Debra Martin – Bio
Debra Martin is a Canadian artist, currently living and painting in the Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia.
She has worked and studied on both the East and West coasts of Canada, and was born and spent many happy years on the Canadian Prairies. Immersion in these diverse landscapes and cultures has provided her with limitless inspiration.
Martin grew up in a home filled with art. Between meals, the kitchen table would be covered in an old picnic cloth where her mother could be found on a daily basis sketching, painting, and voraciously reading art books borrowed from the local library. Martin inherited this love of art, and spent countless hours as a child in the process of creating art alongside her mother.
Martin also credits her father as a powerful source of inspiration. She describes him as “the living definition of kindness and empathy. He had many situations in his early life that frankly seemed soul-crushing, but which seemed for him to only crystallize an understanding and acceptance of others that often defied comprehension”. This resilience fascinated Martin. She states she was driven at a very early age by a desire to understand the process of what she describes as “meaning making…..I wanted to understand how people made meaning, or made sense, of their life altering experiences. I wanted to understand how they gained strength of character from the events that had the potential to crush their souls”. This question informed her early career choices, and continues to influence her work as an artist today.
After highschool, Martin pursued an education in Registered Nursing with a specialty in Psychiatry. Soon thereafter she completed a bachelors followed by a masters degree in Psychology and Counselling Psychology. She worked in hospital, community and private practice settings. The emphasis of her work with clients primarily focused on the pursuit of meaning making, and she states “I saw my role as simply being a witness to the clients’ process of understanding their own experiences in a way that allowed them to gain resilience, dignity and compassion”.
Through the years of education and work in this field, Martin continued to create art. She took many weekend workshops, and completed courses in drawing and painting in the Fine Arts department at Okanagan College. She began reducing her counseling work schedule to allow for more time to create art. As her art started to gain attention and began to sell, Martin decided to enter the art business full time. She created a studio in her home, and joined a group of emerging artists who painted together weekly and hosted annual group shows. She began to participate in various shows with professional artists, and has gained representation with galleries in B.C. and Saskatchewan. Martin notes her fascination with the process of “making meaning” continues to inform her work as an artist. She states,”the subjects in my paintings are often speaking to me about their resilience, or their strengths. They might seem at the outset to be a broken down bicycle, or a decaying bloom, but for me they tell a story of resilience, and of beauty that comes from surviving life’s blows. And that’s the story I want to tell through my paintings”.
Martin’s paintings exude atmosphere and energy. Her work is characterized by bright, bold colors applied in multiple layers of transparent glazes and dry-brushed opaque strokes. She works in series, and has focused on subject matter including landscapes and florals, as well as still-life paintings focused on the culture of wine, and vintage bicycles.
Recently Martin has been preparing for exhibits which will feature her work in landscapes and florals. Her landscape paintings are characterized by dramatic skies and majestic trees. In these paintings she explores what she describes as “those ethereal moments created by sudden changes in atmosphere. These moments happen for me just after a heavy rain when the clouds begin to drift apart. There is a stream of light that seems to flood a certain point on the landscape, and in that moment anything in that spotlight becomes luminous. I find those moments very moving, and I want to tell that story in my landscapes”.
Martin’s florals are bold and bright, and engage the viewer in both a visual and tactile experience. She creates pieces that have a 3-dimensional effect achieved through a technique that allows her to sculpt paint-medium directly onto the canvas surface. The center of interest in her florals is often the bloom that shows signs of age and wear. She explains “I find these seemingly imperfect blooms to be the most compelling. They express resilience and continued purpose. They are the ones that hold my attention and tell a story of a life fully lived”.
Martin’s work was recently featured in the lifestyle magazine, Absolute Okanagan 2018/2019. See the feature at ABSOLUTEOKANAGAN.CA
Her paintings are found in corporate and private collections across Canada and the United States.