June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:12 PM
"Debora House's painting career began with something we've all done - making cards for St. Valentine's Day.She began by painting large sheets of paper, then cutting fragments for collages and sending them. Then it was thank-you notes. Then birthday cards.Pretty soon, House said, it wasn't just a card-making retreat a few times a year. And then I decided to paint a canvas - that way you can't cut it up. You have to take responsibility for the whole painting.House began painting five years ago in Stockholm, Sweden, after working for years as a textile designer. Her work leans towards abstract expressionism and her main interests are texture and color.I rotate the canvas constantly when I paint to balance the colors, she said. And since it's abstract, House said, I want it to work no matter how you hang it. I also do it to keep surprising myself.Her process, she says, is about the colors themselves.The paintings are not accidental, but they emerge out of what I'm doing, what I see, how I'm feeling, she said.House still works in the textile industry, teaching interior design students at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and traveling to Bangkok, Thailand, each year to create new patterns and help set up the manufacturing process.Some of her earlier works, including a kimono series, focused on abstract depictions of textiles.She favors abstract work because of its psychological aspects.When you've got a painting of a horse standing in a field, that horse will be standing in that field for all time, she said. But an abstract painting changes over time as your perspective changes.Symbols, like language and rune stones, are important in her painting. One of her current works, Flow, includes some of her 13-year-old daughter's algebra homework.It was some equation - beyond my math scope, House said, and once the paint dried, I began to think about it and she said, 'Don't worry, mom. It works out.'In House's vision, art works as a counterbalancing force, becoming more personal as day-to-day life becomes more impersonal, hence the proliferation of symbols, text and collage techniques popular in contemporary painting.House has no formal training in painting, which she sees as a possible benefit.I'm not educated in art in a classical way, which I think is what saves me. I can live with mistakes.The painter also suggests that viewers come to abstract art without formal education.Sometimes, the less education, the better. Abstract art should be approached with childlike acceptance, she said. You can educate yourself to death, but you'll always respond viscerally. "