Brought up around the Otago Harbour area of Dunedin, Debbie Cleland distinctly remembers being out on a walk one day as an 11-12 year old and coming across a gentleman who had set up his easel on the water’s edge at Carey’s Bay. She was very curious to see what he was painting, and crept up quietly to peer over his shoulder. Immediately fascinated at how the watercolour paint flowed from his brush on to the page, creating the most beautiful watery reflections, she promised herself, “One day I will paint with watercolours like this man.” Many years later she attended a weekend art class lead by Barrie White.
I feel like my career has just begun. Over the years there has been little time for me to pursue my passion for art, due to raising a large family of four, (and all that entails), so I have not been as productive as I would have liked. There has been no specific space for creating art, except for the kitchen table. However, I now have a designated room in our home where I can work in solitude. I will soon have a lot more time to pursue my creative side as I intend to retire in September this year. This is a huge motivating factor for me to really get stuck into producing more works.
In the late 1990s I was elected as secretary for the North Otago Art Society and during this time was given the task of typing up a compilation of short Autobiographies that members of the Society submitted for the book ‘Beyond the Canvases’ – North Otago Art Society Biography. This book now is well sort after as it provides an insight to the lives of past members of the North Otago Art Society, including Colin Wheeler.