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 â€“ I guess she was my mentor.Â 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 twentiesÂ 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) .Â 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.Â 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 â€“ Ive found many friends through them and theÂ LAA Â continue to give me the opportunity to exhibit for which I am grateful.”
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 arenâ€™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.Â 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.Â I have just set up an art group Â at Crofthead Community Centre in Dedridge, Livingston, Â 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 â€“ art is something that is organic and hopefully art in its traditional form â€“ using paints and canvases, pencils and paper â€“ will keep alive.
On a more selfish level she concedes that she would like to have her own studio and gallery one day!
“I love working with acrylic as it is such a versatile medium but am happy working in pencil and pen and ink too.Â I like working from the tube â€“ 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. Â 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.