MEET DEB HERBERT
ARTIST, ADVOCATE AND BUSINESSWOMAN, HER WILD HORSES ON CANVAS
Written by: Ava Grace
Wild mustangs, racehorses and roundups, only bolder, brighter and more intensely represented in the artwork of Deb Herbert.
Herbert adds more life to an already brilliant subject, using mixed media, acrylics and oils with occasional colored and graphite pencil work. She also uses photography. She studies what she sees, starts sketching and then produces her work, some abstract, others more detailed. “I describe my style as contemporary with an emphasis on capturing the spirit and emotion of my subjects through passionate color and freely rendered form,” says Herbert.
Herbert drew and painted early and was always considered the class artist. During high school, she was invited back to her elementary school to teach afternoon art. “As a horse-lover, I was a reader of every horse book I could find,” adds Herbert.
Herbert received a faculty scholarship to Florida Atlantic University and was able to test out of the first two years of college. She then entered a fine-arts program and graduated at 20 with a K-12 teaching certification. “I also met my future husband—a BFA/K-12 teacher at FAU—and we married the day after graduation,” says Herbert.
She got her first teaching job as a permanent substitute art teacher one month after graduating and was hired full time with Sarasota County schools, where she taught for over 30 years. “In the midst of that, we had our wonderful daughter, and I did a stint for three years as the director of school and teacher programs at the Ringling Museum … a wonderful job! My husband and I also took a year off as young teachers and traveled as professional artists for a year with The Master Artists Tour (formerly Artist Touring Association),” says Herbert.
When she turned 30, Herbert purchased her first horse, a Morgan/Appaloosa cross named Daisy. “I’ve owned horses ever since! I currently have an off-the-track quarter horse mare KitandCaboodle, my retired dressage AQHA mare Belle (Genuine Arctic Spring), who I competed through third level in Western Dressage, and a feisty mini-horse named Prince Caspian. And we just lost my sweet old gelding Irish, a saddle-bred cross,” says Herbert.
Upon retirement, however, Herbert fulfilled a self-promise to focus on art. “That love of creating has become a full-time business as Deb Herbert Art,” says Herbert.
Since the Herberts live surrounded by ranches and a stone’s throw from the gorgeous TerraNova Equestrian Center in Myakka City, Florida, and multiple equine facilities, she has ample local material to draw from. She is also often commissioned to paint memorial portraits of beloved pets and performance horses.
I DESCRIBE MY STYLE AS CONTEMPORARY WITH AN EMPHASIS ON CAPTURING THE SPIRIT AND EMOTION OF MY SUBJECTS THROUGH PASSIONATE COLOR AND FREELY RENDERED FORM.
Herbert is also a wild-horse advocate and has developed friendships with excellent wild-horse photographers allowing their photos as references. “With
so many wild mustangs being rounded up each year and placed in Bureau of Land Management holding pens to face uncertain fates, I use my wild mustang art to educate and advocate for keeping them free as the American icons that they are,” Herbert says.
“I also donate to wild horse advocacy groups and rescues. When I sell specific images from my site of wild horses that were rescued by Skydog (Ranch) Sanctuary, I donate a portion of my proceeds to that wonderful organization. The most famous of those horses being the beloved Blue Zeus and Samson.
“To me, our wild horses represent freedom, beauty, courage and devotion to family. I see them as very spiritual creatures and often I refer to scripture about horses when I introduce new work in social media,” says Herbert.
In addition to her artistry, Herbert runs her business and website, debherbertart.com, and social media platforms. “For fun, my husband and I might take a ride to breakfast on our motorcycles or explore the countryside on spontaneous ‘photo safaris,’ says Herbert.
Some of her other greatest enjoyment is spending time with her wonderful 3-year-old grandson, KJ, her beautiful daughter, Mollie, and her fantastic husband Byron, owner of Next Level Plumbing. FCM