A year ago, through a mindset coach, I became acquainted with an amazing Canadian artist, Deborah Farquharson, who splits her time between Mulmur and Toronto in Ontario. Deborah has become a wonderful source of inspiration and joy for me. She’s the first in my blog’s series of Artist/Maker Q&As.
After seeing an exhibition of Deborah’s work I could sense the richness of her process and fell in love with her method and craft.
What fascinates me about the way Deborah works is her curiosity — how she’s looking closely at the details of small treasures, like birds nests and grasses (my favourite) as well as larger iconic subjects, such as the silhouette of a tree, the moon, or the horizon. At the heart of her creative practice is her relationship with Nature and Landscape—a communion that seeks to be better understood. I LOVE THAT.
Deborah’s process is a physical and tactile practice of making art that includes painting, drawing, burning and carving.
What inspires you?
I’m interested in the beauty found in the mundane and familiar landscape that surrounds me. Through close observation and attention to details, I notice expressions in the landscape. These expressions are my inspiration. For example, upon observing the grass in the ditch at the side of the road, I have been captivated by the flow patterns from the spring runoff. The shape and energy and glow of a particular tuft of grass in a field or the small shaft of light indicating a break in the tree line, these are the types of things that inspire me to paint.
Is your process (the way you create) always the same or different every time?
I think and hope my process will continue to grow and evolve. I always hope to learn more visual language to hone my ability to communicate what I want to say. I was trained as a photographer and for many years it was my main tool of expression. I shifted to paint and then carving into my paintings. Recently, I’ve been using fire on panel and more mixed media.
How I start depends upon what I what I’m painting. I let the subject guide me.
Did your family support your dream of becoming an artist/maker?
My family never discouraged me but I grew up in an environment that wasn’t focused on the arts as a possible career choice. The schools I went to and my pier group were more inclined towards business, science and even sports. After my first trip to Europe I realized how much art was absent or sidelined from Canadian culture in general.
I took a long and winding road to get my art practice at the front and centre of my life.
What do you love most about the maker/artist community in Toronto and Creemore?
The diversity and accessibility of art in Toronto is incredible. I’m also part of a small supportive communi
ty of artists at ArteMbassy in the east end. In Creemore, where I have my studio, there is an intimate group of artists who are enthusiastic supporters of one another. Some of my closest friends now are artists.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your work?
I love making art. Even when it’s difficult, I feel a ton of gratitude to be able to spend time growing in this way.
Are there other ways you love to express yourself? Maybe a hidden talent?
Dance. I wish dance was a bigger part of our culture. I’m always the last one off the dance floor.
What’s your favourite medium?
Right now, fire on panel.
How do you deal with a creative block?
I set aside time to PLAY. This is strictly a non results oriented practice. I keep scrap wood and a box of strange tools ( sticks, thread, wax, grass) on hand in my studio. I also keep a running list of process ideas and mark making to experiment with. I will do an exercise like blind contour drawing or painting on top of magazine images or scribbling feelings or painting a piece of music anything that might free the flow.
More of Deborah Farquharson’s Current Work
Inspiration delivered straight to your inbox
I promise to protect your inbox sanity by ONLY sending you newsletters twice a month — zero spam.