Living on the Peninsula has provided no shortage of inspiration for artist Debbie Mackenzie. Less than an hours drive south of Melbourne, her little seaside village oozes style, charm, sophistication and an understated elegance – all of which is abundantly shown in Debbie’s work. From the beach to the bushy surrounds, this locale heavily influences Debbie’s often whimsical and always charming work. She lives with her (also creative) husband and two young children in their recently renovated ‘old Orchard Cottage on the hill’. It sounds gorgeous!
Tell us a little about your background?
I’ve always been obsessed with drawing, even as a young child I would completely immerse myself into a fantasy world drawn from my imagination. After year 12 I was offered a place in what was my dream course, Illustration, at what is now Swinburne. I thought long and hard about it and decided I would never suit being a "poor artist". I was too much of a consumer and admirer of aesthetics. I decided to go with my second option Graphic Design, at least this would provide a career in which I could afford all things beautiful in design. In the end I spent a wonderful early twenties in the Film Industry followed by a decade in Multi National Ad Agencies. It was a great career for a young girl. A few years after meeting my husband we decided to move to the Peninsula and that is where I explored my desire to paint. Other than meeting my husband and having my two beautiful children, nothing fulfils me more than painting. Its a euphoric experience!
What are the main influences on your work?
Nature is a constant influence for me. I'm also obsessed with the composition of a painting and I think my Graphic Design background plays a big part in how I structure a painting. When I look at a landscape I cant help but feel that our surroundings are so big and we are so small, so when I paint, my skies are LARGE and everything falls into place scaled down from the sky. I've seen people look at me strangely when I'm staring into space completely absorbed in looking at the colours in a cloud or the depth of the texture of a pine tree. All of nature triggers a major creative burst. I'm currently very taken with how many butterflies there are. They are everywhere and things like this make me feel creative. With my illustrations I often draw little fable like characters. I will see a photo and my interpretation of it instantly becomes "fable" like. My little owl man came from an image I saw on Pinterest and I just had to draw him. My Auntie & Uncle also had a MAJOR influence on my illustration work. As a child I would walk around my uncle's art studio in awe. He always had amazing things in there, like dead dragon flies and bugs on his window sill and then right beside them an intricate drawing of them. My Auntie showered us with beautiful books on the wonder of fairies and goblins and it was really the birth of "fable like creatures" and my imagination from there.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Up at 6.30am scurrying around getting lunches and breakfasts done and my daughter ready for school and then usually do a mad dash to school with my 4 year old in tow. We do try and keep active during the day so my son and i are usually either at the gym or at soccer or swimming. If not we are at home cooking or making play dough. My 4 year old requires a lot of stimulation at the moment and he is very much looking forward to kinder next year (so is Mummy)! Then after a short stint its school pick up and I'm usually playing peace maker and diplomat to the children. Then its dinner, bath and bedtime. It can be a bit "Ground Hog" day but my goodness its great and they are just the funniest little people!
My husband has his own business and works very hard. I support my husband in his business one day a week and the remainder is spent playing Mum which I do feel so blessed to be able to do, albeit at times challenging & time consuming. I try to squeeze creativity in where ever I can but being creative requires you to immerse yourself completely and isn't something you can just turn on and off. At times this is difficult when you are really into something and one of the children requires me immediately. My very wonderful husband does try and get them out of the house 1 day on the weekend so that Mummy can do her paintings and I think he's a GOD for that!
What are you looking forward to?
So many things! I've given myself a challenge for next year, I'd really like to have an exhibition somewhere or at least get some of my work into a gallery. I'm also looking forward to watching my children learn and grow and loving my husband even more (if that's at all possible)! He's a ripper! x