Resident Artist Deborah (Deb) Loverd has been at The Umbrella since 1996. Equipped with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Syracuse University, and further art study at Columbia University and the DeCordova Museum School, she finds the collective wealth of experience, shared freely by the artists who have studio space at the Umbrella, a constant inspiration.
One of the major themes in Deb’s colorful artwork is the humorous depiction of what she calls “Portentous Moments,” found in fables, legends, nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Deb traces her fascination with the important choices made by storybook characters back to childhood. As a young girl listening to “Little Red Riding Hood,” she wanted to jump into the story and intervene, “No! No!” she would have warned, “Don’t talk with that wolf! Don’t do it!” Deb’s caption for this moment in time: “Red Riding Hood shares her afternoon plans with a stranger.”
You might be curious as to the portentous moment Deb chose for the Sleeping Beauty story. The answer is found in her studio where a painting of Sleeping Beauty in an imagined luxurious bedroom, complete with prince gazing intently down upon her, hangs in her studio. The caption reads: “The Prince ponders his level of commitment.”
The highly detailed and colorful illustrations portray a moment in children’s literature that rings familiar to almost all of us and captures favorite characters including Hansel and Gretel, the three men in a tub, or the cow jumping over the moon. Each scene is a colorful and visual delight, while the captions offer a humorous and thought-provoking point of view. Funny, indeed, yet also serious, the illustrations cause us to ponder new perspectives on the fabled moments.
Deb’s “LetterSpeak” series, is an inventive collection of paintings based on the shape of the letters of the alphabet. Letters show personality by way of humorous comment to another letter: Capital “P” says to “pot-bellied” capital “B” “I warned you to lay off the carbs.” A simple “F” looks at a flowery Victorian “F” and quips, “No. No one will notice you’ve had a ‘little work’ done.”
The artist’s medium of choice is gouache, an opaque watercolor with extremely vibrant hues. She sketches out the design on tracing paper, before transferring it to a sheet of Lanaquarelle, a fine-arts watercolor paper. This high quality cotton paper absorbs many layers of color and is sturdy enough for vigorous brushwork. After Deb lays the base colors down, she slowly builds layer upon layer to provide depth and richness, wetting the areas that she’ll paint, adding color, dabbing it with tissue, repeating the process as many times as she feels is necessary to get the desired effect. “The multiple layers make the picture more lively,” says Deb.
The tiny details that are added as the last step of the process are the hallmark of Deb’s painting style. “The details are the dessert,” she says, and with very sharp colored pencils, she punches up little areas to make the color “pop.” Deb acknowledges that the painting is finished when she stands in front of it with a pencil or paintbrush and can’t find a spot that needs anything.
Not all Deb’s paintings are part of these two major series. Her walls also hold pastoral scenes of yesteryear in “New England Spirit” and “Welcoming Shade.” In “Literary Lights of Concord,” Deb pays tribute to Concord authors, past and present. There are also acrylic paintings—many boast a bold graphics style or display her signature touch of whimsy and humor—adorning the walls of her Umbrella studio space.
Deb looks forward to Open Studio days, when she welcomes visitors to her space. “I like to hear the ideas and suggestions that people have for future work,” she says.
Deb is delighted that select pieces of her work have been exhibited in such venues as the Concord, Fowler, Carlisle (Gleason) and Bedford Libraries, Concord Art Association, Trinity and TriCon Churches in Concord, as well as various art galleries.
orbis photographypatrick leeportraitDebEmerson Umbrella Center for Arts