I recently discovered the work of Deborah Goodman, a talented nature artist out of Utah. The images of images of birds and other wildlife Debbie creates out of cut paper are fantastic, while the fact that she donates the proceeds of her art sales to wildlife and humane charities is positively meritorious. Thrilled by the opportunity to promote both an artist and conservationist, I asked Debbie to answer a few questions and share some of her exquisite images.
Debbie, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a retired chemical engineer turned nature artist, and I’m lucky to live near the shore lands of the Great Salt Lake. If I’m running short on inspiration, I can gaze out of the kitchen window to watch a flock of Chukar partridges picking birdseed off my sidewalk, or I can drive twenty minutes to the marsh and get sensory overload. About ten years ago I was looking for a way I could do my part to promote local wildlife and habitat conservation. I took up lobbying for the Utah Audubon Council for five sessions of the Utah State Legislature, during which time I started making bird pictures for stress relief and to help me learn about the different species I was seeing on field trips. At some point I realized that the artwork itself carries the message, and that I could donate the proceeds from the sales to wildlife and humane charities. Now I focus full time on creating the artwork and sharing it with like-minded people.
Western Grebes by Deborah Goodman
What is your art like?
People tell me my artwork doesn’t look like anything else they’ve ever seen, and I’m proud of that uniqueness. Every image is composed entirely from pieces of paper with different colors and textures. Working from reference photos and my own rough sketches, I break each subject into a pattern in my mind. I then cut out each piece of the pattern with sharp scissors, and assemble the piece in layers using a clear, archival quality adhesive. The viewer can see the layers of paper clearly in the original pieces, and those layers also come through visually in my giclee prints and note cards. People often run their fingers over the prints at art shows to convince themselves that they aren’t really layered paper.
Red-breasted Nuthatch by Deborah Goodman
What is your relationship w/ birds and nature?
I may never have the expertise of the accomplished birders I know, but I definitely share their passion. It’s important to me to be observant of birds and nature every day and in every place, whether I am walking in the park with my dog, feeding birds in my yard, or traveling hundreds of miles to visit a new birding spot. I’m one of those people who rescue earthworms off the sidewalk when the rain washes them out, and catch spiders in the house with a paper cup to return them to the outdoors. I also try to share my passion for birds and nature with kids, and helped establish the Great Salt Lake Nature Education Center at Farmington Bay.
Mallard Ducklings by Deborah Goodman
What work of yours is your favorite? Why?
My favorite picture is Mallard Ducklings (above) because it reminds me of my first urban wildlife experience at age three. My father used to take me to Denver’s City Park on Saturday mornings, and my favorite activity there was feeding stale bread to the ducks. That picture recalls the innocence, vulnerability, and potential of early childhood for me. Childhood is one of many experiences we share with our fellow creatures, and I hope my work depicts that commonality.
If you enjoyed learning about Debbie Goodman and her work, you can see and order more at her website!
Happy Parrot Month!
As a chemical engineering alumna, I hope that upon retiring, I will also have a bout of such talent 🙂 The work is super in that while being very schematic and two-dimensional, it retains a lot of detail and realism . Thank you for posting this!
This art is fantastic! I was caught from the first image. I lived near the Great Salt lake for 6 years and love the birds and the habitat there. I’m so glad you did this interview. She is very talented indeed!
Those are gorgeous. Well done Mike for putting this online.