"I paint off the top of my head with little feel for where I’m going. As patterns begin to emerge on the canvas, I am able to find a direction and a composition. I paint what is in my head and my imagination rather than what is in front of my eyes."
Nancy Eckels was born in New York and grew up in Utah before she moved to Los Angeles, California where she now resides. After a 25-year career in television, she moved on to make painting her full-time occupation. Her painting career has now spanned 22 years and many abstract paintings.
Please share with us a bit about your background. It was inevitable that I would make art at some point in my life. My mother and father met in an oil painting class, and my mother continued to paint and sculpt throughout her long life. I dabbled at it off and on as I grew up, doing drawings of my favorite celebrities, playing around with crayons and graduating to paint as I got older. My first love was show business though, and I spent 25 years working in television doing everything from answering phones when I started out, to writing for a game show. I ended up my television career as a director on the CBS daytime drama, “The Bold and the Beautiful”.
After 25 years, I decided to pursue what my sister had already left her career to do… paint. I began doing art festivals and shows, I participated in galleries, and I sold from my website. I took classes and workshops from several prestigious artists. A whole new life opened up. Twenty-two years have gone by and I have given up the very physically difficult festivals and concentrated on growing my sales both from online galleries and my own website.
Please describe your process. Most of my paintings are done with acrylic paint, and a majority of them also involve texture medium. The medium, which is the consistency of spackle, is applied, shaped and sculpted in various thicknesses and patterns and left to dry for a couple of days. It is then sanded to eliminate the sharp edges. Once that is done, it’s ready for paint application. I use a lot of different tools to apply the paint. I have brushes, scrapers, rubber spatulas, and heavy duty paper towels. I paint off the top of my head with little feel for where I’m going. As patterns begin to emerge on the canvas, I am able to find a direction and a composition. I paint what is in my head and my imagination rather than what is in front of my eyes.
How do you want your art to impact viewers? I like my art to impact the viewer because of it’s color, scope, and beauty. I’m not a “message” painter. I want my paintings to please the eyes and the soul.
What are you working on at the moment? Currently, I have been doing a lot of work with ocean colors. I’m from California and love the ocean. I love to dive and snorkel and visit tropical places, and the blues, turquoises, and colors of dry and wet sand hold a fascination for me. I still paint with all kinds of colors, but blues get me going every time.
What are your favorite mediums? I like working with acrylic paint because it allows me to do what I do in a more efficient way. Acrylic is quick-drying which is great for me since I do a lot of layering of paint and it needs to be dry when you apply the next layer. Even with acrylic paint drying so quickly, I am often seen using a hair dryer to speed up the process. The texture medium allows me to not only do a bit of sculpting, but gives me interesting ways to use the paint over the texture. It completely changes the way the paint layers.
What do you feel when you are creating? When I am creating, it’s all encompassing. If I am deeply involved in the composition, I have often let the outside world slip away. I’ve been known to lose track of time, forget doctor appointments, and miss meals. One interesting thing that I do when I’m painting is listen to books on tape. For some reason, my interest in the story line keeps that portion of my brain from overthinking the painting. It seems to allow the creative part to flow while the analytical part is caught up in the book.
Please tell us about your location and how it impacts your creativity? My current location in California has influenced my current colors and focus on the feel and look of the ocean, but when I was a child, my parents took my sister and I to many national parks. My father was an amateur photographer and deeply appreciated the natural world, an appreciation that he passed on to me. I was exposed to so much natural beauty in my younger years, and that has continued throughout my life. I’m positive that all of that has colored what I produce in my studio.
How has your art evolved during your career? My art has evolved over the years not only in how I paint, but what I paint. There are still bits and pieces of the look my paintings had decades ago, but they have definitely evolved and will continue to do so. I have come to realize that my art career is not something that I will be retiring from, but something that I love to do. Most likely I will pass on with a brush in my hand.
What has your art career taught you? Having my own business has helped me develop increased discipline in my life. I realized early on that if I didn’t do what was needed, nothing would happen. If I didn’t make a painting that appealed, no one would want it, so I worked on it until it appealed to me, and I am the toughest critic. Even though art is a creative career, you cannot wait for inspiration to smack you in the head before you paint. Inspiration sometimes kicks in only after you start applying paint to the canvas. You must consistently be in the studio whether you feel like it or not.