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Nancy Davidson, Artist

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Sweetgrass Baskets
Oil on canvas
Nancy Davidson

As a young girl growing up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, my parents and teachers recognized my artistic abilities and enrolled me in private art classes. In the years that followed, I received much encouragement while developing my talent. Art was my favorite high school class and led me on the road to Philadelphia's Tyler School of Art, where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Creating art has always been a part of my life. It is what I like to think about and I look forward to the challenges it creates in the process.

Through the years I have likened my canvases to musical compositions. I am the conductor of all the instruments that are laid out in the studio before me. Just as a conductor may have a favorite approach to bring out the best in his orchestra, I use composition, layers of color, tone and line - all directed by my brushstroke - to achieve the desired effect.

A good conductor must convey the emotion he is feeling to his musicians, as must a painter. I often choose subject matter with abstract lighting. I mentally travel with the suns movement as it dances across my subject, often into the softer, more subtle sounds of a shadow. As the painting's director, I am always aware of creating spaces and shape. The artwork has to entice and then hold the viewer's interest. I attempt to leave the viewer with a strong, evocative impression.

Because I like a jumping off point, my work has always remained representational. I am attracted to subject matter with a sense of whimsy and romance; to scenes that are familiar but seem to have a story to tell. I spend a long time musing about a canvas before I ever touch the palette. I ask myself: What is the aesthetic common thread of the piece? How will my compositional choices and material approach help tell the story I want to tell? I plan 50 percent of the work and let the piece lead me the rest of the way.

I enjoy working in series, (i.e., shrimp boats and my current garden nursery series). The more familiar I become with my subject matter, the more freedom I have to be creative. My paintings are strong, like my personality. I like the solidity and structure of objects, and spaces that define them. I have learned to be comfortable with whom I am and believe that confidence shows in my work.