Creative in the Countryside: Deborah Vass

Today we're excited to feature another small, creative business that takes its inspiration from the natural world. Deborah Vass is a painter and printmaker, and her work is centred on her garden and the surrounding countryside in the Waveney Valley. Over to her...


I have always drawn and painted and while I have exhibited my work in galleries, the discovery of such mediums as Instagram and Pinterest have allowed me to record my work daily and chart both my process and the seasonal changes, while giving me immediate and valuable feedback . My Etsy shop (almost ready!) and website allows me to present my work to a wider audience.


Although my work encompasses a variety of mediums, the common thread is a celebration of nature. My oil paintings are either: intricate and detailed studies of plants, tracing their journey from seed to decay; or, during the summer, I paint outside and love capturing the abundance and colour of the season and the plants I grow.


I draw and make studies in my sketchbooks throughout the year and these sketches can evolve into painting and prints, months or even years later. They are a way of capturing the fleeting changes of the season and are often snatched responses to moments in nature.
Printmaking is a very different medium and process. I love the combination of art and craft and find the process of carving out a print in lino very meditative. Such images arrive slowly and are frequently the result of several quite separate sketches. Birds are a favourite subject, and I like to try to capture their behaviour and habitat in the final composition.

A more recent strand has been capturing plants in plaster plaques. The idea came from a favourite childhood book, “Looking at Nature,” and were originally intended to capture and record plants while in season as reference material, but have since become works in their own right and I love composing groups of seasonal flowers and stems.

As a keen gardener, growing and nurturing plants provides an infinite supply of subject matter. Growing a plant from seed gives a particular insight and interest into its form and structure, whether it is a flower or vegetable. I love the starkness of winter and then love the colour and profusion of spring and summer – whatever season it is at the time, it is the time I love most!
I also draw inspiration from the local Suffolk Wildlife Trust Reserve, called Redgrave and Lopham Fen. I walk there regularly and it is one of the few places I feel comfortable drawing and sketching outdoors, it feels like an extension of home. It is a place of great peace and natural beauty.


The work of natural history writers also informs my work. I love the work of local writers Richard Mabey and the late Roger Deakin, whose writings alert your senses to the world around you; and also Flora Thompson and Richard Jefferies, and the poets Edward Thomas and Ted Hughes, whose observations make you look afresh.


Natural history books are a further source of joy and information. I still love and treasure my early Ladybird and Observer books and have an ever- increasing collection of bird and flower guides!

I need little encouragement to disappear for hours in to the studio! Having combined my artwork with a career in teaching English, I grab and relish what time I have. My painting is always from life and I tend to paint quickly, and until it is finished, in the garden or in the landscape to capture the plant or moment that fired me. My printmaking is a slower, more thoughtful process, combining sketches and ideas over several days. My press is a converted mangle, a somewhat capricious beast, and I love the final reveal of printing at the end of the planning and carving process.


My studio is a converted outbuilding overlooking the garden. Heating is an issue in winter, when it can get very cold indeed, but it is very peaceful and cut off from any other distractions.

paintings.jpg

In the future, I want to create an annual record of plants that are often overlooked, in sketches and paintings, throughout the year and would like to create a collection of bird prints in a similar vein. I have plans to develop my Etsy store, extend my portfolio and use my print art work on other products, but most importantly, I want to keep doing what I am doing. It gives me enormous pleasure and satisfaction and there is always the joy of another season ahead.

You can also find Deborah on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Visit her Etsy shop here.

If your creative business takes inspiration from the natural world, and you'd like to be featured in a similar post on Creative Countryside, get in touch by emailing contact@creativecountryside.com. There is no payment involved; we just like to showcase creative talent whenever we can!

CreativeEleanor Cheetham