Artist Debbie Vail

An example of fine art by Debbie Vail

Photo of Debbie Vail


Since she began drawing as a child, Debbie Vail has been fascinated by faces and the emotions they convey.  Now, an eerily common response to her portraits is "You've captured her essence".  But how does one use paints and brushes to do this?  This continually challenges her to explore the effects of color, light, form and edge on a subject's "essence".  
Debbie has tried to use the powerful emotions of a portrait to convey the angst and anxiety currently experienced across America.  In "Immigration Series", she uses three canvasses to tap into the plight of today's immigrants.  In a fourth piece, "Terminal Tower", we wonder about their fate in Cleveland.  
"In the Bardo" seeks to reflect society's anxiety and personal searching.  Bardo is a Tibetan Buddhism term meaning "a state of existence between death and rebirth".  It also refers to feeling "ungrounded" and to transitions in life.
The abstracts have a simpler motivation.  They start with the remains of paint on the palette, and are an attempt to paint more loosely while listening to the intuitive side of the brain.  They are a chance to explore different colors and tools that then influence the portrait work.
Debbie Vail didn't explore her interest in art until completing a 20 year career in nursing.  She discovered a love of portraiture and color during classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art, The Cleveland Art Museum, and private instruction.  Her portraits have been finalists in juried shows at the Art Guild of New York,  The Orange Art Center, the Shaker Hts. library and Bay Arts of Cleveland.  (See resume) Debbie has volunteered at a two retirement communities, painting portraits of residents as a group activity.   She presented this work at a national conference sponsored by Cleveland State University:  "Design a [...]

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