How did you get started and then develop your career?
Debra Joy Groesser: I’ve been drawing since I can remember, at least age 3. After earning my BFA degree, I worked as a graphic artist for a few years, then took a career detour into real estate for 10 years. While in real estate, I did architectural renderings and ads for home builders, and “house portraits” and note cards for agents (and myself!) to give as housewarming gifts to clients. In 1993 I began teaching art classes for kids in my basement.
In 1996, after my art business had taken over half the house and I was making more money with my art than selling houses, we bought and remodeled a little building in our downtown area. The following year I opened a gallery, a new studio and classroom there.
I then began entering juried shows and plein air events. Acceptance in several juried shows and plein air events led to gallery representation and invitations to participate in more events. I will always be grateful to Kevin Macpherson for encouraging me to “paint from life” (plein air painting) instead of painting from photos. It’s made all the difference in my career!
I also joined some art organizations and did some volunteering for them. I served on the board of Plein Air Artists Colorado for a few years and then was asked to become President of the American Impressionist Society in January 2013, a position I’m honored to still hold today along with being the CEO.
How do you find inspiration?
I am drawn to almost any subject depending on the light, the color and the atmosphere. Many times, I’ll set out on a painting excursion with a specific place in mind only to have something else catch my eye on the way. When something stops me in my tracks and I have an emotional response to it, that’s when I know I have to paint it. Once I painted an old farm implement not knowing what it was — but the backlight and the colors were gorgeous. It turned out to be an old manure spreader…so just goes to show that any subject can be beautiful in the right light!
What is the best thing about being an artist?
I love connecting with people on an emotional level through my art. I do a lot of commissions, from landscapes to portraits to pets. To see the joy on their faces and the tears in their eyes when they see the artwork is priceless.
I also love teaching and watching my students become confident in their own art. During the pandemic I did a series of free drawing lessons on Facebook Live which were intended for children. Little did I know that there would be just as many adults taking part. One man in his 80s, who had lost his wife a year earlier, said those lessons made such a difference in his life during the lockdown. He had always wanted to learn to draw. That was priceless.
You never know how your art will touch people and make a difference in their lives…and add a little beauty to the world!
Who do you collect?
Hubby Don and I have a pretty large collection, many of which were pieces I traded with artist friends. The first major pieces we bought were a Tom Browning 1996 and a Kevin Macpherson piece that was a demo he did in Bermuda in 1999. There are too many others to name them all, but every one of them bring us joy every day!