A Livingston Artist who wants to Inspire Others

Livingston artist Debbie Dow is making a name for herself. But she doesn’t see herself as a commercial artist. She prefers to think of herself as a community artist.

“I was born in Buckie and lived around the Moray Firth for most of my childhood,” she says. I went to Elgin High School and my art teacher Mrs Nichol was an inspiration to me as she just encouraged me and gave me confidence to express myself in the way that I wanted to, obviously within the limits of what was required to undertake my high school education but she was a wonderful teacher – I guess she was my mentor.  She instilled within me that everyone sees things differently and that art is all around us so the world is a very creative place, whether it be a sweetie wrapper or Linlithgow Palace!

“My Aunt too inspired me as she is a strong woman who has fought rheumatoid arthritis since her early twenties  but despite this she has continued to do very well in a high powered job in the South of England.

“I sat and passed my Higher Art and Design and my Guidance Teacher came to the door and said that I had the potential to be an Art Teacher. He was keen that I go to Aberdeen College of Art, but, much to my mother’s disappointment, I chose to pursue a secretarial degree, as I thought it important to get into a job (this was the end of the 80s and the job market was fierce) .  I worked as a medical secretary/PA for many years in Edinburgh before starting my family.”

Three children and a sojourn in Australia later, Debbie found herself with more time to concentrate on art. She has been careful to bring up her children with art around them and encourages them to express themselves freely on paper.  She is rather proud that they have won competitions and the oldest has chosen art as a subject at High School.

Fitting in such a passionate hobby with being a full time mother of three hasn’t been easy but now that they are a bit older, she has had more time. It isn’t just time, though.

“In the last two years I have been able to produce a great deal of art as my confidence has grown and I have been given encouragement and support from my close friends and my children. Livingston Art Association has helped me grow as an artist and a person – Ive found many friends through them and the  LAA  continue to give me the opportunity to exhibit for which I am grateful.”

Gateway by Deborah Dow
Gateway by Deborah Dow

Other exhibitions have come through being involved with the InARt Collective and the Aspect Prize Exhibition in Paisley recently but Debbie’s unselfish attitude has seen her enjoying community projects, designing a leaflet for a local park, for example, and helping with Lantern Making workshops.

Her current ‘Inspiration’ Exhibition at Centrex Conference Centre will be her second solo Exhibition and has resulted in Centrex Management inviting her to work with them on a permanent ongoing basis.

As for the future, Debbie’s community focus is very strong. She says, “I’d like to encourage people of all ages who aren’t confident in their artistic or creative ability to give art a go and get into it as it really is fun and it really is for everyone.  There is so much untapped talent in West Lothian for those in the arts so it would be good to make a difference in that respect.  I have just set up an art group  at Crofthead Community Centre in Dedridge, Livingston,  that I’m hoping will be successful in bringing people of all ages together to do some art activities.

“I’d really like to work with teenagers, who have perhaps preconceived ideas about art, to open their minds to it so that they realise that it’s not boring at all and that they should get into it and see where that takes them.

“I would also like to work with younger children to do the very same thing – art is something that is organic and hopefully art in its traditional form – using paints and canvases, pencils and paper – will keep alive.

On a more selfish level she concedes that she would like to have her own studio and gallery one day!

North Berwick at Sunset
North Berwick at Sunset

“I love working with acrylic as it is such a versatile medium but am happy working in pencil and pen and ink too.  I like working from the tube – I also like using sand, as it gives layers to the work and I prefer canvas to acrylic paper.

“My influences are Celtic and Viking as well as Baroque, Salvador Dali, Cubist and Palaozzi.  I enjoy flowing movement, flowing form and shapes that may be perceived as organic.”

A visit to Centrex will give you a taste of Debbie’s work. The Exhibition will run from Monday, 21st September 2009 and consists of acrylic and mixed media work on canvas, all of which is for sale.

Other examples can be found on her website, where you can see a range of work and materials that demonstrate her versatility.

Published by

Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

12 thoughts on “A Livingston Artist who wants to Inspire Others”

  1. wow! I am nothing short of shocked at the ‘meanness’ of some clearly very bitter people. Its points of view likes some of those above that makes art so ridiculously pretentious and puts people off exploring their inner creativity- why would you when other simply want to throw stones at you.
    Regardless of my opinion of Debbie’s work, her ethos in encouraging others to explore art themselves is right and she absolutely has the right to do what she clearly loves in making her own art.

    Shame on you playground bullies!

  2. Wow! Some pretty harsh comment here. Debbie you are very brave to be on the end of it, and subdued in your responses. But because of your confidence in yourself I think you will go places.

    I’ve not seen your North Berwick painting before, I like it.

  3. I don’t want to comment on Debbie’s work except to say that I think it’s okay to call it art. Art is a term which can cover a wide range of visual possiblilties, so to argue over what is and is not art is, in a way, futile.

    However, having said that, what I detect in the critical comments made here is frustration from the commentators over something other than the quality of the artwork. I suspect it might be partly a reaction to feeling patronised and spoon fed ideas about art through the local media and the cultural estabishment (some self-proclaimed) in WL as a whole. It is clear to see from the comments that people in the area are passionate about visual art. However, from my experience of running a contemporary art group over the last five years, I’m aware that this passion and appetite for a broader choice of visual options is not being satisfied.

    Anyone interested in this issue can read a couple of my most recent articles on the subject at – http://www.artwork.co.uk – by typing my name in the archive search box. Thank you.

  4. Hi Sue.

    I just suggested that there was probably somewhere where the discussion re what is art is discussed. Im sorry if my comment appeared rude.

    with best wishes.


  5. By choosing to display your work in public and posting a self-promotional article on this site, you are inviting comment. Telling people to ‘take the discussion elsewhere’ simply because they don’t share your viewpoint is rude at best and fascist at worst.

  6. Thanks Brian for your comments. Yep Art is from the heart and if you saw me working on my paintings you would see that. I think that everyone has their own opinions about art which is something that has been argued about for decades.. perhaps there is a forum out there somewhere to explore this rather than here. Debbie.

  7. Firstly I would like to take issue with this work in terms of it actually being called Art. LeeAnn is correct in that the “Art” on display shows a distinct lack of thought, depth and structure. Art should be from the heart and as far as i can see Debbie is heartless and lacks direction. Maybe a spell in a real live working environment would give Debbie a better understanding of the concept of hard work. All in all report reads must do better!

  8. Can I also add that some of my paintings, like the majority of abstract/contemporary work are enjoyed by many people and art is a matter of taste. 😉

    I hope that you manage to see some of my paintings in real life rather than digitally and perhaps the emotion and depth may be experienced then.


  9. LeeAnn
    Thank you for your comments.. The painting I was working on at the top of this page was a demonstrational painting – I was tutoring at the time. I suggest you look at some of my work on my website and perhaps some of the recent work at Centrex before casting an opinion on my ability.
    thanks. Debbie.

  10. I have been interested in art since I was a child (I’m now 38) and I achieved my Advanced Higher Art and like Debbie also got a different degree – in English – I have continued with my Art through the years. However I am shocked at what is considered “Art” these days.

    In the picture at the top of this page, Debbie has obviously just taken her paint brush and went round in circles (something which my 3 year old daughter does at nursery) I wonder…is she a child prodigy to be doing such wonderful work at the tender age she is?

    Debbie may be able to paint the occaisional pretty picture but that is not all that Art is about. It’s about filling an empty space with emotion and depth – something that Debbie’s work seems to lack. I know of many people that are more worthy of a page like this – they unfortunately don’t know the right people or have the belief in themselves as of yet.

    Debbie should look at the Art work of her eldest child and compare it to her own – I imagine the childs piece will probably be the better of the two.

  11. If anyone is to visit the exhibition, please feel free to write a wee note in the guest book. Your feedback would be most appreciated. Thanks. Debbie.

  12. Look forward to seeing the exhibition on Monday…..from these pictures it will be interesting and exciting.

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