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Celebrate Life artwork

Celebrate Life

Celebrate Life Gallery was founded by award winning photographers and artists, Dave and Debra Vanderlaan. The couple split their time between their home in downtown Murphy, North Carolina and their cottage in Lake Worth, Florida. Their love of travel, the outdoors, photography and bicycling provide them with unique opportunities to explore the countryside with the aid of the camera lens. Celebrate Life Gallery photo collection includes images from Tropical South Florida, Appalachia, and many other beautiful locations around the world. Quite a number of their fine photos have been displayed at various museums, galleries and shops, including in Washington DC in the Smithsonian Museum. The Celebrate Life Gallery is located in downtown Murphy, NC at the Murphy Art Center.
Crimson Trees by Celebrate Life GallerySwing At The Beach by Celebrate Life GalleryBlue Ridges by Celebrate Life GalleryMorning In The Blue Ridge Mountains by Celebrate Life Gallery
Celebrate Life Gallery Photography

When did you decide to become an artist and what inspired you to become one?

I always drew as a child and loved to pick wildflowers for my mom and arrange them in vases. As a young adult, we opened a flower shop and I won several floral design contests. I always dabbled in drawing, painting, and photography, and fell in love with digital photography and the art of editing and compositing images.

When do you feel your career in the arts truly started?

In 2009, I submitted an image to the annual Smithsonian Magazine contest and won first place in the Americana category. We began selling our work at that point at art fairs and on-line via our website.
Perseverence PhotographDebra from Celebrate Life Gallery

If you had the opportunity to relive the last 10 years of your life, what is one thing you would do different?

Not a single thing! We always go for the gusto in whatever we do and are very involved in the arts for the community and sharing our photo techniques with others.

What's your favorite artist and why?

I love the paintings of Degas especially his ballerinas, the light and movement in the tutus they are wearing.
Dave from Celebrate Life GalleryCherokee Autumn Photo

How would you describe the style of the art you create?

Someone once said it all, that we do Landscapes with a Twist! I love to have strong foreground material as well as a middle ground and in-focus background. I create a painterly style with editing software and love the editing as much as the shooting.

What is your favorite piece you've created so far?

Hanging Garden would be my favorite image which features cypress trees and their reflections planted in a flooded lake in the Smoky Mountains on a foggy breathless morning just after sunrise.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

The freedom of expression and the ability to create something completely unique, then share the images with others.
Morning Glow At The Waterfall Art PrintMountain Photography

What is your biggest advice for aspiring and uprising artists?

You will be successful if your art is your passion. Work on it every single day!

What is one thing about you that most people don't know?

That I speak French and that I used to be very shy!

If you were a new addition to the crayon box, what would your color name be and why?

Some sort of crystal blue because I love the blue sky and the reflections in the sea.
Celebrate Life Photos1955 Chevy BelAir by Celebrate Life Photography

What is your favorite saying or quote?

My favorite saying: I want to ride the swing, not push it! I also love: I want my tombstone to say, Debra was fun, NOT Debra kept a clean house! (Both are my own Debra-isms although my house is usually pretty clean!)

What are some of your favorite hobbies aside from art?

Bicycling, hiking, traveling, teaching, gardening, walks on the beach or along the river.
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