New Zealand artist Deborah Moss lives and works in Wainui, Auckland. Her studio is based in the countryside beside a native forest and her abstract paintings are influenced by the natural environment surrounding her.
How did you get into art?
I was always interested in the Arts and studied English and Sociology at university. Later in my career I became involved in the visual arts by working as a gallery assistant and then as a director of a Fine Art gallery for several years. I began exploring my own practice after having a child and moving to the country a decade ago. When I shared my work on social media I got offers for commissions and to participate in shows and things grew organically from there. I credit a lot of my progress to completing the Creative Visionary Mentoring Programme facilitated by the American artist and teacher Nicholas Wilton and I continue to invest time in training and learning to expand my practice.
How would you describe your style? What makes your art special?
Although my work has a gestural and expressive quality, the works are often iterative and richly layered. There’s variation in the degree of abstraction depending on the story that’s being conveyed about my experiences and observations of the natural world around me. I think of my works as being poetic and emotive and hope they allow the viewer to experience the beauty and mystery of nature. People often comment on the unique colour choices I make and that my works contain an interesting blend of strong and delicate elements. Overall, I believe my works reflect the special rural environment I live and work in which generously provides something new to discover every day.
How do you go about developing your work?
Photos play a key role in my preparatory work. I’m often out on the land getting images which I take back to the studio.
Journals are used to write notes, explore ideas through collage or watercolour and do ‘warmups’ in before painting.
Sometimes I begin a series with an idea or theme in mind, but other ideas emerge as the conversation develops between works. I always have multiple paintings on the go – this keeps things interesting and prevents me labouring for too long on one work.
I like to keep pieces in an incubating stage for several weeks or months so I can look at them with a little distance and be more objective.
Who or what influences you?
My relationship to the natural world has always been at the heart of my practice. The rural vistas, gardens, forests, ponds, birdlife, and hilltop skies on our property provide an abundant source of inspiration and I try to infuse the vitality I witness into my work. That sense of energy is closely aligned with the work of abstract expressionists.
Besides numerous visual artists, there’s people in multiple disciplines who influence me – poets, musicians, writers, and environmentalists.
What are you planning to do next?
I’m looking forward to working on sculptural and mixed media projects. I also have some ideas around family history and early settlers which I want to investigate. I’m very interested in incorporating more eco-friendly materials into my work, so plan to delve into natural pigments and making my own paints. It would be wonderful to do a residency somewhere that’s vastly different from my current surroundings to see how that would impact my work. I have recently collaborated with a group which will see my work being marketed to more of an international audience, so I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
PHOTO CREDIT STUDIO IMAGE COURTESY OF LARNIE NICOLSON PHOTOGRAPHY