Artist Profile: Deborah Dugan

Deborah Dugan is a professional watercolor artist and art journaler. On her web site she writes, “I loved to draw and color and paint and I didn’t much care what it looked like or if anyone else liked it. After a while other people did start to like what I drew and painted and I felt connected to them through the drawings and paintings. I liked that. I still like that. I keep drawing and painting the things around me so I can see and know them. And I show them to other people so they can see and know them with me.” You can view more of her work here on Flickr.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: After I did Carla Sonheim’s Tombow Rabbits Tutorial, I did a series of sixteen place cards for Easter dinner.

Of course I neglected to take a picture of them and gave them all away to our guests. Typical. Currently I’m working through Carla’s fabulous book Drawing Lab. A while ago I did Unit 1: Inspired by Animals. Great fun. Now I’m on Unit 2: Inspired by People, Lab 11: Cheater Blinds

Q: Why do you make art?
A: I don’t seem to be able to help myself.

Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it supplies?
A: Hmmm. I could probably give up my painting supplies if I really had to. So I’d have to say the Sharpie pen I’m using for this unit and hot-press watercolor paper to draw on.

Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
A: I’m still doing watercolor landscapes even though I don’t like them (I love what other people do. It’s mine that I don’t like). The good news is that I’ve come to recognize this, and I’m exploring just what it is I do want to be doing. I think it will involve lots of drawing.

Q: What is on your workspace right now?
A: Okay, I did NOT tidy. I wanted you to see how I really work.

Q: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
A: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
A: Scuba diving in the Caymans with my husband and son.

Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: The birthday cake I baked for my daughter—white cake with white frosting.

Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: Leaf green. No wait, dusky purple. No, no. Deep teal.

Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/magical thing you wear?
A: My lucky rock from the stream down the street.

Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
A: A coral reef.

Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: Take an overnight trip on a boat.

Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
A: Persistence.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Eating while watching television. I know I shouldn’t do it, but I do it anyway.

Q: What do you listen to when you create?
A: Lately I love listening to podcasts. For a while I listened to the Harry Potter books on CD. Sometimes NPR. Other books on tape/CD too.

Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: Ooooo. Leonardo maybe. It would be a day filled with excitement and stimulation. Or maybe Raphael, which would be beautiful and serene. (I assume I can pick deceased people…)

Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: Sundown. There’s something compelling about the end of the day and the coming of night.

Q: What is your earliest memory?
A: Pushing the screen out of a window at my grandmother’s house and watching it fall down, down, down.

Q: What’s your one favorite material thing?
A: My iPod Touch. I love it!

Q: What’s your favorite tool or material?
A: Pens. I’m addicted.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: I read a wonderful quotation by the poet Wendell Berry on the Creative Voyage blog.

“… You need to realize something else: you can lead a perfectly good and satisfactory life even if you are not a writer (artist). When I figured that out I could be perfectly happy and not be a writer, I became a better writer. The unhappiest people in the world may be the ones who think their happiness depends on artistic success of some kind.” Wendell Berry

Making art became a more enjoyable experience after I read this. Somehow the idea that my happiness isn’t dependent on my success as an artist is quite liberating. Once I removed the pressure of attaching my happiness to any success I might have as an artist, I started to enjoy making art more. And if you enjoy making art, chances are you’ll make more art. And if you make more art, chances are your art will grow and evolve into things you may never have imagined. And in the meantime, you can be happy too!

To visit Deborah’s blog, click here.


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