Saturday, April 22, 2017

Circle Game - and Fun at the Fair

So....moving along on our retro roadtrip....who doesn't love a great fair?!!


Even before we had kids, my husband and I have always been into country fairs and small town carnivals. Kitschy to the max, yes, but great old-fashioned fun. We also love the old little amusement parks - think old wooden roller coasters, ferris wheels, arcade games, old-fashioned carousels....

And thankfully, our kids have happily followed along with our adventures. Save one trip to LegoLand, we have avoided the big theme parks, Disney, etc and have stuck with the small old-time places - some of the coolest parks are over 100 years old!

Over the years I have taken hundreds of pictures at fairs and amusement parks. The lights, the neon, the old painted attractions have always fascinated me in their worn but colorful gaudiness. Have you ever looked closely at the faces of the animals on old kids' rides or the wooden horses on older carousels? Some of them are a lot freakier-looking than you might think!

I revisit my photos from time to time and get inspired to paint a few more pieces for my ongoing "Fairs and Carnivals" collection. I love painting old carousel horses - the expression on their faces, the movement indicated in their positioning and detailing. Loved this horse's face - this is one of those paintings that just flew off the brush. I have to admit the Joni Mitchell song was stuck in my mind the entire time, so I had to name it "Circle Game"

"And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game"


In progress photos: 

I am excited to be showing this painting and about a dozen others next weekend at the Melrose Arts Festival! This is may first year participating - I am very excited to have been juried in to show with 43 other awesome artists. If you are local stop by! 

If you are interested in more information about purchasing "Circle Game" please contact me.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time Traveler



I frequently get asked about how I come up with a set up for still lifes. This is how I came up with the arrangement that I used for "Time Traveler" - one of my newest acrylic paintings.

I was faced with the deadline for a juried exhibit with a theme. I kinda love exhibitions with a theme - they tend to make me think a little outside of the box. The theme of this show is "The Art of Mapping" - the art had to be related to maps in some way.

So, into my mind pops the idea of using an really old, ornate map in a still life, along with an antique pocket watch I picked up at a flea market and a small old wood chest - with the whole thing just kind of talking about the past. Well, as I searched my prop shelf for the pocket watch, I ran across a tin toy version of a 40's woodie station wagon. I love tin toys - and I start thinking to myself, "why haven't I used this in a painting yet?" I've been thinking a lot lately about how much of my art is about 1940's and 50's era things - signs, diners, motels, toys, cars, etc. Then, with the car, my thoughts turn to the idea of a 50's road trip. I started looking for a 50's era map so that I could align with the mapping theme and I ran into the colorful United States kids' jigsaw puzzle from that same period. Perfect!

A little juggling around with the layout, and soon I come up with a layout that made me happy. Somewhat different from my standard still lifes, but a lot of fun to paint - and it gave me lots of ideas for more paintings.

Time Traveler
10 x 10 inches, acrylic on canvas

And - best of all - "Time Traveler" was accepted into the juried exhibition "The Art of Mapping" at the Newburyport Art Association in Newburyport, Massachusetts. It will be on display through March 19th.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill's Bar - Acrylic Painting of Iconic Boston Neon Sign

Bill's Bar
9 x 12  inches
acrylic on cradled panel

I noticed the sign for Bill's on Landsdowne while nearing Fenway Park for a Red Sox game. The sign combines neon and light bulbs - and the colors combined with the colors of the building made me certain I had to paint it! Maybe a larger version with a different crop will be in the works? I've never been "hip" enough to actually go inside, but it is known as quite the party spot!

Perhaps you've seen a musical group here? Or spent a festive New Years Eve? Or maybe just know someone named Bill - this painting would be a great addition to an art collection - especially for fans of old neon. Contact me if you are interested in more information!

Monday, February 13, 2017

2017 Desktop Calendars - Paintings from the North Shore




2017 Desktop Calendars - only a few left!

A desktop calendar with images of iconic signs from the North Shore of Massachusetts! Would look great on your desk, or makes a unique gift for a retro sign lover or someone from New England.


Each 4 x 6-inch unbound page contains an image from one of my original paintings. Retro diners, motels, clam shacks and other roadside attractions are well represented in her work. The plastic jewel case folds back to make a display stand for the calendar, or you can frame all 12 for a year at a glance! Are you from New England? See if you can guess all the iconic locations....there is a listing in the back of the calendar in case you get stumped.

I just shipped out a large number of these for a reunion of Massachusetts natives now living in Florida, and I only have a few left. I find people like to buy these all year because they like to display the pictures even once the month has ended. Interested in buying one for yourself - or as a gift? They are available in my etsy shop for prints here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Motel - Small Acrylic Painting Old Neon Sign

Motel
5 x 7 inches
acrylic on cradled panel

Yet another visit to one of my favorite signs in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the old Whittier Motel sign. The neon has fairly recently been replaced with plastic back lit lettering, and the art deco base removed and replaced with two white pillars. Not quite the same  ;-(

However, thanks to a featured artist show at Zenobia Gallery (just down the street from the Whittier), this painting has sold. And there will be a whole bunch more Whittier pieces coming up as I took in quite a few commissions as a result of the show.

Interested in a painting of the Whittier for your own collection? Contact me!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Frozen Delite - Touch of Summer during the Winter!

Frozen Delite
10 x 8 inches
acrylic on canvas

For this painting we take a little trip to summer time - think carnival rides, roller coasters, amusement parks. And yes, giant fake ice cream cones! Besides the huge cone, I was drawn to the garish colors and the fun shapes in this ice cream stand. All the light bulbs sure proved to be a challenge, but I am glad I stuck with it.

Interesting in purchasing this piece of summer for yourself? See more information here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Still Life Painting of Ornaments by Debbie Shirley

Ornamental
6 x 4 inches
acrylic on watercolor paper

This was another painting for the fixed price sale at Newburyport Art Association last month. I love painting the reflections on the ornaments - and the round shapes make it especially challenging. I find it forces me to really look closely at what I am trying to paint - and paint what I actually see, without my brain trying to interpret it. I just look at is as a series of shapes, not specific objects. Yet when I step back and take a look when I am done, it always amazes me how the shapes come together to make the subject come to life.