Secrets of an award-winning visual storyteller
In the chaos of today’s world I believe we need more than ever to connect with the earth and the spirit within each of us. For me, that means telling visual stories.
After years of writing magazine features, family and individual biographies, arts reviews, and city and organizational histories, I shifted from words to images and discover an unusual method for creating unique fine art that tells a story.
I use flowers, plants, insects, bone, skulls, feathers, artifacts, jewelry, ephemera, and fascinating finds to create strikingly magnificent assemblages. Though the final image is a digital print, I don’t use a camera, but rather a desktop scanner to capture extreme “ultra high def” compositions that explode with color and vibrance and can be printed large enough to cover a wall if desired. (Read more about my process in an article I wrote for Pro Photo West. Download the PDF.)
Mostly self taught, as a kid I painted oils with my father and stepmother (including sessions with artist Fritz Willis). And always seeking a project, I created doll clothes and hats, sewed clothes, designed and made stained glass, and learned the American Indian art of sand paintings.
I started photography classes in high school and specialized in photo journalism in college. When digital technology arrived, I embraced the new tools. This led to a fortunate meeting with a master who taught me the art of scanning and continues to encourage my growth.
As part of my journey I study the healing and spiritual arts—yoga and shamanism. This has brought a depth to my work and the desire to “speak spirit.” We are complicated beings, each with a valuable story to share. It can be told in a full length book or condensed into a visual tale that includes actual mementos from life’s events. A picture is worth a thousand words—sometimes more.
Debbi Swanson Patrick