Name: Chanique Davis, TAKAChanique (The Artist Known As Chanique)
Location: Lakeland, FL
Bio: TAKAChanique is an inspirational independent artist based out of Lakeland Florida. As a child, she loved to draw and wanted to be an artist when she grew up however in her adult years she never pursued art. In December 2016 after feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled in life, she made the decision to use all of her gifts and abilities to shine light on Jesus Christ. Feeling a new sense of passion for life she began thinking of what gifts she wasn’t currently using and art came to mind. Though she had only drawn as a child and had never actually painted, she decided to try it and was successful. The next month she created 14 original pieces and hosted her first art show in February 2017, which was a huge success. She began winning prizes at art shows and receiving recognition in art magazines and newspapers. At one of the many shows, an art teacher saw her work and contacted the county director in charge of hiring for the school board and she was contacted by the director who encouraged her to take the art certification test. After studying for two weeks, TAKA passed the test and was hired the same day at Lake Alfred elementary as a full-time art teacher.
Outside of teaching and encouraging children in their own artistic abilities, TAKAChanique is an entrepreneur that runs her own art business and creates beautiful and inspiring pieces with bold colors and a meaningful message. She paints murals and crafts, hosts paint parties, and live paints for events. TAKAChanique also serves the homeless, as she was homelessness as a child, through her organization called The Peacemakers, a collective of artists that use their gifts to give back to the community.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
I am currently teaching art and also doing independent art full time. Although I’ve always loved art as a child, I declared myself a full-time artist February 2017. I was really unfulfilled in my life. I realized that I was stifling gifting’s that I had and I wanted to use all of them to give glory to Jesus. Art was something I hadn’t done since I was a child but I decided to go to Michaels one day and get the biggest most intimidating sized canvas I could get and paint (Something I had never done ever before because as a child my love for art extended to drawing and coloring and nothing more). After creating a huge piece that I thought was impossible to do, I decided to commit to showing the world all that God had put inside of me which meant showing my art in every form it came in (whether painting, or drawing or singing or dancing ART IS ART). My purpose is to inspire. I want people to see my art and admire the beauty but also be inspired by my story. I want them to be inspired by my art AND what drives me as an artist. The way I want them to be inspired is to pursue their own purpose in life. I want them to relentlessly pursue the reason for their existence and if I can trigger something in their mind or their spirit by something I have painted or by my story that’s what I aspire to do. My purpose is to let my light shine so that they will seek the source of my light and be inspired to shine theirs.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
I was a stay at home mom and licensed hair braider. I am no longer a stay at home mom but I still do hair for my clients. The lack of fulfillment I felt in my life in general prompted me to do art. I felt a lack of purpose and when I decided to commit my life to using all of my gifts to shine light on Jesus that’s when art came back to me (something that I was last passionate about in my elementary school years). My transition looked like this. As a stay at home mom, I had the luxury of not getting up in the morning to attend a 9-5 so from Dec 2016 (the start of my adult art journey) to Feb 2017 (my debut and declaration as a full time artist), I created 14 original pieces of art, not having any formal education in art and again having never painted before in my life. I would stay up from 9pm in the evening when my then 2 year old would go to sleep to 5 and 6 am in the morning until one single piece was completed. I will admit this time was stressful but so fulfilling. Stressful because I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t have the time to study it either. I only had the time to act off of pure inspiration. In order to not chicken out on my declaration as a new artist I had posted a post in Dec 2016 that stated I would be hosting my first art show in February 2017. I had a deadline, and because I put my word on it, I had to come through.
I was able to travel as an independent artist quite often. I signed up for as many art shows as I possibly could. With the help of my family watching my son for me as I showed, I was able to do the shows. I had support from a couple of friends (who are both now life coaches) who thought I was “DOPE” before I had ever allowed the world to fully see that I was. Lots of people were really shocked though to see my art. For many it came off as “out of nowhere”. As I mentioned before again I did nothing with art my entire adult life and the last time I had been passionate about it was when I was in elementary school. Nevertheless, though shocked people were still blown away at the level of artistic ability I was able to operate under having had no formal education.
What was your biggest challenge/obstacle in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
As an artist my biggest obstacle in pursuing art was not wanting to make a mistake. I still struggle with this. Perfectionism is a killer of creativity. I would buy canvases and have ideas and start them and in the midst of the creative process have a complete melt down over the piece not looking like what I expected. I would be concerned because “canvases are expensive and I don’t have any time to do anything more than perfect work.” However I have grown in the understanding and acceptance of the entire creative process being an openness and willingness to explore and make the necessary mistakes that lead to breakthroughs in creative growth and artistic production.
How are you maintaining working as an artist full time and maintaining your part/full time job
This is where the juggling begins. I am an elementary school art teacher. I am blessed to do art all day with my children. Nevertheless this does not mean I am doing MY art all day with my children. I am training them to be great in their own way and my focus goes on them. The children really enjoy watching me paint so depending on whatever project they are working on I may do demos for them. But mainly I paint on my lunch breaks, and on the weekends when I don’t have my son. Staying up late is no longer an option when you have to be up at 5am in the morning. I am working on better managing my time to have more time to really pursue my work and my own art as a business owner and entrepreneur.
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
I recently went viral for a black history month door I created at my school. The year before this year I also went viral for a black social media comedian project I did with my 3rd graders. Perhaps people would consider these projects the milestone of my artistic career thus far. I see it differently.
The community paint party that I hosted with my charity organization The Peacemakers was a huge milestone. I and 5 members of my team through the help of the donations of the community were able to host a community wide paint party for the cause of offering therapeutic art to the homeless and to the entire community. We collected blessing bags for those in need and everyone came together to paint on 5 large canvases we had set up at paint stations all around a central park in our city. Though it rained literally 3 times, people persevered and stayed to paint. We painted with the homeless. It was beautiful to see members of our community come together to paint with someone that may have been overlooked the day before but for that moment they were considered a valuable part of our community. This event was not nearly as largely publicized as the viral black history month door however the significance was so meaningful as I felt my art had done more than just exist it had helped someone else. I believe one’s life is the most beautiful master piece of art that anyone could have the privilege of witnessing and I want my art, my life to leave a legacy that matters and helps others.
For me, applying what I learned from that experience just means daily committing to the devotion of letting my light shine, whether it’s putting out another painting or inspiring through a motivational message or combining the two in a piece of art that speaks everything that needs to be ministered to the soul of the viewer. Having a purpose besides, I’m putting out art or doing whatever I am doing to get rich, make a living and be famous is essential to the wellbeing of any artist and really any person. Recently I sold my most expensive piece I have ever sold while it was yet in its creation process and wasn’t even finished. This was tremendous for me as an artist because it meant that my worth was in fact established as an artist and people were willing to pay whatever it was for what they loved about my art. However though this was amazing this pales in comparison to seeing my son paint in the park that day with a homeless woman who said the words, “I was having a bad day but this helps me”.
How does your personal style and identity translate into your artwork? What other forms of art do you do/participate in?
I am still developing in my personal style as an artist but lots of bright color is something I love to use as an essential part of my art work. I believe that I am a very colorful person and so my artwork is full of lots of bright colors. I also believe in putting messages in my art. I love when a piece that I have created “Means something”. It’s not just pretty to look at, it represents something I stand for and others may be able to relate with that.
For me, art is about a commitment to Jesus Christ to shine His light so that people could be drawn to Him. So I believe that any time I put out a painting, it’s glorious (meaning it’s attention grabbing, its captivating, it’s like light that shines) and the moment others see that, I now have the attention of the soul to say and relay any message I want. I use that to put attention on God. There is a scripture in that bible that says “Let your light shine that men would see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
This is clear that whatever good works I do, whether a painting, or a deed or a word is supposed to be seen and when it is seen people can be drawn back to God. So my work aligns with my values and personality in that the essence of the purpose for which I do all things is the foundational reason behind why I paint, or dance or sing or do anything.
As far as other forms of art goes, I am also a singer/song writer, dancer, pianist and guitarist and I enjoy acting when I have the opportunity. I currently have the desire to explore spray paint more.
What is one thing that makes your art unique?
One thing that makes my art work unique is how I express myself. My art is an expression of who I am so in essence I believe that the only thing that makes ones artwork unique is that they are the thing that makes it unique. Two people could paint an apple but the way that Basquiat would paint it is not the same way Romero Britto would paint it. YOU are what is unique about your artwork. How YOU express YOU is what makes your work unique.
What is your favorite art technique and why? How did you begin using it and why do you continue?
Though I am a painter, I really enjoy oil pastel. To me the control of the drawing utensil in my hand makes me feel more secure. Before ever painting I begin with oil pastel. It was a beautiful way to get bright, bold vibrant colors in my work. I continue to use oil pastels because it gives me a sense of control and I still love how opaque, and rich the pigments are.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
Living my life for Christ Jesus and reading, believing and doing what the bible says. I do however, hate creative blocks! Let me just go on record saying that. Lol. Last year I had a really bad creative block after going through an unwanted divorce and what helped me get through was talking to other artists and asking what they do to get through blockages. Also I have found that when going through a creative block or block in inspiration that creating ANYTHING at all boost the self-esteem of an artist even if its imitation in a sense. What I mean specifically is that if you are going through a creative block chances are you are not creating anything at all. For whatever reason you feel you don’t have a message, or a worthy idea to convey and so you stop doing what is essential to your being which is ART all together. So I suggest, pick a thing, anything, an animal, pottery, clothing design whatever and make it. Find a random image of a bird on google and then draw it. Go buy some clay and for no other reason than making the simplest pot you can, make the pot. Do whatever it takes just so that you have made something. Also I was told by an artist friend Jaidartist while going through a creative block that you cannot beat yourself up when you get into these funks. Maybe it’s a time to be still and rest. What are you supposed to learn from this place?
Finally, I have found that focusing on my development as a person internally and spiritually helps get through these funks. Usually a false belief is at work some where hindering your sense of creativity so I try to attack that at the root by locating the discomforting belief and changing what I believe to whatever the word of God says.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals and/or owning her own business?
I would say do things afraid. Believe that you can and then do it. The first time I approached a wall I was in complete panic over my feeling of inadequacy. I didn’t have the training. I had never painted on such a large scale. How in the world would I accomplish it? I did it afraid. It was hard but I finished it. Do it afraid and you’ll be surprised at yourself?
Also have a purpose behind what you do other than likes, and fame and money. It helps you push on days you don’t want to.
Keep growing. Don’t be afraid or feel embarrassed by what you don’t know. Ask questions.
Have someone help you with the business part of it all. As creatives we can sometimes feel scatter brained. Find you a friend who is willing to be that help for you until your business is so poppin that you can pay her or him. In this day and age social media is the main platform for advertising business. You need someone to manage that while you are creating the paintings. You can’t be on social media for hours a day when you need every one of those hours to paint. Get you a tribe who believes in reposting and sharing and shouting you out like your famous even though you are only on the road to fame and haven’t quite made it yet. Have a sounding board and a crew that you can run ideas by and paintings by and concepts by. This helps.
What is next for you?
February 23nd I will be painting live at “A Black History celebration” At St Pauls worship assembly in Winter Haven Florida.
May 4th I will be painting live in Kissimee at AdoraZion conference.
In July, I will be returning to Ivory Coast Africa on a mission’s trip and also to visit the art university and learn as much as I can. I am currently still raising funds for this and am selling unapologetically Godly tshirts, splatter jeans, and art work as a means to raise funds for the trip.
What does being a "black girl who paints" mean to you?
Being a black girl who paints means being unapologetically me. Artists are representations of the creator of the universe. We get to represent who God first introduced Himself as
“In the beginning God created…”
Being a black girl who paints means representing God in His creativity. Means being proud of my culture. Means being audaciously mean in all that I am, with every talent, every gift, how I look, my style, My beliefs, my God, my art, its all me. Being a black girl who paints is being true to me and being committed to the process of growth in art and as a person in general.