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B I O: The Artist’s Tale
   Nancy Ness’ formative years were spent in a cookie cutter neighborhood of brick houses on Long Island, New York. Her addiction to making art appeared very early and was a concern for her parents. They took her to a shrink at age five. To her parents relief the shrink declared, “She’s fine, she just likes to doodle.” As for Nancy’s self-awareness on becoming an artist, she doesn’t think there was ever a time the addiction subsided.

Growing up in New York, close to  professional artists and great art museums was a gift. One fond memory for Ness was being told during a grammar school field-trip to buddy-up with her best friend before they were let loose to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her high school art teacher, an influential instructor, had paintings displayed in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum. While in high school, this art teacher awarded Ness a scholarship to Pratt Institute for weekend art classes.

Her unconventional life began after her first year of college at Visual Arts School in
New York City. From there life took a number of turns including living in a treehouse
in northern California to living on a sailboat on the north shore of Long Island.

For years, she was a perpetual art student until moving and matriculating into the University of Minnesota. Two years later, she transferred and moved back to NY to complete a BFA in Communications Arts from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.

Having been a perpetual art student allowed Ness to be influenced by many wonderful art professors. One of her favorites was Pratt Instructor, Charles Goslin, an internationally recognized designer. He said “Resist that ever-present and mind- numbing pressure to conform. What is familiar to us is reassuring and, ultimately, boring. If you try again and again, you will know the gratification of creating something as personal as your signature.”

     Developing a style which stays on the fine-line between a abstraction and recognizable subject has been her direction. She pushes color and creates marks that
are less academic and more organic. This allows for “controlled happy accidents”. Her style is forever evolving but over time she has learned Goslin was right, finding her personal visual voice is way more important than following norms.

Another influence comes from working in the competitive field of graphic design in
NY. For years, Ness worked as an art director. She won awards and designed for such clients as Jaguar, IBM, AAA, and many other well-known corporations. During her art direction years, she learned to stand apart by creating symbolically conceptual visual communications. This training helped her to create conceptual ways to view known subjects in her fine art.

One painting leads to another, one subject has given rise to another but always, the basic elements of art such as color, value, line etc. have taken the primary led over
visual storytelling or realism. A subject may start with something she sees while skiing or sailing and from there a series develops. Ness agrees with Picasso -”Inspiration comes but it must find you working”.

Crossing the country has been a reoccurring theme for Ness. She and her husband now live in Ogden, UT but split their time between two lifestyles. In the winter they live and ski in Ogden, UT. When the spring comes, they drive across the country to live and sail in Greenport, NY.

Studio space, much like her life jumped from place to place. Her studios included a rental railroad station to a sailboat. Her desire to paint developed a willing flexibility
to work with many mediums in an effort to adjust to whatever space offered a place to work. Happily she now has an wonderful home studio.

Ness is a Signature member of the Pastel Society of America, a member of the American Women Artists, IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies), West Coast Pastel Society, American Impressionist Society, Palette Club of Ogden and Oil Painters of America.

Over the years, Nancy has won international and national awards for her fine art. In recent years, she won the Hampton’s Art Hub International Fine Art Award and in two separate years, won awards in the International NYC Annual Pastel of America Show. Along with these awards, she has been accepted into a number of national shows including American Impressions Small Works and the Northeast National Pastel Competition,.

Ness is always surprised and delighted by people’s response to her work. At first it is
the color that seduces them to look further. As they view the work, the unique way a recognizable subject matter is handled further engages them.

Many of her pieces have been collected by fellow artists. The enthusiasm of her fellow artists has led her to do a number of pastel and drawing workshops. Her mission has always been to live up to the highest level of her art potential and to encourage other artists to do the same.            


   I try to make my paintings visually surprising yet pleasing. Part of my goal is for them to land on a fine line between abstraction and representation.

At first, people are drawn to my use of color. After years working as a designer, I know color can be very seductive when used effectively. So in the majority of my art, my knowledge of color is used in unrealistic ways which sets me apart from other artists.

Inventing the wheel was fun and necessary for my diverse design clients. Now, working in series helps me curb the constant desire to explore.

When a series is done, the hard part of finding a new subject begins. Much like a hound dog that is led by it’s nose, I am led by my eyes. For each potential subject, I ask what is it or not that inspires me. My core inspiration is finding a unique way to visually communicate recognizable subjects.

Starting with a thumbnail, I move to soft pastels for a small color study. Some pastels become larger finished pieces because I can not match their beautiful quality in oil.

Last year my special love for sailing sparked an idea. I began painting on old sails. It took some failures before learning a good method to mount dacron on light board. Depending on the subject, I let sail elements like stitching or hardware show.

The sail structure lends itself to larger work, a push I am also getting from several galleries. My future direction is to paint larger and more fearlessly with abstract brush marks.

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