Saturday, March 31, 2018

Studio Visit: Debra Claffey, New Hampshire

Edited by Paula Fava

Debra Claffey moved from Boston to Southern New Hampshire in 1992. She converted a small horse barn on her property into a studio with the aid of a big book called Building and Construction Details. "It had lots of easy-to-follow diagrams," says Debra, "so I taught myself some carpentry and got a studio in return."    

   An open and expansive workspace after a summer’s labor of love 
and years of continued work 

 Cozy and comfy during winter which, in New England, can last into spring

“I love that my workspace is on my property and near but not attached to my home. I like the quiet and the easy 'commute.' I work in the studio daily now (since I’ve downsized my landscape business), mostly afternoons and early evenings. I have found that I more easily relax into good concentration when the household chores are done first, but with a time limit.

 This old studio: Pre-remodel images of Debra’s barn, 1992

“My ventilation for encaustic is homemade--a quiet but strong bathroom exhaust fan coupled with metal dryer vent, hanging from a copper pipe, which makes it movable. The garden swing, my plants, and books make it comfy, but with everything on wheels, and with lots of cabinets, the studio is very utilitarian. I have a propane heater for backup but keep cozy and warm with a wood stove. It's a bit of work to stack and move the wood, but it's wonderful during the winter.

Debra calls her studio utilitarian but comfy. You can guess which category the swing falls into

“I work alone and really appreciate the solitude, although I did enjoy having lots of artists and conversation around in my first studio in Boston. I’ve begun teaching workshops with one to four artists, so now I have the best of both.

        Creating community through workshops

“I'm working with plant and foliage imagery using encaustic, pigment stick, graphite, and other media that suit my drawing and painting style. I've been working with plants and a few still life objects for more than 10 years, but am still intrigued by the intelligence of nature and the complexity of translating it into my own visual language.”

              Debra with two foliage-influenced works in progress            

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