It can be said that nature achieves a perfect balance in all things great and small and that art often imitates life. GreenBox artist Nancy Egan has got this technique down with her “Art within Art” philosophy. Nancy creates gorgeous imagery that is both symmetrical and organic in nature and she does it with a well-crafted and sophisticated style. Recently, we had the esteemed pleasure of discussing her techniques and formal training and this is how it went:
GB: It seems as though the gift of art runs in your family! Can you tell us when you first knew that you had a passion for art?
NE: I knew when I was just a little kid, probably 4 or 5 years old that I had a passion for art. I would watch Saturday morning cartoons and draw the characters that I saw on TV. Art was always my favorite class in school. My dad used to teach art classes at our home and I would sit in there with him and watch or be his little helper sometimes. I would say I always knew I wanted to be an artist.
GB: Your engineering background really shines through in your art, especially in pieces like Tiger Shell & Echos of Fallen Waves that show an incredible attention to detail and symmetry. Do you feel as though this education helped you create such detailed pieces of art?
NE: Yes! I feel like this helped me to know precisely how to draw things and how to draw them accurately and to scale. In fact, I still use some of my mechanical drawing tools like the protractor.
GB: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from and why?
NE: I would say, everyday things like objects and landscapes. I love shiny things, shadows, and the way light hits objects. I also find inspiration from other artists and their use of color in their compositions.
GB: A lot of your pieces with GreenBox have a nautilus them and include images of sea shells – Do you paint these from memory, or pictures, or do you really own these shells?
NE: All of the above! I’m not so great at painting from memory so I have a technique that I used to ingrain the image into my head. I put in the image in an old-fashioned slide viewer and stare at it; studying it sometimes for hours. This way, I get the image completely stuck in my head and it makes it easier to accurately draw it.
GB: Your Silver Shell piece has an amazing look and it almost seems to capture a reflection. Can you explain the technique you used for this piece?
NE: I used a technique from the old masters. It’s actually a Northern European painting technique that uses glazing and layers to create the silver look. I start by using the brightest white canvas I can find and then I use blue-white, yellows, and chroma-white to build up layers to create a “highlight”. The layering really stands thick on the page when the painting is complete.
GB: How long does it typically take you to create a piece or does it vary?
NE: (Laughing) A lifetime! It really depends on the level detail and on the size of the piece. Typically a 9×12 piece will take me roughly 3-4 hours – it’s about 2-3 hours per square foot. It’s all about getting the right color in the right place and that can be a painful process sometimes.
GB: How has your style changed over time or has it not changed at all? If so, how?
NE: Oh yea… well… yes and no! Initially I was a “tight” painter but I starting using some impressionistic techniques to loosen up a bit. I think I’m going to go back to the more defined approach though.
GB: How would you describe your style in 3-5 words?
NE: Observing – glorifying man-made objects and nature.
GB: Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
NE: Draw – draw – draw! The paintbrush is just another tool – it all starts with being able to draw.
View all artwork by Nancy Egan exclusively at GreenBox here!