2018 National Exhibition "Best of Show" Winner Nancy Boren

05/12/2019 8:55 AM | Stephanie Amato

by Mark Beale 

Hello Nancy. Congratulations on your win. How did it affect you when you saw the results? 

NB: Hi Mark. It was thrilling and also served as inspiration to keep painting! 

MB: First, tell me how you approached Spring Pink, your winning painting. 

NB: I had not been in the show for 3 years and I really wanted to get my painting accepted so, my idea was to carefully read what AIS wanted and how impressionism was described. 

MB: Tell me more about how you interpreted that. Many of us usually just read the prospectus. 

NB: AIS describes impressionism as a style in which works are executed in a high key with loose, broken brushstrokes. So, I kept that in mind and as always, with the idea of creating a work that would really stand out from all of the other submissions they receive. I wanted to grab the eye of the jury sorting through hundreds of paintings. Then I created a vision in my mind's eye of what I wanted the finished painting to look like. Pink is one of my favorite colors. 

MB: Your painting reminds me of Sargent's "Carnation Lilly, Lilly, Rose". Was he a big influence on you? 

NB: Absolutely, Sargent is an influence in general and that’s one of favorite paintings in the world! Although I was not consciously trying to just do a variation of it for the AIS. Sargent and many others and my father, who was a western artist and member of the Cowboy Artists of America, were tremendous influences. I saw my father develop as an artist when I was growing up in Oklahoma and Texas and after receiving my BFA, he really helped me get my start. 

MB: Did he critique your work or help you develop a business model? 

NB: Both really. He helped me get into my first galleries where I sold pen and ink and watercolor pieces. I paint western subjects part of the time, but for AIS, I had something different in mind. 

MB: You seem to have the ability to expertly paint a figure in a landscape, as we see in your winning painting. How do you approach that in general? 

NB: Well, I believe the primary principle is unity. The figure needs to connect with the surroundings and I accomplish that by using similar colors in both. For Spring Pink, obviously it was a warm pink. I bought a pink kimono and vintage Japanese lanterns on ebay. Then I dressed the model, took her to the park and posed her, taking pictures from different angles, and later began the painting in the studio on an oil-primed canvas that I toned with a pinkish tan color. I have painted blooming peach trees on location so it was easy to add pink blossoms around her. I have done figures in the landscape by combining photos of the figure and a different landscape, both utilizing similar lighting. I have also done them completely en plein air. Different approaches work in each case. 

MB: I see that your preparation was crucial. 

NB: Yes, sometimes I believe painting is more about thinking than it is about applying paint. 

MB: What do you feel is most important in creating successful works? 

NB: Understand yourself. Pay attention to what attracts you and ask yourself why. What is it about a subject that has drawn your interest? If you can paint from that perspective, your work will have a stronger impact. For me, I’m attracted to bright colors or the beautiful patterns on the kimono, for example. There are many, many kimonos listed on ebay so you have to really search through them for the color, design, and price that you want. 

MB: Other than your father, where else did you find help? Have workshops been a part of your education following your BFA? 

NB: Yes, artists should study with the best. I have taken workshops with Carolyn Anderson, Milt Kobayashi, Casey Baugh, and Daniel Gerhartz. 

MB: What specific advice would you give other artists hoping to attract galleries and be accepted to shows? 

NB: Strategy is important. Choose carefully which works go to which galleries or shows. The work has to be what the intended audience is looking for. For example, I wouldn’t send the same painting subjects to Cowgirl Up as I did to AIS. Also, keep in mind your goal. I don’t want to polish everything out perfectly. I want to leave some brushwork loose and broken and I try to have a clear image of what I want the painting to look like before I start. Spend time thinking and planning. Of course, you must understand the language of paint: value, temperature, etc. But don’t underestimate the importance of planning. Also, no matter what your level, be open to suggestions. When I was young, my dad painted a storefront and someone told him it would sell better if it had a horse in front. So, he added a horse. He found he enjoyed that and went in the direction of western subject matter. 

MB: Most importantly, it sounds like you are suggesting artists have a clear vision of what they want to say, based on what moves them, and then create a strategy. 

NB: That’s right, if you can combine your own unique voice with good technical ability you will be able to create a painting that stands out. 

MB: Well, Nancy it has been interesting hearing about your approach and congratulations again. Thanks for taking time to talk with me. 

Check out more of Nancy’s work at www.nancyboren.com 

Our thanks to AIS Associate Member Mark Beale, www.bealefineart.com, for another wonderful interview! 

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