Debra Vance

Las Cruces, NM  

I choose Watercolor as my medium because it represents Freedom. Its's light transparent nature moves and explodes on the paper. The paint itself possesses a personality and behaviors.

Landscapes are my preference - Plein Air is the ultimate in freeing painting experiences. When you arrive at a setting and are settling in, one absorbs the Energy it has to offer; be it from Vibrant Color, Flowing Waters, Clouds or simply God's Designs on full display.

The challenge is two part. First, choosing the colors that resonate with the emotions one sees or feels. The second is then, putting it on to paper.

One is "free" to escape into the painting - Letting the Chase Begin!

Debra Vance

Las Cruces, NM 


I was born in Strongsville OH. Growing up there my Mother kept us busy with art projects of every kind. Crayons, markers, paints, beads, making Christmas ornaments – you name it. My Grandmother was very gifted in Ceramics. So, art was from both sides of the house.

I graduated from high school and college with extra history credits. My associates’ degree in Dental Hygiene was Science based. That history that I loved included the old west and it drew me to Denver, CO a couple years after college.

So, my horse and I moved to Colorado! My what a big adventure – didn’t know a soul. My horse was always anxious to see me at the barn and many new friends were made riding the front range. I couldn’t imagine how the settlers on the Oregon Trail did it.

With a whole new land to explore I set off with my 35 mm camera to photograph it and send pictures back home. (no email in those days) My Mother always thought this too would pass and I would come “home.” It took a long time for her to accept that I had found “my new home in the west.” Alas, when I married a Colorado native 5 years later– she knew it was going to happen.

Husband Dene had attended college in Hastings Nebraska. Went home with college kids and helped now and then with farm chores. He was bitten by the ag bug way back then. His family was stunned when we bought a farm on the South Platte river NE of Denver.

We spent our last 18 years in Denver raising Registered Galloway cattle and show them in Billings and Denver. We both had our careers – yet we doubled down on our work load and bought the ranch. We knew it was eventually our retirement.

In the meantime, we learned all about the “Cattle Biz.” I became a big 4-H kid and learned how to prep / fit cattle for show. They get more hair products used on them then I use on me! We also had the benefit of HOME GROWN BEEF.

What goes better with a steak than a wonderful big red wine. Our interest in wine grew – we started making wine! While visiting wineries in Napa & Sonoma was a wonderful experience; visiting wineries on the front range of Denver were more easily accessible.

Those experiences and friendships grew into jumping in and making wine from grapes grown on the western slope of CO. Then, competing in the Amateur Wine Maker Competition at Colorado’s WineFest. I by chance entered the “Wine Maker Magazine’s” label contest; didn’t win anything. But they read about us because I put our website (that was for marketing cattle) on the bottle. They wanted an interview and we were in their magazine! (even better) They gave us the tag line “BOVINES & FINE WINES.” I used it the rest of our cattle years. We always poured it down at the National Western Stock Show in the cattle pens where our cows were displayed! Our wines were / are never sold as we did not hold necessary licenses.

All the while holding down our regular careers. Denver was booming and it grew to us. It was our cue that it was time to put the place on the market. The last couple frigid winters of feeding cows when it was -27 degrees; we knew we were done. December of 2015 the farm / ranch SOLD; funding our retirement. We did the farm sale, packed and relocated to warmer climate in Las Cruces, NM.

Once settled in, I started looking for somewhere to start my art adventure. Some basic lessons, met people. I was invited to the NM Watercolor Society where I met another instructor and other art organizations here in town and I was off!

The watercolor adventure was under way! My first watercolor professional workshop was at Scottsdale Artist School. I took an intense 5 day workshop with Frank Eber. A second class in February of 2019 with Antonio Masi. The second class has had a profound impact on my paintings and skill set as I had completed enough work to understand the information he conveyed.  So with new skills learned; with more hard work, lots of miles on paint brushes, new friends made and a new form of competition. ART Shows.

I joined the Plein Air Painters of NM. Attended the Plein Air Convention and Expo in Santa Fe April of 2018. Visited Georgia O’keefe’s Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, NM. I could paint there forever – she did!

All of the website, fb, marketing skills were developed for the express purpose of marketing cattle. Now it is all about marketing my art.

Art has opened doors and experiences that will be unfolding for a long time. I was introduced to Plein Air Painting in Yosemite with Frank Eber. It was then I signed up for his workshop. I endeavor to plein air paint as often as I can. The RV was upgraded to a Momentum Toy Hauler - the garage is packed  with my gear – my studio travels where ever we go. I also bring a few paintings and prints to sell along the way. 

Our home has a guest house, called a Casita. It is now home to my art studio.  My studio is now part of a Studio Tour Program here in Las Cruces area with open houses regularly scheduled. It is also a licensed business in the town of Mesilla, NM.

Watercolor Adventure – I love the sound of that!

If you are traveling southern NM; I invite you to look me up and make an appointment to visit my studio. We will have a glass of wine!


Debra Vance

Debra Vance

Las Cruces, NM 

Artist Resume 

After my career in Dental Hygiene and 18 Years of Cattle Ranching; my Watercolor  adventure began. Since my degree was in science—my art education comes from      Workshops at Scottsdale Artist’s School. From respected artists in watercolor and drawing. Seminars on Art History. Books, DVD’s and online learning opportunities as technology evolves.

Years on the ranch helped me develop my love of the land and all of God’s creatures. My artwork subjects drawn from my experiences with the cattle, sense of being grounded to the land and trusting in God when things are difficult.

Time outdoors is important to me thus Plein Air Painting has become a regular endeavor.   Painting on site offers so much more than just working from photos. I feel that emotion and energy are reflected into my paintings.

Rewarding—sums up my experiences. Looking forward to all the future holds.


Scottsdale Artists School with Frank Eber & Antonio Masi. Yosemite Art Conservancy with John Hewitt & Frank Eber. Locally with Marie Siegrist & Rick Rotante.

P.A.C.E. 2018 Watercolor Series (Brienne Brown, Barbara Tapp, Michael Holter & Keiko Tanabe.)

Eric Rhodes’ Art Marketing Bootcamp

Juried Show Entries:

2017 NMWS Spring Show in Albuquerque, NM

2017 NMWS Fall National Show in Albuquerque, NM

PAPNM  2017 National Juried Show, Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe

2018 NMWS Fall National Show in Albuquerque, NM

2019 NMWS Southern Chapter Spring Show in Mesilla, NM

2019 NMWS Spring Show in Albuquerque, NM

Plein Air Events & Shows:

Love is….. 2020 at the El Paso International Museum of Art

2nd Place Award at the Santa Cruz Plein Air 2019—Show at Tubac Center of the Arts

Taos Plein Air Event 2019—Show at the Blumenschein Museum

Wild Rivers Plein Air 2019—Questa / Red River. Show at the Alpine Lodge

Participating in Alternative Spaces Shows with the SC of  NMWS

ArtForms—Studio Tours Feb 2018, 2019, 2020

Monthly Studio Tours at my home


Fort Stanton - Capitan, NM 

El Paso International Museum of Art

Xanadu Gallery’s Online Catalog

Other Shows:

ArtForms—Studio Tours Feb 2018, 2019, 2020

Monthly Studio Tours at my home


New Mexico Watercolor Society                                     

Plein Air Painters of New Mexico

ArtForms / Las Cruces Art Association in Las Cruces     

 Corporate Collectors:

           Edward Jones office of Tony Liska— Boulder CO

           David Sudimack, DDS  Las Cruces, NM

           Patti Havistad- Las Cruces, NM


Private Collectors:

           Karin Madson— Ft. Collins, CO

           Barbara L. Bush—Ruidoso, NM   

           Michele Rasch—Mesilla, NM

           Dave & Marina Moeller—Las Cruces, NM

           Tim & Bonnie Wollin - Green Valley, AZ

           Dana Sekich - Kersey, CO 

           Patsy Amador - Las Cruces, NM

           Diane Lee - Las Cruces, NM

           Beverly Pirtle - Las Cruces, NM 

          Joy Sherlock - Ft. Collins, CO 

          Juile Fitzsimmons - Las Cruces, NM

            George Bone - Santa Fe Springs, CA

            Kathleen Key - La Mesa, NM

            Helen Booth       - Las Cruces, NM 

            Ysela Gonzalez - El Paso, TX 

            Donna Stryker - Las Cruces, NM 

            Ken Ruble—Buyer at Wild Rivers Event

             Coralie Carrier—Las Cruces, NM

             Joane Pappas White—Price, UT

             Cindy Lane—Las Cruces, NM

             Dorian Clouser—El Paso, TX

             Diana Bolsinger—Las Cruces, NM

             Lani Davis—Las Cruces, NM

             Nancy Tipton—Las Cruces, NM

             Dan Vurpillat—Mesa, AZ


             Chelsea Merrihew—Angles Landing, Zion NP,  Milky Way—Window to the Stars

             Kathleen Key—”La Heve at Low Tide” - my interpretation of Monet’s 1865 painting.




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