the magic of personal connection
Color and positivity in the paintings of Debra Bucci by Kathryn Manis
EBRA BUCCI is a positive force, and her passion for
life and investment in the happiness of others
is evident in her work. As she puts it, “paintings
are all about personal connection.”
“I want someone to have an emotional con-nection
to my work,” she says. “When I’m paint-ing,
I’m thinking about emotional stability and
positive steps forward and I want to share that with others.
“I have to put the magic in,” she adds, with a warm laugh.
And if the magic doesn’t emerge in a piece that she is working on,
it doesn’t get to leave her studio.
Bucci’s paintings, well-known for their vibrancy and skillful com-bination
of realism and whimsy, most often depict elements of the
natural world and wildlife settings. Her signature uses of remarkable
detail and energetic color palettes come together in images that are
both widely recognizable and personally affecting. Her skill in layer-ing
the oils that she prefers to work in results in complex works with
She paints a lot of willow trees,
attracted by their complex root
systems and the nostalgic feeling
“People have these intense con-nections
to willows,” she says.
“They often think about life, its
challenges and the process of look-ing
for their own strength when
they see them.”
In “Under the Willow,” which was
featured on this year’s American
Craft Walk promotional poster,
Bucci’s ability to tap into the emo-tional
content of her subject matter
is front and center.
The painting features her current
favorite palette of “coastal colors”
— blues, greens, and their comple-ments.
Developed on the backdrop
of a pale orange sunset, the tree’s
lively, colorful roots begin in the
bottom left corner of the canvas.
Winding up and over to the right
of the composition, these undulating tubers — highlighted by a
dreamy yellow and deep purple — gradually turn into the branches
and long, dangling leaves of the tree. Hundreds of tiny leaves seem
to move with a light breeze, gently lifting and falling, an effect
achieved by dynamic line work and a laborious layering of paint. The
sinuous subject reaches up and out with its leaves and down into
the solid ground with its roots, representing a tension many of us
have felt in our own lives.
Bucci often writes poetic sentences to accompany her paintings,
encouraging viewers to find a connection to the content or mood of
the piece. Her message accompanying “Under the Willow” reminds
viewers that a support system can help keep us grounded and flex-ible
at the same time.
“Usually when I paint willows they are quiet and still,” she writes.
“These are blowing in the wind. This willow feels like change is com-ing,
but that’s okay. When you are rooted in family and friends, then
you can bend and flow with life’s changes.”
Bucci moved to the Wilmington
area from Pennsylvania about a
year and a half ago. She was quickly
introduced to the arts community by
her friend and owner of Art in Bloom
Gallery, Amy Grant, and was floored
by local support for visual artists.
“The people here love artists!”
she says. “I’ve never seen a commu-nity
that is so embracing of artists
of all kinds. What really gets me is
that you can go into almost any
business in this area and see beau-tiful
work hanging on the walls.
Local artists have their artwork all
over the place, in restaurants and
businesses, and that’s just the best
Bucci describes herself as con-stantly
experimenting and says
she’ll likely branch into other
mediums in the future. For now,
the appeal of oil painting lies in the
variety of color and the physicality
of applying thick paint to canvas.
Under the Willow, 40 x 30 inches, oil on canvas. Opposite:
Debra Bucci at her Wilmington home.