Episode 6: Deborah Reilly: Encouraging the Artist Within

Deborah Reilly’s home is full of her beautiful artwork, but also beautifully decorated with calming colors, textures, and light. It was so nice to talk with her there over delicious snacks and mimosas! We chatted in a meandering way about teaching and art-making, yet kept coming back to encouraging artists – both our students and ourselves. 

Deborah Reilly with Mork and Cleo, in front of one of her paintings

Whether abstract paint on canvas, watercolor portraits of people or pets, marker work, kids books, or hand stitched forms with needle, burlap and thread, Deborah Reilly’s common thread is her love of line. In her work, line, shape, and color take form to represent that which is visual and that which is unseen.

Art has a unique ability to connect us to one another. Courage and compassion are required to tackle a blank canvas in whatever the context. Deborah’s role as teacher is to guide the collective and the individual to their goal. Having a sense of humor also helps..and word play…and rhyme.

Deborah takes her Montana roots with her wherever she goes and is continually drawn to the sunshine, warm tropical waters, and nature’s beauty. She travels the country with her dogs, taking the scenic route and hiking along the way.

Small Art Camps hosted in her home studio in Venice provide a great introduction to a variety of art practices in a fun and exploratory environment. Teaching is a give and take. You’ve got to listen with your ears, your eyes, and your heart to guide each individual to their own expressive and creative curiosity.

Deborah holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman. She shows and sells work through local venues, including Mart Bar LA, and online. She has written and illustrated 4 children’s books. The latest one is The Collected Writings of A. Morkus Dog, inspired by her beloved dog, Mork.  

She teaches elementary art and has taught workshops and private lessons for both kids and adults.

Her dogs, Mork and Cleo, make their appearance in the podcast – keep an ear out for their protective barks, squeaky toys, and adorable little footsteps. 

Deborah and I met through the organization we both work for, P.S. Arts. I was leading an art activity booth at a fundraiser and she arrived to help, wearing almost the same army-green hoodie as me, over our matching event tee-shirts and jeans. We got to chatting and discovered that we both grew up in Montana, which feels rare here in Los Angeles. Our work reflected that background – we had both been drawing and painting lots of pine trees and thinking about the fires across the Western U.S. I loved getting to visit her space and talk more about art and teaching! Thank you Deborah!!


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from the Portrait Project
from the Portrait Project
The Portrait Project
My daughter playing with her rocket!