemed normal. But as the days went on, news of a mysterious virus started to spread. Before we knew it, the city was in lockdown and the world was in chaos. Borders were closing left and right, and I was stranded in Melbourne with no way to continue my nomadic lifestyle.
But I wasn't about to let a little thing like a global pandemic get to me.
I hunkered down and got to work, taking up a new hobby: painting. Over the course of six long months of lockdown, I poured my heart and soul into my art, honing my skills and learning to express my innermost thoughts and emotions through my paintings.
And now, here I am, fully settled in Melbourne and ready to share my artwork with you.