• This photo illustration created by Debra Vanderlaan graced the cover of the 2019 Celebrate Cherokee County magazine.
    This photo illustration created by Debra Vanderlaan graced the cover of the 2019 Celebrate Cherokee County magazine.

Local artist creates cover-worthy image

    Murphy – Debra Vanderlaan is well known in the local arts community for creating vibrant images of mountain life.
    She will be even more well known now. Vanderlaan is the winner of the Cherokee Scout’s inaugural contest for a cover image for Celebrate Cherokee County magazine, which is available inside today’s edition. The composite image she created represents several parts of the very best of our county’s diverse beauty.
    “The barn is standing in a pasture on one of the country backroads of Andrews on one of our favorite bicycle rides when we go from Murphy to Andrews and back, sometimes adding a few extra miles by taking Pisgah Road and into Peachtree,” said Vanderlaan, whose husband, David, is also a talented artist.
    “The brilliant poppies were captured in the spring along the highway out by Ranger, where the state does a wildflower seeding program every year. The flock of birds was added to create drama in the bright blue and colorful sunset sky.”
    Vanderlaan is a member of the Valley River Arts Guild. She works on many community events at the Murphy Art Center and assists with the planning of monthly Art Walks.
    “I work on my art every single day and am so passionate about it that it is almost an addiction,” she said. 
    “The arts guild now has over 40 members and adding to that total every day. We are really becoming a force in the community with our volunteers, and so many of us are very active in promoting the arts.”
    The Vanderlaans have been strong proponents of the arts in Cherokee County in good times and bad.
    “That has been our expression for years, anytime something wonderful happens, or even when something not so great is happening in our lives or in our family or friends’ lives, we say to each other, ‘Celebrate life,’ ” she said. “We are believers and are grateful for the blessings we have been given by our Lord, and that is part of our celebrating life.”
    Of the dozens of images entered into the contest, 10 were strong enough to make it to the finals before Vanderlaan’s was chosen as the winner. Some of those honorable mention images were also used inside the annual information guide magazine.

The Cherokee Scout

Mailing Address:
89 Sycamore St. 

Murphy, NC 28906
Phone: 828-837-5122
Fax: 828-837-5832