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Meet Deb LaFogg-Docherty

TRR first saw Deb’s pastel animal drawings at the 8th Annual Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Turtlefest in April, 2010.  Observers watched as she worked on a new piece of art, mesmerized and waiting for the tiger to leap off the paper.  Her work has been published in many newspapers and several magazines including Wildlife Art Magazine, Southwest, and Wildscape Magazine (UK).

TRR: Tell us about your early artistic influences:

My first influence was my mom, who used to draw Bambi characters on my wall. She is an artist and I always wanted to follow in her footsteps.  I remember as a young child my parents gave me some crayons and a coloring book.  They went out in the yard for only a few minutes, so I was alone.  I thought it was more creative to do my own drawing on the wall.  After that, they always gave me whatever I wanted to work with – paper, watercolors, or whatever I wanted. 

TRR: Obviously, they saw that you had interest as well as talent.

I never drew stick figures.  I always drew creatures.

TRR: What did you want to do when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an artist and paint animals and wildlife because I had a lot of pets growing up.  We moved to a farm near New Haven, CT.  I had a horse, dogs, cats, you name it.  I was always finding animals to bring home with me.  I have never been afraid of animals.  I always loved them.  In summer, I would paint and draw for hours and hours.  When I wasn’t painting, I was off in the woods around our home.

TRR: Did you ever consider doing anything else other than being an artist?

I thought about studying veterinary science or zoology but my father wanted me to be a secretary.  In those days a woman was either a secretary, a nurse, a teacher or a social worker.  He didn’t think an artist could make a living, but I convinced him that I could be an artist and studied commercial art and illustration.  I have been in design for over 30 years and my father told me he was very proud of me for achieving that goal.  I feel that my work has really progressed because I took the time to study.  I graduated from Paier College of Art with honors and tried to get a job in New York City.  I eventually moved to FL about 30 years ago.  I have always painted every day while working as a commercial designer.

TRR: You’ve shared how you were drawn to this subject matter, but do you prefer one medium over another?

I love working in pastels, oils, and acrylics.  My pastels are getting the most recognition at the moment.  My college professor, Mr. Massamino, thought I was a natural with pastels and encouraged me to stick with them.  Another professor named me as the class colorist because I could match color so precisely.

TRR: What is your favorite part of being an artist? 

I’m torn.  I love to be out in the wild exploring nature.  I like being able to put my memories down on paper, capturing the animal’s spirit in its environment.

TRR: Are there any challenges you feel ?

I’m looking forward to the upcoming outdoor shows.  I’m hoping the show season will be a good one.

TRR: What tips do you have for beginning artists?

Don’t give up!  Be open to learning.  Explore every possibility like new techniques. Explore the internet.  There are so many vehicles to make yourself known and available on the internet.

TRR: Are you a member of any professional art associations?

I am a member of the Delray Beach Art League; Associate Member of the Oil Painters of America; Associate Member of the Audubon Artists; Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America; Member of Excellence of the Southeastern Pastel Society; and a Member of the Pastel Society of North Florida.  In June, 2011, I received the Master Circle Award from the International Association of Pastel Societies.  I am very open about sharing my work and thoughts with other artists.  That is how we can all learn from each other.

TRR: What story does your art tell?

Each piece conveys my feelings about my experiences with nature.  I want to excite people who look at my art and inspire them.  My quest to learn and paint wildlife has taken me from Everglades National Park, FL to Denali National Park, AK.

TRR: Take us from the beginning of an idea to the finished piece of work.

We just returned from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  I must have taken thousands of photos.  From those, I glean 100-200.  I continue the process by selecting the image I want to focus on.  I do an initial drawing in charcoal or pencil. After deciding whether to use coarse or fine paper, I begin to put in some background colors.  I tend to work from top to bottom or from left to right.  I set up my pastels, grouping colors from lights to darks.  Then I start filling in the picture, almost completing it.  I work about 3-4 hours a day and sometimes 5 hours on weekends on my art.  At the end of each session, I take a photo with my phone, so that when I am away from the piece, I  can look at it and consider how to tweak it.  A mentor suggested putting each painting up to a mirror and looking at it backward in order to see where you want to make adjustments.  I feel driven to finish once I have started, to finish the journey.  I love painting outside (en plein air), which offers its own challenges.  The natural light is always changing, and I am pushing myself to finish before the light fades.

TRR: How do you market your artwork?

I take part in outdoor shows and was the Featured Artist for the Cat Show at the Cornell Museum.  Right now I am painting for the Cornell Museum’s next themed show, which is horses.  I am on Facebook, Twitter, and have a website. 

TRR: How do you balance life with your husband, three cats, your commercial design job, and your own artwork?

My husband is very understanding and supportive.  We always try to have dinner together and set aside time to talk with each other in the evening.  He works one day every weekend, so we make sure that we spend his day off together.

TRR: How do you recharge your creativity?

I just have to go outside and look at nature.  I also love to spend time in art museums, to be reminded of where it all began.

TRR: How do you define success?

I’m looking for full time gallery representation at this time.

TRR: Does selling a piece of art influence your choice of subject matter?

I paint what is in my heart and it seems to speak to people who see it and buy it.

TRR: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If you are an artist, don’t ever give up.  There is a buyer for every piece of work.  Know that what you are doing is fulfilling to your soul.  Be at peace with yourself.

For more information about Deb’s artwork or to contact Deb go to her website at  www.lafogg.com

Deb draws from a photo

Some of Deb’s pieces available for sale 

Jonah Dream

Crystal River Manatees

Grey Ghost

On The Scent

Filly

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