Emerging Artists | Nancy Tankersley

Shaping her world

Nancy Tankersley, Western Homestead, oil, 30 x 40.

Nancy Tankersley, Western Homestead, oil, 30 x 40.

This story was featured in the March 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

When Nancy Tankersley moved with her husband from Florida to the Washington, DC, area about 30 years ago, the art world as she knew it suddenly became considerably more vast. She had enjoyed success as a portrait painter in the Sunshine State, but now—surrounded by “world-class” artists and art—she discovered infinite opportunities to grow. “Before, I was like a small fish in a big pond,” she says. “Now I was a tiny minnow in this great big ocean, and I realized how much I didn’t know about painting.”

The artist enrolled in classes at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the Washington Studio School, and with encouragement from local artist Sara Linda Poly, she also started painting en plein air. “I began to see how it’s all the same,” says Tankersley. “It’s not about what or where you’re painting, but how shapes fit together and how light affects form.” Today, in fact, the Easton, MD, artist views painting as a process of deconstructing the abstract shapes in the world around her, and she doesn’t restrict herself to just one type of subject matter. Within her impressionistic oeuvre, one can find depictions of everything from fishermen at work in the Chesapeake Bay to animated urban scenes—a varied collection of works that has garnered recognition from notable groups like Oil Painters of America, the American Impressionist Society, and the Salmagundi Club.

In recent years, Tankersley has “gone beyond brush and canvas” to explore a variety of tools and surfaces, from Mylar to linen, and she now takes a looser approach to painting. Take POWER PLAY, an industrial scene inspired by a cell-phone photo the artist snapped one blustery winter day, en route to Florida by train, from her passenger window. In the painting, she depicts the linear blocks and pipes of a power plant busily puffing out steam into an azure sky; in the foreground, golden grasses spray out from patches of snow. Rather than get mired in all the details, Tankersley applied fluid, multidirectional strokes of oil paint to the scene using a palette knife, squeegees, and a rubber potter’s nib. “What I’m trying to do now in my work is convey a sense of passing time and memory,” she says, “an iconic feel for an area rather than one frozen moment in time.” —Kim Agricola

representation

South Street Art Gallery, Easton, MD; William Ris Gallery, Jamesport, NY; Brazier Gallery, Richmond, VA; LePrince Fine Art, Charleston, SC; Gildea Contemporary Gallery, Key West, FL.

This story was featured in the March 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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