Debbie Neill was born in Zambia and attended school in Zimbabwe. After graduating from the University of Cape Town in 1977 with a degree in History and Archaeology, she qualified in the UK to teach English as a Foreign Language. She took up a teaching post in the British Council in Qatar and then in Jordan where she met her future husband who was working in the oil business. After this they lived in several different countries, eventually ending up in Aberdeen.
Although encouraged to go to university rather than to art college, Debbie’s first love has always been painting. Her mother was a successful portrait artist and her sister a graphic artist. While raising a family in Aberdeen, Debbie continued to teach English and paint pictures in her spare time but as the demand for her paintings increased she turned to working full-time as an artist.
Debbie paints mainly in acrylics, bright landscapes of local places. She enjoys depicting the colours of summer, the patchwork fields, the dark trees and the sharp patterns made by the houses, farms and animals in the Aberdeenshire countryside. In the winter snowy city scenes and the dramatic north east coastline with its many small harbours also provide a source of inspiration.
‘I’ve seen it debated on the internet whether my paintings are ‘impressionist’ or follow in the tradition of the Scottish colourists. Too be honest, I don’t give such categorisation much thought. I just paint what I like and hope other people like it too – I’m guessing the bright colours come from my African background!’