I took a sewing class when I was eleven.
I studied weaving when I was twenty.
I began painting when I was thirty.
Now, close to forty years on, I continue to paint, all the while paying homage to my deep roots and love of textiles.
My unabashed love of pattern permeates all that I do.
This current body of work incorporates stitching in collaged pieces of my old paintings.
My process has gone full circle, working in materials that I have always loved, in ways that have always been familiar to me.
Unchartered emerged and evoked from within me the memories of beaches, sailing, gliding, breezes, and light. I visualized the movement of wind and water in both harmony and disharmony. I applied color to the canvas with palette knife and heavy bodied paint for textures to express immediacy. Unchartered is my interpretation of natural forms as they evolve into abstract shapes, leaving the work open to interpretation. I invite the viewer’s participation and visceral interaction.
My biggest challenge in creating Southwest was to find a way to apply the paint texturally and express my feelings as I directed my images to head toward the west. As I worked on the painting, my images of sails became actual entities and metaphors for individuals. I anthropomorphized each object. Personification had me imagining the conversations among the group. And I still do.
Cityside does not try to mirror the structured world in which we live. Rather it becomes the wanderings of my mind using thick textural acrylic paint to express a desire to feel a sense of flow in life. Stories of lives are layered into the process of creating city and sea. The dripping acrylic paint represents the energy of this place—a city, any city, my city. The colors applied with palette knife tell stories of lives that are within the structures, protected and oblivious.
When I begin my work I originally start with thoughts of concept, color, shape, and the message I want to convey. Rarely that logic wins out as I begin to work in flow with the materials and connection I have to them. Transformation begins as I am guided by the materials and my work becomes a blending of color I hadn’t planned to work with, a fluidity of paint, and changes in shape and marks I hadn’t originally intended.
I use traditional tools in my work, such as brushes and palette knives, but also work with unconventional tools, such as a pool noodle knife, a squeegee, or a putty knife to blend colors, create lines, layers, and textures. The materials I use, along with my intuition, emotions, message, and the way in which I connect with them, result in the completion of my painting.
Image at top: Nancy Wagner, Enter Here, mixed-media oil painting on paper, 17.5 x 15.5 in., 2022 (photo David Caras).