Insight into the creative process

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Debby Reelitz engraves a custom glass piece.

The Granby Artists Association is debuting a new monthly column, Spotlight on Granby Artists: Insight into the Creative Process. Each month will feature two artists. The pandemic has limited all artists’ exposure so we hope this will be an interesting way for Granby to get to know new members and reconnect with other members. This first column features the newest member and a founding member. We hope you enjoy!

Debby Reelitz, Calligraphy, member since 2002


What is the most exciting aspect of being a calligraphic artist?

Best of all, as a lettering artist, I get invited into people’s lives when something precious or important has happened.

From graduations, retirements, weddings, births, even deaths, expressions of gratitude, or words that support a person in being their best self—I’ve had the chance to be a part of lifting up the best parts of our human existence. It’s an enormous blessing and incredibly humbling to celebrate life’s journey with handwritten letters.

Do you take art classes, workshops and do you teach your craft?

Yes! To all parts of this question! Even though I am a teacher of calligraphy, I’m constantly learning—from other calligraphic lights, my students, experimenting with new mediums, etc. The learning is what keeps the calligraphy interesting and exciting as a career!

Over the last year, one of the things that has taken off for me is teaching online, both library programs and my in-depth six-week classes. The mind-bending thing is that I’ve been teaching for 15 years, but just in the last nine months and thanks to the online access, I’ve shared calligraphy skills with more people than I did in all my previous 14 years—even students as far away as Armenia and India and British Columbia!

Anyone who’s intrigued can join me on June 29, when Granby Library will be hosting a new program I’ve created. It combines a decorated letter with a creature and is created with colored pencils. No lettering or drawing experience is necessary!

Do you have any specific goals for your art in the next few years?

The skill I am currently developing is engraving. I’m lettering on all sorts of surfaces now, glass, wine bottles, even metal objects. I’m excited to start offering this service as the world opens up and the pandemic winds down.

What year did you become an exhibiting Member of Granby Artists Association?

I’m lucky enough to be one of the founding members of GAA, some have called me the founder. I cringe a bit when I hear that description. No one founds an organization without a lot of support and involvement by many people. A description of instigator may be more appropriate.

I moved to Granby in 2001 from the Midwest where I knew of an open studio event in Madison, Wisconsin and thought that was cool. Moving to Connecticut, I wanted to make calligraphy my full-time job like it was in Chicago and thought an open studio event could help get my name out there, but being a newbie, nobody was going to show up at my door! That gave me the excuse to reach out to other local artists, and see if others wanted to create an open studio event. Clearly, 20 years later, some magic combined with lots of hard work, amazing art and artists and critically, fantastic support from the Granby community made that 2002 Open Studio tour the start of Granby Artists’ grand adventure.

Over the years, I’ve seen the impact working together as Granby Artists has had. It’s encouraged so many in their creative endeavors and for some, supporting them in transitioning to art as their career. It’s been truly amazing to be a part of this supportive community.

Rita Law-McConaughy, Painter: acrylics, mixed media, watercolor, egg tempera; member since 2021


Holcomb Farm 1 Triptych, October, 2020, Acrylic, 12 x 36 in.; The sun hitting the field at Holcomb Farm at a certain moment. Courtesy of Rita Law-McConaughy

What inspires your art?

Being outdoors where there is an endless treasure of visual beauty and stimulation of the senses.

Does Granby have an influence on your art?

Granby most definitely inspires my art. The many open spaces, land trust properties, hiking trails, my backyard, the sky, trees, and the incredible scenery, are perfect subjects. In a split second what you see can change. The weather, time of day; there is always something new. For example: The way the color of trees frames another set of views at Dismal Brook Wildlife Preserve; the special way bears select a certain tree to mark; the views from the hill across from Holcomb Farm. I’m inspired by how a sudden early snowstorm covers a leaf laden tree in my back yard, only lasting a few moments before it all melts; and the blur of color as you walk in fall and how something specific catches your eye in the distance. Wherever I am, I see an image I want to capture and translate.

Do you have any specific goals for your art in the next few years?

I want to be less critical of my paintings, to create the work that I truly love, to start painting on large raw canvases, and most of all—to always have fun. Working towards having a solo show would be my ultimate objective.

Tell us about a satisfying art accomplishment you had?

I assisted the Salmon Brook Historical Society with the concept, design and production for a grass roots “Save the Barn” billboard. It was placed on Simsbury Road in front of the barn at Holcomb Farm. The funds that were collected funded the restoration and the roof is now completed. Now, whenever I drive by, I smile.

Artist’s statement

My newest works reflect my focus on a single moment in time. Often based upon a photograph I’ve taken, I let the elements of the moment evolve as I paint it. I delve deeper into the image through color choices, the energy or calm of brush strokes, and particular elements that emphasize the emotions of that memory.

Melting Snow, March 2021, Acrylic, 16 x 20 in.; The days are getting longer and the sunsets are brilliant. Courtesy of Rita Law-McConaughy