Debra Darvick

enhance your now in word and image



Line by Line

Many of you know how dearly I’ve wanted to learn how to draw and explore creating visual art. This March will make 9 years since I began making good on a pledge to myself. I would chase away the ghosts, silence the inner voices saying I had no business picking up a paintbrush or a drawing pencil.

The Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center has become the place for fulfilling that pledge. I’ve taken classes there on and off for years: pottery classes (wheel and handbuilding); a pleasant watercolor workshop; a disastrous drawing class that was way over my head; two fabulous out-of-the-box mixed-media classes.  About three years ago I fell into a rhythm and began learning from a marvelous palette of teachers. They have guided me with patience, compassion and a drop or three of firmness until finally, I am beginning to see with an artist’s eye.

For the past week, I have kept this page on my desk. It was our final assignment in Drawing 2.       I struggled mightily, redrawing lines, erasing, repositioning shadows. Our teacher offered a steady stream of encouragement and precise suggestions for improving our work. I measured and remeasured, asked my eyes again and again, What are you actually seeing?

Bit by bit, the woman in the photo became real. She has dimension. She expresses a mood. I still can’t totally believe that I actually drew this. But      I did. Of course there are improvements to be made, refinements to be learned. I’ll get there. I’m keeping her on my desk a while longer. The ghosts have been silenced. Instead, I look at her and hear her invite me to pick up my pencil again and again and once again.

Fall Gathering

Martin and I see different worlds.   When we’re out walking in the neighborhood or hiking out west, I point out sights on the ground: a camouflaged horned toad, a snail making its way across a stone, a teeny flower reaching for its place in the sun. He captures vistas that I’d need stilts, or at least a step stool, to enjoy.

Then there are the times I see something that would make a great photo, but I’m just not tall enough to make it work.  This fall photo is the latest such example. Isn’t this a glorious cornucopia of color and texture?  From where I stood, had I snapped the image, you would have  the concrete platform supporting the flowers, leaves and pumpkins and little of the arrangement itself. I called Martin over and voila! In addition to capturing the arrangement, he was able to frame it with the fiery maple.

Ah, my world would be much the poorer without his vision.

What Now?

I don’t know who I was with or how we got on the topic but ashtrays came up. A friend remembered that when she was a child, when company was coming, it was her job to polish the silver ashtrays.

The conversation reminded me that I have one of my grandmother’s ashtrays. It is heavy enough to do some real damage should I drop it on my toe. It doesn’t particularly inspire fond memories, or any memories for that matter.  Like most in their generation, my grandparents were big smokers so I assume this ashtray got plenty of use. No longer. It’s been in the basement for years taking up a small square of space.

Have any of you repurposed an ashtray? How? I can’t exactly imagine using it as a serving dish. I already have a catch-all for the car keys and at this stage of the game I don’t dare change the routine. I could float a single flower blossom in it.  That could look chic. Or maybe a pillar candle? That would have some resonance of its original purpose. I’m not going to take up smoking.  Stay tuned.

Eye Candy

Oh, this sweet planter of pansies took my breath away.  Isn’t it gorgeous! I don’t remember where I saw it. Who paints an exterior wall orange?  Thankfully someone did and momentarily redefined the term wallflower.


photo credit: Debra Darvick

Photo Op

I went along to Belle Isle with Martin’s photography club. Now owned by the state, its gardens, Conservatory and other buildings are being restored to glory and gorgeousness. After meeting up, we scattered to wherever our eyes drew us.  I enjoyed the experience of having an “assignment” of sorts as opposed to snapping keepsake shots. 

It kept things interesting working within the limits of my rather antiquated iPhone SE. The flowers were in full bloom and stunning. A very protective red-winged blackbird strafed quite a few in the group, leading to some wonderful shots.

Martin and I see different worlds. His height gives him vistas that escape me. I tend to the small sights at ground level and play around with abstracting what I see. One woman was as entranced as I was at the purple stems of a blue globe thistle.  I can’t wait to see what she captured.

For me, the best part of the morning was a conversation I had with a 70-ish man who was taking in the sun by a goldfish pond.  “We need more of this,” he said, gesturing to the lilies and the sky. “Nature is healing. We’d all be so much better off if we spent more time in Nature.”        I agreed. The conversation veered to some reading of the Bible he had done the evening before, how we were created to be Earth’s stewards. “It all gets lost in making a profit from everything and losing sight of what really matters.” I agreed with him.  “I’m David by the way. How do we change it?”

“By having conversations just like this, David,”    I replied.  “One exchange at a time. My name’s Debra.” We shook hands, Covid be darned. “Here we are a King and prophet. We’ll get there. Maybe not in our lifetimes but we will.       I hope.” David laughed and waved. I did the same. The woke would have seen us as adversaries. We saw one another from a kinder truth — two human beings thankful for the blessing of being alive, surrounded by God’s beauty, and uplifted to have met a compatriot in hope.


Here are a few more images from that lovely day:



Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory 


Yin minus yang? Apostrophe?                                                          


                               One scary cacti!