Metamorphosis: The Paintings of Deborah Spertus

Rain_God_8x10_©_Deborah_Spertus Rain God, 8" x 10" © Deborah Spertus

Deborah Spertus believes that the experience of the painting is a joint creation of the artist and the viewer.

Cascade, 24″ x 36″ © Deborah Spertus

She compares her technique to the music of jazz musicians.

Cessation, 12″ x 16″ © Deborah Spertus

“When I paint, my works are improvisations between myself and the medium. I am strongly influenced by the give and take. I’m in the moment. I find the process can be very intense.”

Chrysalis, 24″ x 36″ © Deborah Spertus

She explains that abstract painting is a lot more than spontaneously spreading paint around the canvas. Just as musicians study scales and rhythmic music theory, artists study composition, color theory, perspective, etc…

Evolution, 12″ x 12″ © Deborah Spertus

“When I improvise on the canvas, I am drawing on all those skills that I have acquired and bringing my own aesthetic, feelings and artistry to my artwork.”

Heavenly_Bridge, 24″ x 36″ © Deborah Spertus

Deborah Spertus doesn’t do things halfway. “I need to understand the “how” and “why” of whatever I do, and I always I strive for mastery. At first, I focused on realism. My studies even included scientific illustration and portraiture. I knew that someday I was likely to become an abstract artist, but I wanted it to be out of choice, and not by default.”

Levitation, 18″ x 24″ © Deborah Spertus

For a decade she operated a commercial mural and faux finishing business, executing numerous projects. During that time, she learned to work in multiple styles, techniques and materials depending on the need of her clients. Her obsession with the “how” and “why” and “mastery” led to a very successful career.

Sanctum, 8″ x 10″ © Deborah Spertus

A few years ago she discovered alcohol inks (that’s another story in itself), and was fascinated with the way the inks move and blend as they flow together. They can only be guided, but not controlled. After years of working in very precise and technical manner, she embraced the spontaneity and interactive nature of the inks. She still doesn’t do things halfway – she has been pushing the technical limits with how to use this new medium to create unique, expressive, evocative artworks.

Torrent, 24″ x 36″ © Deborah Spertus

“On top of that, my current work is intuitive. That means I have no plan when I start a painting. That’s a huge change for me! I begin by pouring on colors and letting them blend and flow. From then on it is an interactive process, a sort of dance between me, the composition and the colors. In other words, for years I used my skills and creativity to reproduce reality, then to satisfy my clients. Now, I am creating the art that is inside of me.”

Trance, 8″ x 10″ © Deborah Spertus


Deborah Spertus received her BFA in Art History from The University of Texas, Austin, an MA in French from Middlebury, interned at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and has studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and with various artists in their studios. She lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

You can learn more about her work at her website or Instagram.