A deep connection to nature and the landscape of her Mornington Peninsula home infuses Debbie Mackenzie’s tranquil landscape paintings. Dreamy cloudscapes and lush green rolling hills are interspersed with pine trees and distant farmhouses. Childhood exposure to the arts built on Debbie’s innate love of visual expression, a career in Graphic Design further encouraged her artistic talents leading to a full time career as a much admired up and coming artist after an initial 2012 exhibition of her work.
Enjoy Getting to Know Debbie Mackenzie
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realize you had talent?
I can’t remember not having the desire, its just always been there. I remember as a child, being fascinated by how, visually everyone saw the world differently. One of my earliest memories was seeing how a girl in primary school had drawn a person and the person’s feet were round little circles at the bottom of long stick legs. I really liked it and loved the originality of it and how she saw it being like that. Even back then I had a very emotional connection with visual communication. I can remember I actually thought I would end up an architect as I loved drawing house plans or plans redesigning my childhood bedroom and this was from the age of 8. I really loved to draw little characters, fairy like or a combination of an insect with human features.
Where did you learn your art?
My Uncle is Dr Tony Hanning and has a Doctorate in Art. He was the pioneer (together with Nick Mount) of glass blowing & etching in this country. We would visit him when we were children and I would wander around his studio in awe. It was possibly the most magical place I’d ever been. His garden was also a world of fascination for me. I’m still learning from him, we have a beautiful connection with music, art and spirituality. I’m very lucky.
I also studied Graphic Design at Monash University and live in a very beautiful part of the world, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, which is a constant source of inspiration to me.
What inspires you most?
Weather, vistas, light, music, people, gosh ……. So much inspires me and I find the older I’m getting the more impact it has on me.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
I love this question. Originally I didn’t realise I was sending a message, for many years I was painting what made me happy, or stirred emotion. I was floored when I got consistent feedback from clients and discovered that the viewer was feeling the same emotion from my work that I was putting into it. It still makes my hairs stand on end when I think about that. I very much paint places that make my heart sing, places where I find calm and comfort. I suppose I need it to escape and step away from what has become a very fast paced modern life, full of demands. The places I paint are passive, calm and gentle. Even when they are stormy, there is a calmness.
Describe your studio
My studio is on the first floor in a little strip of shops in a quiet little village called Mt.Eliza. I LOVE the light and I look out across the tree tops. Its beautiful to watch the change of season. Its also close to home so I can walk here if I choose to.
Describe your typical day of creating art
I would be in here every day if I could, I typically paint in here 5 days a week, sometimes 6 or 7 leading up to a show. I come in straight after I have dropped the children to school and I crank up my music (I can’t paint without music), I mix up my colours and I’m off. Before I know it its nearly 3pm and I’ve been away in another space and time. I feel so very fortunate to spend my days doing something I love so dearly.
What mediums do you use and why?
I paint in acrylics. In my early 20’s I attempted oils and to be honest it was dreadful. It nearly deterred me from painting every again. I might give it another go sometime soon and see if I’ve matured.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my next body of work for August. It will consist of a combination of seascapes and landscapes. I’m feeling quite inspired by a recent trip to Italy. In particular, the incredible geography of Lake Como and the drive from there to Chamonix.
What are your recent career achievements you feel proud of?
Primarily I’m really proud that I’ve created a life where I get to do something I love. I was also thrilled beyond words, to have been a finalist in the prestigious John Leslie Landscape Prize last year. My work was exhibited alongside the works of 5 of my idols. Chris Langlois, Jason Benjamin, Louise Feneley, Kathryn Ryan & Adriane Strampp. It was a total pinch myself moment.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love mostly that the emotions I feel while I paint (and they are special) are transported through the medium to the viewer.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
Oh I will definitely still be painting. There is no stopping now! I would also like to have encouraged others, the reward in that is immense.