Having spent many years enjoying abstract acrylic painting, my work has now shifted to a mosaic-like process using papers of many patterns, textures and colors with acrylic mediums to provide a grout layer, adhere papers, glaze and varnish. The stretched canvas provides a surface with enough give to work with a wide variety of paper types. The paintings wrap around the edges making them complete without a frame.
I developed this process because of a long-time fascination with Gaudi’s mosaic work in Barcelona and Fuster’s community work in Havana. At first, I created acrylic abstract paintings from random sections of mosaics. Gradually, I began experimenting with adding in papers to get more texture and pattern. This led to paper becoming my palette and acrylic becoming the medium to adhere, enhance and protect.
My subject matter has shifted over time from abstraction to symbolic images. This grew out of a compelling need to use my art to celebrate racial and gender diversity. I use simplified heads and hands to convey race. I use hearts to convey emotions like loving, reaching and embracing. I use the rainbow flag to celebrate gender and sexual identity. Open mouths and uplifted hands are calls to be heard. Other iconic symbols such as crosses, nautilus shells, flamingoes and turtles appear in my work as triggers for the viewer. I use the Venn diagram to convey overlapping ideas and the connections between people, ideas, and groups as well as the creation of fresh, new ideas in the intersection.
I have also begun using the paper and acrylic method to recreate landscapes of strong emotional value either to myself or to others. For example, I recreated the view from Georgia O’Keefe’s bedroom window after a visit to Abiquiu, New Mexico, and I recreated a honeymoon photo of a favorite seashore view for a client. Rather than the mosaic-like style, for landscapes I use the paper as the paint. The landscape becomes the symbol of connection for the viewer.
My work is always evolving in an organic way. When I create a piece that really seems to “work,” it brings me great satisfaction. That is what compels me to keep working, open to new directions and persistent in refining my skills, even those I develop myself. To follow my growth and change as an artist follow me on Instagram @gibbsdpg. To see the full body of my work and/or to purchase go to www.debbiegibbs.net.