Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Nancy Christy-Moore I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name’s Graeme Stevenson, and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world. Lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi folks, well once again we are back in America, in Arizona, in Phoenix. And we are in the studio of of Nancy Christy-Moore. Nancy, how are you? (Nancy) I’m good. How are you? (Graeme) Fantastic to be here. We’re in a lovely air-conditioned studio. The heats been pretty unbearable lately hasn’t it? (Nancy) Yes it has. (Graeme) Incredible. But Nancy is a contemporary abstract artist that specialises in florals and horses. They’re really, really energetic painting using acrylics and watercolours. And when I say her paintings are bright and energetic, that’s really an understatement to say the least. But we were talking before about how this all started for you, and it was, you had a marketing job (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) initially and you basically said one day when you were sitting in the job talking to people, and sort of you have to be selling a product, and you were thinking about art. (Nancy) Yes, I was trying to talk a client, or it happened many times, talking clients into buying the health plan that I was marketing. And instead of thinking about the health plan and the benefits of all of that, what I was thinking about is, well look at his face, I could draw that and here’s the shadow here, or I could paint that this way you know. And I’m thinking, wait a minute. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) I was almost forty years old at the time, (Graeme) Okay. (Nancy) and I’m thinking I’m half way through my life, and the epiphany hit me, what am I going to do for the rest of my life? Do I really want to be doing this? (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) You know, I really did ask myself that question and so then I said you know, what I really want to do with the rest of my life, is I want to paint and teach. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) And so I told my husband about this big idea and of course loosing that money out of our budget was not a happy thing. But you know we did it and I’ve never looked back once. I’ve never regretted it; it’s opened a whole new world for me. (Graeme) Yeah, fantastic, and Jack is a fantastic man too. (Nancy) Yes. (Graeme) He really is a supportive husband. And you sort of described yourself at one stage cause she’s a very well known teacher and does a number of workshops. I mean Nancy’s workshops are incredibly popular. But today we’re going to go through a couple of processes. I’ve actually never seen this type of board and and the frames actually on it already. But you’re going to take us through a whole bunch of things that you would normally do to get to these spectacular pieces. So once again guys, I’m going to step out of the shot, and I’m going to let Nancy take over the show for the day. (Graeme) Okay Nancy, well you’ve got the framed gessoed board there. Today we’re going to be doing one of your horse pieces. How do we start and where do we go from here? (Nancy) Well I start first by texturing either the panel or the canvas. I work on both. Today I’m using the panel. So I use these Golden products, I really swear by them, and I just start applying a texture. Actually, I put the… this is clear gesso and I just stumbled on this, I don’t know, so many years ago. I’ve been doing this for thirty-seven years, and none of this stuff is recent though. So I do the things like that. Okay, so then I want you to know there’s no planning involved in this. (Graeme) So what are you putting down right now? (Nancy) This is called – these are all gels, this is Fine Pumice Gel. I used to use the Course Pumice Gel but then it got to be, it interfered too much with the painting. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) So I’m just like, I’m working this around as though just with a palette knife as though I was decorating a cake or something. Now this is a smaller panel, so I’m not going put too much of this is here. I’m just going to put it in various places and then this just creates another type of texture, (Graeme) Aha. (Nancy) because I like to have texture in paintings, but I don’t want to deal with it when I’m in the painting process. So I do all this prior (Graeme) Yep. (Nancy) to pouring the paintings. And I’m just basically trying to get stuff this spread around so that it makes kind of sense. This stuff I really love. This is Glass Bead Gel and it goes on prior to the painting. (Graeme) And it actually has small glass beads in it. (Nancy) It does, and the thing about it is you can actually paint several layers of paint over the glass beads in a painting and they will still sparkle through. So it just adds another dimension of mystery and a depth to your painting. (Graeme) And what we’ve done today because of the process that you’re going through, you’ve actually got a couple of them pre prepared (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) as we go along. There are a whole bunch of other nifty things that you do using different gels and different mediums. (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) I mean, when you go up to your paintings they really are very textured. (Nancy) Oh yeah, (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) and that gives them depth. Now here’s, here’s the little part. This is nothing but a credit card that’s been cut with the peaking shears on one side. So what I can do is I can drag it through the paint texture. I used to drag it through the paint, but now I just drag it through the pre texturing process. (Graeme) And it’s just a touch here and there? (Nancy) Yes, not every where, and of course you can do it anyway you want it. This is just the way I do it, and I found it works for me. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) So I always tell my students you have to experiment and see what you like, so be sure to do that. And that’s all there is to the texturing process. (Graeme) So, and you have another piece so we’ll just take that one away, and then we’ll get stuck into that one then if that’s the case. (Nancy) Okay. (Graeme) Okay Nancy, well you’ve put the first one away to dry out. Now this one you’ve actually pre prepared it and it’s dried. Now we’re about to do some paints. Where do we go? (Nancy) Well I always start by pouring my paints, and then, and these are old laundry detergent holders, and I’ve just saved them and there’s tonnes of paint on them. (Graeme) And these are Golden Inks? (Nancy) These are Golden Acrylic, they’re actually Daler Rowney F W Acrylic inks; I swear by them. (Graeme) Aha. I love them. (Graeme) But you use a combination of the Golden and… (Nancy) I use a combination of the Golden they’re called High Flow. That’s kind of a new thing for me. (Graeme) Aha. And I’m just getting these things filled up with some ink. (Graeme) Yep. (Nancy) This is High Flow acrylic, not ink. If you haven’t used High Flow acrylics they’re wonderful. They’re almost like watercolour. I started as a watercolour artist, so the more materials that I can find that are close to watercolour that are permanent, I use. And the Gold I’m just going to squirt. So I also like to throw a little bit of water in here to kind of get it watered down. (Graeme) Aha. (Nancy) This is not real scientific, I don’t like to water down the white though. Okay, I always start with the yellow, so here, we just get it on here so I have to move it around. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) So here’s where my little credit card on the other side that’s pointed comes in. What you hear by going across the texture with the credit card. (Graeme) Yep. (Nancy) I’m just making an abstract pattern here, just kind of getting it on here. So right next to the yellow, I always like to put the red. Okay that’s red in there, look how it’s mixing and blending. Isn’t that wonderful? (Graeme) Yes, looks great. (Nancy) And then so now, we’re going to put a little blue on the edges and then here, some out. Okay, this is where we say oh, wow. This gets really fun and what I like to do on these panels, because I’ve got raised edges is I like to get everything out to the edge right away, and I do this on my canvas as well. So as I’m moving the paint you notice things are mixing together, colours are mixing together and blending. The colours mix themselves, and I don’t really worry to much about it at this point because it is an abstract painting; it’s an abstract start. Basically I’m just trying to cover the surface as much as possible. Sometimes I leave a little white. As a watercolorist I could never leave white. That was one of my downfalls. (Graeme) Oh is it? At least you admit to it. (Nancy) Well you can always do things like everybody else, you know. And so I’ve just developed this whole thing now. Isn’t that kind of pretty. (Graeme) Yeah, looks great.(Nancy) But I tell you what, it’s just too heavy duty in some places so I’m going to start blotting it up. (Graeme) You can see the under colours start to pop up again too. (Nancy) Right, and I haven’t used all the colours yet either, because I haven’t put this florescent pink in here, and I usually like to get it in there (Graeme) Whoa. (Nancy) and just spice things up a little. (Graeme) Oh that looks amazing doesn’t it? (Nancy) Isn’t that wonderful? (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) Okay, then I’m also going to put in the white – watch this. (Graeme) And that actually, that actually went underneath the rest of the paint. (Nancy) It does, it does, but then I’m going to start the blotting again, (Graeme) Yeah. and you don’t have to do this, but I’ve just learned if you don’t blot it up things get to be too heavy, and by having I mean just too thick. And like, especially on these panels where you’ve got the edge. (Graeme) A lot of your work is very instinctual (Nancy) People say you have so much motion in your work. How do you get it? This is it – it starts with motion and it continues with motion. Okay, so now I have a lot of people say well, “Nancy, do you put the gold in at the end?” No, here’s the gold. Oh, this is so nice. It doesn’t take much. (Graeme) Yep. It’s fun too, watching you work is fun. (Nancy) What happens is look at how it’s coming out and intermingling with these colours. Isn’t that, that is so fantastic. (Graeme) Spectacular. (Nancy) And I love the spiral, so you’ll always see a spiral on my work. Look for it. I don’t want to overdo the gold so I think I’m there. (Graeme) Now I just wanted to bring up some of the other amazing pieces that you’ve done. One that I think is, the colours literally are electric, and its called Electric Rodeo. And you’ve actually outlined the horses in gold. I mean that was a bit of a different thing to do than you normally do. And you can still see – even in the picture Mustang Energy, there’s this three dimensional quality, I mean it’s almost sculptural when you look at that work. It’s very tactile. I mean, I can almost imagine people come up and touch your work a lot. (Nancy) Right, well that’s because there’s so much texture going underneath the paint that it you’re not in love with the colours you, or while you’re in love with the colours I should say, you can see the texturing that kind of brings the flow of the colours through. (Graeme) Fantastic. So we’ve actually finished with this one then; this actually has to dry. (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) So what we’ll do is we’ll put that one aside, and then we’ll get on with the other one. (Nancy) Okay. (Graeme) Okay, well you’ve got the next one that we need to do Nancy. So how do you find a horse amongst all of that? (Nancy) Well this is a serious problem, I actually look at the painting that I have is dry, from all four sides, and I see, I see a horse here. And I turn it this way and I see maybe one over here, so I think I’m going to going to go with this one, because I can get that head in there. I like the curve of the neck and I think I can draw that and make it good, so we’ll do that. (Graeme) That sounds fantastic. (Nancy) So what I’m going to do, this is India ink right here. (Graeme) Yeah. And what are, what are, what are you dipping in? (Nancy) These, these are Oak branches from a tree when we lived in Lake Arrowhead, California. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) A long time ago an artist told me that in a workshop that you should always use implements in your studio, and have things in your studio that are meaningful to you. Because these give you connection to what you’re doing. So as you can see I’ve drawn with this stick a lot. I dip it into the India Ink, and I’m going to start with the ear. The ears going to go right to the edge and I see some mane coming out here. I know it’s hard for you to see. (Graeme) Well I mean, I think that’s the beauty about art is a sense anyway is that you can see something that nobody else can. And when we looked at it we saw something different again. (Nancy) That’s true. He’s looking really quite elegant; he’s very proud this horse. And you get these things when you’re drawing, at least I do. I get a whole story going about this. I love to draw like this, and a long time ago I decided to incorporate drawing into my paintings. (Graeme) Yes. (Nancy) And I was told of course you know, when you start drawing it’s no longer a painting, it’s a drawing. And of course I don’t agree with, so rules by Nancy are you do anything you want, because you’re the artist. So here we go, here’s his nice jaw coming up, and his mane is coming out. Can you see him? Okay, there’s his eye. And then, I don’t know, I think I’m going to have some mane coming out that way. I like that spiral so I don’t want to kill it too much. (Graeme) You have said you have been doing this for quite a while. I mean you’ve had many exhibitions over the years, and you’ve even had two very successful shows in Japan that sold out. So it’s a pretty good indication that people love your work. And then there was also that you made the front cover of the 2012 Charity Horse Show at Menlo Park. Probably one of the prestigious equestrian events in the country, and you’re on, you’re on the front cover of their program which is fantastic. (Nancy) Yes, well every year they choose an artist to be on that cover, and they sell t-shirts, and coffee cups and everything. And so I was very quite honoured to be asked to do that. The first person, that first artist that they ever asked to do that was LeRoy Neiman. So when they told me that I was very honoured that they even liked my work, to be compared with someone as wonderful as LeRoy Neiman. I think I got this drawn the way that I like it. And I have to set this aside and let it dry so that I can get to the next stage. (Graeme) Okay, well we might just do that, and then we’ll come back with the next part. Okay Nancy, we’ve just got the last piece there that you’re going to be working on to try and bring all this together, but you’ve got to be put your colours out. So where do we go from there? (Nancy) Well this is a stay wet palette that I’ve had for years and years and years. Got a piece of sponge under here, and I’ve had a piece of freezer wrap on top of it, and I just put my paints out that I think I’m going to use right away. I want some white out here. (Graeme) Beautiful. (Nancy) And I want some of this Quinacridone Magenta that I used in the painting. I like to use colours I’ve already used (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) in the painting. And then I love this Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold. It makes a brilliant yellow that I haven’t really used in the painting, but that’s okay, I mix it with white and that’s what a lot of my backgrounds is, is the Nickel Azo Gold and mixed with white. So right now, I’m going to do the mixing. I’ve already decided I love the way this painting is moving, so I want to kind of come in behind some of these horses (Graeme) Yeah. (Nancy) and highlight that movement. You see what I’m doing is this is a contrasting colour. So by putting a contrasting in behind the horses, this is called in the art world, negative painting. I started learning how to do the negative painting when I was a watercolorist. Just starting to do the watercolour thing, and it’s been the most helpful thing that I’ve ever learned in my life. Now I’m thinking I want this guy to stand out, so I’ll just leave it like that. Some of these colours are so subtle I hate to loose them, but they don’t really work with the painting. That’s my whole decision making process, does it work with the painting or not. And it’s a decision making process all the way through the painting, and I think that’s what keeps me so excited about my work. I have to make these decisions almost moment by moment. (Graeme) And you actually mention the word spirit a lot, in a lot of the titles of your paintings, (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) like Spirit Travellers. (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) The spirit whether it be the animal or the human, is obviously greatly important to you and the work. (Nancy) Well it’s important to me and my life, because I think everything is of spiritual quality. We humans are spirits, and of course the horses are spirits, and we live in a spirit filled world. (Graeme) Aha. (Nancy) That’s just my personal view point, but of course I’m an artist, so I get to paint about my personal view point. Painting the spirit of things is like getting into the soul of it. (Graeme) Well you’ve been in a number of publications as well Nancy, and a whole bunch of galleries all over the place. And you were invited in to the 2013, 2015 Florence Biennale, so you’re definitely a well sort after lady. So if people would like to know about your workshops and commissions which you do, do as well, and any of the other fun things going along with being part of Nancy’s life, which is fun. I mean you can just see by your work that she’s a fun woman. What’s your website address, Nancy? (Nancy) My website is N Christy dot com. (Graeme) Okay, nice and easy one guys. And go in and say hi because there’s some absolutely wonderful, colourful work in there. DVD’s as well – Nancy’s also got some DVD’s for sale, (Nancy) That’s right. (Graeme) and have a look at it. Its fun, I mean the thing that I love about your work is it’s a lot of fun. (Nancy) I love the landscape out here in the South West; I love living here. The rock formations are beautiful, the sunsets, the clouds, everything is so beautiful here. I like to paint it, I like to get it into my work. There’s one teacher I had Robert E Wood, years ago when I was just starting as a watercolorist said, “You could paint for hours to make something look like it was done in a few seconds.” And that’s what I like to do. It all happened in a few seconds, but trust me, it all happened in a few hours. Well I’ve got to come to a stopping place right now because I have to get back from this, and see what I’m doing before I go any further. There’s more to be done but I need time to think about this, and let it run through my mind, and let the whole idea kind of gel before I know what it is I have to do. So I hope this helps you to understand what intuitive painting is, and my, what I call inner painting. Do you think it does? (Graeme) Absolutely. It’s been just a wonderful day and (Nancy) Okay. (Graeme) your work is superb, colourful and meaningful. It was great. (Graeme) Okay Nancy, that was really, really cool. (Nancy) Well thank you. It was a fantastic day, and as you can see the creativity and the full process that we went through to get to this stage. But there’s so much as we were talking about before intuitive, imagination in what you do. I just think (Nancy) Right. (Graeme) that’s so important. (Nancy) And that doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that you have to develop and artists need to understand that. And it’s hard for me to get across to people in painting classes, but if you keep working at it, like anything else you can build it up. And I’ve had students that actually are intuitively painting now. (Graeme) That’s fantastic. So workshops for a start, and you’ve got a collection of DVD’s and it’s a great website. Your website address again is? (Nancy) N Christy dot com. That’s Christy with a ‘y’. (Graeme) Come in and have a look, another one of the great Arizona artists that we’ve been filming here. Also, come and see us as you all know at colour in your life dot com dot au, and all of our other social networking platforms. I mean there’s some amazing things going on, we’ve got some fantastic news coming up all the time which is great. But we’re going to head off into the desert again – I mean literally into the desert this time, and see another great, talented person in Arizona. But until we see all of you guys again – remember: make sure you put some colour in your life. See you next time guys. Bye-bye. (Nancy) Bye. (Graeme) Bye.

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