Debra Lee Valeri, born in 1960, grew up in Bridgewater, MA. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1982 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. At RISD she studied with illustrators Chris VanAllsburg, David Porter, Lester Abrams, and David McCauley; painters Tom Sgouros, and Trent Burleson; color field theorist, Sy Sillman; and studied perspective with artist Akira Arita.
Her early career as an illustrator began with both freelance and staff positions at advertising agencies and manufacturers. In 1988 she acquired her MA Teacher’s Certification from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. In the next five years that followed she taught art at the area high school level while teaching Illustration each summer at Rhode Island School of Design Summer Sessions.
Married with two young children, she was fully expecting to eventually return to art teaching. In the meantime, to stay current, she enjoyed experimenting with various forms of creating with digital media, such as digital photography, photomontage, and digital painting. She taught herself game programming, creating five games, including all the graphics and illustration of the interface. Soon afterwards, she taught herself html, CSS, and scripts to code her own website as well as the South Coast Artist, Inc. website. During this period she painted part time in watercolor and did not exhibit her work.
In 1999, Debbie, along with her husband and two children, moved to Westport, MA, a beautiful coastal town that would become a never-ending source of her artistic inspiration. After a couple more years of teaching,
her professional direction changed in 2006 when she built a new studio at her home in Westport where she now focuses on painting oil landscapes full time. Her work is always on display there at her Meadowbrook Studio gallery.
Once she began painting full time she entered many shows and juried competitions, winning numerous awards in a short period of time. Some of the shows and venues included Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, National Arts Club (NYC, NY), Providence Art Club (Providence, RI), Guild of Boston Artists (Boston, MA), Paint America Top 100 (Traveled throughout US), Grimshaw-Gudewicz Art Gallery (BCC, Fall River, MA, Duxbury Art Association (Duxbury, MA), Plymouth Arts Guild (Plymouth, MA), Cape Cod Art Association (Barnstable MA), South County Art Association (South Kingstown, RI), Attleboro Arts Museum (Attleboro, MA), She was at that time represented by galleries in Westport, MA, Newport, RI, Tiverton, RI, and Jamestown, RI.
Debra became an elected member of the Guild of Boston Artists of Newbury Street, Boston, in 2015, where some of her work is exhibited at all times on the same walls that one hundred years earlier were donned by the most prestigious traditional artists of the day, including Edmund Tarbell, William Paxton and Frank Benson. She participates in all member shows and is represented at all times throughout the year in their gallery. Before becoming an elected Guild member she had been juried into the non-member Annual Regional Juried Exhibition for the seven years prior, selling many of her paintings and winning a medal.
Every summer since 2007, she has been a participating member of the South Coast Artist Open Studio Tour. For one weekend in July, and again in August, she enjoys this opportunity to meet many of her patrons in person and to engage with them about her work. She paints outdoors weekly with the Westport Art Group.
As of the summer of 2019 she is represented by Pierce Galleries, Inc. on Nantucket, MA. She is also an Artist-in-Residence on Nantucket for a week each June, allowing her to paint on location there each summer.
An elected member since 2015.
A member and participating artist of the annual South Coast Open Studio Tours since 2008.
A participating member for weekly plein air painting in various locations throughout the surrounding towns.
"My true subject is the light and atmosphere; and my true painting objective is to convey the essence of a place through an understanding of the color of its light, shadow, and atmosphere."
My artwork may be described as impressionistic, atmospheric oil landscapes that focus on scenes close to home, that is, coastal and rural scenes of Massachusetts.
My paintings depict a fairly literal representation of the natural landscape, ranging from larger panoramic scenic views, to tighter, close-up views of a single subject (such as a tree or a wave). Most of these places are close to home; I visit them frequently and know them quite intimately. The preferred subject matter ranges from seascapes to snowscapes, with special interest in depicting the interplay of light and shadow on light colored grounds, such as sand or snow. Most scenes are depicted without figures, creating an added timeless quality.
My artistic focus, however, is on trying to achieve a "sense of place" through the lighting and atmospheric conditions of a particular place, at a moment in time. That is, my true subject is the light and atmosphere; and my true painting objective is to convey the essence of a place through an understanding of the color of its light, shadow, and atmosphere.
I have always been very interested in many aspects of visual perception, including the physics of light. My goal is to expand upon my observational painting skills utilizing what I know about the science of light and optics to further "push," or better describe, a realistic impression of the lighting. The overall palette and color key used will aim to further describe the atmospheric quality, as well as convey my intuitive and emotional feel of the place.
I usually begin by choosing scenes in which lighting is the initial inspiration. I search for subjects with interesting color and patterns of light, always hoping to come across the one that will just stop me in my tracks; a scene of exquisitely beautiful relationships of light and color, sometimes only lasting for a brief moment in time. I am especially attracted to the intense, warm glow of the late day sun, or the last light just after sundown, or the hazy atmosphere of a hot, muggy summer day. The lighting is the initial concept, then I construct the shapes of the scene around it.
For me, the landscape with its natural lighting and timeless quality appeals to the expansiveness of our consciousness, without mental constraints or boundaries.
My paintings usually depict quiet, restful places that are intended to be inviting, offering a respite for the mind and a soulful reminder of the spirit that imbues the place itself and also unites us in appreciation of it. My personal challenge with each painting is to try to recreate the essence of the exact thing that stopped me in my tracks in the first place, and to share that with others.
"If I could say it in words there would be no reason to create".
"Art is not what you see but what you make others see."
"Color is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment."