Cows. Horses. Chickens. The farm animal subjects frequently found in oil painter Debbi Green’s works are ones she holds close to her heart.
“My favorite thing to do is paint animals,” said the Westlake Village-based artist. Her latest exhibition, focused on farm animal portraits specifically, is currently on display at Gallery Los Olivos.
A lot of Green’s works were inspired by the farm life that surrounds her, as she lives near the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, surrounded by large ranches inhabited by various types of farm animals.
Green’s home is also right on the edge of the northern county line of Los Angeles County.
Luckily for her, and Gallery Los Olivos, Green’s address is technically within Ventura County’s limits. A frequent visitor of the Central Coast, Green has admired the gallery for a while and was relieved to hear it showcases artists that hail from both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“Literally, I live on the lake and the boundary goes right through the middle of the lake,” said Green, whose new exhibit at Gallery Los Olivos is slated to remain on display through Thursday, Feb. 29.
An opening reception for the solo show, titled En Mi Corazón: Amigos y Familia, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3, from noon to 3 p.m.
Throughout the exhibit’s run, Green’s paintings will also be available for sale, and a percentage of the proceeds will support Guide Dogs of America, a nonprofit dedicated to training service and guide dogs for individuals who are visually impaired, veterans, children with autism, and others.
Attendees of the Feb. 3 reception might get the chance to meet Green, who is open to chatting about the different animals she’s painted and their real-world counterparts—which don’t always necessarily line up, the artist explained.
“I like to entertain myself with stories I make up. I’m the sort of person who likes to give them all a little personality,” said Green, who, for example, endowed one of her rooster portraits with the title Chloe Barthlona.
“Roosters are male, but I gave [Chloe] a little crown kind of look, and I thought, well, she’s so fancy,” Green said. “Her name’s actually Chloe Barcelona but she has a bit of a lisp, so it sounds like Barthlona. These are the kinds of stories I make up.”
Sometimes Green’s animal portraits and their whimsical backstories are inspired by a book she’s reading at the moment or the music she has on in the background while painting.
“Music titles are great for names. I just painted two donkeys, and they’re lovers. I was listening to Guns N’ Roses and thought, let’s add some roses,” said Green, who decided to title the donkey duo painting Love N’ Roses.
Green’s fanciful farm animal tributes can be found framed on the walls of a handful of boutiques in Southern California. The artist’s passion for painting animals is so well-known among her friends that her phone is often blasted with texts of pet photos from her contacts in the hopes of igniting inspiration for future projects.
The prolific painter also often takes her own reference photos of animals to paint from later in her studio. Once while seeing a friend on the Central Coast, Green visited the Return to Freedom wild horse sanctuary in Lompoc. She took some photos of several horses there and painted from those images upon returning home to Westlake Village.
Regardless of what kind of animal she’s painting, Green said there’s one quality she recognizes in every creature she’s come across.
“When I look at these animals, I just know there’s this gentleness within them,” Green said, “and that’s what I love to paint.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood wants a Beatles-themed beetle portrait. Send comments to [email protected].