Artist Spotlights Series:
Nancy Spaulding, Pastelist

Welcome to the Artist Spotlights Series, a collection of interviews with local artists. I am pleased to introduce you to Nancy Spaulding, an artist currently living and working on San Juan Island Washington. Read on to learn about Nancy's thoughts on making artwork, creativity, and artists she admires. Thanks for visiting!

If you like this page, read more interviews at Artist Spotlights.

Please share a brief biography, including where you’re from and how you got started as an artist.
I have always drawn ever since I can remember. It was a way to entertain myself as a child. Later it became a way to observe and study the world around me. I meant to pursue science but in the end scientific illustration prevailed and then a shift to art altogether.

Camas and Chocolate Lilies, Nancy Spaulding, pastelist, San Juan Islands Washington.
Camas and Chocolate Lilies

Why do you do what you do?
Perhaps it is love. I seem to be compelled to communicate my thoughts and feelings through imagery.

What jobs have you done, other than being an artist?
I was a volunteer in service to America for two years serving on Indian reservations. This was how I spent my first two years of marriage to my husband Lewis, also an artist. I also worked my way through college doing scientific illustration and I have been a mom while pursuing my art. I have never worked for anybody else but I did spend over 30 years as part of the art show circuit traveling throughout western United States.

What role, if any, does an artist play in society?
Artists can bring awareness and consciousness as well as conscience to the forefront.

What do you like/dislike about the art world?
I love being in the midst of fresh ideas and new ways of seeing things. There is a wonderful energy and exchange of ideas that occurs when creative people get together. If there is a negative side to the art world I would say it is when competitiveness becomes the end all and when stardom becomes more important than statement.

Bluebirds, Nancy Spaulding, pastelist, San Juan Islands Washington.

What is “creativity”?
I believe creativity is the ability to take elements of previously known things and recombine them in new ways to find new solutions, expressions and meanings. It is the ability to see things in a different light.

What motivates you to begin a new project, and what keeps you going?
The possibility of some completely new discovery is always motivating, as well as the desire to record and appreciate the experiences in my daily life.

How do you describe your style?
That is tricky as it is so innate.

How much time do you spend doing your work every week?
I work almost every day for at least part of the day. Of course, sometimes work may be out in the field somewhere or dreaming and imagining off in some quiet place. It is impossible to count the hours! I don't like to stay away from my studio for too long, however.

Has your work changed over time? How?
I would like to think I have been continually honing my skills and that the best is yet to come.

Summer garden, Nancy Spaulding, San Juan Islands Washington.
Ms. Spaulding's summer garden

What artist(s) would you most like to be compared to?
I have loved so many artists through history, perhaps starting with Botticelli's Primavera and on to the light of the Impressionists, the clarity and narrative of the Pre Rafealites, the Expressionists with their wonderful color and emotion, and the love of land shown by so many of the American Landscape Painters. I don't think I necessarily would want to be compared to anyone in particular, though. I hope to have been my own person in my own time telling about the journey I have taken.

If there was no chance of ever being paid, would you still do your work?
Yes, most definitely. The older I get the more that art and gardening is all I want to do.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
I am deadly serious and love to laugh.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Being engaged with the world and pursuing what I have always loved; art and gardens, sharing time with good friends and family.

Any advice for aspiring artists?
Always be true to yourself and work very very hard.

Violet green swallow, Nancy Spaulding, pastelist, San Juan Islands Washington.
Violet-green swallow

Changing Places, Nancy Spaulding, pastelist, San Juan Islands Washington.
Changing Places

This interview with Nancy Spaulding for the Artist Spotlights Series was completed in April, 2012. For more information about Nancy and her work, please visit Spaulding Studios.

Read more Artist Spotlights:
Robin Atkins, Patti Barker, Yvonne Buijs-Mancuso, Cinda Sue Dow, Beth Hetrick, Peggy Sue McRae, Jan Murphy, Kevin Roth, Tom Small, Lewis Spaulding, Margaret Thorson, Virginia Van Camp, Paula West

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