About The Artist

Debra plein air painting copy

After years of travelling and painting from a sailboat I have switched from sailing to camping. I travel from April to November exploring and participating in Plein Air events in my little RV trailer. It’s a completely different world for me, going from sea level to inspirational landscapes with height and grandeur! Inspiring my oil paintings. I’m a successful professional artist who works at it every day with the knowledge that I still have so much more to learn. If you see me on location painting with my dog Bear please stop and say hello, I enjoy meeting new people and discussing art.


Debra Howard spent her childhood in Miami, Florida, where she first discovered her love affair with color, light, painting, and sailing.  She is a graduate of Ringling School of Art with a BFA in Fine Art. She began her art career in San Francisco, where she opened her first illustration studio.  After 17 years as a successful illustrator in various cities, she closed her studio to concentrate on fine art painting.  “I realized that the career I had found so satisfying was being taken over by the computer.  I missed the feel of the brush on canvas.” Since 2012, Debra has directed her painting towards Plein Air Painting. “Plein Air” is a french term meaning “Open Air”, describing painting that is created out doors without the use of photography. She has been juried into Plein Air competitions in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Virginia and is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association. 

 Debra spent almost 30 years living, traveling and painting from her sailboat, she now resides in Crisfield, Maryland. She recently, sold her sailboat Ling Ling and now travels from April to November in her little RV trailer participating in Plein Air events. 

Debra is the 2006 winner of the Cooper River Bridge Run competition - the first T-shirt and poster design celebrating the opening of the new Authur Ravenal Bridge in Charleston, S.C.  She was also voted "Best Visual Artist in Charleston -- 2007”.  From 1992-2015, she lived and travelled aboard her 44 foot sailboat, Ling-Ling, with her husband, David and their dogs Amber and Swab until her recent sabbatical to Tangier Island.  From 2009-2012 Howard was the Resident Artist on Tangier Island and the Executive Director for the Tangier History Museum.


Debra Howard THMICC

Debra Howard Named New Director of the Tangier Island History Museum

Tangier Island Town Council and the THMICC Board of Directors named Debra Howard to the position of Director of the Tangier History Museum and Interpretive Cultural Center (THMICC). Ms. Howard succeeds Drs. Neil and Susan Kaye, the founders and Directors of THMICC. The Kayes were part-time Tangier residents who have medical practices in Wilmington, Delaware. They sold their home and left the island in September. 

Tangier History Museum opened June 5, 2008. Originally, the idea for a museum began as a response for the need of public restrooms for the tourists who arrived on the island by ferry. That need, the leadership of Neil and Susan Kaye and two grants lead to the founding of the museum and visitors center.  THMICC won a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and a $150,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation. The museum documents the history of Tangier from its discovery to the present, with displays and multimedia presentations. The museum has become very popular with residents and tourists alike, with almost 18,000 visitors last year.

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