Deb Wicks grew up around artists and originally thought art might be in her future. Midway through a five-year special education teacher training program, she realized that she still wanted to be in the art world and switched her major, earning a Master of Fine Arts. Meanwhile, she got married and they moved to Alameda, Calif., where she took oil painting classes at the local community college.
“It wasn’t until we moved to New Mexico that my art career took off,” she noted. “The kids were in school and I was creating pen and ink drawings in a Southwestern style. Early on, my work was fairly abstract, with a focus on women. As I look back, I see that I captured myself and my children in various stages of our lives.”
“While in Morrison, Colo., I worked in galleries—but I had stopped painting. The light and the colors were different,” she explained. “It wasn’t until we moved to a high-rise in LoDo, Denver, that I began painting again. I used the space on our balcony overlooking the Front Range. I’m drawn to the colors and light of the Southwest and find it difficult to paint in other settings,” she noted.
“Now I’m working in acrylics using mostly a palette knife and lots of layers,” Wicks said. Her painting Spirits Welcome Dawn to the Catalinas was named the most creative entry in the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild’s 2022 “One Image, No Limits” contest. Her work and the other entries were recently featured in the RoadRunner Gallery at the SaddleBrooke One clubhouse. Contest judge Harriett Hason commended Wicks for her dynamic and gutsy use of color and texture.
“It began with a sketch I did at Lake Powell called Dawn on the Foothills,” she explained, opening a notebook to the subject sketch. “The cactus went in first.” Wicks laughed about how she created the painting, noting that she took care of the required element. “I incorporated elements I see from our backyard. The sky started out from a photo a friend sent me of a beautiful sky. The painting evolved, and I kept reworking it and adding layers. It takes me months to do the refining and finally finish a work.
“Painting saved my life during the pandemic when we couldn’t go out and be around others. I turn on the music, dance, and paint,” she said, gesturing to her studio set up between her SaddleBrooke kitchen and family room. “For a while, I was doing bigger pieces, and I kept spreading out my space. The table kept shifting across the room,” she added. “And I try to paint some most days, so I’ve always got something in progress.
“Now that things are opening up, I’m enjoying getting together with other Guild members and getting to know them. The classes are inexpensive and fun. The teachers are generous, helpful, and encouraging,” Wicks said. “The non-critique sessions are the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve even learned a few secrets from other participants. Wayne [Ulford] even taught me how to lift watercolor off of a piece where the paint was too saturated. I went home, tried it, and it worked perfectly. It’s a very non-competitive group.
“I consider myself still a beginner,” Wicks reflected, “because I keep trying new things and experimenting with new approaches. I want to try different things, and the Guild gives me great opportunities to do that.”
For more information on Guild classes and activities, visit them online at saddlebrookefinearts.org.