MFA Columbia University

BFA UC Berkeley


I consider myself fortunate to have studied painting at UC Berkeley under Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown, two founding members, along with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park and Nathan Oliveira, of the Bay Area Figurative School. Bischoff in particular was a mentor to me and influences me to this day.

I moved to New York and got an MFA at Columbia University, where my focus was large-scale abstract paintings. I later worked as a textile designer in the garment district. What I took from textile design was the ability to mix colors, to work fast, and a "tight hand" (which is good and bad).

But when the landscape painter Wolf Kahn attended one of my abstract paintings openings and commented favorably on my work, a seed was planted and upon my return to California several years later I began landscape painting in earnest.

I try to paint 5-6 days a week, weather permitting. I paint on location ("in plein air") 95% of the time. The viewer may not necessarily see a big difference between "plein air" and studio work, but as the artist I always do.

Most of my scenes are in Sonoma and Marin counties, though I like to include north Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs and the Manhattan Beach/Venice area of southern California as well.

I've been fortunate to cultivate relationships with farmers, ranchers and vineyard owners, which allows me to paint on private property. Other times, I'll just start driving around, looking for color and contrast of values, and of course composition.  When I see the right spot, it always hits me right away.

Thanks for viewing my work!

Deborah Cushman
January, 2015