Deborah Ellington spent her summers at a Northern Michigan family home on an island where the only mode of transportation was via boats. Being able to explore the island by water and land without seeing a lot of human activity impacted her love for the water, boating and nature. Deborah still travels to the family island home every summer where she can reconnect with nature and her family.
Growing up on water and with different types of boats has impacted Deborah’s perspective on boats and nature. Boats have always been a symbol of solitude and discovery. They are vessels that hold everything and can take one on physical and metaphorical adventures. In Northern Michigan the weather can change in an instant. A nice sunny day can turn into a day with high winds and waves within an hour. Many of Deborah’s works reflect the movement found in water and in nature through undulating lines. Whether working on paper,canvas or glass she states that she is not painting, rather she is drawing with the paint.
Deborah went to Albion College for a degree in art education. After completing her undergraduate degree, she began teaching K -12 in Michigan and ended her working career as an instructional dean at Lone Star College in Texas. In between she was an art professor and department chair at Lone Star College. Deborah has never stopped teaching and even in retirement, she teaches workshops in design, drawing, painting and color. She feels that turning on the love of learning is as creative as being an artist because everyone is different and there is never one cookie cutter approach.
At the University of Michigan, she found a mentor in Professor Guy Palazzola who she studied under for her masters in painting. He taught her to look, dissect and understand the objects being represented, as well as all of the materials and processes used. It was not enough to use paint from a tube, but to learn to mix it and know what it contained. The assignment that was the biggest breakthrough was the one that required that she create a painting using one tube of white paint to create a minimum of eight distinct shades of white without adding any other colors.
Having an interest in representing the same ideas in two dimensional and three-dimensional form lead Deborah to a Master of Fine Arts degree at Sam Houston State University where she studied ceramics under Professor Evelyn Anderson. Professor Darryl Patrick with whom she took several art history courses taught her the love of research and travel. Both professors showed Deborah how to look at other times, artists and cultures to better communicate her thoughts.
Glass became a natural medium for Deborah to explore, as it requires knowledge of firing processes and chemicals and their reactions. She wanted to translate her painting and drawing to glass. Looking online, she found a wonderful artist, Stan Price, outside of Seattle, Washington. She took a class on drawing and painting with Reusche which is similar to what was used in the Middle Ages to define the features of the saints. Deborah went back to study with Stan several times, taking individual lessons.
Deborah continues painting and creating in glass. A recent focus in glass has been an influence of the Bauhaus, a school and movement at the beginning of the 20th century that emphasized the combination of fine arts with arts and crafts. Her new series features sculptural pieces that are also functional.
Her paintings and works on paper continue to reflect nature and natural phenomena. They investigate patterns, movement and symbolism.