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A miniature oil painting by contemporary artist, Nancy Still. It measures 2" x 3" and the wood frame is 3 3/4" x 4 3/4". The artist signed in the lower right corner. Both art and frame are in excellent condition.
Nancy Still wears many hats. Apart from being an accomplished oil painter who especially enjoys painting miniatures, she also runs her own miniature painting supplies business and designs and builds websites for artists. "I am also on the board of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington, DC. I'm always working to promote miniature art," said Still who has a degree in business from the University of Maryland.
A Gaithersburg resident, and a native of Wheaton, Still has always resided in the Washington, DC-area. As a child, she was always interested in arts and crafts. "I think I got into art through my aunt. Whenever I visited her in Nebraska, she always had a project for me. I always loved art and working with my hands," she said.
From doodles in elementary school, to a pastel portrait, which she considers her first fine art creation in middle school, to tole paintings in her 20s, and until she took her first painting class in 1993, Still explored her passion relentlessly.
"Tole paintings, which are folk art decorative works and entail acrylic paint on wood, were really popular in the 1970s. I went through a lot of craft shows with my tole paintings. Following the recommendation of a friend, in 1993, I took my first oil painting with an artist named Barbara Nuss. She was a Classical Realist who attended the Schuler School of Art in Baltimore."
After Nuss, Still found her way to Carol Lee Thompson, under whom she still studies with the Thursday Art Group, currently exhibiting at the Activity Center in Bohrer Park through mid-July. "I guess I have been doing oil paintings for 18 years now. Carol Lee Thompson really inspired us to try miniatures." Still worked full time before turning to painting. She worked for the Nuclear Regulation Commission and then for an engineering firm. "When the last company I worked for folded nine years ago, I started painting full time. I also purchased a miniature supply business, which I am still running. It's a lot of fun for me and gives me the opportunity to talk to lots of artists and look at their work. It also allows me to keep my fingers in the art business when I am not painting."
Widely versed in miniatures and their tradition, Still also gives lectures on the history of miniature art. "Miniature societies across the country and around the world are trying to keep the traditional methods of miniature art alive. Originally, many miniatures were painted on ivory. Most miniature shows have size limitations. In Florida and Washington, DC, for instance, the maximum area of a miniature piece is 25 square inches," she said. "Miniatures were very popular in the 1700s and 1800s, portrait miniatures in particular. With the advent of photography, they fell by the wayside. People originally held them as keepsakes, literally putting them in their pockets. Because of the societies that preserve and promote miniature art today, a faithful group of artists and collectors exists that keeps the tradition alive," she continued.
As a miniaturist in her own right, Still says that she just loves to paint small. "The beauty of miniatures is that you can do art in a small space and there is something intimate about it. I paint still life, animals and landscape. I tend to shy away from portraits though. I just don't have a knack for capturing human likeness." When asked about techniques she adheres to as a Classical Realist, Still has one mantra: "Darks are the drawing. You have to lay down the foundation from the very beginning of a piece in the drawing stages," she explains. She believes that value is critical to the successful development and completion of a piece.
"If you don't have the right values down, you can make mud. And good contrast is essential."
In keeping with this philosophy, she numbers Rembrandt, Raphael, and Vermeer among her favorite Old Masters. American painter John Singer Sargent is also another inspirational artist.
"Landscape painter Clyde Aspevig is one of my favorite living landscape artists. His works are beautiful," said Still who also admires the work of Carol Lee Thompson, her teacher. "Carol is a fantastic artist who can paint in a variety of genres. My home is filled with her wonderful works."
In the past, she has exhibited at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She shows in several annual miniature shows throughout the year. She also has an upcoming show at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis this September.
Still is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, The Hilliard Society in the United Kingdon, the World Federation of Miniaturists and a Board Member of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society of Washington, DC. She also maintains the latter's website. Ref: Article from The Patch