Tag Archives: inspiration

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.

Inspiration, what is it that lights you up?

“Life inspires me to paint. Painting inspires me to paint.”      – Dion Archibald 

Inspiration Board

Inspiration Board


What inspires you as an artist? I think this is one of the most asked questions an artist gets other than “how long did it take you to make that?” Inspiration, what lights you up? What are the things you love? How often do we really stop and collect all those things together and analyze them? I was asked to do this exercise as a part of a workshop and it was an eye opening experience. I cut out photos of the things that inspire me – pasted them on a board and hung it in my studio. Wait a minute; does my art come out of all these different things? I had to really question what I was painting and why? I have always felt that my work comes from a deeper place within – it is connected to everything that is me – I just couldn’t see the connections clearly in the work I had been making. My work suddenly felt shallow and super controlled, too deliberate with these new eyes.

Now what?

The suggestion was to write, stream of consciousness sort of thing, think about how you feel about these things, allow the deeper feelings to surface – let go, take risks. All things that used to be so easy to do but somehow I managed to bury. I am not sure I am any closer to painting the things that really light me up however; I am on a path to include the feelings, the emotions, the layers, and the depth in my paintings. To put a muzzle on my inner control freak and allow the experience of painting guide the work where ever it chooses to go. One thing I learned is that what inspires me is allowing all the various elements of my experience to surface through the multiple layers of my painted language. I learned that painting inspires me to paint. I am super excited about the new work I am making and can’t wait to share more.

What inspires you in your work?

Mechanical Energy    24" x 36"    mixed media work on canvas   ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Mechanical Energy   24″ x 36″   mixed media work on canvas   ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Mechanical Energy is available.

The Pause Button

Matter Remixed 24" x 36" work on canvas/panel ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Matter Remixed   24″ x 36″   work on canvas/panel     ©2017 Deborah T. Colter

Sometimes life events put you on pause. Unexpected, expected it doesn’t really matter – time seems to stop and then one day you look up. Where was I, what was I thinking, what was I doing, where do I go from here?? These are all questions I was facing this past winter when I was able to return steadily to my studio and my work. How do I get back in touch with my inner soul – my work – my passion? The answer for me was to step a bit outside of my comfort zone and to commit to an online creative visionary program (CVP) with Art2Life that has rocked my world. To give myself up to total immersion in an intensive 12 week program that I knew very little about was a real leap of faith. I will speak a little more about CVP in the next time as I am still processing this amazing experience. Some may believe that artists who seek out workshops are just starting out, my feeling remains that there is always something more to learn. I hope I never stop wanting to learn. Stepping out on a limb was the best gift I could have given to myself at this time.

The good news is, here I am posting to my long sleeping blog and while I can’t commit to future posts. I can say that I am glad to be painting, I am working steadily again and I am totally excited about my new work. I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you all about my creative journey.

“As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak.”
-Julia Cameron 

Painting the Roses Red 12″ x 12″ work on panel


Where do you get your inspiration?

“People who are not artists often feel that artists are inspired. But if you work
at your art you don’t have time to be inspired.”
-John Cage

Earlier in the week I read an interesting blog post by Alison Jardine titled “Inspiration is Irrelevant”. Alison speaks of her experience answering a simple question from a local college student on assignment. The question asked was, “Where do you get your inspiration?” her response was, “I answered immediately with the first words that materialized, and as I said them I knew they were, for me, completely true: ‘Inspiration is irrelevant’” she goes on to explain quite clearly, “Each painting I create is a distillation of my experiences of perceiving and existing, they are my answer and reaction to simply being.”

I too am often asked this question and I usually find myself stumbling over the answer. Where does my inspiration come from?? I agree with Alison’s response that each painting is a distillation of experiences, but is inspiration irrelevant to me?

"Wandering Among Ideas" 48" x 40" work on canvas

"Wandering On" 48" x 40" work on canvas

In the past weeks I feel as though I have been wandering among ideas. I have been looking a lot, trying new tools, new colors, new directions. Looking for a spark of “inspiration” to push my work just a little bit further. Digging deep, simplifying, complicating, pushing, struggling.  I wrote previously that sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places – I still believe this.  Inspiration, motivation, determination, are all a part of the daily process of creating and without the continuous internal dialogue of experiences there can be little room for any creativity. Inspiration may be irrelevant, but without the understanding that it is the continuous collection of experiences stored in our souls that feeds us as artists, it may be a bit difficult to understand the magic. I believe inspiration comes in many forms, it is everywhere, it can often go unnoticed and yes, perhaps it is often irrelevant, but it is also the intangible thing that people who are not artists always seek to understand. It is often that thing that there are no words for. I expect I will continue to stumble over my answer, perhaps inspiration is irrelevant and invaluable at the same time.

Thank you Alison for stating your thoughts so clearly.

“My ‘inspirational’ or creative process feels like a dialogue between the collection of experiences that comprise myself as well as my immutable core, and the lines, form, colors and light in the natural world.”
-Alison Jardine

Painting is available.

An Artist is an Explorer

“An artist is an explorer. He has to begin by self-discovery and by observation of his
own procedure. After that he must not feel under any constraint.”
-Henri Matisse

"Dreaming of Summer" 50" x 50" work on canvas

"Dreaming of Summer" 50" x 50" work on canvas

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. I am back in my studio exploring a number of new directions. I am always interested in looking at other painters work but sometimes I think it is wise to stop looking at what others are doing and pull the focus back in – look, observe, study, and then forget it all and paint. It is not just other painters that inspire me; I can find inspiration just about anywhere. Finding a new source to explore is always a joy. I am having fun studying and incorporating my finds into my work right now – reminding myself, I “must not feel under any constraint”. Just paint, explore, experiment. It becomes too easy to fall into a pattern of working without pushing the limits. I am always looking for that balance of chaos and order – studying and working. Perhaps there will be only subtle changes or perhaps there will be something quite different in my work. It is way too early to tell where my new inspiration is taking me but this is why I paint.

I am looking forward to a feature show of my work at Gallery KH in Chicago opening in July 2010.

“Painting is like childbirth. It’s a precious gift that is labor intensive and
drains one’s energy. A natural high comes with creation.”
– Debbie DeBaun

The Rooms of Our Lives

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
Ellen Goodman

"Without a Doubt" 36" x 48" work on canvas

"Without a Doubt" 36" x 48" work on canvas

As we come to the end of another year it seems only natural to reflect, to walk through the rooms of our lives looking things over. I always like to look back, to acknowledge events of the waning year and make mental notes of it all. In our house there has never been a desire for the crazy partying that seems to accompany this night. Instead, a nice dinner, a bottle of wine or champagne, my husband’s favorite home made clam dip and a fire. I have to admit, I have not seen the midnight hour on New Year’s Eve in quite sometime and that is really fine with me. 2009 has had its ups and downs- this decade has sure had its ups and downs! Making resolutions never worked well for me, it always felt very superficial and forced. I much prefer “not looking for flaws, but for potential”. I don’t expect to wake up in 2010 a different person than I am in 2009 – I can only continue to do the best I can “to rise above the little things”, and trust the journey

As I count my own blessings I want to thank you all for being a part of my world. May the new year bring us all Peace, Prosperity and Paintings!

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:
To rise above the little things.”
– John Burroughs

I paint how it feels

“The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than
the subtlety of the senses and understanding.”
-Sir Francis Bacon

I am finding it a bit hard to focus with the time change and the shifting daylight patterns. There is such a chill in the air. All of nature is subtley shifting, whispering change, as the sky is filled with varying spectrums of color. I spoke last time about the beauty of the fall colors – how inspiring it is to see those colors in full force. In the little time that has passed, many of those same colors have faded, changed to brown, or vanished completely through the force of wind, rain and cold. Constant change is a daily occurrence. The “subtlety of nature” as Sir Francis Bacon mentions, “is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding”. I am drinking in the subtlety of nature in my own quiet ways – watching, breathing, looking, absorbing – and working on incorporating that understanding into my pieces as I paint an expression of how it feels, not how it looks.

"Change of Seasons"  30" x 40" work on canvas

"Change of Seasons" 30" x 40" work on canvas

“I don’t paint how it looks, I paint how it feels.”-Robert Wade

Painting is available.

My Own Backyard…

“I am interested in making the simple profound, so my own backyard can be inspirational. I just walk out my door and it’s all there.
By painting simply, magic happens.”
-Peter Fiore

fall42It is absolutely stunning outside. The colors of fall are blazing and the sun is shining brightly. A perfect Sunday afternoon and I am drinking in the beauty of it all. Around here we don’t often get treated to the glorious fall colors that others enjoy. Somehow it seems we go right into winter browns, skipping right over the fall oranges and reds. Not this year though, Mother Nature is just singing out there! Ms. Nature is at her very best today. It is as if she is calling to me to get back to work. Speaking to me in a way that says, “Look what I’ve done with all this color, now, how about you? What are you going to do?” It has been a busy month: I have been travelling to festivals; I have been battling the rains and the weather challenges of outdoor shows; I have been shipping work, delivering work and picking up work. Moving, shifting and adjusting to the changing days. Autumn. Transition time. It has been tiring, but rewarding at the same time. With a deep breath, I now look forward to returning to my studio routine. I look forward to the magic that happens. The magic that by painting, simply happens…


“Art combines the best of what is in the mind and in the soul. The mind must be trained and ready for when the soul speaks.”
-Susan F. Greaves

The Habit of Painting

“Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.”
-Irwin Greenberg 

"Enduring Dance" 40" x 40" work on canvas

"Enduring Dance" 40" x 40" work on canvas

The change in the weather and the change in the household inhabitants has encouraged me to re-establish my studio habits and focus on the upcoming fall events. Starting with a good scrub down of the space and an inventory of what is needed, I have happily fallen back into my workday habit. I am not sure that habit is really the best word to describe what I do, it is more a passion, drive, need, desire, necessity or all of the above. I have a long established pattern of the workday week. I choose to keep the weekends free for family time. I get a lot done and I allow myself time to regroup and renew on the weekends without the inner voices telling me “I should be painting”. It works for me. I do have to admit, that I did sneak out and go to the beach for a few hours this past week – it is just too beautiful not to catch those last few waning days of summer. I see that beach time as a gift and nourishment for the soul. Hey, isn’t that the beauty of working independently?

I have a lot of exhibitions on the horizon. I just was asked to be a part of an invitational abstract show on Martha’s Vineyard called “Vineyard Artists’ Abstractions: Creating New Perspectives”  will take place at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven, MA, October 3 – 18, 2009. I am also slated to be in a show titled “Heavy Metal, Metalwork and Abstractions”  at the Water Street Gallery in Douglas, Michigan. This show opens October 10, and runs through November 11, 2009. There are also 3 festivals that I will be participating in this October; the 48th Annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show, in Armonk, NY, October 3 & 4. The 28th Annual Outdoor Arts Festival of the Bruce Museum, in Greenwich, CT, October 10 & 11 and The Gracie Square Art Show at Carl Schurz Park in New York City, October 17 & 18. Things are busy here and that is always a bit of a motivating factor. More important for me is getting into the habit of painting again. Summer is wonderful, and I do get things done, but real focus time seems to come in the fall. I look forward to the adventure…

“Painting is an adventure to an unknown world. New ideas and concepts develop along the way.”  –Ratindra Das

Painting is available .

More information on shows listed checkout my exhibition schedule.