Bit by bit, piece by piece, Velasquez makes art every day.
By John Torsiello
Deborah Velasquez loves her craft; it is what she knows she “should be doing.”
The Pleasant Valley resident creates paintings, prints, ceramics, cards, textiles, and mobiles of sometimes fantastical design––and often more subtle in form yet still stunning. She calls her work “modern, sophisticated, graphic, and bold with a fun color sense,” reflecting her love for the simplicity of line. Velasquez works in both digital and traditional methods.
Having had a love affair with art and creating “since childhood,” Velasquez finds inspiration from travel––summers on Martha’s Vineyard but not this year––as well as the beauty of her garden, “and the primitive innocence of my son’s scribbles.” Her calling cards are black and white images combined with one or two colors to produce beautiful contrasting shapes and lines for the eyes to feast upon.
Velasquez graduated from the Colorado Institute of Art and the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Business program. She also studied textiles and fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Her artwork has been exhibited in numerous galleries and juried shows. Her designs can be found on products such as rugs, wall art, ceramics, stationery, textiles, and mobiles. Her work is carried by Minted, West Elm, CarpetVista of Sweden, and giftware and home décor licensing companies.
Velasquez didn’t make significant art for a long time; she was caught up in her work as an art director in New York City and then raising two sons, Elan and Auguste, who were born after she and her husband, John, found a “perfect” home in Pleasant Valley. “It’s been a wonderful time raising my kids, but I felt an urge to create and I started doing little canvases and cards about 15 years ago,” she explains. “I did a show at a tea room in the center of New Hartford and it went really well.” Bit by bit, piece by piece, she made art “every day,” first in a barn at the family’s house and then at a studio in the center of New Hartford.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut the doors to her studio, hopefully not permanently. She has transitioned to working from home; a blessing in disguise. “It has given me more time with the family. It kind of feels like we are on an extended snow day.”
Her “business” model has also changed; “I accumulated a nice collection of work last year that has kept me visible and sustained via online. And I’ve found a great outlet on Instagram.” She also conducts online art classes and even found time to author a book, Drawing in Black & White.
Velasquez’s influences include Henri Matisse and Alexander Calder, “You want to grow. I will experiment but I always have to find my center, my lane.” She says her work is “where art meets beauty and lifestyle. Whenever I have been faced with something I don’t know I’ve thought it out. I might sound like a conceited punk but I’ve never doubted my ability to create meaningful art.”