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Deb Komitor: "And the Seasons, They Go Round and Round..."

Autumn Glow Embraces the Heart by Deb Komitor

We have all walked through the woods in autumn and found it hard to imagine anything more beautiful than brightly colored leaves fluttering in the breeze. Some tumbling to the ground and others already landed, they make a carpet for us as we walk with our usual confidence in the regularity of the change in seasons. However, have we really looked? Did we notice the blue of the sky reflected in a small puddle of water? Did we notice how the earth cast in shadow took on a grayish tone? Did we see how the sunlight beyond the stand of trees had a whitish glow? Probably not, but there are those who can see this, capture it, and recreate for us the feeling of the place and that serene calm that comes over us when nature tells us all is well.

"I look at how the light falls on a subject and at the colors. That is my visual response to any scene. Beyond that is my emotional response, which has to do with expressing the magical quality of the place." Deb Komitor

Deb Komitor, a distinquished career artist (just look at her website, does more than just look and feel. She interprets the essence of the scene. Then hands it to us not as a photographic copy but as a love song in images. Growing up the only girl in a house full of sports-minded brothers, she says she was always drawing. "It was my way of being seen and heard," Komitor says. "Art was my friend that was always there." Her friend, Art, took her on a voyage to a B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio to a M.F.A in painting from Colorado State College in Fort Collins, CO. Through all that, she developed a voice, one that led her to paint in opposites: from front to back, from dark to light, from the inside out. "I just do things backwards," she says.

Unplugged by Deb Komitor

"I used to paint on red." Deb Komitor

Komitor now normally works on a black surface and with negative space. "Empty white surfaces stare at you," she says. She solved this potential block by working on colored surfaces, finally eschewing her red for a black surface in which small points of light peek through. "My art made sense to me when I started to paint on black," Komitor states. It makes wonderful sense to the viewer as well. In the deep forest of Unplugged, the foreground is dense, dark, brambles, with the sparest touches of lght. As the painting works its way upward, the eye is treated to shadowy pinks and violets, a touch of pale yellow, and finally pale blue patches of sky. The viewer feels both entangled in the underbrush and amazed at the shadowy wonder of light filtering through the trees. Komitor says that using just a touch of light helps her take herself out of the painting. She also paints trees as though they were old friends. She admits that when she is in a beautiful old-growth forest, she feels that she is among "her people." She posits with amusing charm that maybe when we die, we should hope to reincarnate as a higher level being, like a tree which can live for hundreds of years and can give life to so many things.

Ahhhh, the Warmth of Spring by Deb Komitor

Komitor feels that vulnerability and the awareness of vulnerability is a super power that women have. Rather than seeing themselves as invincible, the keen knowledge that life is fragile and can easily be gone in a moment (and that includes everyone and everything) is an essential piece of knowing. Representing those golden leaves that are falling gloriously to their end or this keen-faced little fox, warming itself in the soft sun of springtime after the deep snows of winter, takes a special awareness and acceptance of human frailty and that of all other things on this planet.

During the Pandemic, when we all got a dose of this awareness, Komitor spent time going through books of old slides, the ones she used to have to send to galleries before the digital age came upon us. In looking at them, she could see how she approached a subject years ago and also see in her mind's eye how she would do that now. She describes learning as a spiral in which we cover the same ground but with more experience and understanding as we circle past an already treated theme from a higher level of understanding. This development in who we are allows us to take up a topic, a theme, a belief with fresh eyes and insights gained by life experience, so if we choose to interact with that thing again, the experience and any product are wholly different.

Komitor says that at times in her life, even when she was winning a prize or at a solo show of her work, she did not always feel deserving of being called an artist. However, when she earned enough money to outfit her own studio, buy a kiln or a slab roller, she would feel that yes, indeed, she was an artist. Perhaps even more important have been those times when her views of nature have helped those who were physically bound to the interiors of their homes to have the experience of a stroll in the woods.

The artist related the touching instance of a young man who wrote to tell her he had taken a picture of one of her pieces at an art show. He hoped that she did not mind, but since he was someone who suffered from severe anxiety attacks, he often stayed inside his home. However, with that beautiful picture of forests on his phone, when he went out, if the anxiety started, he just looked at her painting, and he calmed right down. A different aspect of art appreciation was revealed by a client who purchased a piece to hang behind her as a classy background for her ZOOM meetings.

To get a feel for what goes on when Komitor goes into one of those black canvases, just take a look at a studio view of her tackling a grand subject.

A woman artist in jeans in her studio before four panels of black canvas on which she is painting a forest landscape.
Komitor in the Studio

We are about to get a special treat in the month of March. Surface Gallery is showing the works of Deb Komitor. The pieces have a wonderful resoluteness about them. Yes, the seasons go round and round, like that spiral of learning she spoke of. In each turn of the spiral, we all have a new chance to view life from a different level of understanding and come to know ourselves. Komitor believes that is what we need to connect with others and to create. She sees our world becoming calmer and more inward looking as younger generations place value on kindness, connectedness, and community, as opposed to the Boomers' focus on personal happiness. With that, art is also changing. Komitor sees more figuration, but one of the main ingredients of art remains: how well it connects to the viewer on an emotional level. That may be part of an odd paradox: Change seems everywhere, yet some things never do.

Deb Komitor in front of And the Seasons, They Go Round and Round.

"We are captive on the carousel of time.

We can't return, we can only look

Behind, from where we came

And go round and round and round, in the circle game"

Lyrics from Joni Mitchell's The Circle Game

Contact Deb Komitor through her website:

Should you be interested in articles on art history combined with a discussion of wines, go to my other art blog, Also see my author page at

© Marjorie Vernelle 2023

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