Debbie Mueller discovered painting in February 2016 while stuck inside on a rainy day during a family vacation in Florida. With nothing else to do, her mother pulled out some acrylic paints and suggested making some art. Though Mueller had spent more than 50 years of her life convinced she had no artistic talent at all, she decided to give it a go.
“I had nothing better to do, so I said OK,” she says. “I created a terrible painting, but I loved the way it made me feel. It was focused, it was meditative, it was creative.”
When Mueller, then a full-time obstetrician and gynecologist, returned home to New Hampshire after that trip, she dove headlong into her newfound passion. She bought some paint, took local classes, and enrolled in workshops, finding herself getting better and better with a brush. Before long, her work started to draw comparisons to the paintings of famed artist Edward Hopper, who is known for his dramatic use of light and shadow, and his strong, angular compositions.
“Within just that first year or two, I became enamored of work by artists who had a strong sense of light and shadow,” Mueller says. “I knew that was what I wanted to make.”
Eventually, Mueller decided to scale back her medical work so she could devote more time and energy to art. Then, three years ago, she embarked on a project to explore more fully the comparisons to Hopper by traveling to Cape Cod, where he painted many of his works, and doing her own paintings at the sites where he had created art.
The result, a series of 17 works directly inspired by specific Hopper paintings, will be on display at the Rockport Art Association and Museum until September 14. The exhibition was timed specifically to coincide with this summer’s major exhibition of Hopper’s work at the Cape Ann Museum.
In some, Mueller, a juried artist member of the association, painted precisely the same view Hopper had captured. Others showcase her different emotional response to a scene or reveal changes to a place since Hopper’s time. Each of Mueller’s paintings will be accompanied by a QR code that viewers can scan to see the Hopper work that inspired her.
“I am very proud of the show, very excited about it,” Mueller says. “It connects with history, and that’s a very cool feeling.”
Rockport Art Association, 12 Main St., Rockport, 978-546-6604, rockportartassn.org