The Purple Skies of Hurricane Michael: Deborah Hinton


By Raveen Kilgore

Gothsky2October 10, 2018 is a date that Panama City locals will never forget. When Hurricane Michael made his arrival, he made history. Ironically, his overnight strength and his mighty winds are not the only thing he will go in the history books for. Hours after the storm subsided, breathtaking purple skies appeared due to a rare scientific phenomenon called scattering. Hurricane Michael was so powerful that the moisture in the air scattered the light rays, resulting in some amazing purple colors. Luckily for us all, one watercolor artist knew she had to take advantage of this historic moment.

Born in a small town in Northern Ohio, Deborah Hinton always knew that she was a painter. However, it wasn’t until her college years at the University of Cincinnati and Georgia Southern College, that she was taught the ‘strict’ rules of watercolor art, “Which I have been breaking ever since,” she tells me. This type of artistic freedom was not always known to Hinton. She was inspired to think this way after listening to the painting process described by Jeanne Carbonetti in “The Tao of Watercolor.” “Watercolor is all about losing control- to just go with the flow. Instead of trying to control the paint, I throw down some washes, and see how the paint surprises me. I always say that sometimes the paint has a better idea than I do,” says Hinton.

Jeanne Carbonetti is only one of her many inspirations. In fact, any artist who loves the arts for the purity it brings inspires Hinton every day. “I really admire any artist at any level who creates for the sheer joy of it,” she explained. “There is a quote I love from a surfer, Phil Edwards: ‘The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.’”

The purple skies that took over Panama City in the hours after the storm that changed our lives, was pure coincidence to many of us. But to Hinton, this was a sure sign. “I was inspired by the beauty of these skies in the midst of the horrible devastation. I saw it as a message of hope.”

And hope it was. The contrast of the light and dark purples flowed together in a way that only an artistic eye could capture, and the aesthetic of the completed piece sent a message to its viewers that better days were coming. “The Purple Skies of Hurricane Michael” is what Hinton calls her heartwarming painting, and the piece is a part of her most recent series of watercolors called “Goth Sky.”

Aside from painting, Hinton owns a very active business, The Medical Licensing Services, which assists physicians in applying for medical licenses all over the country. Now with COVID-19, Hinton has been busier than ever as she and her team help out with the pandemic. However, she is hoping to receive a well-earned rest. “I am hoping to retire soon, and spend more time on artistic pursuits,” Hinton said.

Recently, she has been working on a project designed to teach watercolor to adults. “The working title is, “Remedial Childhood for Adults,” she said. “It’s about finding a way back to the time in your childhood when you could do anything. Ask any young child: Can you paint? YES. Can you sing? YES. Can you dance? YES. Ask any adult and you get all NO’s or often some form of humble statement about how they can ‘sort of’ do it but aren’t very good at it.”

Hinton wants to take her future students back to a time where they were invincible because that is where true creativity lies. Inspiration is what drives Hinton. Whether she is the force of hope through her watercolors, a pioneer for our front line workers during the pandemic, or being part of the Beach Art Group run by Helen Ferrell, Debbie Hinton is an artist who breaks the art rules while following the human rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Check out more of Deborah Hinton’s Goth Sky here: