Tag Archives: creativity

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.

And now for something a little different…

Artists in Art poster small

I invite you to join me at an event that will take place on July 22, 2017. Martha’s Vineyard painter Elizabeth R. Whelan has invited 24 Vineyard artists (of which I am honored to be included) and their galleries to participate in this unique public art event. She is painting a portrait of each artist, and will reveal them all on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard from 1-8pm. It’s a celebration in portrait of 24 of the top Island artists, with an accompanying show of their art.

“The 24 portraits will be unveiled one at a time, 4 an hour for 6 hours! Each artist will also have their own work for sale at the event. It will be a great art show and lots of fun. Join your favorite artists as they view their portrait for the first time, and check out the accompanying top-notch art show by these same artists — over 100 paintings on display and available for purchase!”

For more info and schedule of times, artists and direction check out Artists in Art

Elizabeth has put together such a fun and unusual art event I can’t wait to be a part of it! I will be sharing my new work for sale at the event and looking forward to seeing my very own  Elizabeth Whelan portrait. You can check out my listing page here. I hope you can join the fun for some portion of the day – my portrait is scheduled for reveal at 5 pm and I will most definitely be on hand to see it! Please join us if you can.

By the way, sales of the portraits will benefit two Island non-profits: the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Visual Arts, which provides grant funding to local artists annually, and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School radio station 105.5-FM WYOB, with a curriculum designed to provide professional radio skills to students.

Dreams Under Construction 24" x 24" work on canvas @g2017 Deborah T. Colter

Dreams Under Construction   24″ x 24″ mixed media work on canvas   @2017 Deborah T. Colter

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 Controlled Magic…

“What I dream of is an art of equilibrium, purity and tranquility,
devoid of upsetting or troubling subject matter …”

-Henri Matisse

Controlled Magic 30" X 30" work on canvas ©2012 Deborah T. Colter

I regularly receive a studio newsletter titled “The Painter’s Keys” from fellow artist Robert Genn in Canada. It is always full of interesting thoughts on the business and pursuit of Art. The newsletter seems to magically arrive when I am searching for some particular answer… this time I thought I would share with you, a quote from the newsletter which jumped off the page at me… 

“Abstract understanding doesn’t mean arbitrary sloshing and messing. Abstract art is controlled visual magic based on laws and methodology. Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery rather that obvious description. Like a good poem, a good abstraction attacks your feelings before your understanding. Abstraction within realism adds zest and excitement to otherwise dull subject matter. Abstract understanding takes time and patience.”

-Robert Genn
“Five skills worth learning”
Newsletter dated February 14, 2012

Painting is sold.

Play is the Essence of Creativity

“Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition. It’s crucial to an artist. If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?” 
-Frank Gehry 

"Pieces of Imagination"  30" x 30" work on canvas

"Pieces of Imagination" 30" x 30" work on canvas

I recently read a piece called Kindergarten Cram by Peggy Orenstein in the NY Times magazine which spoke of the current state of play (or lack of it) in today’s Kindergarten classrooms. “Instead of digging in sandboxes, today’s kindergartners prepare for a life of multiple-choice boxes by plowing through standardized tests with cuddly names like Dibels (pronounced “dibbles”), a series of early-literacy measures administered to millions of kids; or toiling over reading curricula like Open Court — which features assessments every six weeks.” I can not help feeling sad reading this. Ms. Orenstein reminded me of dancing the hokey-pokey, Duck Duck Goose, and the wake up-fairy. Those were magical days with crayons, poster paints, imagined dragons & fairies, spaceships of cardboard, unicorns, wild horses, and dress-ups. After school, more play, more imagined flights to the moon staged in the dark of the downstairs bathroom (the only room in the house with no windows). We cooked on the Easy-Bake Oven, finger painted, spatter painted. Lightening Bug Glow Juice thrilled us with its magical powers. We took pretend vacations to anywhere staged in the family station wagon (while parked securly in the carport). We played. We played and played and played. 

The article in the NY Times goes on to say: “According to “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” a report recently released by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, all that testing is wasted: it neither predicts nor improves young children’s educational outcomes. More disturbing, along with other academic demands, like assigning homework to 5-year-olds, it is crowding out the one thing that truly is vital to their future success: play.”  

THERE IS HOPE!! “the one thing that truly is vital to their future success: play” Yes, this line gives me hope!!

Creativity is about play – play the essence of creativity. Perhaps there really is hope that we as a society will learn to value imagination and give play the needed the time and space to grow. I believe if we give our children the tools of creativity they will learn to fly…we need to continue to give them wings for creativity to thrive.

Painting is available from artist. 

“If you’ve ever watched a child with a cardboard carton and a box of crayons create a spaceship with cool control panels, or listened to their improvised rules, such as “Red cars can jump all others,” then you know that this impulse to make a toy do more is at the heart of innovative childhood play. It is also the essence of creativity.”
-Bill Gates

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.

Hello Blogging World!

In my world of color, paints, composition and creativity the blogging community seems very foreign to me. I create with paint, words often elude me however, I will give it a try…

My challenge as a painter is to find an exciting balance between the pandemonium of my thoughts and the multitude of images and events that bombard our daily lives. I trust the inner thoughts of the mind as they reveal themselves purely through the act of creating.

“Abstract literally means to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract… a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts.” -Richard Diebenkorn

a few pieces in the 2007 gallery show at Mary bell Galleries

I work with an abstract collection of marks, textures and color, repeating shapes and forms, seeking to find a balance of chaos and harmony within each piece I create. Often these marks will reflect architectural landscapes, roads, maps, repeated patterns, or colors as if seen from above or as recalled from within, a sort of visual record book of the mind.

It’s a start…


mixed media paintings