Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Deb Lyons, Mixed Media Artist, Tells Her Story

It’s been fun and inspiring to read “Artists Tell Their Stories” this year. I’ve found similarities in so many stories, and fun differences in quite a few, too.

I’m Deb Lyons and I describe myself as an artist and an art educator.  I knew from a very early age that I wanted to grow up to be an artist. In the early 1950s that meant painting in abstract ways, wearing black turtleneck sweaters and hanging out with beatnik friends at jazz venues, or at least I thought it did.

Acrylic & mixed media

I was very lucky, as a child, to have a supportive family who indulged my wish for art lessons every summer. What a joy those creative days were. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any “art career” counseling during high school, so I thought that I should get a college degree in some area that I could fall back on during any “lean times” in my art career.

I enrolled in a well-known but small teacher’s college where everyone’s major was education and, of course, my minor was art. I had such a great time and, to my surprise, was totally bitten by the teaching bug.

Acrylic & mixed media

Fast forward a few years and I found myself with a dream job; teaching 1st through 8th grade art in a University Lab School during the day and going upstairs and teaching undergrad and grad students at night. A lovely bonus was having my two daughters as students throughout their elementary and middle school years. 

The creative energy of my colleagues was magical. The research and curriculum development was an all-year endeavor and it left little time or energy for my own art work. To fix this, I eventually found a teacher and co-hort of adult students that I met with once a week (for a number of years.) Life was good.

Acrylic & mixed media

We all have our ups and downs, though. I found that I had a light case of breast cancer. I was surrounded by support and love but still needed to work through all that was going on. I found that large canvases became my breast cancer journals.

Acrylic & mixed media, from the breast cancer series

Using acrylics, surgical sutures, knives, lace and found objects, I was able to travel from darkness to light. I became part of a clinical drug trial and it is a joy to see that what was experimental then is a common part of breast cancer treatment options today. I’m happy to report that I’ve been cancer free for almost 20 years.

I’ve since been able to share my journey by exhibiting these mixed media pieces in a variety of venues. 

Large acrylic, lace, surgical suture & mixed media from the breast cancer series

Today I am still in love with creative explorations and teaching. My new students are adults at my local Easter Seals Adult Center. The joy is palatable, the successes are celebrated, and the friendships are deep.

"Xela Wins at Keeneland" Quilt, cotton fabrics, cotton batting

When Brenda approached me about posting on the blog I asked if I could share my story this week. December 10th is my Mother’s birthday. She passed away almost two years ago. She was an enthusiastic supporter of all of my artistic endeavors and I thought that this might be a small way to honor her memory.

As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”

This is Week 48 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Deb’s story today!

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