Thursday, November 27, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Debbie Shirley

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Debbie's painting, "Eternal" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Debbie's DPW Gallery page:

I am a New England-based artist who was raised and educated in the Midwest. After painting my way through college, I moved to Massachusetts where I worked as a graphic artist and art director for a number of years in the printing and advertising industries before settling down to raise a family. Now that my very active boys have all started school, I have returned to painting with a renewed passion for sharing my perspective of the world around me through my art. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting as a small child. My oh-so-patient artist grandmother would squeeze out bits of her precious acrylic paints onto styrofoam meat trays, lay out canvas panels and let us "create". She took me to an open studios event in the Little Italy section of Cleveland in the late seventies. I clearly remember being in awe, and thinking to myself that this was a world that I really wanted to be a part of.

(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Debbie's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I painted in college (studio art was one of my majors) but pretty much stopped when my "real world" job got too busy. I started to get back to painting shortly before my first child was born, figuring I'd be able to work when the baby was napping or sleeping at night. Ha! I was blessed with a child who never slept, and I didn't touch a brush again until he and his two younger brothers were in school. At that point I pretty much jumped right in and began to pursue painting as a full-time career.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I paint in acrylics and enjoy drawing with ink, charcoal and graphite. In college, I painted large abstracts. Currently I paint small realistic pieces.

(click to see original image)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I re-visit abstraction from time to time when I have an image or idea in my head, but for some reason realism really appeals to me right now.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I really want to try watercolors. I am a little intimitated by them - maybe it is a fear of losing control? I'm intrigued by pastels as well, but I am not sure that I would ever make that jump

Stepping Out
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

I am inspired by light and color - the way light can change even the most common object into something spectacular, and how colors can act together to affect what we see and feel. I am also inspired by a sense of history - and how memories can be tied to certain objects and places, and how the same objects can be connected to such different memories for different people.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Social media. I can start out with a specific task but find I really need to give myself a strict time limit or else I find it way too easy to go "down the rabbit hole".

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

It is what I do, so I make sure that I make the time every day when the kids are in school or asleep or otherwise occupied. In the summer, I get up super early to get in a few hours of painting before everyone is up and moving. I'll squeeze in whatever bits of time I can - I can't afford to wait for a large block of time or for inspiration to hit, or else I'd never get anything done!

Wednesday in a Cafe
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Sometimes it is just the way that light hits an object that makes me want to paint it. Sometimes I have an idea or image in my head and will set something up from that. At other times, when I have the perfect light coming in the window, I will take a few objects from my vintage collection and move things around until an idea or connection forms. If I am really stuck, I bring out my camera. The act of composing and cropping in the viewfinder will sometimes spark an idea from a different part of my brain.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I tend to work in small series. When I am no longer excited to start the next painting, I move on to a different subject matter. I find that eventually I return to most series at a later date with fresh ideas.

Whir Pool
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Everything! To be an artist is to learn. Every day I feel I learn something new - sometimes it is about technique or color or light. Sometimes it is about the business side of things. Besides painting every day, I also read a lot, so there are always new things to learn, techniques to experience, subjects to try.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Making connections with the viewer. I love to talk to people about what they see in my work, what they connect with, and what my work makes them think about or remember. I hear the greatest stories from my collectors!

Thanks, Debbie!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

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