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  • Meet Nancy Bass!


    Meet Nancy Bass! Meet Nancy Bass!

    Sometimes art is inspired by life and sometimes life is inspired by art. In the case of painter Nancy Bass, the inspiration is literal and cyclical. Her paintings of cows are inspired by real cows, but some of the cows she’s painted were inspired by art. Literally. Bass raised cattle on a farm in Virginia for thirty-five years. The two herds she raised were inspiration for her art in the truest sense: they were bred for it. “I had various breeds to interbreed and create various colors and personalities to inspire my art,” Bass explains. “Our herd was really just based on the beauty of the animal, various colors, having good personalities. Other herds are bred based on their meat or dairy, but ours were bred based on their beauty.”

    Bass and her husband no longer have the farm, instead splitting their time between the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville, and a little island off the west coast of Florida. She finds inspirations in those places, too, she says. “In Florida there’s the seabirds and the oceans and a lot of cattle. Just off the island we live on are cattle. In North Carolina we have bears. But the colors change, the light changes, it’s a different feel wherever I go.”

    Bass works in oils, always. “I just have always loved it and always come back to it. I love the flexibility of building up layers, and I can change things. I love the colors in oils. They’re softer than acrylics, which tend to be brighter. I like the traditional, softer colors of oil.”

    She took some painting classes in college but credits later workshops, working with artists she particularly respected, for really helping her learn her art. “That was really how I made progress,” she says, “that and going to museums. That really puts you up a level, to see the best work.” She still finds lots of inspiration at museums, she says, and notes that on different occasions she’s drawn to different artists, often because there’s some aspect of her own work that she may be considering. “When you go to a museum and look at work that inspires you, it’s always different work. There are things in your work you’re looking to that you may not even realize. I’ll come back and realize it’s something I’ve been pushing for in my work. The more you surround yourself with higher quality work than yours, the more you learn to see.”

    And Bass has been seeing, and learning, for her whole life. Her first art pieces were of animals, back when she was a small child. “I wanted a poodle in the worst way,” she laughs. “I must have been about three. I had a big box of crayons with every color and I learned how to draw poodles. I made poodles in every color. I made a pink one, which was the one I really wanted. I had no idea I would become an animal artist.”

    While she never got that pink poodle (she did eventually get other dogs, she says), Nancy Bass has been painting animals ever since. Her appreciation for them has helped her to create portraits that are more than just representations. Her work has the added level of truly revealing an animal’s personality, a skill she attributes to her affinity for them. “People look at my art and say they really feel they know the animal, it isn’t just something that doesn’t have a personality but is real; that I really understand the animals and captured what was real about them. If you love animals, you just kind of know. People who are animal people just kind of feel the animal. I tend to make things generally more beautiful, more loving. That’s just something that happens in the work. That’s the way I see them.”

    Bass is still surrounded by animals, including lots of birds and cows in Florida and bears in North Carolina. And when she needs even more inspiration, she still has a series of files on her computer of photos of each of her cows in Virginia to refer to. “I find my animals wherever I go,” she says.

    Bass is happy in her studios, one in Florida and one in North Carolina, and teaching workshops and offering private classes, sharing the art of painting animals. And speaking of sharing, she’s happy to have the chance to share her art through GreenBox Art as well, she says. “The point of doing work is to share it with people. When you’re an artist your work is only shared with whoever owns it. It’s not shared very often. It’s not like when you‘re a writer. So printing my work makes sense to me.”

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