BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- Most Governor Livingston students know Debora Thedinga as one of the interpreters for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at GL. However, Thedinga is also an artist - with a not so hidden talent for painting.

When Thedinga first stumbled upon art during her childhood, she loved it. She majored in fine art in college, but never considered painting. However, once she started painting, she discovered her hidden love and couldn’t stop. Thedinga paints landscapes primarily, although she has done a few portraits and still lifes. Her favorite type of painting is en plein air, a type of painting done when she spends 2-3 hours in a certain location on a nice day and paints the scenery. She has done many pieces down the shore in Ocean Grove, Cape May, and Barnegat Bay. Something special about en plein air paintings is that they can “stand alone as a finished piece or become the basis for larger paintings.”

Thedinga’s style is more impressionistic. However, she “finds it hard to label” herself, as she loves painting without focusing on a certain style. She has taken en plein air workshops in Cape May and took painting classes at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit. Most of her paintings are oil on canvas and depict different landscapes from her unique point of view. Her main focus when painting is to evoke emotion and allow each viewer to see her work in a deeper way. In her paintings, the motif of human design can be seen, which creates “a mood that transports the viewer through this window and into the landscape.”

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Outside of school, Thedinga has been recognized for her excellence. She has received awards such as the Best in Show at the 2017 Cranford Paint Out and an honorable mention at the 2016 Pascack Tri-State Juried Exhibition. She is also involved in the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, the National Association of Women Artists, The Art League of Chatham, and the New Jersey Plein Air Painters.

Although Thedinga is not directly involved with painting and art classes at GL, she “always enjoy[s] interpreting in an art class.” Another thing she enjoys about painting is the concentration and fervor it requires. Her hard work and determination are also seen through her job as a successful educational interpreter for students and teachers at GL Her precision in her job parallels the precision needed for both painting and interpreting. Not only are her finished paintings rewards by themselves, but Thedinga can see the importance of each stroke and what it adds to the piece. Her advice for aspiring artists is just that. She suggests to “train your eye to see value and colors more clearly.”

Thedinga also mentioned how practice at simplifying shapes allows an artist to not get hung up over smaller details. For aspiring artists, practice and exposure is one of the most important things. A final piece of advice Thedinga gave is to get inspiration from social media, museums, and galleries and develop a style from some of the works that speak to you. She thinks that the biggest takeaway from artwork is that it is different to everyone, and that is one of the main reasons she is so passionate about painting. Her paintings and artwork are in her portfolio displayed on her website, https://www.deborathedinga.com/artist-bio, and are featured on her Instagram page @debora.thedinga.art. 

Editor's Note: The Highlander is the student newspaper of Gov. Livingston High School featuring articles written by staff and guest writers covering a variety of topics of interest to the students.