Debbie Lincoln has become renowned as an accomplished western artist. Her work is admired for its bold and intense colors, and her following is quite extensive with people from all over the nation purchasing her work.
Creating art has been a part of Lincoln's life from the start.
“My maternal grandmother was an art teacher,” she said. “The first memory I have of her is sitting at a kitchen table in Louisiana, putting a paint brush in my hand and teaching me to paint with oils.”
Lincoln still has the painting that was her initial foray into oil painting.
“It was a seascape with water splashing up on a rock,” she recalled. “I used a palette knife and a brush.”
Lincoln continued her study of art in high school, taking every class offered in that subject. And a reputation for her talent began to grow.
“I was always that person who, if you needed a poster or lettering, I'd be the one you'd ask,” she said.
After high school, Lincoln embarked on a frenetic course of studies, tackling English, art and math.
“I didn't get an art degree, though,” she said. “But I always did something with art.”
After she married, Debbie studied art at a community college in Illinois where she was living at the time. And she expanded upon her knowledge of art medium.
“I learned how to throw pots,” she said, indicating a collection of pottery lining shelves in the studio.
Lincoln dabbled in water colors and acrylics but continued to return to her beloved oils.
“I love oils,” she admitted. “I always end up coming back to them.”
Although Lincoln now makes a living as a freelance artist, selling her pieces on line and accepting commissions from the public, there was a time her talents found her other lines of employment.
“When I was first married, I did a lot of airbrush art, which was somewhat surrealism,” she said. “I just sold the work I did?I wasn't employed by anyone.”
A move back home to Texas opened different avenues for her. And responsibilities as a mother were to shift Lincoln's priorities away from her art.
“I got involved with having children, and put it aside for awhile,” she said. “There wasn't time for it.”
When her children subsequently started grade school, Lincoln decided to go back to work.
“I worked for Tarleton for two years as a graphic artist in the printing center,” she said. “I learned to do typesetting on a mechanical typesetter that did the typesetting with a photo process.”
Tarleton sent Lincoln to school to learn the complicated process. But innovations in the field were to make her training obsolete.
“After about two years, Apple came out with their first home computer,” she said. “The desktop publishing program came out for home desktop computers.”
So her days of the mechanical typesetting came to an end.
“I could do the same work on a little home computer,” she said. “When I was working at Tarleton, people were always asking me to do graphic art type work on the side?their own personal stuff, which I'd go home and work on.”
Lincoln began to further familiarize herself with the computer and had an opportunity to buy IBM's first PC, the newly minted Page Maker Program 1.0 and a laser printer.
“I thought, 'Oh, I can go home and do this and stay with my children,'” she said.
The outcome of her newly created cottage industry was the genesis of a desktop publishing company.
“At the time, there were a lot of local printing companies. They needed occasional typesetters and graphic artists, and I did independent work for them.”
This mode of work kept Lincoln busy for about 10 years. But her husband's ambitions for owning his own business would take her in yet another direction.
"We started a Kwik Kar Oil Change,” she said. “And I quit doing art completely because it required all my time.”
It was a good friend from Lincoln's high school days who would bring her back into the art world in 1996.
“I was complaining about missing my art,” Lincoln said. “And my friend told me, 'You need to get going again.'”
Lincoln took her advice to heart and returned to what she loved doing the most.
Her emphasis has since been on western art, with each piece telling a story. She credits her rural surroundings for keeping her inspired.
“Look out my windows,” she said. “I have cows and horses out there. They're my models; I see them all the time.”
She admitted she has always had an affinity for depicting cowboys in her work.
“A lot of my friends have cattle and work the cattle,” she said. “So I have perfect models. People are used to me showing up with my camera and snapping pictures. And I work strictly off my own photographs.”
Some of Lincoln's work will be exhibited later this month at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council. Patrons will have an opportunity to see for themselves her ability to bring a painting to life.
“When I paint something, I try to tell a story,” she explained.
She indicated a painting of two men on horseback. One of the men is hoisting a jug up into the air.
“The title is 'The Party Begins Now,'” she said. “And the story line is they're fur trappers. They've sold their furs; made some money.”
She pointed to the man in the forefront.
“He traded in his old horse and got him a new one,” Lincoln explained. “The horse doesn't have a bridle on it yet. He just has a rope halter on him.
“His friend is coming up from behind saying, 'Hey, I got us some whiskey. Let's settle down and start our party.' You know this is just a train wreck waiting to happen.”
CTFAC Executive Director Julie Crouch has been eager to show Lincoln's work for some time.
“A year ago I saw her exhibit at Tarleton,” she said. “I asked her to do one for us. She told me to give her a year to create all new pieces. So I'm excited to see what she has for us. She makes the Cowboy Capitol shine through her art.”
Lincoln's work will be on display at the CTFAC River North Gallery located at 204 River North Blvd. A reception sponsored by Ameriprise Financial will take place from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.