Debi Mackinnon was born in Vancouver, Canada, where she now resides and works. She completed a double honours degree in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia in 1978, focussing on Indigenous art as well as the work of historical and modern Canadian artists. Debi has been painting full-time since 2001.

Debi grew up surrounded by generations of artists and artisans. Her great, great grandfather was the British silversmith to the Royal Family in the 1800s. Her great grandfather, a goldsmith, established one of Canada’s most iconic jewellery businesses in Montreal in the early 1900s. As a child, Debi spent many hours in the Vancouver studio of this establishment studying the artisans’ elegantly simple yet intricate creations. Debi’s grandfather, a prolific collector of European and Canadian art, was also an international industrial designer whose inventions continue to be used around the world today.

Debi’s mother, a well-known water-colour artist, was employed at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s original 1145 Georgia Street location. At the age of five, Debi was spending hours at the VAG with her mother, experiencing up-close and personal, the Gallery’s small yet impressive collection of Canadian and international artists. With a mentoring mother and the VAG as an artistic playground, Debi discovered at an early age that artists could use colour, texture, brushstrokes and movement to bring canvasses to life.

Lost in a Day Dream 2021, acrylic on canvas 48x48 inches

As a student at UBC, Debi worked part-time at the VAG as a purchaser of Indigenous art. She worked closely with local Haida artists Bill Reid and Robert Davidson and their combined genius had a significant effect on her appreciation of the soul of art. She also had direct access to the Gallery’s collections of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, and Tom Thomson, whose works had a profound impact on the artist’s understanding of how colour and light influence our sensory attachment to nature.

Debi works exclusively in the medium of acrylic on canvas. She is known for her vibrant, often untamed floralscapes that combine colour and movement on oversized canvasses. She constantly explores the effects of colour and light on the natural landscape, pushing the boundaries of her personal creativity. She is inspired by the simplicity of nature: a brilliant bouquet of blushing peonies, a spring garden bursting with amethyst irises and lemony daffodils, a wild field of ruby poppies, or a sapphire crocus poking through the milky snow.

Debi’s work can be found in public and private collections in Canada, the United States, England, Hong Kong and Shanghai.