Artist Debbie Shirley

An example of fine art by Debbie Shirley

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Growing up in the Midwest and moving to New England after studying painting and theater in college, Debbie Shirley spent years in the printing and advertising fields, developing an obsession with typography and mid century modern design. Returning to the paintbrush once her children started school, Shirley naturally gravitated to neon lettering, dusty antiques, and old bricks and rust.
Shirley’s award-winning acrylic paintings are part of collections and exhibitions worldwide, and can be seen locally in various shops and small galleries throughout New England.  She welcomes studio visits to her small studio in an old factory building in downtown Haverhill. When not painting, she lives with her husband, their three sons and their goofy black rescue dog in Boxford, Massachusetts. 

About my work:

Peeling paint, fading bricks, weathered surfaces, rust - the effects of time - are what draws me to certain subjects. With a background in typography, I have always been fascinated by the use of lettering in signs. In my work, I combine this interest in signs with an appreciation for old buildings and nostalgic subject matter to take a look at iconic roadside architecture and small town America.
Always carrying a camera with me, I never know when a building or sign will catch my eye with its colorful shapes or interesting shadows. When possible, I like to sketch or paint on site in addition to taking pictures. I use my photographs as a starting point, changing things as needed to improve composition or to evoke a feeling. I work in acrylics, painting in thin layers, taking advantage of the medium’s quick drying time.
I use layers to first build form, and then to add texture, age and patina. Often working on multiple pieces at one time, I always get excited by my next idea, sometimes doing multiple paintings of the [...]

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