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Front & Centre


The Patience


Debbie Doogan

There has long been a sense of serendipity to the content of the Jaywalker. Three examples immediately come to mind: our chance discovery of the Smith sisters (Amanda and Stefanie) at the Women's Art Festival; our lucky find of Wayne Westfall's self portrait at the Wellington Boutique; and more recently, our bumping into of Debbie Doogan's work at the Kingston School of Art.

It all began as we came in for a visit with Erik Fraser, who teaches at the school with Debbie. We'd come in to discuss capturing some images for use in the near future. Near a doorway hung a piece by Debbie, part of an instructor's exhibit currently showing at the school. "Dream Net" (centre) seemed to leap from the wall with its depiction of fur, fun and family. Its title was uncannily appropriate for Jaywalker's theme this month - Dreams.

Adding to the serendipity, the drawing was in black and white,   which was really quite fortunate, as it is far more affordable to print and our January budget reflected the seasonal low. Our further rationalization was that it's been said that we dream in black and white, so such a piece would be perfect for the centrefold. Really!

But one painting does not a Front & Centre make. So we needed to see much more of her work. A distance away, a coy wallflower stared back at us. Actually, it seemed that no matter where we stood, "No Boys Allowed" (above, with colour detail, front cover) was impossible to miss. We had our perfect cover.

Debbie Doogan is clearly fond of people, forms and textures.  Each fabric, shadow, highlight  and  shape  is carefully added to the page, then given life through the full, lively personality of each character.  Every character has a pure love of life.

There's a real sense of democracy to Debbie's work. The subjects are each given prominence, as are the textures and colours. This reflects the artist nicely. In person, Debbie divides herself just as evenly. When we came by to take the first photos, we inadvertently interrupted her class. She quickly accommodated us without neglecting her class, taking time to carefully remove "Veils of Isis" from its frame for us to photograph.

But it turned out that our gear was unable to properly capture the rich detail and vivid colour of Debbie's work. We needed to do a studio reshoot, relying on Chris Peck at Digital Imaging Services. Debbie again had to remove "Veils of Isis" from its frame, then wrap all three originals for travel to the photo studio.

In the end, after many pitfalls and pratfalls, we had the images you now see in Front and Centre. As we looked back at the process, we realized that the detail in Debbie Doogan's work reveals one more aspect of the artist herself - her patience. Often the artist treats their artwork differently than they do the people around them; for Debbie, perhaps, they are one and the same.


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