Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Nancy Neville
Claudia Taylor, Program Chair, introduced Nancy Neville, our presenter for this month. She is from Cincinnati, and studied at U.C. Nancy loves watercolor, but also paints in oils. She gives classes at the “Barn” on Mondays. She and her husband, Bruce, also an artist, travel to Michigan often to paint. One day she picks the place where they will do their “plein aire”, and next day, it is his turn. They like the spontaneity. Nancy usually uses an Arches “block” for outdoor or in-class painting, as they are easier to handle in these circumstances. She told of some interesting differences in how a female artist and a male artist work (in general). Females can usually paint a bit, throw in a load of laundry, paint, answer the phone, paint, and put away the dishes - and usually male artists concentrate completely on doing their painting.

Early on in the history of GCWS, Marilyn Bishop, president at the time, asked Nancy to be a presenter. Nancy was so proud of herself that she was able to say no - as she was extremely busy at the time. However, four days later, she was at an event with Joan Miley - who preceded to “coerce” her into the doing the workshop. Nancy also was “roped in” to teach at the Barn years ago - “just for 5 weeks” as their resident artist would be out. She has been there ever since.

As Nancy started, she said “It’s all about the Whites”. She believes that negative spaces are very important, and tries to leave quite a few in each painting. An artist wants the audience’s eye to rotate around the painting. This can be done by having “balance” in the painting, especially having some of each color in more than one place.

After one picks the subject that is to be painted, “forget” what it is, and just paint the “Shapes”. She likes to have the paints mix on the paper. She said everything doesn’t have to be totally defined. Have more detail at the edges; the mind fills in the rest. Look for “common lines” - that is, places where two shapes come together and are the same height or same direction. Change one of the shapes so they are different.

She puts out fresh paint almost every time, and doesn’t usually use masking. As we watched Nance paint, it was interesting to note that she holds the brush far away from the bristles, saying that it gives you a much lighter, looser, touch, using your whole arm. She used to always stand to paint, but now sits more often. Be sure to walk away from your painting from time to see it from a distance.

Nancy starts with the “lights”, but establishes her darkest dark fairly early on. Allow things to happen on the paper; this is the fun of watercolor! She says that watercolor is the hardest medium to work in - but it also has the most “sparkle” and “interest”. She usually paints wet on dry, but sometimes adds more paint before the first is dry.

Some important points that Nancy wanted us to take away: Limit mixing of paints on palette; let them mix on paper. After getting a good start, put your photo away and let painting guide you. Be sure to have hard edges and soft edges. Do not overwork. Slow down and take your time doing your painting.


Nancy told us that she first practiced “teaching” to her Water Spaniel. It must have worked, because she was certainly very capable of painting and teaching at the same time. Everyone enjoyed watching the beautiful “dreaded basket” (inside joke) with bittersweet branches, be created right before our eyes.
After the presentation, Nancy did some Critiques for members who brought in their almost finished paintings. All members are welcome to bring in a painting for Critique.
A "show and tell" painting from the Guy Magallanes workshop

Submitted by Joyce Grothaus, GCWS Secretary, November, 2016

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