Tuesday, December 16, 2014


A Year of Color, Adjusted for Daylength
                                                40 x 60 inches, acrylic on Dura-Lar, 2014



What are you working on in your studio right now?

There’s a juggling act occurring in my studio at present. I am planning for a February exhibition. The artwork is done. The question is how can the conceptual ideas of the work be supported by the hanging configuration. While I love a grid, I’ve come to question if it’s always the best way to show this recent body of work. Concurrently I’m still painting with the collection of colors from nature that document a year at a specific location. There’s so much more for me to mine in the work, so I keep looking. With this work I’m considering how I can simplify the visual color data. The third “action” item in the studio is embryonic. It’s so new, it’s formless and nearly impossible to name. After 10 years in the same location, my studio has moved into my living space. I am lucky to have a space with open views that show me a lot of sky and river. I’m tuning into the sun coming up each day, the variables of tides on the river, the phases of the moon…I ache with a want to make sense of this and use all these time tracking elements in a project. But, that’s all I know about it at this time.

Apple in 13 colors
6 x 26 inches, acrylic on Dura-Lar, 2014
colors collected from an apple hanging in the sun

Can you describe your working routine?

I have great fondness and respect for routines. My day starts around 6am with meditation, then coffee, then an hour at the gym. Studio work follows, which unfortunately includes the paperwork part of maintaining a studio practice. It seems to come in clumps.. paperwork demanding time, then I’ll get a clump of painting time. Even during a paperwork heavy time I need to push paint around at least one or twice per week. The studio work finishes up around 5 or 6 and then I either have openings to attend or meet ups with artist friends, or I use that time to do mundane things like laundry and grocery shopping.


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio encompasses nearly half of an open living room/dining room section of my apartment. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a live/work space. I love it. There isn’t a separation in my mind, between my life and my work, and I like that there isn’t one physically now either. My work is conducive to an open live/work space, there are no fumes, or other practices (sanding) that would be difficult in a living environment.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

My starting process arises from a mixture of my environment and a desire to track something within it. My methods are conceptually rigorous and process-oriented. With a faithful allegiance to geometry and its capacity to reveal profound truths, I work to generate or guide form in precise ways. The idea comes first; the search for materials, methods and procedures that will best support the idea follows. The work develops around repetitive and serial systems.  I get caught up in subtle calculations and decisions of proportion and interrelationships. Once I develop the system for the specific project and determine the calculations, what remains is a form of meditation: I become the conduit for the arrangement of shape and the placement of color.


Yellow Trail, Spring, Summer,  Fall, Winter,
each: 20 x 30 inches, acrylic on museum board.
The bands of color are in the order in which I found them while hiking the trail

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I find it difficult to resolve the allocation of information about the work. Work with a conceptual starting point, by its nature, comes with lots of thinking and planning. How much of that to share with the viewer is a constant question. I want to find a way to provide that story, because it’s what excited me about the work in the first place…but it can be cumbersome to do so and off-putting to some viewers. 
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

The search for different materials is my obsession. I wish it weren’t so because I spend so much time sourcing and testing materials, often to find a particular material can’t do what I need it to. Nonetheless, it’s who I am.  A particular idea will require a specific surface or medium…and the search begins again. At times, the process happens somewhat reversed…I’ll see a material and swoon…then I must hold on to it until the right idea comes along.


            Seeing Through :: Landscape As Time              
 is 7.5 x 4 feet, acrylic on Juan silk, with pins, 2014 .
Installation at Hansel & Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia Gallery, Chelsea, NYC
What does the future hold for this work?
In my work, I document shifts, mainly via color study, that occur in daily life or magnify things that are easily taken for granted. A year of color changes in the landscape is one example, 13 colors found on an apple is another. I find solace in this work. I am honored to have received an invitation from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation to do a studio residency there in 2016. I have profound respect for the work both of these artists did.  More immediately, I’m super excited to be in a two-person exhibition (with Alex Paik) at TSA Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn in February 2015.


  1. Really great interview! Congratulations Deb and Valerie and thanks for posting.

  2. Congratulations, Debra, on both the interview and the upcoming show!

  3. Wonderfully insightful interview. Congratulations on your upcoming Albers residency and TSA Gallery exhibition.

  4. Nice interview Debra and Valerie! Great to see your studio Debra and get a feel for how it all happens. Looking forward to seeing your show.