Debbie is a Scottish artist who came to NYC to work as a textile
designer in 1991. She fell in love with the city and her husband Elliott,
and they moved to Harlem where they raised their two sons and still
reside. During the pandemic, Debbie finally decided to pursue her
dream of painting fine art full time, and left her successful commercial
art career of more than three decades. Debbie's art is now in private collections throughout the United States and around the world.
My paintings are an expression of my love affair with New York City. I believe it's critical to embrace diversity and for everyone to feel seen and important. In this era of divisiveness and despair, I need to find hope by creating the beauty of diversity, and nowhere in the world have I seen a better representation of this beauty than in watching people from all walks of life coexisting in the New York City subway. It transcends our differences.
I grew up in a working-class family in Scotland affected by intergenerational alcoholism and poverty. When I left for London, as the first in my family to pursue a college degree, I immediately felt out of place in the predominantly upper-class art school environment. This experience only added fuel to my inner belief of being “not enough” and as an adult, I've sought to heal from this narrative. In fact, I'm forever compelled by the underdog, and I strive to fight for equality for everyone. The commingling of races, cultures, and opposites fascinates me, and the courage of "social outcasts" who walk their own walk inspires me.
My earliest influences were Max Beckmann, Egon Schiele, and Gustav Klimt. At the same time, experiencing the art of Mark Rothko at the Tate Gallery in London left an indelible mark. These impressions still influence me decades later as I navigate my artistic path, merging figurative and abstract art. I start each painting by building layers of abstract paint and collage, approaching each layer as a vehicle to explore color or value or simply to play. I've spent my lifetime trying to find peace with all the imperfections within myself and my past, and this way of building an imperfect history, using a multitude of tools as a means of relinquishing control, feels like a cathartic and loving place from which my figures can emerge.
Creating a dynamic composition for initial impact is key to capturing viewers’ attention, first making them stop and look at my paintings, and then enticing them to stay, explore and discover all the quiet conversations that are happening subtly within. I don't want to tell the whole story. While participating in a visual dialogue of adding and subtracting and adjusting the measure of abstract versus figurative, I'm constantly asking myself the question, what needs to be said and what needs to be left unsaid: whether it’s trying to elicit a feeling from the simple tilt of a head; or how much do I need to show in order to depict the merging of old culture with new; or what are the key elements that portray the trust of two people from wildly different backgrounds who've nodded off and are leaning on one another after a hard day's work. My art conveys how our diversity is what makes us beautiful, that we are all connected regardless of our differences. We can have hope and faith in humanity.
1984 - 1985 St Martins School of Art (Foundation Course)
1985 - 1988 Liverpool School of Art (BA Hons Printed Textiles)
2019 - 2022 Creative Visionary Program
(4 consecutive years of a 2 month online Fine Art painting class lead by artist Nicholas Wilton)
1988 - 1997 Worked various jobs as a printed textile designer and art director
1997 - 2019 Art Licensing artist and designer
2019 - Present Fine artist - my art is in private collections throughout the United States and around the world
May - July 2023 Juried Show - Women in the Heights - Women of Substance -
Past, Present, Future
May 2023 The Other Art Fair Brooklyn
August 2023 We’re Outside - Outdoor Group Exhibit in Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, Curated by Fable Jones
July 2023 Art Juice Podcast - Artist Feature Interview with Louise Fletcher
June 2023 Aatonau - Artist Feature
August 2023 The Flying Fruit Bowl - Artist Feature
June 2023 Tap Into Your Creativity with Sandra Felemovicius
Youtube Artist Feature Interview
Nov 2022 No Brush Required Youtube - Artist Feature Interview