Deborah Foutch


Mentoring Philosophy

I have been a practicing artist for over 30 years. I have worked in many materials, scales, and styles of producing art, as well as different avenues for showing and sharing the work. I have taken classes that take me outside my usual competencies and found fresh perspectives for my art work. And I have taught classes in skills I have acquired by working constantly and gained a fresh out look by keeping my eyes open to the student’s new take on what I think I “know”. I believe in sharing my experience but also I believe that each artist knows what they need for themselves. I am happy to be included in the exploration we all take part in as we refine our goals and aspirations. Learning to engage the excitement of new challenges is easier with encouragement and peers.

As artists we know what we need. Sometimes we can get stuck on thinking we don’t know how to do something or we are afraid to act on a desire or a dream. I believe the way past that is to engage our curiosity, trust the creative process, take some small concrete actions that supports our larger dreams, and accept encouragement from our selves and trusted others. I have stood many times on the edge between wanting and doing. And the message I have for others in that place is, there is joy in taking the 1st steps, and there is also fear. Try and attach to the joy, and let yourself see what happens. Do beginners work and really pay attention to what you love in the process you are undertaking. That will keep you moving farther and longer in the action of committing to your creative urges. Practicing in your medium will deepen and hone your skills. You will find what you already have and acquire a language for expressing it.

So, my philosophy of mentoring is to engage these keystones: Trust the artist, and the creative urges we all have. Share the excitement of new challenges. Commit to the encouragement and praise we all need for the brave action of taking risks. Be honest about what you see working or not working and together look for why and where things fall short. Share knowledge of skills with an ear and eye open to the possibility of stretching them further with a fresh perspective. Stay open to new ideas.

Here are some of the experiences I draw on to share: I have shown as part of long sustained peer groups in the many college, university, and community art galleries available in the metro area. In my 20’s with the Women’s Art Alliance a group that found our peers at WARM associate member meetings. We did 4 group shows and a conference On Women Artists held at MCAD. And in my 30’s+ I showed with The Urban Doll Makers, a group of 7 figure makers who did at least 7 shows together in settings from Phipps Center For The Arts to coffee houses. I have taken my work “ on the road “ and spent 18 years doing regional and national Art Festivals and Fairs. I have placed my work in consignment Art Galleries and boutique shops, regionally and nationally. I have taken and successfully completed art commissions on many scales. I currently sell my art work in studio sales, through a network of art consultants, and through a couple of art galleries. I began working in frame shops in my 20s so I have a fair knowledge of framing techniques and costs. I have packaged some of the skills I’ve honed by constantly working for art fair deadlines into workshops on: Surface Design For Fabrics, and Mixed Media Figure Making: Dolls. I also I use Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as an art experiential sampler class, we read, and write, and make art with a wide variety of techniques to move into a sustainable creative practice. It helps me stay true to my creative practice to teach.

Artist Statement 

I am an artist whose palette, sense of line, light, and space, is deeply informed by the landscape I grew up in. A native Iowan, I was raised in a creative family that showed me how to look around and see the shape, color and texture of things and appreciate the beauty of nature’s chance combinations. In art school I went from painter to quilt maker to mixed media fiber artist and doll maker because the richness of combined materials came closest to the world I wanted to express. I began making dolls as out growth of a desire to have a story present in my work with out adding words. Human figures come charged with “story”. Initially I was making life sized dolls out of fabrics I painted. As I continued to work I tried many scales and combinations of materials to make my figures. Some stories I made explicit, often by a well chosen title, as well as the figure’s body language and color pallets, and some I left to be interpreted. I began to combine the figures with settings. I gave them a place. And eventually I let the figures rest, as I moved on to further explore the place. My place, of rivers, trees, grasses, water, and the light that shapes and dances on or around them. I do this with various combinations of materials including a return to painted fabrics. These I embellish with threads, additional layers of fabrics that evoke texture and light, as well as papers, oil pastels, pencils, oil bars, and found objects. I want to convey how what I see feels, as much or more, than I want to convey how it looks. My interest in story remains active and I am currently working on a set of river images that will evoke the many ways we have, do, and will approach the resource and change agent that are rivers in our midst. My youthful eschewing of words in and on my art will be challenged. My task is not to overwhelm the visual with weight of meaning that words can attach, as always I prefer the subtly of what is present in the work to emerge and hold the viewers attention.


"Sea Change, fiber, mixed media, 46 x8" 2013

"Rooted River" detail from panel 2, fiber, mixed media. 12 x12 2014

"Layered Grass" detail from panel one, fiber, mixed media, 18 x 6 2014

"We Stand By The Water," fiber, mixed media, 3 panels 42x28 either end, middle 56x12 2014

"Ancient Highway," figures, fiber. mixed media, 12x 6 x8 2009