Motivated by Her Time During “Shelter-in-Place,” Painter Deb Cook Shapiro Emerged More Splendid
Remember before the pandemic, when kids were over-scheduled, parents were “crazy-busy” and family time felt almost non-existent? Prolific landscape artist Deb Cook Shapiro certainly does.
Before the pandemic, Deb’s signature landscapes were dominated by the cool, languid tones that evoked a serenity she didn’t always enjoy in her own fast-moving, chaotic life. A mom of two active boys, Deb was no stranger to the turbulence inherent in raising teens in a big city – where families run from pillar to post to keep the pace of those in their circle.
But Deb’s time during “shelter-in-place” allowed her to do some much-needed self-reflection, and she came out the other side with a whole new perspective – on life and her art.
Before the Pandemic, Deb’s art revealed a world where she could escape. Depicting scenes of calm and focus, stillness and connection, her earlier works represented life in contrast to the one she was living – where her subjects revelled in a state of leisure often lacking in her own life.
Now Deb has moved into a new phase – with children out of the house and making lives of their own – and her future works will take on a new story. One of curiosity and thrill, inspiration and gratitude, a life full of endless stones to overturn, and surprises to uncover.
With “Fêtes and Celebrations,” Deb’s creative rebirth will incorporate a palette of vibrant colors designed to bring the admirer into a world not of imagined life experiences, but of jubilant ones that “share life’s memorable moments.”
Palpable in these new works will be “the expression, freedom, and confidence that I have lived and loved!”
From Whence She Came
Deb’s pursuit as an artist was not predetermined. While it was an early calling, she didn’t feel like she could answer it. “I took some art classes but didn’t imagine that it would be my life’s work.”
The daughter of Depression-era parents, she felt a responsibility to make a living rather than follow her dreams. Despite being thrilled by paging through her older sister’s art books and portfolios, she continued working, both as a flight attendant and teacher.
“I saw the work of Georgia O’Keeffe in my early 20s when I was a teacher taking my class to the St. Louis Art Museum and was overcome with emotion as I spoke of Ms. O’Keeffe’s struggles to be taken seriously as a female painter.”
Deb, too, struggled with her own self-defeating thoughts and a lack of belief in herself that she deserved to be an artist.
And then she saw the contemporary paintings of Erik Fischl featured in a show and had her epiphany.
“I knew in a moment that I had to find a way to be able to express life through images and paint.”
And with that awareness, Deb began, at 30 years old, to study art with a vengeance, taking classes in San Francisco and Florence, Italy.
The Road Ahead
With the crisis phase of the pandemic in her rear-view mirror, Deb is ready to take her career to the next level. And this has required her to dip her toe into uncomfortable territory:
“Recently, I embraced learning the technical skills that had been an obstacle that I thought I had to accept because of not growing up with computers. I realized that was an excuse, and I forced myself out of my comfort zone to take classes.”
Armed with new skills, a new perspective, and her yellow Suggies, Deb is ready to thrive!
“I am proving to myself that I can do whatever it takes to succeed in today’s world of art that requires strong technical and marketing skills in addition to painting the canvases.”
See more of Deb's art here
Deb on her Suggies
Deb’s yellow Suggies are serving as both an inspiration and a comfort to her as she moves down this new creative path.
“I am using the color yellow as the first layer of all my new work. My yellow Suggies are super-fashionable and feel great to wear while walking and standing for hours painting! I have one pair I wear to the studio and another pair I keep clean to walk to meet friends for dinner after work.”
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