Artist Profile: Local Artist Paints Travel-Inspired Realism

March 23, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Artist Profile: Local Artist Paints Travel-Inspired Realism

by Ingrid Tistaert, Action Reporter

As a little girl in pre-school, Debi was always the last to leave the art room and would sneak in when it was not her class. Covered head to toe in finger paints, a large grin on her face, she reveled in the joys of art and painting. Some things never change. Today Debi still loves to paint, only she has matured into one of north Tahoe's most accomplished artists and her medium of choice is not finger paints but oils.

Debi honed her painting skills as a student, earning an illustration degree at College of Arts in Cornwall, England. After graduation and a two year stint working as an illustrator for a London publishing company, she decided to pursue a career as an independent artist. "Despite gaining an invaluable experience, I found my position as an illustrator far too restrictive." Debi left her position in England to embark on a series of trips to Southeast Asia, India, Nepal Thailand and Laos. Whilst traveling in these countries she established a passion for painting subjects- particularly people- she encountered in her day to day experiences. Her interest in portraiture began with a travel journal in which she sketched charcoal drawings of people she met on the streets or roaming around in the mountains in the north of India and Nepal. Upon returning to her studio, these drawings set the mood for larger works done in oils. "I am constantly searching for ways to echo my own experiences in my paintings," she said. "It's important to capture my subjects with a scene of immediacy. To create a snap shot of daily life." One of her goals is to portray the contentment of the people in these countries despite their poverty and lack of material goods. More recently Debi has met with great success switching focus to an Americanized theme- the vintage American automobile. The idea for this series was born when she went on a road trip across the Western states with her father. On one particularly long, farm lined stretch of a highway in Utah, Debi spotted a weathered old pickup truck standing abandoned in a field alongside the road and she immediately knew she must paint it. Verbalizing this to her father, she convinced him to turn around and the two went back so she could photograph this Antique American icon. To her this truck symbolized a juxtaposition between the vehicles proud past and its current state of disrepair. Debi glimpsed a certain elegance in the erosion of this rusty old touch, and sparked her interest in the reproduction of classic autos on canvas. "My most recent series of work depicts powerful images of American culture," she pointed out, "these deteriorating statues saw many a hard working day during the 40's and 50's and now rest proud, despite the fragility of their increased age." When recreating these subjects she finds the play of natural sunlight on old rusted metal particularly fascinating. "It is important to me to pay attention to how the light and darkness travel across the surface of the metal," she explained. "Colors alter according to the intensity of the light and as an artist I can exaggerate or subdue contrast with my palette." The truck Debi found in Utah was the first painting in her American series and a private buyer purchased before she had even finished it. Since then she has produced a number of paintings of classic automobiles, a few of which have been commissioned or sold. Wishing to broaden the scope of her sales, Debi is now considering offers of galleries and shows in Carmel, California. Although further success looms on the horizon, Debi seeks additional inspirations through future travels. She foresees more trips to India and Nepal where she intends to focus on the socio-economic situations of specific regions. Whether she decides to pursue a travel-related series at this point or continues her trend of American-influenced realism, it's clear she will continue to be one to watch.


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