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The Architecture of Lines and Letting Go, with Tracie Cheng

The Architecture of Lines and Letting Go, with Tracie Cheng

Tracie Cheng’s paintings blend abstract with figurative, structure with freedom. Her sweeping line work means something different to every viewer, taking on the role of architectural Rorschach blotches. For Tracie, those lines offer a release from the constraints of perfectionism and into the free flow of pure expression. Listen to this episode of The Cultured Podcast to learn about Tracie’s process and hear how this former architect ultimately found purpose and peace in painting. Visit for full transcripts of this episode and links to things mentioned.

Read the episode transcript below.

Tracie Cheng’s paintings blend abstract with figurative, structure with freedom. Listen to this episode of The Cultured Podcast to learn about Tracie’s process and hear how this former architect ultimately found purpose and peace in painting.


Michelle Khouri  0:01  
What kind of world would you architect if you had a giant blank canvas staring back at you? Well, on this episode of The cultured podcast, we find out how a former architect turned artist, Tracie Cheng, brings the unseen into the seen world. Oh, it’s a good one. Welcome to The Cultured Podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Khouri. And together, we’ll journey into the unknown reaches of the art world.

Hello, my babies. Okay, so first things first, we need to just acknowledge how amazing Tracie Cheng is and also the fact that this was her first podcast interview and she killed it. She was a little bit nervous about it, so we’re just going to give her some extra Cultured love because truly her perspective, the way she can articulate how she approaches her work is fascinating. And she needs to feel that love. So you give her a shout once you hear this episode and smother her in Cultured Crew love. Yes. Okay. But before we get there, we’re going to talk about my inspiration this week. And this week, my inspiration are the mountains. And it fits really well with Tracie’s work because a lot of her pieces reminded me of mountainscapes. And there’s one in particular that we talked about, that’s an enormous work, one of the biggest work she’s done, and it looks so much like a mountainscape. And I actually grew up in Miami around water. And you know, the beach was always something that was right nearby. So of course, when you grow up with something, it’s easy to become desensitized to it and while I think the beach is astounding and stunning because, you know, there’s the ocean and then you realize how tiny you are and then the grains of sand and it’s just, I don’t know. I love a good beach but I’m not a beach bum. I love the mountains. Like it’s my dream to one day, get this tiny little cabin, maybe not tiny, maybe a big cabin, maybe like a nice, delicious, beautiful, expensive cabin, but smack dab in the mountains where I can write, where I can even like work on my business, where I can invite my family and friends and we can celebrate and go hiking. But those mountain vistas, there’s something about the grandeur of mountain ranges that makes you feel so connected to the earth, so firmly rooted in the earth and also tiny. So I mean, I guess the theme here is that I like anything that reminds me of how small and insignificant I am. But that’s mountains to me. And also when it’s just like fresh and crisp and there’s so much wildlife to be observed and to be appreciated in mountains. And it’s the kind of wildlife that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of me like the ocean does. Listen, I have a complicated relationship with the ocean, just, we’ll talk about another day. But yeah, so my inspiration this week are the beautiful mountains. And now I’m just going to drift off slowly into Neverland thinking about mountains. Just kidding. Let’s talk to Tracie.

Welcome, Tracie. 

Tracie Cheng  3:36  

Michelle Khouri  3:38  
Hi. I’m so excited to have you on The Cultured Podcast because I’ve actually been following your work for a pretty long time now. And I just have to say, before we even introduce who you are and what your art form is, the moment I saw your work became enthralled. And I was trying to find the right word leading up to actually having a conversation with you. I was trying to find what that word was that when I see your work, it elicits something in me and I just become mesmerized by it. So with that being said, why don’t you tell us who you are and what your art form is. 

Tracie Cheng  4:18  
My name is Tracie Cheng and I paint ethereal abstracts that are layered with line forms that kind of weave in and out of the canvas. I feel like, to be honest, it’s always been hard to describe what I do. I think because it’s so abstract, while being kind of figurative. Like, you know, not representing people or human bodies, but these lines have a form of their own and they kind of just float around and they dance and they kind of, they’re just so playful, and they’re just kind of like finding their way across the the page or the canvas. And I’m just there to facilitate that.

Michelle Khouri  4:54  
It reminds me of, like, the universe and how everything seems to have its rules and yet exists in a state of chaos.

Tracie Cheng  5:01  
Yeah, I love that. That’s kind of how I feel. Like, when I’m drawing, I feel very quiet. I mean, there’s a lot of things going on a studio. I have like TV shows and music and all kinds of things, sounds, but I feel like my mind and my body are quiet. And I think that’s just a space that it’s hard for me to get to. And so I’m really grateful for this art form, because I feel like it’s been a space where I’m not thinking as much. I’m not planning as much. And I’m just kind of letting it go. And I think that’s been really good for me.

Michelle Khouri  5:33  
It seems from the videos you post, it would be an incredibly meditative process because there is a sense of repetition with the lines. And your scale means that that repetition happens on a larger scale, right? So it takes longer. Do you feel that sense of meditation when you’re doing it?

Tracie Cheng  5:52  
I do. I’m also setting out to make it even more of a practice of meditation. I think in the past I’ve just been between life and schedules and all kinds of things. So when I’m in studio, I feel like I’m just creating sometimes. Just producing. And so I do what I can to make that happen. And so I don’t get to be as in it, if that makes sense. Like, I don’t always feel like I get to process that this is meditation that’s happening. I’d like for this year to be more about that, carving out space where I know for sure, like the computer is going off or like the sounds are going off, and I’m just present with my paintings, which I’m not often. But they are, I mean, I feel like they’re, they’re a form of prayer for me. I don’t think that they are actively like, I’m not talking through things. I’m not praying for things, but I feel like in my spirit, there’s just this sort of connection where I’m letting go of the outside world and I’m in this new world of creating. And I think that’s been a really fascinating place to be.

Michelle Khouri  6:57  
Well, you know, creating things in general, the thing that comes up more often than anything else is that the act of creation seems to be the act of channeling something that feels greater than or outside of yourself, your physical body. 

Tracie Cheng  7:16  

Michelle Khouri  7:17  
And everyone has a different way of describing that, but that’s what I just heard from you, you know? Even describing it as, you know, they come through you and out into your arm and then onto the canvas, these lines. That just felt so much like being channeled, right? Being that channel of something else.

Tracie Cheng  7:36  
Yeah, definitely. Where you feel like you just get to be privy to it. That’s sometimes what that’s how I feel. Because there are times when I draw a few lines, and I step back and I just think, did I do that? Did that just happen? 

Michelle Khouri  7:50  

Tracie Cheng  7:51  
Yeah, but it’s mysterious and wonderful at the same time that I get to be part of that and get to show that to people.

Michelle Khouri  7:57  
Now you talked about not being present with your work. And I’m really interested to see, like where that comes from because you know, you do describe yourself in one place as a recovering perfectionist. 

Tracie Cheng  8:11  

Michelle Khouri  8:11  
So I’m wondering is that tied to the idea of perfectionism and losing yourself in the minutiae of getting it right? What makes you not be present?

Tracie Cheng  8:21  
To be honest, I think it’s just all the other things that need to be done in life. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I have incredible friends and a community that are very important to me and just a lot of other things that I’m interested in. And so I feel like as I’m drawing and I feel like this is what I’m called to do, and I’m grateful to be good at it and learning and all that kind of stuff. I still have all these things I sometimes would rather do. You know, like, sometimes I just think this is hard and I’m doing it both as a passion and as well also as a profession. Sometimes I would like to just be playing with my son or I would like to be chatting with a friend or kind of just delivering life outside of the studio. So that can often take away from this meditative experience, I think.

Michelle Khouri  9:06  
And so I imagine that is the pressure kind of brought on by doing commissioned work, right? 

Tracie Cheng  9:15  
Yeah, it can be.

Michelle Khouri  9:16  
Because what I’ve seen from your work is you’re getting more and more commissions. And it sounds like, you know when somebody is brought into the studio by their own, you know, natural urge to paint, that’s a different story from what I’m hearing from you now, which is, well, there’s the urge, but also somebody has commissioned me to do this.

Tracie Cheng  9:36  
It’s a combination of both. I mean, I’m so grateful for all the commissions. They’ve been incredible and they’ve pushed me and I feel like I’m better for it and of course my business and my art is better for it. But yeah, it can be limiting. I feel like what is great about the commissions is that the clients so far have been very understanding with what I do and how I do it and are extremely gracious with what I present to them. I feel like there’s so little pushback or direction, they just sort of say, do the thing that you do, because that was the whole point of us commissioning you. And so in that sense, I do have freedom. But I think the pressure of it going to somebody immediately, like, you’ve already committed to this, it does take out that element of I don’t know what’s going to happen. Like, I’m just gonna put my pen to paper, and I’m just gonna let go. It’s just a different process.

Michelle Khouri  10:30  
Totally. Yeah, I mean, talk about more structure within the chaos, like that’s an expression of your life too, right? 

Tracie Cheng  10:37  

Michelle Khouri  10:37  
Where it’s like the wholeness of being an artist who is earning a living from your passion, your calling, or what you channel. And it’s that, well, there’s this inevitable need for structure, especially because you’re being commissioned by large institutions and organizations. And so there’s going to be deadlines. But a lot of artists I talk to you also talk about how once they started earning money and becoming really, really successful with their art form, they would have to take breaks to just be like, I just want to create outside of the structure of invoicing, you know what I mean? 

Tracie Cheng  11:14  
Right. And actually, this year, I do have some things in line of just like creating my own collections and thinking about things that, yeah, are beyond like, I already know where the payment is. And like all you know, what the schedule is going to be. But that part is hard too. Being an artist, being a business owner, creating your own schedule is tough. And, yeah, I just feel like it’s just a learning process. I feel like I’m just learning a lot, even after five years of doing this, like officially. And my husband and I own this business, and he’s a sculptor and he is, like, one of the main reasons why I can keep doing this creatively and just practically.

Michelle Khouri  11:54  
Oh my gosh, partnership. And I love his work too, by the way, but this isn’t about him, but I love his work. 

Tracie Cheng  11:59  
Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I love it too. He is incredibly talented. But I feel like we talk about it all the time. We’re like, we would not do this unless we felt called to do it.

Michelle Khouri  12:07  
Exactly. And I think you find your energy when you are living from a place of alignment with your purpose. So let’s talk about how you got into art. Because for me when I found out about your background, I let out a big “Oh” because it just makes so much sense. So tell us about your original path.

Tracie Cheng  12:31  
Ah, yes. So I studied architecture and to this day, I still love it. I love the field and I love the ideas and the designs. But basically, I thought my entire life, you know, until I was 18, 17, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian. And then I went into college pursuing that and took all these science classes that I was terrible at and as a perfectionist very much a planner, type A, all the way, just thought my life is ruined. Like I started college and I have no idea what I’m doing because I’m failing the things that I set out to do. So I consulted a whole bunch of people, there were a few things laid out in front of me. I did music all my life. And so there was a little bit of possibility of going into music. And then the practical route was like, business because that’s not like science-based, but it’s also practical, you could make probably make money. And then my parents were like, well, you always liked, you know, decorating and doing things of that sort. So what about like interior design? And I just thought, I don’t even know how that applies my life. But sure, I’ll just take the one class that’s open to non-majors in the School of Architecture and Design. And I realize that wow, I actually really love architecture like I never really thought about it before. But now that I’m taking this intro to architecture class, my eyes are open to what that could be. And I started like, you know, studying it, and I thought this could be something I really enjoy. It turned out to be like the hardest school to get into and somehow I got in. I mean, I think I had something to offer, but also I just feel like God really had good plans there. I’m a Christian. I feel like there’s a lot there that I don’t know and I don’t understand about my life path. But I feel like somebody does and I feel like there was just like a favor upon like what I was trying to do. 

Michelle Khouri  14:24  
Why did your mom recommend interior design of all things? Like were you just like really good with shapes and colors and patterns growing up? Were you really organized?

Tracie Cheng  14:36  
I think I just loved like, creating things, cardboard things. That has nothing to do with interior design. But somewhere in there, she was like, you seem like you could be interested in that. And she wasn’t sure herself, like, what that entailed. But just somewhere in her she was like, just try it. Like, why not?

Michelle Khouri  14:54  
It just resonated, yeah.

Tracie Cheng  14:56  
And I also feel like that must have just been like a really beautiful, like, favor moment where it was just like in her spirit, she felt like why not just try it? And that kind of opened up that door.

Michelle Khouri  15:08  
Wow. Okay, so you got into the architecture school? And what was that, like?

Tracie Cheng  15:13  
Oh, it was great. I mean, it was super tough. Long nights. Long days. A lot of work. A lot of struggling with my perfectionism. And also my need to be told exactly what to do. Because I remember one of my first assignments was like, here’s the shape that you need to like, conform to, but then just do a design based on that. And I was like, I don’t know what that mean, can you just give me some more parameters? And they’re like, nope. And I was just like, “Ahh!” Like, my rule following side was like freaking out because I just felt like I just need more information so that I can do it right. Like I need to do it exactly the way that you tell me to and then like excel at that. So the entire five years was definitely pushing up against that and I guess started the process of like me shedding some of that. Like, there are plenty of Type A people in architecture. And I left still probably being a Type A person, but there was a lot of, like, that push up against, I need to know exactly what I’m supposed to do, and then do it exactly as I’m supposed to do it. And then being able to start thinking for myself, and like thinking creatively, and thinking kind of in this ambiguous way where maybe I don’t have language for it, but I can like make it or I can attempt to design it. So I feel like architecture was definitely my first art form and allowed me to speak a language that I didn’t have in my designs. So that’s one space where like, it’s not as explicit, but I feel like my paintings are totally, they’re absolutely being influenced by what I learned in that five years.

Michelle Khouri  16:47  
I love your use of the word ambiguous, how your paintings are ambiguous now. And it’s it’s such a perfect word. And also how ironic that one of the great struggles of learning architecutre was in releasing and allowing yourself to flow with whatever came through you. And now that’s one of the biggest parts of your process. 

Tracie Cheng  17:11  
I think so. It’s funny because the lines have some rigor to them. And I think a lot of people think that’s where the architecture comes in. Like, “Oh, your attention to detail is great. Your ability to be so disciplined and your hand and your stillness or whatever,” I feel like that’s where people usually reference architecture. But I think it might actually be what you’re saying. Because I, for years, I had to essentially not know what I was doing, but just still do it, and attempt to do something exciting or new or good. And then now in translation, I’m still starting that way. Especially when I’m working for myself, when I paint I feel like I’m just going to apply paint to canvas and see what happens. But initially, I have no idea and the lines are sort of informed by the painting, but at some point, they just go off on their own, like we talked about. And so having that ambiguity and working in the ambiguity is very uncomfortable, but it’s also exactly what the paintings need. I think.

Michelle Khouri  18:11  
So it still feels uncomfortable to you?

Tracie Cheng  18:14  
Actually doing it does not feel uncomfortable, but sort of the stepping back and knowing when it’s done, or what more, I think those things still feel uncomfortable because there’s no directive. There’s no right or wrong, right? It’s just based on my gut, or based on my spirit, and based on like, how I feel about what’s happening. I think most of art for me these days is just about discipline. It’s about going into studio and doing it no matter if I feel like inspired to do it or if I feel like I have ideas to do it. I’m just going to do it because it’s important. It’s important for me to, like, be working on my craft. So therefore, even if I feel uncomfortable, there’s only so much I can give into that before I have to just keep doing it and keep working.

Michelle Khouri  19:00  
It sounds like that might also be a consequence of or something taught by architecture school or your background. I don’t know what kind of background you grew up in or home you grew up in that taught discipline, but my mom certainly did. But it wasn’t until you know, you had the rigors of having to set your own pace and discipline of, like, college, or your studies, that I think you truly learn self-motivation.

Tracie Cheng  19:26  
Yeah. And I mean, we’re shaped by all kinds of things–even stories before us. And so recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about ethnicity and culture and heritage. And so I’m like, perseverance was a huge thing for the Chinese people. So I feel like, you know, there’s just like a bunch of things that were taught to me, but also just inherent in who I am. 

Michelle Khouri  19:48  

Tracie Cheng  19:48  
And I love that. 

Michelle Khouri  19:49  
Yes. So you, you talk a lot about how your work is about both the seen and the unseen. So tell me a little bit about what that means to you.

Tracie Cheng  20:01  
Yeah, I feel like where that shows up the most for me, is in my faith. And I feel like that’s where some of these paintings are coming from. It’s just a place of like, I don’t always know the answers, or I don’t really know, you know, maybe it’s something I’m going through. And I’m like, I don’t really know what the outcome is supposed to be. And I feel like I’m just expressing some of that thought process in my paintings. And again, it’s not very explicit, but I think it’s coming out of that space, where I’m just trying to be faithful to, like, my values and what I know, and what I don’t know and what I believe.

Michelle Khouri  20:32  
Does it also…did you ever grow up with a sense of not feeling fully seen or not feeling fully understood in your wholeness? 

Tracie Cheng  20:43  
Oh, my gosh, that’s a really good question. And it feels very relevant. Yes, I don’t think I think about it enough. But absolutely. Whether it was family relationships, where I absolutely love my family, my parents are amazing and my brother is amazing, but just kind of feeling like, I never quite, it always felt kind of like I was the baby and like, my brother was better. So there was a little bit of that feeling of like, oh, I mean, I’m seen but I’m not, like, really seen and then I’m definitely not understood. And then I think just having a certain personality of being a little bit more on the quiet side, at least definitely in the past, being a little bit more quiet, a little bit more unsure about: do I have opinions? Do I have a voice? I think that carried with me for sure. And I feel like in the last decade of adulthood, I feel like those are the things that I’ve been trying to find healing in and also just finding a way to be free from that past of like feeling not quite worthy of people’s attention. Not quite good enough to be noticed or heard. Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting question. 

Michelle Khouri  21:56  
That is so real. Thank you for sharing that. 

Tracie Cheng  21:58  
For sure. 

Michelle Khouri  21:58  
Thank you for sharing that because I know, it takes vulnerability. But, you know, the very reason I asked the question is because I saw that in myself and I think that when you come from certain cultures, and I can relate to Chinese culture in some ways, because I’m Colombian, there is a sense of not being seen in both cultures that I’m a part of. Not feeling like either of them see me in my wholeness. And then also, I think we can all relate to the idea that sometimes the people who know us the least in terms of our whole selves, our families, our immediate families.

Tracie Cheng  22:39  

Michelle Khouri  22:40  
You know? There’s this something that you get to know each other from birth and you get this idea of each other as like, young children, and it never quite shakes, right.

Tracie Cheng  22:54  
Right, no matter how much you change, or how much you grow, you’re sort of the same person. Yeah,

Michelle Khouri  22:59  
So I certainly see that as a reflection in your artwork. What’s so fascinating to me about your work is that one painting can look like both a mountain scape and the ocean waves crashing against rocks. Another painting can look like a DNA helix and a seahorse. It is such a reflection of the fact that everything on this planet is made up of the same stuff. It just looks different ways. And that to me is so magical about your work. And that’s perhaps the most enthralling thing about it is just how many things it can be. And in one interview, you said, one of the most compelling things about having viewers as part of the experience so like when you’re actually showing your work, is depending on what the viewer is going through, they see different levels of depth coming through your work. 

Tracie Cheng  23:54  

Michelle Khouri  23:54  
Talk a little bit about that and what that feels like to experience.

Tracie Cheng  23:58  
Oh, it’s it’s wonderful. I feel like I try not to give too much definition to the paintings, partially because I maybe I don’t know exactly what they mean. But also because I do want to have space for people to experience it for themselves. There are so many ways to see them. And I feel like one of the funniest things was interacting with a mathematician and him seeing like complex math equations in it. And I was just thinking, I know nothing about math. I’m just glad that you like them. You know, it was sort of this is wonderful that you can connect with them as well.

Michelle Khouri  24:32  
Oh my god. That’s so cool! How magical 

Tracie Cheng  24:35  
It’s fun. And then I’ve had even crazier experiences where somebody said that they had sort of seen like an image or a vision of, there was a painting that they were referring to in particular, and that they had seen something like a vision of that painting years before they saw the painting. 

Michelle Khouri  24:53  
Oh, wow. 

Tracie Cheng  24:53  
And then when they saw the painting, they’re like, this reminds me of that moment where I was having I mean, she was just going through like a whole bunch of things personally. And it brought her back to that moment where she was like, I had no idea what that vision was and what it meant, but like to have this connection now, to my past of this memory, and how significant that memory was. It’s just, like, astounding. And I just, I mean, I was like crying. And I was like, that’s amazing. Like, I love that. And I love that it’s beyond me. That’s not like what I’m setting out to do. It just reminds people of things that they’re so familiar with, like the world around them, the plants that they see every day, these really magical but normal things that we encounter all the time. And I just wonder if that’s also why people connect to it because it reminds them of something very basic and inherent to like nature and the world. But I feel like when I’m drawing from is like this subconscious of like everything that I see in my day to day, it’s just like a reflection of the things that I’m seeing, even if I don’t know what they are.

Michelle Khouri  25:57  
Well, there’s so much inspiration and beauty to be found in the ordinary or the day to day. Because there’s really no such thing as ordinary. You know, everything is incredible.

Tracie Cheng  26:12  

Michelle Khouri  26:12  
Your existence.

Tracie Cheng  26:13  
Right. It’s just things become ordinary, because you’re like, “Oh, I’ve seen that.” 

Michelle Khouri  26:17  

Tracie Cheng  26:18  
It’s how people can think that plants are just like, whatever, because I’m just like, plants are incredible. Have you like looked up close and seeing all the little veins and like, think about how they grow. That is something that I want to challenge people in with my paintings where it’s just like, this is normal too. Like, all I did was stand in a studio and like, paint this thing. And sometimes it was hard. And sometimes it was easy. And like the fact that you are impacted by this must say something about, like the normal things that you experienced today. Because this was just like a normal day to day for me too, to some extent.

Michelle Khouri  26:52  
Wow. Yeah, I think it’s great to normalize it for many reasons, but I also think it’s it’s important to exalt it, because it takes so much work and perseverance and discipline and all the things we’ve already touched on, and openness and vulnerability. Is there any planning that goes into your work?

Tracie Cheng  27:13  
There’s very little.

Michelle Khouri  27:16  
Oh my god.

Tracie Cheng  27:17  
Yeah, I think I can learn a lot from good planning. But also, as I’ve been doing this, I’ve just been thinking, I think that’s part of the beauty of them is that they are, like, I don’t even know what is going to happen with them. Like, I didn’t plan for this to happen. So therefore, I get to be just as surprised as the person who’s saying, “Wow, that’s amazing,” or whatever. I also feel like kind of amazed by them, not amazed by myself, but amazed by how they turned out. 

Michelle Khouri  27:47  

Tracie Cheng  27:47  
And I think there’s sort of like a faith-trust thing that I’m working on when I paint, where I feel like I’m just trying to stay faithful to the thing that I think I’m called to, which is getting these painting out and getting this expression out. So what’s interesting is with commissions, I do have to plan it out. 

Michelle Khouri  27:53  

Tracie Cheng  28:00  
And it’s still a good process, but it does complicate things, like, I do find myself, like stumbling more or kind of having more issues where I have to problem solve or have to accommodate for things that I didn’t expect, because now there’s like a plan and that part’s extremely difficult.

Michelle Khouri  28:24  
And I imagine that’s a bit triggering for the perfectionism part, the over analysis part of your brain, right? 

Tracie Cheng  28:30  
It can be.

Michelle Khouri  28:30  
When you’re planning then all of a sudden, you’re like, at least for me, I would imagine I would overthink things a lot more, and it would take longer to start. 

Tracie Cheng  28:40  
Yeah, it doesn’t help that, you know, there’s now a thing that you can reference. 

Michelle Khouri  28:44  
Uh huh. Right. 

Tracie Cheng  28:45  
Is it as good as the sketches? Does it look generally like it? You know, I think those things are very hard for me to. Yeah. To do. 

Michelle Khouri  28:53  
Yeah. But I also think it’s fascinating this balance between when you’re allowing yourself to flow and play, you’re not planning but then with commissions you have to and so you’re having to also explore two very different methods for yourself it sounds like. Which is kind of cool It stretches you beyond, you know comfort zones.

Tracie Cheng  29:15  
It does. It does. And I feel like that has been a necessary component too of the practice of realizing like it actually helps me stay a little bit more grounded in seeing the world in a more open way.

Michelle Khouri  29:29  
Oh, that is beautiful. That is beautifully put. Okay, so now the big question that some people really, really hate, but I can’t help it is, you know, where do you see yourself going from here? Like what are the things that you want to experiment with more or incorporate into your work more? Anything you want to share about what’s next for you?

Tracie Cheng  29:53  
I think right now, I want to do the work with, like, a different mentality. I feel like the work itself actually has a lot more to explore. But first, there’s a lot internally that I want to do differently or start thinking about or shift. And in that shift, see what happens to the paintings? And if that makes sense.

Michelle Khouri  30:13  
Oh, so much sense. Well, like what you were saying, being a little more present with the painting.

Tracie Cheng  30:17  

Michelle Khouri  30:18  
Setting the intention of meditating, you know, using the paintings as a meditative or prayer practice. 

Tracie Cheng  30:25  

Michelle Khouri  30:25  
Totally. That makes sense. 

Tracie Cheng  30:26  
Maybe I’m not doing more research or more practice or things like that, but I’m doing the internal work. And then hopefully, there will just be kind of external fruit from that. So that’s one major thing, because right now I see that as a challenge, definitely.

Michelle Khouri  30:43  
And that is something we could all learn by the way, like, let’s all just like internalize that right quick because that is a beautiful life lesson. It’s like, in order to see changes in your external world, you got to focus on your internal world and those changes externally will come. But it all comes from the internal world. Wow. Mantra. 

Tracie Cheng  31:03  
Oh, absolutely. So I’m excited about that. And then other things are just this year is dedicated to more more collection launches. I’m thinking about prints, which is something that people have asked about for years, and I have had no idea how to go about it in the way that matches my sort of ideas about the work. But that should be happening next year. 

Michelle Khouri  31:27  

Tracie Cheng  31:27  
So that’s exciting. And then one day, it would be really interesting to keep going bigger. Maybe a year and a half ago is when I started being commissioned pieces that were fairly large, like 15-16 foot paintings. 

Michelle Khouri  31:42  
Oh, yeah.

Tracie Cheng  31:43  
I had never done before.

Michelle Khouri  31:45  
The one for The Independent. Hmm.

Tracie Cheng  31:47  
Yeah. It turned out so good. 

Michelle Khouri  31:49  
Oh, my God, I love it. Yeah, we’re gonna have a picture of that in the show notes so people can see it. But obviously you can also go to Tracie’s Instagram, But it is, it’s so beautiful. 

Tracie Cheng  32:00  
Thank you. After doing a few of those size paintings, I’m just now like, pumped to do bigger and be challenged by what that brings.

Michelle Khouri  32:10  
Growing in all ways. Growing in size. Growing inside. Growing in spirit.

Tracie Cheng  32:16  
Yeah, growing in all ways! That’s my ultimate goal is just to grow. But definitely just to push myself. I think very specifically in one of my posts, I was talking about how I hate change. And the second change happens, I tend to be like, “Oh, that was really great. Let’s figure out how to accommodate this change,” but to anticipate the change and to plan for it just stresses me out. But I feel like this year, it’s just another year of like getting better at that. And so getting new projects that aren’t the same as what I’ve been getting will just be one way for me to grow in that and to become more comfortable in those spaces of tension where I don’t fully feel in control. And that’s okay but I will still do my best to make a good piece.

Michelle Khouri  33:04  
Yes. Oh my god this has been so amazing, Tracie. Thank you for sharing of yourself and your artwork. It’s been super duper inspiring. Where can the Cultured Crew find you online? 

Tracie Cheng  33:19  
The best places are my website and of course on Instagram under the same name. 

Michelle Khouri  33:25  
Fabulous and obviously that’ll be in the show notes. But if you can’t wait to find Tracie, it’s T-R-A-C-I-E and Cheng is C-H-E-N-G. So thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been such a joy.

Tracie Cheng  33:39  
Thanks for having me.

Michelle Khouri  33:45  
Oh, be still my heart. Tracie is so wonderful. I mean, there’s so much that I connected to about this conversation including this idea of like not feeling heard versus feeling heard and the differences of those energies and just like how it can shift the way you see the world if you, in your life, haven’t felt heard or seen fully. Man, y’all, I’m so grateful for all these beautiful people that come on this show and I’m grateful for you. Until our next journey into the unknown, keep it classy. Keep it curious. Keep it Cultured.