Chanit (pronounced ha-neat), a New-York-based artist for over 25 years, maintains her studio in Midtown Manhattan. She was born in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War and came to the United States in 1960 to study film and television, following a strong impulse for the image — photographic, moving, etc .
While a student at New York University and the City College of New York, she met and married Michael, her husband of 40 years. Family took priority as she raised her two sons Miles and Aram and her daughter Carmel. The images awaited their turn, expressed occasionally with snapshots of the children. Even then, looking through the camera, her wish was there to see directly and to express without the intermediary camera blocking the intimacy possible between the seer and the seen . . . the perceiver and the perceived, the sitter and the portrait painter.
When her children were in school, Chanit studied drawing with Joseph Hirsh and painting with Harvey Dinnerstein at the National Academy of Fine Art and Design on scholarship. By then, Chanit's involvement with painting grew into a passion for art (especially portraits in oil and watercolor). She also studied with Robert Phillip at the Art Students League and was privately mentored by Anthony Toney.
Chanit's paintings have been shown at galleries such as the National Academy of Fine Art and Design and the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton. A show of her diverse work was recently exhibited at the Asman Gallery (NBC News Building) in Washington, D.C. For over 25 years, she has been a portrait artist in New York City and internationally. Her work is known for being visually elegant and bold, yet still delicate in style.
Chanit was a resident artist at Gurney's Inn in Montauk in the summer of 1982 and taught portraiture at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, Long Island, New York the following fall and spring. Her motto — “Portraits of people, places and favorite things" — extends to include states of mind, emotional landscapes, and energetic abstracts (derived from her tumultuous past) to the quiet contemplation of delicate flowers.
Her work is diverse. However, her love of the human face predominates. The portraits, both in oil and — particularly — in watercolor capture the unique and essential humanity of her sitters of any age.
“I love to look at people, places and many many things. Every existing phenomena thrills me, when I really look at it. That is why is art is so exciting. One looks and translates the thing that exists into a new reality in paint on a two dimensional surface, hoping to retain the unique spirit inherent in what is seen.“Many years ago — when I had a poster and a business card with the logo: Portraits of people, places and favorite things — two wonderful sisters, who owned an old barn in East Hampton, were attracted to the idea and commissioned a portrait of the barn facade since all that was left of the 200-year-old structure was indeed the facade, with its beautiful patina. So I painted this Favorite Place in the pre-noon light with just the right spot of sunshine in front of the tree-shaded place.
“The Greene Sisters enjoyed the painting, which hung in their living room for many years, until they departed from this earth.
“My husband had a very neat way of eating half a grapefruit, the membranes between the eaten section were intact. So one morning as I cleared the breakfast dishes, I painted a portrait of this visually intriguing subject. One of my clients saw it and commissioned a painting of half an eaten cantaloupe since that was her preferred breakfast fruit.
“Oh, I could go on and tell many stories of wonderful paintings of beloved faces, places and things — a unique whistling teapot, a special coffee cup, too many to name, but then I do need the time for painting and not for regaling you with tales. ”
Chanit has illustrated articles for publications such as New York Magazine and Parabola Magazine. Her writing endeavors include a chapter in A Way of Working: The Spiritual Dimension of Craft, a collection of eleven essays exploring the relationship of art, order and craft. Edited by D. M. Dooling and published by Parabola Books.
Chanit conducts painting workshops, relating to her motto: Portraits of people, places, and favorite things.
“One of my favorite aspects of painting is sketching portraits on the spot. The immediacy and spontaneity are exhilarating both to the sitter, the public and, of course, to me. Originally, I stood in front of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art offering to paint in oil anyone who would sit for me. By the next summer, I was resident artist at Gurney's Inn in Montauk painting portraits (both in oil and watercolor) on the boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and continued doing so the following year at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, where I also taught portrait painting.
“My quick watercolor portraits on the spot have become a popular attraction at school fairs, parties, private celebrations, fund-raising galas, even the Annual Chocolate show was a colorful 'gig' for six consecutive years. Spring 2009, La Prairie engaged me to sketch watercolor portraits of their clientele as a day-long promotion for their exclusive skin-care products at their counter at Bloomingdale's. Summer 2009, painted watercolor portraits for UJA Trunk Show at the Bridgehampton Historical Society. If you have any special occasion scheduled — birthday, anniversary, fund raising event, you name it — I highly recommend that you consider letting your guests and participants enjoy the unique artistic experience of having their portrait painted as part of the celebration. Such sketches are fun for all wherever they take place.”
Having a portrait painted by Chanit is a fun and enriching an experience. Her delight in painting is fueled by a love of people and discovering the unique spirit of the sitter of any age. Portraits painted by Chanit make wonderful gifts and reproduce well for many uses.
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