DEBORAH YOUNGLAO is a mostly self-taught artist who uses the luxurious fibers of silk to portray her love of nature.  Her background is a diverse one:  in addition to her native Caribbean island of Trinidad, Deborah has lived in Barbados, Ireland, Canada and 4 states in the US, including her current home of North Carolina. Flora, fauna, colors, shapes and lines inspired by nature come to life on shimmering silk painted with vibrant liquid dyes.

Although her formal education was in Science (she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of the West Indies and a Masters in Oceanography from McGill University), Deborah’s creative side led her to express her fascination with nature in an artistic rather than a scientific manner. Deborah was introduced to dye-painting (painting with dyes instead of paint) on silk in 1997, and thus started a love affair which has grown into a full-time calling. Her workspace has grown from a corner of the dining room table to a dedicated studio that holds up to eight students for workshops.

Deborah turns her painted silk creations both into scarves—the ultimate fashion accessory, and fine art, where the softness and luminosity of the silk, coupled with her bold colors, add panache to any décor. Not satisfied with only two dimensions, she also adds extra texture to some of her pieces with hand and machine embellishment.

Although basically self-taught and always experimenting, Deborah continues to develop her skills through workshops led by renowned silk painters. She in turn introduces the technique to others by teaching classes in her home studio and as a guest at other artists’ studios. Deborah sells her work primarily at juried art shows and group exhibitions, where her work has won several awards. The internet is becoming an increasingly important venue for her sales. She also creates commissioned pieces for private and corporate clients.

In 2010 Deborah became a signature member of Silk Painters International (SPIN), and was awarded the designation of Master Silk Painter. She has been a member of SPIN’s executive board, and is also a member of several other arts organizations.

Nature is the inspiration for my paintings. They originate from something in the environment that captures my attention, when I cannot resist the urge to translate my feeling about the scene into a painted image. I am absorbed by the process and develop an intimate relationship with my painting; we converse… I tell it what I want, it tells me what it wants; we compromise. Like planting seeds in a garden and witnessing bare soil erupt into color, I watch with anticipation as my ideas come to life in color on my silk.

Most of my paintings have a tropical twist either in the subject matter or in the bright colors I like to use; this keeps me grounded in my Caribbean roots. The dyes sparkle with wonderful brilliance on the luminous silk, and even though I like painting with bold colors, the silk gives them a delicate softness.

I approach each painting with a sense of adventure, since the reaction of the dyes with the silk, like nature, is unpredictable. The promise of that adventure, that dance, that meditation, is what keeps me tearing off pieces of white silk from my bolt and painting them to life.