Tag Archives: mixed media paintings

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.

Off to be an exhibitionist…

“Art exhibitions come alive in the form of street fairs, formal juried shows, or as organized “open studios”… This bounty of skilled artists, notable art competitions, progressive community art festivals and sophisticated buyers is a genuine inspiration…”
– Karen Honaker

"Intimate Immensity" 40" x 40" work on canvas

"Intimate Immensity" 40" x 40" work on canvas

Tomorrow I will be heading to Bethesda, Maryland to begin my spring show season at the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival. This will be a brief post as there is still much to do. I only participate in a few of these juried art festivals every spring and fall and always find them to be a welcome challenge. Sometimes it feels a bit like a circus act, choosing the work, packing the car with walls, tent, lights, step stool, weights and all the others various needs for the weekend. It somehow always seems to come together – usually with the help of my super supportive husband it everything magically makes it into the car and off we go.

Fully loaded and ready to go

Fully loaded and ready to go

There are many factors that go into making the show a success, sales of course go without saying,  a sophisticated buyer is a genuine inspiration!  I also find the interaction with the public is always a huge benefit for me. As artists we are very much alone in the studio, and when galleries or consultants take your work they don’t always share the feedback they get. This is an opportunity to get out there and really connect with folks one on one, to be an “exhibitionist” if you will. I hope to see you there…

“Every artist ought to be an exhibitionist.”
-Egbert Oudendag

Bethesda Fine Arts Festival
Saturday, May 8, from 10am – 6pm
Sunday, May 9, from 10am – 5pm
Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle, Norfolk & Auburn Avenues

Painting is available and will be on view in booth #53 in Bethesda.

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

There is no short-cut

“There is no short-cut to art, one has to work hard, be open and flexible in your mind, keep the child alive inside you, and through a whole lifetime be ready to learn new things and – of course – be mentally prepared for a hard punch on your nose – especially when you think you are doing well.”
Bente Borsum 

"Small Work Series #1205"  12" x 12" work on panel

"Small Work Series #1205" 12" x 12" work on panel

Things are settling down a bit. The flow of external stuff seems to have lightened up for the moment. My college boys are both working hard at their respective summer jobs and the household routines have re-established themselves.  

This week I really enjoyed reading Diane McGregors post addressing “Creative Space”. She brings up a great point about our internal space when she said; “This is where we make our art, in our minds and in our hearts, this sacred space that can give us all we need to create if we just keep it nurtured and free.” Thank you Diane for continuing the conversation! Internal or external, making the time and space to work is important – nurturing our creativity is essential.

I am back in the studio and starting new paintings. I have set a few goals for myself and I have been enjoying the results. Baby steps right now and that is ok. Working on being flexible, keeping the child alive, and being open to the results. Pushing, painting, trying new things; it is all part of my job to discover new work and then give my heart to it. I am recovering from that punch in the nose Bente Borsum speaks of in her quote above. I was not prepared and I admit it hit harder than I thought. I have been repeating this line from Danielle Shelley’s award winning essay  We do Art to be Human ; Art is a perpetually self-renewing source of energy” Agreed! The power of the creative process is self-renewing, perhaps this punch in the nose was exactly what I needed! I need to continue to work hard, no matter what punches are thrown my way.

“Your work is to discover your work – and then with all your heart
to give yourself to it.”

Out of the work comes the work.” 
-John Cage

Painting is available.

Nurturing and Preservation

“Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. 
Lose it and you may be losing a great deal.”
– Robert Genn

"Ambitions Interface" 40" x 40" work on canvas

"Ambition's Interface" 40" x 40" work on canvas

I have been finding it very difficult to get into the studio these days. I have been inundated with all the stuff coming in. My two college students arriving home [with all of their various paraphernalia], the fresh outdoor air, and the recent dissapointing show trips, are my excuses. Stuff. Procrastination has a firm grip on my art world. Stuff. Inspiration and motivation seem to have taken a walk together and  I am left staring blankly into space. Stuff keeps coming in. Perhaps this is not such a bad thing. I enjoyed reading Tight Times Loosen Creativity  at nytimes.com. I am encouraged to read, Many artists …testifying that the recession had strengthened their commitment to their work or allowed them to concentrate on their art — since the time spent on side jobs had diminished — or had even been a source of creative inspiration.” Ok, I admit, I have not felt this sort of creative inspiration in my world [as of yet…]. I make a living through the sales and placement of my work – it is my only job. Stuff. It is what I do. More stuff. I took a deep breath when I read this piece and thought, hmm, perhaps I am not looking at the recession in the best available light. I have been studio bound for many months of the winter, I have been traveling to shows and marketing, blogging, twittering, and more stuff. I need to remember “…that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one.”   Perhaps I need a break. Perhaps I need to make a little space for myself where I can think, nurture my muse, and not get inundated with other stuff coming in. 

“The hardest thing is to make this little space for yourself where you can think and not get inundated with other stuff coming in.”
-Catherine Yass

Painting is available from:
The Blue Heron Gallery
Wellfleet, MA

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

Painting is Hard Work


 “One of the many blessings of being an artist is that you don’t have to wait for someone to hire you before you can work. That’s wealth beyond measure.”
-Eleanor Blair  

"Deliberate Trust" 40" x 48" work on canvas

"Deliberate Trust" 40" x 48" work on canvas

Painting is hard work, not a relaxing hobby was the headline in a short letter by Michael Smith (Dersingham, Norfolk)I found online this week published in the UK Telegraph. Mr Smith states; “Anyone who finds painting relaxing will never make a successful artist.” Relaxing, no I can not say that I have ever found painting to be Continue reading

Just More Talk…

“Literature expresses itself by abstractions, whereas painting, by means of drawing and colour, gives concrete shape to sensations and perceptions.” – Paul Cezanne

"Comfortable Bliss" 30" x 30"

"Comfortable Bliss" 30" x 30"

A work on canvas. There is a power in the shapes, the way they balance and shift and hold onto each other. The structure of the lines and shapes add to the perception of balance. That rhythm of energy and emotion (bliss?) that is teetering just a bit…


(Copyright © 2008 Deborah T. Colter. All rights reserved. )
This piece is currently available from Jules Place 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