Wednesday, 8 April 2009



As mentioned the other week, one of the nicest things about RedBubble is finding other artists whose work inspires you. One such is Deb Milligan, whose abstracts seem to glow with light. The more I look at them, the more I want to go back and look at them more - my only regret is that as an Australian artist, it's not very likely I'll get to see the originals of her work any time soon.

Worlds 3

Deb describes her work on her gallery thus :

My work is largely, though not only, abstract – usually painted in oils or acrylics.
My abstract paintings speak of particular moments in time, glimpses of dynamic stillness when the Universe is at play within us. Through my art I try to give expression to the subtle shifts contained within these openings

A moment's recognition

As time goes by, I find myself more and more drawn to abstract art - I'm also envious of those who can create it, as I don't have a natural facility for it. When abstract art works best for me, it's something that evokes a mood, a thought, or an emotion that can't be put into words. This ability to transcend written language is what I love most about Deb's works.

Night Lyric (water) Solitude's Shadow Connection

She is also a superb colourist - deep rich muted colours blended beautifully as in her Water or Spirit series, or violent fiery strong colours leaping out from a dark background in the Fire series. I'd urge you all to take a look at her galleries, grouped into elemental series - as I can only show the works very small here and they really don't do them justice.

Deb has kindly agreeed to answer a few questions on her work :

Have you been painting long? give us a bit of background…

I remember when I was 9 deciding that when I grew up I was going to be a famous artist. I rapidly dropped the ‘famous’ but that initial thought has guided me ever since. I have been painting for 30 years and focused first on watercolours as they were easy to travel with while I was backpacking in my early 20’s. In my 30’s I moved away from representational art, and nearly a decade ago developed a love of abstraction, which holds me in its thrall still


Your paintings are very cerebral – they reflect a pace in the mind rather than a physical place. What comes first, the thought or the painting? or do they evolve together?

This is a difficult question to answer and any response is more an exploration than a definitive answer. Often the thought, or the general theme, comes first. Usually this thought is elusive and difficult to pin down. so I will write copiously trying to capture it. Sometimes, when all the elements are out in the open, I will then try to identify the essence of what I want to capture by writing it in haiku form. This strips away all the fluff and leaves me with a very clear direction to follow. However, I don’t always use that tool. At other times I start with the elusive thoughts still wandering freeform.

When I paint I am often guided by the sensations within my body. When I feel it in my heart, in my stomach, in my hands - even in my mouth - then I know that the painting is working for me. It is a deeply visceral, even primitive feeling. It is only later that I step back and analyse it, refine it, work ‘by the rules’. Initially though, I gather the awareness of what I wish to convey within my body, observe my physical, emotional and intellectual reaction, and then endeavour to give it expression through paint.

Regardless of the way in which I start, the painting itself often tells me more about my initial intentions as it evolves. Sometimes it is only when I have finished that I fully understand what my intentions were. I enjoy allowing the painting to guide me.

Tell us a bit about your methods : sponge,rags,brushed,fingers, type of paints – how do you do it?

My methods vary depending on the subject. I usually start in acrylic and work up a base painting. Sometimes I continue in acrylic, for example with Solitude’s Shadow where I used brushes, sponges and rags with glazes to create the dappled effect. With Connection and Transition, I continued over the base painting using oils, with palette knife, brushes and my hands. With these two paintings I was trying to capture a range of different expressions of ‘energy’, both through colour and technique, hence they include gentle glazes as well as more dynamic brushwork. At times I may take off more paint than I put on, using paper towel and other materials, especially when I wish to create a layered veil-like effect. Then in other works I create a highly textured surface by building up layers of acrylic paint using a palette knife.

What inspires you, motivates you to keep painting, and gives you joy doing it?

I just love painting. I love getting lost in the process. I love the difficulties inherent in presenting or exploring complex issues through abstraction. I love the complex simplicity that is necessary in abstraction. I am inspired by the exploration of ideas, trying to understand the world and my place in it better through this exploration.

As an artist, do you have a goal you are working towards? is there a direction you would like to take, or does your art work evolve by itself?

At the moment I suspect my work is in transition and I am not quite sure where it will go. However the overall goal is to continue to improve my work, keep improving my CV and so increase the opportunities to show my work to a wider audience. three artists who inspire you on Rb – pay it forward!

Victor is one of the most talented artists I have seen on redbubble – he has a superb eye and masterly technique. I love the work of Midori McCabe for her purity of technique – she gets straight to the essence. And John Fish is a great inspiration for his transformative visions, both in paint and word,

Amongst the photographers I also pay respect to Jordanpaint for her clear and beautiful abstracted vision which always inspires me, and Skip Hunt for his superbly crafted images of life as a citizen of the world.

Thanks to Deb for great answers. Please take a moment to look at her gallery here - and I hope you enjoyed what will be the first in a series of artist interviews.


  1. Deb's works are indeed luminous when seen in the original. The paintings draw you in and make you feel something, mind expansion without the toxins. Illumination, emotion, evocation through masterly use of colour.


  2. bloddy great stuff mate.....funny stuff,art....some you love,and some you don't....i love your stuff....good on'ya deb....philipo chico.