We had the opportunity to meet Alaskan artist Debby Bloom last month at the ValleyCrest Art Show, where a few of her art pieces were on display. They were so good, we just had to feature her on the site and luckily for us, she consented to an interview. Read our Q&A with Bloom below and then keep scrolling to see some of her paintings, read about her background and discover more information on where to find and purchase her work.
TreeHouse: You use a lot of color in your paintings. On your website, you mention that you like to place colors in natural settings where they’re not usually located. What attracts you to the surreal aspect of that?
Debby Bloom: I like to brighten things up—on purpose. Look where I live! In Anchorage, Alaska, some of us say, “We have two seasons—winter and not winter.” We get seven or eight months of varying degrees of cold, dark, and often dreary weather. I like to throw some curve balls into my paintings, like a metallic blue in the bark of a birch tree. Still a birch, but one that makes you wonder, is it real? I was always more given to impressionism over realism. I shoot for more “representational” than anything else.
TH: You’ve recently started dividing your time between Southern California, where you’re originally from, and your residence of Alaska. How has that affected your work?
DB: I grew up at the beach in Aptos near Santa Cruz, and while I live in Alaska (36 years now), I feel more at home in California. I enjoy the difference in environments that regular travel presents. I paint versions of what I see—birch trees in Alaska, oak trees in California, bears and otters in Alaska, cows and horses at the ranch. My same style, applied to different subjects. Alaska and California are very different in their landscapes, but my experiences in each place have enhanced my work as a painter.
TH: Your work seems to include a variety of mediums. Tell us about how you decide what to use on any one painting. For example, your aspens: the ones we’ve viewed all appear to use watercolors. Is there something about certain subjects that you feel lends themselves more to a specific type of paint or creation process?
DB: Each painting starts as something to explore, no matter the medium. I paint trees and landscapes in either watercolor or acrylics. I prefer to paint my animals in acrylics. Trees in watercolor emerge differently than in acrylics. Watercolors are less viscous and blend on their own. They cannot really be reworked. Forget repairing a watercolor gone wrong! Acrylics are opaque and applied in layers that cover others, so if you don’t like something, just paint over it. Each medium can provide a different look and feel to perhaps the same subject. Below are two paintings of trees: a watercolor (11×15”) and an acrylic (2×4’).
TH: Some of the descriptions of your work seem to incorporate environmental activism. Is that a goal with your art?
DB: Well, that might be true—unintentional, but true. Alaska is wild, expansive and untamed in both her landscapes and people. There, the extremes are up close and personal. Wherever we are, we live in and among our natural surroundings, integral with our environment.
Before I came to paint full-time, I had a long career in public relations. Along with more recent work in the private sector, I served under four governors, a few house representatives and a U.S. senator. Back in the 90s, I was a public spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. It was there that I came to better understand the complicated issues surrounding economic development and environmental protection.
TH: As your website indicates, you’re more than happy to get involved with your audience, buyers, and fans. How do you feel doing so helps your creativity?
DB: I don’t know that it helps my creativity as much as it is fun to interact with people and to share an appreciation of art. I enjoy workshops as much as I do going to a buyer’s home to help hang a painting. To deliver a commission and see their faces at the first glance is simply exhilarating. I love to paint and when someone connects with my work and wants it in their home, I feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratitude. In turn, that sends me back to my studio with a lift and desire to discover what else might show up on a canvas.
TH: We live in a world where everything is virtually documented and shared instantly, and almost everyone has a handful of social media accounts. How do you feel the fast pace of our lifestyles has affected art? Especially your art and the methods you go through to sell your work? Does it make it harder or easier to make a living as an artist?
DB: I see media as opportunity. For anyone in today’s marketplace, it is essential to expand one’s business network. The prospect of so many outlets can be overwhelming, but well-chosen media can offer avenues to reach audiences that were before unavailable.
For me, the challenge is to find the media outlets and venues that best extend my reach. We need to target our audiences. Less “tech-savvy” people don’t use social media as much. Others only use social media. The bottom line is to find ways to bring more eyes to our work and products. That said, for the visual arts, there is no substitute for in-person shows and meetings with potential buyers. Media helps reach people, but the goal is to bring them in! That is where we shine.
For more information or to reach the artist, visit http://debbybloom.com/. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bgdbloom.
More about the artist, Debby Bloom
Welcome to the world as seen through my eyes— and paint brushes.
As an artist, I am intrigued by color and using them where they may
not normally be found in nature. Especially in Alaska, where vistas are
grand and extreme, my paintings embrace the boldness of a life spent
on the edges.
I live and work in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska is a perfect place for a
painter. From the warm and almost endless light of summer to the
bitter cold and dark of winter, the range of elements and landscapes
provide endless inspiration. With earthquakes, volcanoes, extreme
temperatures (and a couple of kids), life here could never be called
Originally from Santa Cruz, California, I have lived in Alaska for over 30
years. The sparkling environment, stunning beauty, depth of Native
cultures and bizarre politics have provided a formidable place to work
(in public relations/communications for public and private entities) and
raise a family. It is indeed an extraordinary life.
Along with painting, I am at my best when with my boys, cooking,
writing, playing golf, or on a travel adventure.