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 Deborah Elmquist, Oil Painter

Painting in the Classical Tradition

     Firmly grounded in the techniques and traditions of the Flemish and Venetian Masters, Deborah begins an oil painting by preparing the hand stretched canvas support with a sizing and multiple applications of an oil lead primer, lightly sanded between primer applications, building the desired finished ground.  After several weeks the mature canvas is ready for painting to begin. To the ground is transferred a relatively detailed (under) drawing, and toned with a mixture of maroger and burnt umber. Dark areas are blocked in and light areas wiped away, adjusted as necessary, establishing the tonal range of the work. Shadow and Shape layers are developed creating complete Under-painting in Grisaille or Verdaccio, followed next by Live Colors, color glazing's, and finishing's to complete the work.

     Black oil, a lead based medium, is combined with the paint colors of her palette to create a thin buttery like constancy of each color.  The paint is applied to the canvas in layered glazes that form the translucent image. The completed painting is finished with the application of one or more layers of mastic lead based varnish that adds to the delicate translucence of the completed art work.

     While Deborah reveres the classical style, techniques, and traditions, she does not use Gilding in her practice of the classical art method.  And, she may "adjust" the Dead Color layer (the Grisaille), opting for the Verdaccio instead, dependent upon the final outcome desired.

     Finally, Deborah does not compound her own paints or mediums, but purchases these materials from reputable suppliers supporting the classical painter.

See "My Personal Painting Philosophy" on the Fine Art Info page for additional information.


Deborah Elmquist -
Painter of Contemporary Realism in Oils

Deborah Elmquist, a painter of Classical-Realism* and Contemporary Realism fine art in oils, is dedicated to the preservation of traditional representational fine art.  She is an experienced professional artists of more than 25 years, and is both self taught and classically trained.  As a true professional artist, Deborah is always working to improve her painting techniques and skills, adding to her knowledge base as an artist, and working to bring her art to the next higher level.  Deborah is a native Floridian born in the Florida Panhandle, but with deep family roots in the foothills of North Carolina.  She is the Painter of Memories®, and the Painter of Threads of Our Lives®, both based upon her life experiences growing up in North Carolina on a small family farm.

She began her formal study of fine art early in her life while attending Orlando College with then Professor Ralph L. Bagley (a long time Winter Park, FL resident, artist, and teacher), but she cannot remember a time in her life when she did not draw and paint, working to become the artist that she is today.  Deborah received a Fine Art degree from Orlando College, a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of South Florida, a Masters degree from Rollins College (Winter Park, FL), and a Doctorate degree from the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL).  In addition to her formal education, Deborah studied with noted artists Greg Kruetz, Joshua Fallik, and Michael Siegel.  She has also worked with noted artists Susan Lyon, Jacob Collins, and Sherrie McGraw.

Though a Contemporary Master, Deborah's work emphasizes the same underlying concepts of painting that has guided master artists for more than 500 years. Following in the traditions of Rembrandt, da Vinci, and Vermeer her use of transparent and semi-transparent glazes produces a luminosity and depth of view that is not possible to achieve in the direct, opaque method.  She paints with both the Sfumato and Chiaroscuro styles with skill and talent. Although Deborah specializes in the still life and portrait, she also draws and paints the landscape.

When describing her paintings, Deborah explains, "I paint from the places and things that I know, the places and things that I love. If home is where the heart is, then each of my paintings tells a story of where my heart is and a little about my home in one way or another. As a child growing up on a small farm in North Carolina, I learned early the basics of life and living, and I learned to sew my own things from a very early age; fabrics were always a part of my life experience, the clay pots and other simple things too.  It is the memory of those old times, places, and things, so necessary then, that inspire me today to paint now what I do; it’s a kind of calling that I must express.”

“Though the subject matter of my paintings is simple and homespun, the artistic focus of my work is strong light and shadow shapes that create drama for the viewer. My backgrounds are varied in tone and detail with attention to foreground design, and the use of negative space. I work to convey a special mood, thought, or feeling related to my subject matter. Ultimately, my goal is to create a painting that is meaningful for the viewer, beautiful to see, and still communicates what inspired me to paint in the first place. My work is narrative and emotional in nature and at the same time classical in composition, design, and painting technique."

Deborah's knowledge and application of technical painting skills and her use of color and line elicit pleasure and interest in the eyes of both the novice and cultivated viewer/collector. Collectors both national and international hold her works of Classical-Realism and Contemporary Realism fine art alike.  Her art work is also held by Volusia County Art in Public Places, and by the Museum of Art and Science of Daytona Beach for their permanent and loan collection, and her works are represented by prestigious fine art galleries (see the Gallery page for details).

In addition to painting fulltime, Deborah is a teacher/educator** of representational fine art in oils with her own Atelier Soulworks. “I am dedicated to sharing information and my skills to help artists of all levels to realize their potential.  Through my workshops and painting lessons, I share information and techniques that artists can use to improve their work and create better paintings. In addition to teaching, I love writing about Classical-Realism and Contemporary Realism. I am always personally rewarded when readers or students respond telling me how the advice and information I offered them made real differences in their artistic lives. I believe that in these ways I am making real differences in the lives of artists, helping artists acquire new or improved skills and knowledge, and inspiring them to grow as artists.”

Deborah is an associate member of Oil Painters of America (OPA), a member of Portrait Society of America (PSA), and the Art Renewal Center (ARC), among other organizations.

*Editor's Note:  See Classical Realism; A Living American Tradition on the Fine Art Info page.

**Certified and Accredited in the State of Florida.


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