Deborah Strong

A local artist at Art in the City 2017!


I am coming to believe that those of us who depict wild creatures are creating a record of what once was; something future generations will look back on.

You know those little girls who go crazy for horses and are absolute animal lovers? Yeah, that was Deborah. Her love for dogs, cats, and a whole variety of animals influenced her from a young age to create illustrations of them. Since then, she’s lived a life fueled by art and creativity. For a while, her passion for the arts was a side business as she put most of her attention into her day job of graphic design. One day, she did what brave creative individuals do: she took the plunge and went all in with full-time art-making. It’s been nearly 10 years of the most joyful and scary moments of her life and she’s never looked back.

No matter where she goes, Deborah brings her trusty camera. A bird’s flight, the swimming of koi fish, or the neigh of a horse, she captures these moments and uses them to form the basis of her art. These images help to ensure that she outlines the animal’s anatomy correctly, as her art is heavily inclined to detail and realism. Even if it was a blurry image, the photos also help jog her memory to transport her back to that particular moment in time. A firm believer of the importance of having a personal connection with her subject, Deborah often steers away from using reference material that she didn’t create herself. As such, one can only imagine how extensive her file of reference photos is.

After composing an image based on photos, memory, and her knowledge of composition, her art comes to life. Time and time again, she captures the true essence and spirit of pets and wildlife alike through skill in drawing with coloured pencils, a medium of high preference as she is able to produce eye-capturing pieces due to its strong attention to detail. She also makes silk paintings, enjoying the vibrant colours and the flow of dyes on silk fibres. One of the best qualities she finds in silk paintings is its ability to get the best of both worlds in that she gets to play with colours and also have a framework built through drawing.

As humble as her artworks, her studio is built inside her townhouse in South Surrey, a place she chose to relocate to last year due to Surrey’s appreciation for the arts through its great facilities, programs and events. Having previously participated in art exhibitions at the Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey seemed like a natural choice. With her art studio with its own street access for visitors that is separate from her living space upstairs, Deborah enjoys the ability to work and live in the same place. She finds that the area is uniquely zoned to accommodate home-based business, something she’s excited to see more of in Surrey’s future developments.

Speaking of the future, Deborah sends a message to all the young and budding artists out there: Master the fundamental skills of drawing, as it will serve you well in whatever path your artmaking takes you. To add to that, make lots of art! Put in 10,000 hours, and then another, and so on, because art is a never-ending road filled with trials and stepping stones. Focus on what truly moves your heart, no matter the style, medium or subject, and don’t be afraid to experiment freely and listen to your inner voice.

Deborah will be participating in Art in the City, a two-day self-guided tour on September 30 and October 1 around 8 Surrey locations housing 29 artists displaying their work! Click here for full event details