Mobile digital artist, Deb Field writes vividly, managing to convey breadth as well as depth in our thirty fourth intimate interview of this new series. Field combines easy narrative whilst simultaneously celebrating her art with a cornucopia of images opening up new vistas of imagination to inspire and delight all who view, ensuring this interview is both as enthralling as it is fascinating.
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki and myself, go here.
All images ©Deb Field
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I don’t remember having any artistic ambition at that time of my life. I grew up In a small city, in Atlantic Canada. My parents had no artistic inclination, and there was no introduction into anything artistic. Life was basic, with no frills. I was born in 1951, and life in a small city in Eastern Canada, which did not offer Art Galleries, or any real arts of any kind. I do remember alway having a pencil and paper or crayons, television held no interest.
Private or State School?
My early school life was with a public school system, taught by French Nuns. Unfortunately, the emphasis was on religion, and not on a liberal arts education. They taught you memorize, not how to think.If you failed a test, you were lined up at the front of the class, and given the strap.
The school was ancient, I had Nuns, who had taught my mother,there were no such thing as Art Classes, not even a gym, recess was outside in the school yard, even in the deepest cold of winter. I attended this School from Grade 1 to 8.I might add I did not speak French when I started in grade one, as French was not spoken at home, this was truly French immersion the hard way.
My Mother, was French Acadian, as are half of the population in our Bilingual Province.The Acadian Heritage goes back to the early 16th Century in Atlantic Canada.The French were the first to come to our provinces, to settle this land.
The British later won the wars, and the French settlers were deported, or killed, and their lands were taken over.
At the end of 8 years, I was finding school difficult, and went to a French High school, which proved to be too much, and finished the rest of my years at an English School. Our province is officially bilingual, so there are two of everything. Ironically this old School, is now a thriving Art Centre, officially bilingual.
University or Work?
After my struggles with the French Catholic School System, I had no no idea what I wanted to be, I can only remember wanting to get away as soon as possible. I felt the creativity, but had no idea where to start, and no one to mentor me at all. I knew I had to get away from what I felt, was a dry desolate landscape.
I moved to a neighbouring province, a small Province, Prince Edward Island. It has a wonderful Centre for the Arts, called Confederation Centre Of The Arts. I was fortunate to find employment in the Art Gallery, this was luck for me, without any formal training.
Confederation Centre, has live theatre, a Public Gallery, with a strong collection, extension services which brings the arts to the smaller rural Communities, and many more art programs. It’s has a fine reputation across Canada. I met my first husband while working there.
Who was or still is your mentor?
We later moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. My husband was offered a position of Gallery Manager, at a private Art Gallery. And I found employment in another private Gallery. This turned out to be a wonderful experience, with great people, who I enjoyed working with and learning all aspects of running an Gallery. I went on to manage a Graphics Arts Firm.
After my time at the Gallery. I worked as their Business Manager, and as a Project Manager on Publications, it was a small Firm with great partners.
The wealth of experience over this ten year period, from running the Business, to seeing their projects come to fruition, really kindled my interest in the Arts, even more. Many of our clients were Arts oriented, Which made it doubly interesting. Many people have had a great influence over the years. And I was like a sponge, absorbing it all.
How physically fit are you?
Unfortunately I had an episode in my thirties, a car accident that greatly damaged my neck and lower back. I spent many years going through therapy. Later In my early fifties I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It struck me down, within a week, I was unable to walk, without holding on to the furniture to get around the house.
These arthritic conditions have no cure, and the same is true for Fibromyalgia. I find with ageing that fatigue is my enemy. After 15 years, of living with these conditions, you find yourself, living a somewhat reclusive life, by need. The days of jumping into the car, and spontaneously living your life, are long gone. This has eliminated Travel, which was once a joy, I miss that very much we used to spend our winters in Antigua, Guatemala, which has the perfect climate for these health issues. Dry moderate temperatures, as well as the higher altitude, which takes pressure off your limbs. But getting there from the East Coast of Canada, is a long haul.
Ambition or Talent? What matters more to success?
I think it takes ambition to motivate you, and allow you to take a risk, and put yourself Out there, for adults such as myself, mobile arts have allowed me, to express myself through this wonderful medium.
Finally, I have found my way. If you have not done this before, you learn to take risks, expose yourself, wondering is it good enough, and pushing on and learning more as you go. For me, it began as a way to cope with my disabilities, by working with this art form, it took my mind off of pain, and the depression which is a big part of the conditions, to finally get in touch with my talents. Luckily I have found terrific groups, that provide a great environment to grow these talents. As well as an E Course that teaches you the technical side.
How politically committed are you?
I am not politically motivated, however I am ashamed when humanity does not accord human dignity to others. As my years grow I see less and less, that makes me appreciate the world we are living in today. The future is certainly uncertain.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
Perhaps the most difficult choices we all struggle with is the difference between our wants, and actual needs. I would love wealth, but understand that self respect is much more valuable.
What is your biggest extravagance?
I have long been a Collector of Antiques, with a strong interest In Material Culture. I love fine things whether it is Art, Antiques, Old Historic Houses, I love to collect, and have for many years. But I am at the age where, I no longer need them, I have simplified how I live, and what I live with.
What places are you the happiest?
I am happiest in my own environment, with my life partner, my dog, and our home. I love challenging myself in artistry, be it art or simple home décor, gardening was a big love, that I cannot do anymore, but still try, as our summers on the East Coast of Canada are very short.
What ambitions do you still have?
I will be 68 years of age in less than a month. I suppose I have the ambition of leading a good life, a life where I am satisfied with myself and what I have accomplished. Living each day to the best of my Abilities.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of any life is to be happy with oneself. Everything we have done, has led us to today. That knowledge defines who we are. At the moment I do think I want to be pursue my creativity, much more, as I learn more of the technical side, it allows my mind to explore what I can produce. And throw myself in with relish. Tomorrow has yet to arrive.…
What drives you on?
Because of my health, I battle every day, not to let it get the best of me. If I fall, I have to get back up, and try harder.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
In my my late thirties, with my husband, who was a Museum Director, at thattime, completing his Doctorate in Material Culture.We embarked on a complete restoration of a wonderful example of Georgian Architecture, a residence, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to it’s original State.
This was a large undertaking, as the building had fallen into disrepair over its many yearsoriginally builtin 1793. We accomplished the restoration over a ten year period.
In 2001 we sold this property, a labour of love. To the Lunenburg Heritage Society, and itbecame a Designated National Historic Site of Canada. For this restoration we were awarded from the Province of Nova Scotia the Award For Authenticity in Restoration of this historic structure we namedthe Knaut-Rhuland House, after the two original owners. The Old Town Of Lunenburg it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1995.
In addition to this. I recreated an old Merchant Store, on the Waterfront of this UNESCO Town.I travelled to Colonial Williamsburg for a conference, and explored the Old Merchant Stores, as examples of what I might create in Lunenburg. Fortunately, They allowed me plans on how the old stores were created. And I returned to begin the renovation of a lovely old structure. The Colonial Merchant opened in 1995, it was truly a beautiful recreation, with an 18th century Style Coffee House, as an adjunct to the old Merchants, store.
To my great honour, Good Morning America was doing a Tour of Canada, and producing their morning Show, live from select locations, across the country. Lunenburg won out as a location to broadcast from, from all of the four Atlantic Provinces.
The Town directed the ABC Executives, to our Historic House, thinking this might be a great location for them to air from. There I was with Senior Directors from ABC News, discussing their needs.A lightbulb went off, and I convinced them to have a look at The Colonial Merchant Store.After discussions, about the location, and its proximity to the Docks and Large Sailing Vessels.I dangled another carrot, told them I could provide people in authentic period costumes, they were hooked.
Two months later they arrived with huge white trucks, which allows ABC to air anywhere live.With Joan Lunden and Co-Host Charlie Gibson, Good Morning America Anchors for many years and the Weatherman, in addition to many workers setting it up, the Set Dressers for The Merchant. 24 hours late, they were at Mrs. Field’s Store, as it was called on Script, ready to go live. It Went out live across Canada and the USA, to their morning, Viewers.
Needless to say, I had tourists from the USA coming into my store all summer long.This was truly a one of a kind experience, that remember fondly.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Dishonesty, lack of morals, If people are not real. I have no time for people who are not real, who only want you, when they need you.
When I became ill, I soon found out who were my real friends, and actually had a total fall out, with my best friend of many many years. I accepted her and her selfishness. When I was well.
As we were as close as siblings. But as I got worse, I became a hindrance and apparently, No fun.
If your 20-year old self could see you now, what would she think?
Looking back at my beginnings, which I found so difficult, I think she would be amazed at what I have accomplished,
When I could have gone the other way so easily. I am eclectic By nature, and certainly know my own mind, and I believe that was my saving grace.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Saving the Planet, without Mother Nature we are doomed.. Also, finding peace, where everyone has a place in it.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Yes, I believe there is something after we pass from this life. I have no vision of what that looks like or does not look like, my partner had a near-death experience, after being in a coma for week. I almost lost him. His description of this was interesting. I am presently reading a book, written by a Neurologist, who went into a coma, from a killer bacteria, and he describes how far he went, and what he saw. Being a neurologist who has seen countless patients, and not believing it, but hearing it many times.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I think 🤔 perhaps an 8.
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