Bio. In her decrepit drafty studio in a former carpet mill factory, Deborah Holcombe has been exploring the boundaries of still life painting. The focus of this recent work is on the distortion of objects due to the refraction of light through glass. Her goal is to share a vision of common items in a way that will heighten the observers’ experience of everyday things.
Diagnostic ultrasound is another passion and she is experienced in abdomen, vascular and obstetrical applications of this modality. She has also taught ultrasound and is presently practicing in veterinary medicine, applying this skill to cats, dogs, snakes, ferrets and the occasional alligator! It is an interesting parallel to note that this diagnostic tool uses the reflection and refraction of sound echoes to see into a living body.
Holcombe is nearsighted and has worn glasses since childhood. A physical difficulty in seeing has pushed her into looking deeply. Both of her arts require visual concentration.
Previous art endeavors have been portrait painting and a spiritually based body of work created at the time of the rediscovery of her Christian faith. She occasionally works in photography and cyanotype depending on the requirements of a project.
Holcombe has earned a BFA degree at Tyler School of Art, Temple University studying with influential professors such as Margo Margolis and Stanley Whitney. Admiration for graphic novel illustrators such as Frank Miller and medical illustrators such as Frank Netter have influenced the more exacting side of her painting and the idea of how pictures can tell a story.
Born in Hopewell NJ, Holcombe was eager to exchange the bucolic lifestyle for an urban one living in Philadelphia, New York City, and staying on in Rome after studying art there with the Temple University program. Today she lives in Yonkers with her family and eclectic menagerie of rescued pets.
Holcombe has exhibited in solo and group shows where she has received awards. Her work has been published in magazines. Numerous paintings and commissions are in private collections.
“The Refraction Series”, 2012 to the present
The focus of interest in this body of work is not the objects that fill the canvas but what can’t be touched; light, refraction, reflection, shadow and how the application of marks and color shapes describe these things to our eyes. Through these common objects the intrigues of light and color, fluid and distortion are rendered. The subjects are painted as I observe them. The method used is a classical method of setting up an intriguing still life and painting it by eye.
Another aspect to this work is the choice of subjects and the narrative they create. Although the paintings join together everyday things such as a dish towel, a bread knife and glass objects such as wine bottles and glasses, there are elements of mystery and discord: Why is the wine glass toppled? How did the glass break? And was the knife used for something other than slicing bread? The unseen action in these paintings creates both a story and questions for the viewer.