Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Feature: Debra Keirce

  • "Handle with Care" by Debra Keirce 4" x 6"
    I met Debra through facebook.  She predominately paints in miniature which fascinates me.  I'm astounded by the amount of detail she can get into such a small space.  She has been influenced by the modern masters of photorealism and Trompe L'Oeil.  
    To see more of Deb's work visit her blog, website and facebook page
    How did you get your start?
    I started "arting" when I found a set of charcoal sticks and a book on how to draw perspectives (trains) in our basement when I was around 7 yrs. old. I haven't stopped since!
    What’s your artist journey so far?
    I have been painting and drawing commissions since I was in 10th grade. My art teacher actually bought my first painting - a watercolor of St. Basil's for $15! By the time I was in college, I was selling 5 to 10 pieces per year, and once I started working as a chemical engineer in the corporate world, I built that up to about one each month, sometimes more. Art was always a great escape and stress reliever for me.
    "Come Sit a Spell" by Debra Keirce 3" x 5"
    Where were you born?
    I was born in Detroit and escaped when I got an engineering job in Boston after college. I have not been able to convince the rest of my family and childhood friends to move, so they are all still there.
    If you could live anywhere where would you live?
    I'd love to get out of suburgatory and live right off the Main Street of a small town near a big city on the east coast. Cambridge, MA near Boston would be great, as would a smallish city just outside NYC, D.C. or Charleston!
    What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
    Still Life and Urban landscapes are my favorite. First, I love painting them because after so many decades of painting commissions, I can paint portraits, pets, churches, schools and houses in my sleep. Second, I love finding street scenes or still lifes of objects on shelves in antique stores or in displays at retail shops.. The set up is already done for me, and there is something spontaneous about just picking an angle, photographing the scene and sketching the parts you know the photograph will distort. My painting process is so laborious. I love when my reference images come alla prima! Finally, I love painting colors! Flesh tones and earth tones do not excite me as much as reflections from light bouncing off colorful objects. Glass and wet surfaces are especially fun to paint.
    Could you talk about your painting techniques?
    I paint in oil or acrylic. When I use oils, I use alkyd medium to make them fast drying. So the two are pretty interchangeable for me. I paint dry on dry and with oil, I take full advantage of its blending capabilities. With acrylics, I find them so easy to manipulate and create special effects with. I do a lot of dry brushing and glazing and scumbling. With both media, I "cut back" with exacto blades quite a bit to create the tiniest of details, especially if I am painting in miniature under a magnifying lens. I also like to use substrates like wood panels, clayboard, or illustration boards that I can actually sculpt a bit with embossing tools. This is how I sometimes define edges or create sort of "living shadows" that change depending on where the viewer sees the painting from, and where the light source is.
    "The Triune" by Debra Keirce 3" x 4"
    Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
    With oils, I like the Rembrandt translucents, the C.A.S. alkyds.
    I LOVE midnight blue and diox purples for darkening colors. For highlights, lemon yellow or cad orange mixed into whites can't be beat. I recently took a workshop to study colors with Dreama Tolle-Perry and she has me loving ice blue and permanent rose at the moment as well, for adding punch to highlights.
    Do you have a favorite artist? Who has been your biggest inspiration?
    There have been so many... Of course, all the representational artists of years gone by are an inspiration. But I have to say I am most smitten by contemporary artists. I was so inspired by M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali for the longest time. I went through a Terry Redlin phase. Then, I started studying the photorealists like Richard Estes and Chuck Close. Charles Bell had me with one gumball, and Eric Christensen had me with one glass of wine. If I could only pick one, it would be a toss up between Max Ginsburg and Daniel Gerhartz. I hope to meet them both someday.
    "Favorite Label" by Debra Keirce 7" x 9"
    What have been some of your crowning achievements?
    Besides marrying an amazing guy and raising 3 incredible kids, you mean? Besides being featured on your blog?! I guess I achieved some great things in my engineering career, and the uber volunteer mom years after it, but those would sound boring here.
    My crowning achievements art wise would be the wonderful societies that juried me in - Art Renewal Center, Hilliard Society of Miniaturists, Miniature Painters, Sculptors, Gravers Society of Washington D.C.
    Also, during the almost 30 year relationship with the custom puzzle company, Lucretia's Pieces in VT, I have painted around 60 to 70 pieces that have been mounted onto wood and cut into one of a kind puzzles for collectors who will no doubt pass them down to their children. I love when art is intimate. That is why I like miniature art paintings that fit in your palm so much. When your art is turned into a puzzle, people are looking at the details in each tiny piece, separate from the whole, and handling those pieces until they guess at the construct and put the whole image together. That feels like a really intimate bond between art and viewer, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
    What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
    Okay - you said big!
    1. I would love to be featured in a major art publication like Fine Art Connoisseur, Southwest Art or American Art Collector magazine.
    2. I would like to win best of show in a major contest like Oil Painters of America or The Art Renewal Center Salon
    3. I would be tickled pink if at least one art gallery from a major art city like New York or Scottsdale came to ME and asked to represent me.
    4. I'd enjoy selling paintings at a price point that justified signed limited runs of giclees.
    5. I'd feel like "I made it" if I sold enough work to be able to donate a substantial amount of money to a charity like ARC that promotes emerging visual artists.
    "The Gaming Age" 10" x 20"
    What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
    DON'T let the dogs out! I mean, only post, donate or exhibit work that you are 100% proud of. It's so easy to get sucked into that phenomenon where even your not so good art sells, so you think maybe you aren't sure what is good and what is not. I have art from 5 to 10 years ago that never should have seen the light of day, because with the internet, their images still come back to haunt me on occasion. Unfortunately, as humans, we are often noticed because of the one bad thing we do, not the 1,000 good things.
    What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
    I think I heard this from several artists, but it took years before it hit home with me...The best advice was to treat my studio like a sacred place. My sons are taekwondo instructors, and every time you enter or leave the dojo, you have to bow as a sign of respect. I don't go that far, but I do now restrict who can be in my studio. It used to be a place that friends and visitors, my kids' friends, bunco participants, book club buddies and the whole world felt free to enter, nose around and play in. Not anymore. It's a place where I work, meditate, study, and live out my passion for art. I feel like this simple change in attitude really transformed the way I work.
    "The Grotto" by Deb Keirce 7" x 9"

    Debra Keirce showing you the amazing size of her paintings

    Chocolate or vanilla?
    I have been vegetarian / vegan since the 1980's and have been on a raw diet, which I am loving, for a few months now so raw ice cream is very different from the Baskin Robbins version. My favorite is frozen bananas whipped up into a sorbet in my Vitamix. (Sorry, I'm not so speedy, am I?)
    Your dream vacation spot?
    The Outer Banks of North Carolina. I've never been to Hawaii, but I dream it is similar, but with everybody wearing leis. Just noplace with Speedos - That would be nightmarish.
    Book or movie?
    Movie. Or a book on my kindle with speech enabled. I listen to both while I paint.
    Favorite author?
    Right now, Nicholas Sparks, but I hate that his books are not speech enabled on Kindle, so I have to wait for the movies and listen to them when they come out.
    Favorite movie?
    Lord of the Rings
    Romance or comedy?
    Romantic comedy (sorry to be difficult, but I think romance is funny)
    Favorite dessert?
    Currently, these Blueberry Cardamom Cream Pops by Lisa Pitman on Even if you don't think you would like raw food, you should try these! Since we have established that I suck at speed round, here is the recipe:
    Cream layer:
    1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
    1/2 cup water
    3 dates, pitted
    zest of 1 lemon
    pinch of salt
    Blueberry layer:
    1 cup blueberries
    2 tsp cardamom
    2 tsp agave or honey
    2 tsp lemon juice
    1 tsp vanilla seed powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    pinch salt
    1) In a blender combine all of the ingredients for the cream layer and blend until smooth.
    2) Remove a 1/2 cup of the cream layer and place in the refrigerator to chill.
    3) Add the ingredients for the blueberry layer to the blender with the remaining amount of the cream layer. Blend until smooth.
    4) Scoop 1 tbsp of the blueberry mixture into four silicon muffin cups (or any mold you have). Set in the freezer until firm (at least an hour).
    5) Scoop 1 tbsp from the reserved cream layer into each muffin cup and return to the freezer.
    6) Once the cream layer is firm divide the remaining blueberry cream between the muffin cups.
    7) Insert a lollipop stick in the center of each muffin cup. Return the muffin cups to the freezer to set.
    Night owl or morning person?
    Morning...At least I had this ONE short answer 

    Thank you so much Deb:)



  1. WOnderful artist and great person! Keep on rocking Deb!

  2. Enjoyed reading more about you, Deb! And I can vouch for Charleston as a move-to city!!!

  3. Thank you all ladies! Right back atcha!!

  4. Wow - I can't believe how much detail she gets in to such teeny-weeny paintings either! They're amazing! :0)