Highgate Cemetery Portraits

In August, I was lucky enough to visit the incredible Highgate Cemetery during the London Letterheads Conference. I was so inspired by my walk around the the gorgeous graveyard, I decided to dedicate my next gallery show to it. It is truly a dream world for any Victorian Goth lover.

To me, Highgate is kind of a living city to the dead. Although, it is still a working cemetery, I loved exploring the darkest of the lost paths. Highgate was built in the 19th century as one of the London Cemeteries that were on the outskirts of town. It housed the bodies of people could no longer be buried within the churches of London. As time wore on, it now has wild vines wrapping around the graves, showcasing some, while burying others, it is filled with birds and animals as well as a spooky legend or two. I loved it.

There is something that is so wonderful about visiting old graveyards that seems to be missing these days. Victorians were surrounded by so much death everyday, that they sort of embraced death, now we seem to be are more afraid of it.

Here are some of my illustrations (and a few photos I took) inspired by my trip to this legendary cemetery in London.

I thought these portraits would be a perfect countdown to Halloween.

I hope you like them!

 My October gallery wall at City Art Gallery in San Francisco

My October gallery wall at City Art Gallery in San Francisco

 Graves rearranged by time at Highgate Cemetery.

Graves rearranged by time at Highgate Cemetery.

Georgina in the Sun (City Art Gallery October).jpg

Debra Styer, Georgina in the Sun, 2018

Sacred Magpie.jpg

Debra Styer, A Sacred Magpie, 2018

In a Disused Graveyard

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never anymore the dead.
The verses in it say and say:
”The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.”
So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
A Disused Graveyard

What is it men are shrinking from?
It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

Robert Frost
 My favorite Angel monument at Highgate

My favorite Angel monument at Highgate

SrqjRVHKSCnqNLvxd1fkzf2hY2tTjVTwz_QJI68gUYG5Uak9LPBdqnGRvZlRLaUGKWJTkE_coToMMYuK5vhXfVnlJ9v4no0u1mpT6FF3CMRnujLHt3_rrwIk1Rva2CBQ3hdTcYHxpqxOBnItUmd2jFiGJ1UI86-aGt_YmnoJfsl0SJoCZ1dqi9PO87MaQxkDeiC5J8iysa0Segv65zoHvpcueO5Q.jpg

Debra Styer, Mourning Flowers, 2018 (in progress)

 Circle of Baby Angels, Highgate Cemetery 2018

Circle of Baby Angels, Highgate Cemetery 2018

Caught in the Web (City Art Gallery).jpg

Debra Styer, Caught in the Web, 2018

 Sacred, Highgate Cemetry 2018

Sacred, Highgate Cemetry 2018

City Art Gallery WAtching from Above OWL.jpg

Debra Styer, Watching from Above, 2018

 Two Graves Bound at Highgate Cemetery

Two Graves Bound at Highgate Cemetery

The Woman in White (City Art Gallery October).jpg

Debra Styer, The Woman in White, 2018

If you want to see these paintings in person, they are up in the Gallery until October 28th.

City Art Gallery

828 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA

http://www.cityartgallery.org/

Prints from the show will be available mid-November in my shop!

I hope you enjoyed the show!

All images and Illustrations ©DebraStyer

New Gallery Show: My "Seasons" Portrait Series at City Art Gallery

This month, I am so excited to be participating in my first show at City Art Cooperative Gallery in San Francisco! Check out my new portraits!

I have been wanting to experiment with different time periods and seasons for a while now, and getting into City Art Gallery gave me the opportunity to play around with some new portraits! I am inspired by all the strong women that lived through out history.

First up Spring...

City Art Gallery Spring.jpg

Debra Styer, Blossoms Awake Spring, 2018

Watercolor and Gouache

This was inspired by my love of Jane Austen and the English countryside. Here's Miss Emmeline and the buzzing (and stinging) of her springtime bees.

City Art Gallery Summer.jpg

Debra Styer, The Wings of Summer, 2018

Watercolor and Gouache

My summer portrait was inspired by the amazing style of the Harlem Renaissance and the 1930's. I imagine Miss Georgette listening to with the music of Billie Holiday as the summer butterflies dance around her in the summer wind. 

City Art Gallery Fall.jpg

Debra Styer, Fall of the Dead Leaves, 2018

Watercolor and Gouache

Of course, I need to have at least one dark Victorian portrait. Here's my inspiration for a 19th Century Fall portrait of the wonderful Miss Thora as she hides in the deep dark woods with her adorable (but very scary) little owl friend.

Lastly, is Winter...

City Art Gallery Winter.jpg

Debra Styer, Red Fox in Winter, 2018

watercolor and gouache

My winter was inspired by the fashion of Queen Elizabeth and her contemporaries. I love all the crazy stiff collars of this time period. Could you imagine what it must have felt like to wear such things. 

This is my winter wonderland portrait of Miss Sybyll and her pet fox, Finn.


If you want to see the portraits in person, they will be hanging at City Art Gallery until April 1st.

City Art Cooperative Gallery

828 Valencia St,

San Francisco, CA 94110

UPDATE: Prints now available in the Shop!

Here's to a New Year! (Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

2017 was pretty interesting/fabulous/terrible year. Politically, it was a huge mess for me. I don't remember a year that seemed to wrestle with my heart strings more. I am still struggling with the decisions being made by our government. Although, I don't want to get too political, I hope 2018 will be a better year for most people and we will all reclaim our sense of fairness and justice in the world.

On a personal level, 2017 was pretty good. Of course I had a few ups and downs but in general things went well.

Here are my favorite arty things that happened in 2017:

1. My first book and largest illustration project "Happily Ever After I Do", was released in October! I am so proud to finish such a huge project. It was definitely a learning experience but I am so happy to have done it. I am looking forward to many more book projects in the future. And here's a little shout out to the amazing author Valerie Chiappone. Thank you for taking me on this book journey with you, it has been a privilege working with you.

Happily Ever After I Do .jpg

2. The Pre-Vinylette Society Art Show in Chicago. It was such a honor to part of this awesome women in sign painting show. It was even written up in one of my favorite publications, Uppercase Magazine! (If you squint you can see my painting on the wall). Read my post about the show here.

 The Pre-Vinylette Society in Uppercase Magazine (Issue 36)

The Pre-Vinylette Society in Uppercase Magazine (Issue 36)

3. My French Revolution portraits for the Tiny Show at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.

4. My trip to Oslo, Norway with my husband for the Oslo Letterheads Sign Painters Meetup was amazing and it reignited my love for Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

 Some of my favorite portraits from the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway! Aren't these amazing?

Some of my favorite portraits from the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway! Aren't these amazing?

 

5. Although not technically a art moment, I did adopt two new kittens at the SF SPCA Meet SinJin Otto and Poe in December.

Yes...they are awesome and they will inspire me to be more creative, if they are too busy distracting me from painting.

Sinjin and Poe.jpg

Now that 2017 is over, it is on to 2018!

I am feeling pretty optimistic and had grown so much as an artist in the last few years, this year should be another fulfilling art year.

Here are a few of my plans for the new year:

  1. I became part of City Art Gallery in San Francisco. I will be working on a series of portraits for March show. I will be sure to post them as I make them.
  2. Get into more gallery shows.
  3. Work on getting in more publications
  4. Submit to more blogs, magazine and book publishers.
  5. Continue to work on my new Artist Portrait Series.
  6. Add more portraits to my Literary Portrait Series.
  7. Finish my Little Goth Riding Hood illustration Project.
  8. Draw more animals...
  9. Blog more...
  10. Travel to London for the next Letterheads Meet with Damon. 
  11. Delve into more historical illustration projects.
  12. Read at least one book a month.

What projects are you most excited to challenge yourself with this year? What are you most scared of?

 

The Tiny Show is here!

I am so pleased to have 4 new pieces in the upcoming Tiny Show at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.

This is my 5th year in doing this show. All my painting for this show are, well, Tiny. Each portrait is 5"x5". It can be a bit of a challenge to work that small but I actually enjoy it. My usual portrait size is about 9x12.

I decided to go with something new this year...the French Revolution!

Famous and Infamous portraits of 18th Century France.

First off...The Famous.

I was inspired to create these portraits after visiting the Palace of Versailles last year. I found the palace to be truly obnoxious. I couldn't imagine living in such luxury, and self aggrandizement. Honestly, it made me pretty depressed walking around. Having that reaction, I knew I need to paint these two.

Tiny Show Louis XVI.jpg

Debra Styer, Louis XVI, Last King of France, 2017

Tiny Show Marie Antoinette.jpg

Debra Styer, Marie Antoinette, Last Queen of France, 2017

In the end, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were kind of made for each other. They were blinded by their riches and hidden away in their royal fortress.

The world finally chose the power of the people over the ruling of King.

Next, the Infamous...

Jean-Paul Marat

Debra Styer, Portrait of Jean-Paul Marat, 2017

Tiny Show Charlotte Corday.jpg

Debra Styer, The Assassin Charlotte Corday, 2017

The Revolution must have also been an exciting/terrible time to live. One of the most intense happenings was the murder of scientist, journalist and political activist Jean-Paul Marat. His murderer,  Charlotte Corday, assassinated him at his most vulnerable while he was taking a health bath (he had a a incurable skin disease). Ms. Corday blamed Marat for possibly inciting a violent massacre with his political writing, so she stabbed in the heart. Only to be executed for her crimes four days later.

Both rose to great notoriety in the history of France.

Want to see my portraits in person? Stop by and say hello, and check out my work and the work of over 195 amazing local Bay Area artists!

I will be at the reception on Sunday.

The Tiny show opens today!

 

Studio Gallery Tiny Show 2017.jpg

 

tiny

small pieces from local artists

Nov. 10th - Dec. 23rd, 2017

opening reception - Sunday, Nov. 12th 1-6 pm
14th anniversary party - Sunday, Dec. 3rd 1-6 pm

STUDIO Gallery
1641 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA  94109

Hope to see you there!

The Pre-Vinylette Society Art Show

Vinylettes4_square.jpg

I am so excited to be part of the upcoming art show dedicated to women in sign painting, "The Pre-Vinylette Society" at the Chicago Art Department opening on September 8th.

As someone who is married to a sign painter, (Damon Styer of New Bohemia Signs) I have been watching in awe as he creates such beautiful signs and lettering. Everything created in our shop is hand painted, and I jumped at the chance to be part of it all. Although, my job doesn't include much painting myself, (I am the assistant manager for the shop). I try to do as many little projects as I can.

With a few butterflies in my stomach, I decided to challenge myself and do a sign for the show.

Here's how it went...

Here's the initial sketch for the painting.

The optimists optometrist Sketch.jpg

I made a few changes, fought with my brushes a bit, and go plenty of advice (and a little help) from my husband but finally came up with something I was proud of.

As someone that has been painting most of my life, the biggest challenge of sign painting is getting used to the tools of the trade. We use 1-Shot enamel paints for 99% of all we do, and i must say it is very different from my usual watercolor paints. But I am still learning and will eventually figure out the "Muscle Memory" of using the brushes.

Optomists Optometrist painting.jpg

Debra Styer, The Optomists Optometrist, 2017

18"x24" 1-shot enamel on wood

If you happen to be in Chicago in September, stop by and see the show!

The Pre-Vinylette Society
Sept 8th – Sept 28th, 2017
Opening Reception Friday September 8th, 6-10pm
Pre-Vinylette panel discussion: Saturday September 9th, 2-4pm

Chicago Art Department – 1932 South Halsted
Gallery Hours: Saturday September 9th, 16th, 23rd, 12-5pm or by appointment

Although I won't be able to make it to the show myself, I honored to have my work shown among such amazing and talented women.

I also want to thank Meredith Kasabian of Best Dressed Signs and Shelby Rodeffer of Finer Signs

I would love to see the art of sign painting continue to grow. I will happily watch as more and more women get inspired to take up the brush. Here's to us all and good luck with the show!

Debbie Sign Painting in Guerenville.png

Update: Here's a super cool post on the show from Hyperallergic.