Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Debra Domingos on Inspiration

Debra Domingos' art on the cover of the April 30, 2021 Dan's Papers issue.
Debra Domingos' art on the cover of the April 30, 2021 Dan's Papers issue.

Debra Domingos talks about the personal inspiration behind this week’s lovely cover, her favorite East End spots and more.

What was the inspiration for this piece?
A former colleague of mine was reminiscing about her grandmother’s garden and asked me if I ever painted hollyhocks as they were her grandmother’s favorite. I knew little about this vintage garden flower but the former librarian in me was about to find out. Besides being a flower that I recalled seeing in old nursery rhyme illustrations and in Peter Rabbit’s garden, I found out that it that it was a relatively easy flower to grow from seed and one that reseeds itself on Long Island.

From my reference material, I was reminded that this was the very flower that grew on either side of my own grandmother’s stoop many years ago at her modest Baldwin home. I remembered that there were strings saved from Sunday morning bakery boxes supporting the hollyhocks long fuzzy stems and how bees and butterflies were always active around their vibrant petals. The more I painted them, the more in touch with my senses from times long ago I became. I could literally smell the sunshine on ripening tomatoes and cooked garlic in the air from Grandma’s kitchen. Painting does that to me sometimes.

Debra Domingos
Debra Domingos

Talk about your artistic process.
Painting for me involves a lot of thinking and observation before the paint even hits the canvas. I paint in both watercolor and acrylic and my approach to each is completely different. With this watercolor in particular, my goal was to emphasize the dramatic shape and delicate nature of petals against deep shadows and backlighting. I used the wet on wet method to achieve the background and then deepened the shadows with layers of wash leaving white space to create the illusion of light.

What inspires you most as an artist?
I’m inspired by the natural world. Big topic yes, but it’s true. I watch each sunrise and sunset and nothing is ever the same. My garden and those that inhabit it are different each day and every walk on the beach or trail brings something new to focus on. Many of my paintings involve the sea and those living just below the surface. Besides nature, I am inspired by other artists. The artists I know are my cheerleaders and my critics. I’d be hard pressed to do what I do without them.

What are your favorite spring spots on the East End?
While I live on the South Fork, I spend much of my time at a family residence in Cutchogue, just opposite Robins Island. Inspiration is boundless there. I can often be found paddling in the estuary where the yellow island grasses slowly transform to a spring green that is so bright that it hurts your eyes and the water is so clear you can count the mussels attached to the bogs. I love the Lavender Fields and the view from New Suffolk Beach. My south shore spring haunts include the Terrell River County Park, formerly known as the Haven’s Estate and Union Avenue Dock in Center Moriches.

See more of Debra Domingos’ work at debdomingos.artspan.com and on Instagram @domingosdeb. Domingos is a member of the South Bay Art Association and her work is routinely displayed at their satellite galleries and local library exhibits.

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