About Me

My Story

“We often say we have lost our connection with nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say we lost our connection to nature, we have lost our connection to ourselves.”

Andy Goldsworthy

Debra L. Kiel
Canadian Acrylic and Pencil Artist

Why do I draw tree huggers? Good question. I see now, it’s been a process which evolved throughout my lifetime. Starting with the universe aligning me, with these two things;I was born unable to see clearly. With tiny little glasses, many eye patches and three eye surgeries, the world of color and light finally became clear in delightful detail. To this day, marvelling at its beauty has never left me.
My Artistic Dad, used the wand from the antiseptic bottle to draw a little tattoo picture beside a scape or bump, made me feel so much better.
Two precious gifts! An Artistic eye of my own and a connection with Love, Art, and Healing.I was born early morning, spring of 1963. At age 2, Artist abilities were starting to show.

By grade one I was learning piano, which continued well into my teens. Parents thought it was a good path for me and mom was a piano teacher. However, daily practice, precision technique and playing in front of others, literally caused a pain in my neck every time I sat down to play. My heart was not in it. Unfortunately, it also developed a pattern of always getting my work done first or pleasing others, before honoring my own creative expression. Two challenges, I would work on the rest of my life.
Drawing and coloring still filled some of my younger days. Being ambidextrous I liked producing images from either hand holding my pencil. Switching still helps me when I’m stuck creatively.

At age eight, as a rather confident little artist, I won an afternoon at the City Gallery. However, the studio located in the basement, modern concrete cold and grey, lacked the Art on display I was expecting. It gave no feeling of inspiration. Next, the teacher corrected my painting using my brush!
Embarrassed in that moment, and very annoyed with her changing my idea, I creatively shut down. My young self felt “not good enough” to be in a gallery or in the Art world. “A good artist makes it look like a photograph,” were other words I heard during this formative time. Another creative box which I tried to fit in with little satisfaction.
Sadly, these younger self ideas blocked my creativity until my adult life. However, the pull to draw and paint never left me, not for a minute.

I got married in my early twenties. Was very blessed with two amazing children.
Living first on a farm, east of Edmonton, then times working up in Northern B.C. It gave me a life that was very busy and I continuously allowed my Artwork to fall to the end of the list. I did a few wildlife drawings, but they had to be “perfect” and were just copying what I saw.
In 2001, I moved to the middle of the big bush in Northern Alberta. With increased responsibilities and business obligations, creativity had a hard time surfacing.

I still loved that I could breathe air that was beyond fresh and spent time in the beautiful wild feeling Mother Earth surrounding and reminding me of my connection to her.

I sat on a beaver house listening to loons, hilltop country star gazed, watched northern lights dance, glimpsed a huge whitetail buck or a black bear walking through the yard or the dew drops on a spider web hanging somewhere in my garden.
Cooked on a wood stove in a mountain cabin, rode horses where the river flowed over the saddle, and climbed mountains where stone sheep ran up one side and down the other. Watched a horse foal or my children picking berries where valleys or fields of wild flowers, with every shape and color imaginable, were there if I took a moment to look.

Years later, the low point in my life. A 27 year marriage ended.
Yet, it was then, I was drawn to discover what I loved, who I am on this planet and what I valued. Starting with what I was attracted to.
Love. Trees. Nature. Energy. Human connection. The mystery and wonder of life came to mind.
I read,” Love is not in our imagination but is the only true source of energy that has a real effect on the world.” I felt I was created as part of nature, and love and nature are one.

 In 2010 my studies began in what resulted in a career with Massage Therapy, Reflexology including advanced studies in Cranial Sacral therapy.
I was fascinated by the movement of muscles, the study of bones and the energy it took to move and heal the body. It also allowed me to draw the human form exactly the way the limb would move or lay.
I learned “the reward for attention is always healing.” and while sitting under a favorite tree, I heard and felt the words, “We were created to create.” So, I started creating.

Beginning in 2011 my first Tree Hugger was drawn by thinking… what do I love? I prayed for something to come through me and there it was! The divine was listening.
Maybe I was just listening! My container of awareness started to expand. Beautifully capturing the ability to feel an emotion in each image, along with a message of healing through love and nature, inspired me!
As for my Artist child. I let her know, I loved her work, ideas, creations…let’s keep going!
I accepted the gallery incident as a gift. Seeing that it sparked and bonded my connection between Art and real emotion.

In 2014, I met a wonderful partner who loves all types of Art and encouraged me to paint. We enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum and walked through the Musee D’Orsay. My eyes opened to color and brush strokes and a world of other Artists. Places I never imagined I would visit.
Now as my husband, he patiently supports me as I celebrate or sometimes struggle with a painting or drawing! His love for guitar gave me a new love of music. Our home includes my beautiful Art studio nestled in the trees of the mountains.

In 2019, my life took a drastic U-turn. With my dear Dad’s passing suddenly, followed by the Pandemic restrictions shutting down my massage career, I started running the family business. This time balancing my time with my Art.

Most early mornings, my Art room light is turned on.
I love watching the trees awaken and the sun moving beautifully over their branches. I visit that mysterious place where time stands still and the only thing that exists is my pencil or paintbrush.

I am connected to that part of the universe that reminds me….
To ponder and feel the depth of a love bond,
To wonder and breathe in our connection with nature,
is to live fully.

An Art degree is something I cannot add to this biography story.
However, I am continuously learning. Art Therapy has also sparked my curiosity.

Recently, I studied with Dr. Nima Rahmany, learning conscious living skills for self love and well being. I am grateful to him for where I am now.

This will be my 60th year on this planet. I am authentically grateful for all those I hold dear, and proud of myself for stepping out into the Art world spotlight.

I am delighted you have taken an interest in my work. It encourages me to walk in the woods and see my connection to the wild and love of all kinds. May it also fill your personal space with love and nature by simply hanging them on your wall.

Debra L. Kiel
Tree Hugger Love Series