Arlington, Texas artist Nancy Standlee creates bright yet tranquil original paintings and mixed media pieces. Her involvement with the painting community of Texas and beyond influences her style. She inspires other artists to paint daily, and shares some tips and insight in this conversation with Plaid.
You write about a painting being a journey. How do you know when you have arrived at the destination, or when a piece is finished?
This is a question many artists struggle and ask themselves. If you’re fortunate, you have a friend that calls out “Step away from the painting.” A simple answer I agree, but one that I use is “when it looks good”. I was in a collage workshop with Gerald Brommer when the question was posed to him. He said, “You can keep working on that collage until you can’t pick it up.”
How do you approach composition for your small landscapes and other abstract works?
With the small abstract landscapes I start with a horizon line near the top or bottom of the support. I work intuitively with the abstract work and begin to cover the canvas with paint and see what develops.
As both a student and a teacher of art expression, what special advice would you give to budding painters?
Decide on what you really like and why you like it and find painters who work like that, study their work and if you can take workshops from them. If you can’t take a workshop, order a good art DVD and study it. Creative Catalyst has a great selection to study. Get good art books and do some of the exercises – don’t just look at the pictures. Paint as often as you can and get a good support group of friends so you can paint and share ideas. I belong to a group of collaborative artists, Canvas by Canvas, and all of us have grown by our association. Keep a sketchbook journal of your journey and ideas. I have a notebook from each workshop and now I wish I’d used a sketchbook and added more images to these notes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Live in the moment, not in the past and not thinking so much about plans for the next day. Give yourself some creative time each day. That’s why I encourage the students in my art journaling workshops to keep a journal and each day add an image or a notation and it helps keep them creative. I keep an art blog and contribute to several others and I’m on FaceBook and these are time consuming but they can also keep you art connected.
Your work looks influenced by Robert Burridge, and there he is in your workshop roster. What was it like to study with him?
Yes, I can pick out other students work who have studied with him, also. I found Bob’s work by way of a Cheap Joe’s catalog that featured his coffee cup painting on the cover. I immediately fell in awe and then started my research. Who is this? Does he have a website? Does he teach workshops? How can I get to one? My first one was in 2006 at Dena’s Ranch near Marble Falls, TX. and now my 8th and 9th will be in 2011. My favorite Monday is still the first day of one of his workshops. He creates a safe and sharing environment in which to work, try new techniques and have fun. I like to be around his energy and the attitude he projects. He encourages you to paint the way you’ve always wanted to paint. He is a generous instructor and shares all his secrets. He has some notes on his website about his Pep Talk to his Loosen Up class that your readers might enjoy reading
What subject material and painting techniques are you looking forward to mastering in the future?
In March I traveled to Colorado to take a 2 day Metals and Mixed Media workshop with Carol Nelson and I want to follow up with other work in this area. I haven’t taken the time to really put in use some of the techniques Carol shared. I’ve been experimenting with painted and stained paper collage and have recently finished several pieces. There are more ideas I want to pursue towards figurative collage. In December I’ve scheduled a 2 day Florida workshop with Derek Gores in figurative collage. Art is one activity where age doesn’t require retirement. You never get too old for art. You are never bored and will always have something else to learn.
– Interview by Jacki Schklar