Deborah Fox’s colorful paintings of bison, bears, and barn owls featured at the Grand Teton Gallery seem to burst from their canvas environments. Their expressive eyes will draw you in and leave you longing to spend time in the technicolor grasslands of Fox’s fantastic version of the Tetons.
Fox grew up skiing with her mother, Alicia Siegler, and late sister, Kate Kossler, in Austria. The family moved to Colorado when Fox was very young and they eventually made their way to Jackson Hole in the 1970s.
Siegler, who is one of Fox’s greatest artistic influences, worked in Grand Teton National Park and taught skiing locally. Fox’s uncle, Will Bassett, guided for Exum Mountain Guides, and Fox grew up following her athletic family up hilltops, across rivers, and down snowy peaks.
“We were outdoor people,” Fox laughs. “We didn’t spend a lot of time inside.”
They even practiced falconry and traveled the world together, living a happily unconventional life filled with creativity and respect for their natural surroundings.
In an effort to spend more time together as physical activities became harder with age, Fox and Siegler joined the Teton Plein Air Painters, a group dedicated to practicing their art in the outdoors. Fox advanced quickly in the group and soon began painting daily, exploring different subjects and mediums.
Friends and fellow painters encouraged Fox to experiment with watercolor on canvas, which is now her medium of choice. This unusual choice of mediums is unpredictable and difficult to master, which is precisely why Fox enjoys it so much.
“I love the hydraulics of it,” Fox says. “Things flow into each other. I paint wet a lot of the time, which is when you paint, pour water over it, and watch it move. It takes a lot of effort to make it look effortless.”
Fox, who studied pre-veterinary medicine in college, eventually focused on animals as the subject matter for most of her work. She sees connection in all of nature, and especially in endangered creatures whose fate is ultimately tied to our own.
“That’s why I paint animals most of the time,” Fox says. “It helps me connect with my humanity, with nature, and with what’s going on with the environment, even if I am not able to be in it all the time.”
Through her art, she seeks to educate people and inspire them to conserve the wild creatures that speak through her dreamy watercolors.
“There are a million reasons why we do anything, but mostly, I paint because it makes me happy, gives me joy, and takes me to a really good place,” she says. “I make happy art.”