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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Original Acrylic Potato Head Still Life Painting by Debbie Shirley

Gone Shopping
6 x 4 inches
acrylic on watercolor paper

Having fun with Mrs. Potato Head....I always enjoy painting classic toys and Mr/Mrs Potato Head is definitely a favorite! This was for a fixed price sale that was held around the holidays at the Newburyport Art Association. I painted it with acrylic on watercolor paper - leaving the white of the paper around the image. I then spot varnished only the painted area - the varnish really  makes the image pop!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hilltop - Small Acrylic Painting of Iconic Hillltop Steak House Sign.

Hilltop
7 x 5 inches
acrylic on cradled panel
SOLD

Why so many Hilltop paintings? The Hilltop Steakhouse was such a popular restaurant - with such an iconic sign. The sign is fun to paint - and is recognizable instantly by anyone who had ever lived or visited the North Shore. Since the restaurant was just demolished recently, the place and its memories are still fresh in people's minds. I think people really want to remember this place - and there is unlikely to be anything quite like it again. Generations of local families celebrated their special occasions there - I love hearing people's stories when they see on of my Hilltop paintings at a show.

This painting has sold  - but if you are interested in a small Hilltop painting for your own home (or office) - please contact me for more information!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Marty's Donut Land - Acrylic Painting of Iconic Storefront in Ipswich, Massachusetts by Debbie Shirley

Marty's
7 x 5 inches
acrylic on cradled panel
SOLD

I have painted Marty's Donut Land before.....it has since been bought out and changed hands. There are a lot of Ipswich people who have fond memories of Marty's - of the fresh hot donuts, right out of the fryer, that you had to show up for very, very early (or late for the party crowd) and get before the sun rose. I have had a bunch of requests for more, so I am doing some more small paintings - slightly different crops and orientations - so that people can have a piece of Ipswich history for their own. Please contact me if you would like a Marty's painting to capture some of your own memories.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Final Season - Acrylic Painting of Neon Miniature Golf Sign Route 1, Saugus, Massachusetts

Final Season
18 x 18 inches
acrylic on canvas

A beloved site on Route One in Saugus, Massachusetts was demolished this fall. Know as the "mini golf place with the big orange dinosaur", Route One Miniature Golf was torn down to make way for condominiums and retail shops. Due to popular demand, they left the orange dinosaur standing - which looks a bit funny now on the edge of a vacant lot. Not sure how they will utilize him in the new development, but we will have to see.

While a painting of the orange dinosaur will probably occur in the future, I had to paint the sign first, while it was still standing. A colorful combination of neon and light bulbs, the sign had some great shapes. I know this place holds memories for many people on the north shore and I hope sharing this glimpse of the sign will help capture thoughts of those past fun times and special occasions.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Clam Box Painting - Small Acrylic Painting of Iconic Clam Shack Ipswich, Massachusetts

Clam Box
(Ipswich, Massachusetts)
6 x 6 inches
acrylic on cradled panel
SOLD

The Iconic Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts! An interesting building - shaped like a take-out box. Love the red and white accents - and of course, the fried clams. Stop by on a warm summer evening, and the line goes all the way around the building. A place not to be missed by visitors to the area.

It is a fun building to paint - I am always trying to find a slightly different angle or crop to it. This is a popular subject with my customers, so I do end up painting it a lot! If you are interested in a "Clam Box" painting of your own. please contact me!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Caffe Sicilia - Small Acrylic Painting of a Local Cafe Gloucester, Massachusetts

Caffe Sicilia
(Gloucester, Massachusetts)
6 x 6 inches
acrylic on cradled panel
available at Pop Gallery

This charming little cafe is across the street from one of the galleries that carries my work. Pop Gallery is an awesome boutique right on Main Street in downtown Gloucester. It has evolved from a mostly art pop-up shop into a charming and quirky shop with stuff you won't find elsewhere - really fun clothing and unique accessories including the work of some local artists. Anyways, I thought it would be fun to paint a few of the downtown businesses that locals would recognize for Pop to include on their pink wall and I have always loved the shape of this little corner building.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Plaza Motel - Acrylic Painting of a Motel and Neon Sign

Plaza Motel
12 x 16 inches
acrylic on canvas

Going back to Route 1 for another seedy motel. Route 1 used to have a ton of these sketchy places - each one complete with a neon sign, and other signs about their color tvs, air conditioners, hot tubs and other amenities. Many of these motels have been razed in the last five years and a few big chain hotels have taken their place. The few motels that are left along this stretch of road no longer have neon signs. This was one of the last neon signs to go - it has been recently been replaced by a backlit box sign. The neon will be missed!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cherry Still Life Painting by Debbie Shirley

Cherry Chums
6 x 6 inches
acrylic on canvas

Cherries are always interesting to paint - there are so many colors in that red-ish hue! I added the pattern for fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Small Original ACEO Painting of Tomato Still Life

Tomato Tangle
3-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches
acrylic on watercolor paper

Another small ACEO-sized painting. I hadn't painted tomatoes in a while, and felt a need to go back to something familiar.While I love painting signs and buildings, sometimes it feels good to go back to the more rounded shapes and softer angles of things like fruits and vegetable.

This little piece is still available. Contact me for more information if you are interested!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Prince Pizza Painting and a Winter Tropical Paint-In

Prince Restaurant
12 x 6 inches
acrylic on cradled board
SOLD

This was a new sign for me - the "leaning tower of pizza" on Route 1 - Prince Restaurant. The painting was a commission piece for someone whose family was involved in the making of the original sign. I have since done a smaller version of the sign - contact me for availability if you are interested!



Today was the first Sunday of this year's "Paint-In" at Nunan Florist and Greenhouses in Georgetown, Mass. What fun to paint in a tropical environment in the middle of winter - especially after last night's snowstorm! Artists from the Greater Haverhill Arts Association will be painting there on Sundays throughout January - and we will hold an exhibition on the last Sunday of the month. I will be sure to post my finished pieces - maybe my first florals since last year's Paint-In!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Duck Down and New Berry - Original ACEO Paintings


Duck Down
3-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches
acrylic  on watercolor paper


New Berry
2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches
acrylic on watercolor paper

Every now and then I like to go back to the ACEO format. I used to paint and sell a lot of these little pieces, but then started to work larger. Once in a while I go back to the smaller size - they are relatively quick and fun to paint, and give me a break from whatever else I am working on. They are also nice to have at shows - people appreciate smaller pieces at lower price points that they can give as gifts.

These two little gems are still available - follow these links to purchase from my DailyPaintworks gallery if you are interested:  Duck Down   and   New Berry

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!

On the Road
6 x 6 inches
acrylic on cradled panel
SOLD

2016 has hit the road! It is now 2017 and I am more than ready for a new year. New goals, new beginnings and a clean slate. I've got lots of paintings to show you - and lots of things going on to share. Hope you will continue to join me as we move forth into the new year.....