Tag Archives: creating artwork

When the student is ready…


Hanging in the Balance  30″ x 30″ work on canvas/panel   ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

May I please share something with you? The last few years for me have been an ongoing challenge due to family obligations and caregiving. To be honest, I put my focus on family and not on my artwork. No regrets at all – I did what I felt I needed to do and I am grateful that I could do it. Long story short, when I was able to finally return to my art practice I was totally lost. Big time LOST! I couldn’t get back to where I was and couldn’t figure out where to go next. I was sitting by myself in my living room a year ago in February when I stumbled on the Art2life program. It has been a powerful journey to work with Nicholas Wilton and his team. The team mentorship and guidance was valuable beyond words. I am pleased to be able to share a referral link here as Art2Life is starting into it’s 3rd year program February 2018 . There is a free workshop you can sign up for and see if this is something that might work for you?? The free workshop begins February 6th and If you choose to carry on with the CVP program (not free) will begin later in February. I can attest, if you are willing to make a commitment, this program will rock your art making world. I am thrilled to feel like I am back on course with my own creative journey and making work I am proud of and happy to share. Art2Life Rocks!!

In Gratitude,


Check out Art2Life here

“Hanging in the Balance” is currently available.

Soul searching, why do I paint?

“Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, “Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You don’t. But you listen to them anyway.” So, sometimes with art,
it is important just to look.”
– Marina Abramovic

Rising Sentiment  24" x 24" work on canvas/panel ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Rising Sentiment 24″ x 24″ mixed media work on canvas/panel ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Why do I paint? Why do I make paintings? Why do I include the collage materials in my work? I am at a curious place in my world where I find myself asking these questions and not being totally clear on the answer. I have always done it; it has always been a part of me, habit, pattern, but why? That is a much larger question to answer and do I even know? Let’s do a little soul searching…

I often feel that my paintings take on a life of their own however, the paintings would not exist if I didn’t exist to create them. Making art that comes from the soul is such a deeply personal thing that no two people can make the same thing. I am continually fascinated with building layers of collage into my work. I think of them as layers of experience. The experiences I have had, the life I have led, the happiness in my life, the food I have eaten, the tears I have cried all contribute to what is me. These layers of my experience inform what I paint. For example I love water, flowers, vegetable gardening, fish, cooking, reading, family, stars, circles, a drawn line, color, and the feel of paint, on and on. All these things are imbedded in my DNA; they are what make up “me”. The feelings and emotions I have when experiencing daily life informs the mark making and design of the work. It can be as simple as a single line I remember from the curve of a tree, a color from watching a sunset, a circle seen from looking out of an airplane, tears cried when my mom passed, picking a fresh strawberry. All of things are accumulated subconscious memories that continually inform the paintings I make. I guess my answer to why I paint is that I paint to visually communicate my experiences. I paint to remind myself of the things I love, I paint to escape the doldrums of daily life chores, I paint to awaken my senses to the simple joy of brilliant blue or yellow or green. I paint to see how a piece of charcoal makes its mark on a field of color. I paint to experience life and I paint to express my life experiences, to share the joy and the pain through a singular visual language. I paint to share my world.

I am in gratitude to you for sharing my world with me and for taking the time to just look. Why do you do what you do – have you asked yourself lately?

Rising Sentiment is available from artist.

A Way of Communicating

“Painting is a way of communicating vision and experience so that it reaches beyond a single moment in time. What fills our hearts and spills over must be shared.”
– Stormy Bailey

Blue Harbor  40" x 40" work on canvas  ©2014 Deborah T. Colter

Blue Harbor 40″ x 40″ work on canvas ©2014 Deborah T. Colter

What fills our hearts and spills over must be shared.”

Please allow me to share a new painting recently finished from the studio. Blue Harbor consists of multiple layers of acrylic paint, paper and collage elements. It is built on a canvas substrate which is stretched around a birch wood frame.

To my eye, a painting needs to have rhythm, balance, harmony, life, a spark of magic. Making paintings requires a great deal of fearless trust in the process of creating.

To create something, really out of nothing, and see it transform into a piece that is alive with energy, exciting and intriguing is my main objective. Color, pattern, textures and other various elements need to meld into a compelling language all their own. I invite you to fall in love with the unknown.

“My paintings evolve organically from life’s everyday glances. Rather than trying to force my will on them, I give them total control. Each layer determines and guides the next.”
-Dion Archibald

Blue Harbor is available from the Artist.

Selected Quotes from Robert Genn’s Art Quotes: The Painter’s Keys Resource of Art Quotations

Copyright © 2014 Deborah T. Colter. All rights reserved.

A Small Show

I am grateful to be included in an exhibit at the Featherstone Center for the Arts on Martha’s Vineyard. Featherstone Center for the Arts is nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts and developing community through the arts. In celebration of Featherstone’s 18th  year they have invited artists to submit work that is no larger than 18” X 18”. The show is currently up and includes the work of 53 different artists.  I am pleased to be able to support this wonderful organization and show 3 small original works on canvas. That’s my work in the middle of this photo. Small works are such a great way to start or add to your collection and you help out a nonprofit at the same time!

I hope you will be able to take in this show and perhaps find a treasure for your collection!

18" x 18" Show At Featherstone Center fo rhte Arts  Martha's Vineyard MA

18″ x 18″ Show At Featherstone Center for the Arts – Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Photo shared from the Featherstone Facebook page.

The 18×18 show runs daily, 12 noon to 4 pm, through March 19. The entire Featherstone 2014 schedule of shows, classes, and events is currently posted on its website, featherstoneart.org

In Search of a Reality

“In the process of making a painting in an abstract way, the painter is in search of a reality. Not one of realistic objects, but of the complete end result. The painting is experienced as a whole, and must evoke in the painter the absolute conviction that this is how it should be and no other way.”
Paul Burlin

"Making Things Happen"  36" x 40" work on canvas

"Making Things Happen" 36" x 40" work on canvas

“What do you think about while you paint? Or are you transfixed by the process? Do you daydream? If so, does it affect the painting? When you say collage, do you mean you apply objects like paper to the canvas before you paint? I’d also be interested in what inspires you to choose colors each time. I love these colors. The blue is special in this one. Is it cobalt? I think cobalt has special power to affect the emotions.” Diana Maus recently posted these questions in a comment from an early blog post (6/13/08) of mine. Well Diane, here goes… 

What do you think about while you paint? When I paint I think about everything and nothing at the same time. I try desperately to empty my mind of the day to day mundane stuff that piles up (my everything thoughts). To free myself as much as possible from the constant brain chatter (another blog subject) and allow myself to be transfixed on the process. Not easy – as I am sure you know. I don’t believe we can ever truly shut out what is happening in our lives, but when I am painting, the process does consume my being and yes, it is an astonishing experience. 

Do you daydream? If so, does it affect the painting? Daydream – as a verb daydream is “to indulge in a series of thoughts” Yes, I daydream. I believe that I do indulge in allowing my thoughts to wander freely as I work (my nothing thoughts).  I allow myself to transcend to a level of consciousness that frees me to paint without inhibition. I think this level of daydreaming does affect my work in a positive way. There are days when it is easier to reach this consciousness level than others of course!  

When you say collage, do you mean you apply objects like paper to the canvas before you paint? I incorporate paper – cut & torn, canvas, screen, etc. all through the process. Collaging, or applying them into the surfaces as I work. Before during and occasionally at the end. Some are buried and some stay visible – it really depends on the piece and it’s needs. 

I’d also be interested in what inspires you to choose colors each time?  All color is an inspiration to me. What inspires me to choose a color is often a process of challenging myself within the work. I choose colors at random and deliberately. Putting a color next to another color will change the whole balance of a piece. I love that surprise and it offers me the challenge of resolving the work through process of painting with even more color!  I love these colors. (Diane was asking about “On the Edge” shown below)  I too am in love with color and the power that it has to stop me in my tracks. The blue is special in this one. Is it cobalt? I think cobalt has special power to affect the emotions. I believe there is cobalt blue in this painting along with many other colors and shades of blue. I think all colors have that power to affect the emotions.

"On the Edge" 60" x 48" work on canvas

"On the Edge" 60" x 48"

I bet a lot of people would be interested in what goes through your mind in the studio. As I’ve said before, your work has an emotional impact. I’m curious if that comes from you indirectly or if you are purely working in the abstract?  Not really sure where to go on this question Diane. I am flattered that you feel people would be interested in knowing what goes on in my head. Personally, I am not sure I want to know! I am afraid there are somethings that just can not be put into words. I paint; it is what I do. I would like to believe that my work is an extension of my soul. That the paintings  I create, directly or indirectly,  are the experiences of my soul and they will speak of my absolute conviction that this is how they should be and no other way. 

Thanks for asking Diane!

What you do when you paint, you take a brush full of paint, get paint on the picture, and you have faith.” – Willem de Kooning 

Paintings are available.

“I can’t always reach the image in my mind… almost never, in fact… so that the abstract image I create is not quite there, but it gets to the point where I can leave it.”  
-Chuck Close


Making Optimism a Way of Life

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
Lucille Ball 

"Rising Optimism" 24" x 24" Work on Canvas

"Rising Optimism" 24" x 24" Work on Canvas

Keeping busy. Yes! Making optimism a way of life. Trying! Really trying!! It has been a long road, the news each day seems more and more grim. Discouraging. I am making preparations for a trip to Chattanooga to exhibit at  an outdoor art festival [ 4 Bridges Art Festival] next week. I am reminding myself on a daily basis that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged! The sun is still shining, there are people who believe in the value of original artwork.

Havi Brooks wrote a wonderful post, [It’s not the economy.] Havi tells the story of a neighborhood store going out of business because of the current state of the economy. She says, Continue reading

Art Requires Courage

“Creativity is a mindset, an attitude. Regardless of how we feel – low or high or in between – creativity is always there.”
-Nikki Coulombe

"Simple Curiosity" work on canvas 40" x 40"

"Simple Curiosity" work on canvas 40" x 40"

This week I was reading a blog post by Sheree Rensel titled;  “Life by the Batch” it speaks of an analogy between life and chocolate chip cookies that she eloquently interpreted from an accidental viewing of a Joel Olsteen TV sermon. It went something like this “… if your life isn’t going well at any given moment, we shouldn’t get upset or see it with eyes of doom. Life is broken up into segments. Each part plays a role in the creation of the whole. We need to see the portions of our life in totality. Each event acts as an ingredient to the final product…” It goes on into how each part of our lives, the ups and the downs, combine to make the whole . It is so difficult to see the importance of those down times when we are mired in them. These days there seems to be Continue reading

Deepen the Mystery…

“A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people.” 
-Edgar Degas 

I work with layers of paint – lots and lots of layers of paint, applying paper, canvas scraps, more paint, more paper, scraping, sanding, more paper, then more paint. This is how I work, building up layers of life on the surface quite often covering up the areas I am first drawn to in order to find a balance of the whole – nothing can become too important and then, everything becomes important. As the work progresses there is a history that starts to Continue reading

all that information…

“There is no joy in a life that is all information. There is no ‘juice’ to that kind of life. No sweetness, no color. Like trading a beautiful golden-ripe orange
for a stalk of whithered broccoli.”
— Tish Grier

“A life that is all information…” – all information – information – information – I am plunking my self down into this wild and fast moving information age with the sudden realization that time is suddenly moving by much faster. I am absorbing as much as I can. Loving the new connections – the networking – the new friends found in cyber world. The links – the shows – the artists – the articles – the videos – I can’t breathe! How can I find the time for all of this important information? That’s it – today no computer – I will paint with lots of color – I will drink in the “juice”- I will breathe in the sweetness of textures, layers, paints, brushes, music, air and… Ok, maybe I will check my email a little later. I’m hooked – I hope I don’t start to look like “whithered broccoli…”

"Time Out to Breathe" 30" x 40"

"Time Out to Breathe" 30" x 40"

New work on Canvas. Work is available.

Unconsciously Creating

BRIAN ELSTON said… “Art is when you quit thinking about what you are creating and your ‘self’ leaves the room leaving your mind to unconsciously to create.”

I added my work to the MyArtSpace.com site about a month ago. While enjoying the artist quotes on the blog  I came across the above comment quote by Brian Elston. It struck me that this is very much how I would describe my working methods. I am often asked do I have a plan? An idea that I start with? My answer often is in a nutshell,  Starting a piece I add as much as I can to the surface, layers of collage,  color, build, add, subtract, scratch, draw, erase, and then step back, and reduce. Reduce, remove and balance all that chaotic information into an acceptable order.  It is an intuitive method that is sometimes difficult for me to put into words –  Brian decribes it perfectly – the ‘self’ leaves the room allowing the mind to create. Thank you Brian!

"Mapping Out Bliss" 40" x 48"

"Mapping Out Bliss" 40" x 48"

MyArtspace.com is featuring my work this month.

This work is currently on consignment in Boston.