Today we’d like to introduce you to Nanc Gordon.
Nanc, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I grew up in Boston, MA and headed to art school in New York City. Armed with a BFA from Parsons School of Design, I embarked on a career in graphic design. My employers ranged from the United Nations (designing graphics in six different languages) to exhibit graphics for The Metropolitan Museum of Art (where I learned Mandarin to greet a Chinese diplomat for an Asian exhibit opening).
Moving back to Boston, I started my own studio where I began transitioning to the computer. A loan from my husband’s grandmother financed a $12,000 monitor (the cost of a car at the time!), and I became one of the first designers to work entirely on the computer.
After years of looking at a screen, I missed the tactile experience that attracted me to art in the first place. I wanted to feel the materials in my hands and longed to interact with a brush and pigment and immerse myself in paint.
I commuted to Rhode Island School of Design and earned a certificate in decorative painting, which led to a new career. I specialized in taking old techniques such as vinegar painting and used it in contemporary ways creating fine art finishes for furniture, mirrors and floor cloths for interior designers and clients. I enjoyed painting but found the furniture to be labor intensive with lead times up to six months. After a move to Dallas, I transitioned yet again, from furniture to canvas and paper to become a fine art painter.
Working in the Fine Arts was a huge challenge. I took a figure drawing class and really struggled at first. It took me a while to learn to draw and translate what I saw to paper.
I became intrigued by the transparency of watercolor and began to experiment with the medium. Watercolor is beautiful but not terribly forgiving. If you lose your whites, it’s difficult to bring them back, and if you make a mistake, there are few options. It is challenging and often nerve-racking, but ultimately very rewarding!
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Botanicals are compelling to me for their beauty and serenity. I try to bring graceful botanicals inside to help us reconnect with nature and create a sense of calm in a hectic world. Watercolor is a great medium to create a harmonious and peaceful effect.
I begin my process by taking hundreds of photos of flowers or leaves from trips to botanical gardens and bring them into the computer. I deconstruct and reconstruct my compositions with a flower here and maybe a leaf there paying particular attention to negative space. I then create a black and white study to use as my roadmap to determine my lights and shadows and all the subtleties in between. Then I draw my image in pencil onto watercolor paper and begin painting layer upon layer of transparent paint. Transparent watercolor allows me to build thirty to forty layers of paint to create colors you can’t get straight from the tube or mix. It’s a slow process but worth the end result for colors that absolutely glow.
About halfway through the painting, I put in a black background made up of ten different colors that creates a deep, rich and intense black. This is the nerve-racking part of the process for me. If I get any of the black paint onto the flower, then the painting is ruined. Needless to say, I take many precautions to avoid this happening like masking and keeping my work area spotless. More layers ensue until I have the right balance of darks and lights and the painting comes to life!
I’m also working on a series of abstract monoprints in acrylic. These one-of-kind prints are a form of printmaking where only one image is made. Ink or paint is applied to a surface like plexiglass or metal and marks are created by either addition or subtraction. Paper is placed over the manipulated surface, burnished and “pulled” by lifting the paper. I print with anything I can find such as cardboard, stamps I make, plastic or everyday items like a mascara brush and always try new things to get unusual, often surprising results. These prints play into my passion for design with pattern, texture and color creating clean, colorful and contemporary looks.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
As a graphic designer, I worked on multiple projects at any given time due to moving deadlines, and as an artist, I do the same. I may work on a watercolor painting in the morning building up glazes then switch to monoprints in the afternoon and end my day with mark making. I find the creative process for each medium spill over into the next and helps me keep a fresh eye. I may discover a process that could apply to another medium and lead to something entirely new. It’s a different way of working that other artists may want to try.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I will be in showing my abstract monoprints in a group show, “Calm to Chaos” at The Gallery at North Haven Gardens in Dallas from January 25 – March 15, 2019. The opening reception is Friday, January 25 from 5pm to 7pm and the gallery is located at 7700 Northhaven Road in Dallas, TX 75230. Please stop by and say hello! You can also view my work on my website and/or contact me for a studio visit.
- Website: nancgordon.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancgordon_/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nancgordon.art/
Hallie Frank, Nanc Gordon, Keven Todora, Chad Redmon