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


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


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

I hope you enjoyed the show!

All images and Illustrations ©DebraStyer

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



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!