Paul Cheney Visual Artist

Sailing solo around the world, propelled by the wind, graphic design and fine art.  

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2019.  One minute, he was here; the next, he was not.  Apart from not getting to say goodbye or resolving a truckload of issues, I was suddenly faced with my mortality.  If I were struck down tomorrow, I would be selfish to complain; I have lived more in my short time than anyone could hope for.  I have a fantastic daughter, partner and family, yet I can’t help but feel I need to do more, see more, live more.

Catalyst Plus

2023 was a year of travel and amazing experiences.  I was fortunate enough to work with Catalyst+ on a few assignments teaching digital marketing to people in less fortunate countries.  I made wonderful friends and experienced an amazing array of different cultures.  Most importantly I learned to appreciate the life I have, the country I live in and the privileges that are mine simply because of where I was born.

TIKME Group photo with Paul Cheney

Alone on a boat

In 2022 I decided that I would take it up a notch and did what any sane person would do.  I bought an offshore sailboat on the other side of the country.  I moved aboard shortly after and left on an epic adventure to one of the most remote places on Earth, the Great Bear Rain Forest.  I travelled alone for months through crazy conditions that still keep me awake at night.  My trip started in late May and went until November.  I named my boat Karinoyo which is a Japanese word for “this transient world”. That is what it was to me, a world that I could move around from place to place.  When I made it north I was completely isolated and alone.  It was terrifying and beautiful.  I know other people have done far more solo sailing and that is fine, for me and my comfort level this was next-level shit, totally epic I am forever changed.  On top of getting my captain’s licence during this trip, I learned what felt like a lifetime’s worth of sailing knowledge that I am sure will I use again at some point.  Sadly Karinoyo has recently sold.  The adventures that lay ahead all took me too far away from my family for too long.  I would have either sailed south to Cape Horn, East to French Polynesia or west against the trade winds through the Panama Canal and north to Greenland.  I hope to check all of those boxes off at some point and feel I laid excellent groundwork for those or any future adventure.  Thank you for keeping me safe Karinoyo, fair winds.

Making a living as an Artist

Paul Cheney Watercolour Owl

As high school graduation approached, I asked my art instructor: “How can I sustain myself as an artist?” His response was rather blunt: “You don’t… well, maybe consider commercial art.” Oddly, despite my ongoing photography work and focus on illustration in class, he didn’t mention those avenues. In the end, I pivoted, entering and ultimately leaving a graphic design program to pursue photography more intensely—a craft that, yes, required formal study back then.

 

Jumping ahead a few decades, I felt compelled to revisit that old question and decided to take action. I set myself a challenge: six months to significantly improve my skills in watercolour painting and generate enough sales to support myself. Surpassing my own expectations, I ended up not only selling my artwork but also establishing a gallery in a tourist hotspot, complete with my own brand of watercolour paint and art classes. Just as I was about to sign a lease to expand my art school, the pandemic struck, halting everything in its tracks.

Paul Cheney Handmade Watercolour Paint
Watercolour Dog Painting
Watercolour Peacock
Watercolour Humming Bird
Watercolour Sheep

A lifetime ago

Before you jump to conclusions about my age, consider this: my journey began at 15. Yes, that’s when I shot my first wedding. It was a chaotic start, but somehow I made an impression on the bride and groom. They spread the word, leading to more opportunities. I pursued photography in college, earning a diploma and delving into commercial and fashion photography. After years of intense effort, burnout hit me hard. I eventually sold all my gear and sought out a more conventional career path. After a brief hiatus from the print world, I reentered photography in 1999, embracing the digital era and pioneering fully digital wedding photography in Toronto. This move ignited my business, and by 2013, before I traded my cameras for a letterpress, I had captured over 1000 weddings. This journey whisked me to distant corners of the globe, where I met a U.S. President and countless other fascinating individuals. Despite initially resisting it, this period likely shaped me the most—it spanned a significant 27 years, after all!

Destination Wedding Photograph
Bill Clinton