Updated: Feb 9, 2019
Nancy Lee Braddock (Lewis) was born in Licking County Ohio in 1957. Her early years were spent doodling on any scrap of cardboard Sears had lying around. Her habit was fueled by a generous grandmother who worked in the men’s clothing department. Grandma Margaret would bring home those bits of cardboard used to keep the shirts from wrinkling and give them to her little would-be artist. As the years progressed Nancy’s artistic desires were further fueled by limited exposures to art.
Yearly visits to the county fair were one of her few exposures to the art world. There was a man by the name of Paul who would paint scenes of the Teton mountains and Jenny Lake. To a girl of 4 years old, it was mesmerizing and her parents would let her stay and watch him paint. If you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up her answer was not the typical wish to be a princess but to be an artist and a mommy.
Once she entered the public school system little was done to encourage her dreams. In fact, her Kindergarten teacher once called her mother to ask her to tell Nancy to draw stick figures like the other children whose art was not as good. The teacher’s concern was that Nancy’s natural talents and abilities were making the other children feel bad.
At the age of 16, Nancy was able to attend vocational school at the Licking County Joint Vocational school. There she was able to take some of her first art classes. In the drafting program she learned the artistry of drafting and for the senior class project helped to design and draft the plans for a house that the other vocational classes then built. This was as close as she was able to get to formal art training.
At the tender age of 19, Nancy packed her bags, hopped on a Greyhound bus, and made her way to Mack’s Inn nears the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park to work. She eventually made her way to Salt Lake City Utah where she met and married the love of her life. The lovebirds then made their way down to St. George to attend Dixie College where she was able to attend her first formal oil painting classes. She also took classes to learn to be an elementary art teacher. The rest, as they say, is history. Class after class her talents grew and flourished as she nurtured her abilities.
Taking a step back
She fulfilled her desire to be a mommy and then the art career took a bit of a step back so that she could focus on raising her children. She kept up her skills by teaching elementary students art at the local schools until the funding was no longer available. She also joined forces with a few other local artists and tried to sell her wares at local consignment shops. Now that her children are all grown and she’s had many life adventures she is finally getting to settle down and really focus on her craft.
Artists that inspire her
Artists that inspire her are varied and cover a wide range of time periods and styles. She admires the works of artists widely considered to be classics like Da Vinci, Rembrandt and even a little of Van Gogh's work. Da Vinci's works are largely focused on realism and scholarly pursuits. Nancy loves the way Da Vinci's art makes you think about the way things work. The movement of his flying machines or the sketch of the Vitruvian Man displaying the way the human form moves. Works like Lady With an Ermine, The Last Supper and the Vitruvian Man are among Nancy’s favorites.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring (above) is one of her favorite Vermeer paintings because of the way he captures the subjects beauty and the light in her eyes. The Dutch painter Rembrandt’s waterfront scenes and his work in portraiture captured Nancy’s attention because she loves to draw people. Nancy loves Rembrandt’s ability to capture a person’s image and make them look like a photograph, even before that technology was available. Van Gough had a long sad life with no real success as an artist, after his death his wife was able to create interest and demand for his works. For Nancy the excitement of Van Gogh's works lies in his use of color, the vibrant nature of the color in his works captures the eye. She also loves his self-portrait, the one before he cut off his own ear.
She also loves modern folk artists and illustrators like Norman Rockwell. Nancy loves Rockwell’s almost realistic illustrations of everyday life and the American dream. She has also grown fond of the folk art of Eric Dowdle and the stories behind his paintings. The paintings themselves already tell about the rich history of the subject of his works. There are also stories behind the art though, as Dowdle creates each piece there is always an interesting tidbit about the people in the art. He likes to put in some hidden treasure that caught his eye while creating the piece. Thomas Kinkade’s ability to paint such serene, peaceful scenes as well as his amazing ability to produce light in his images is why his efforts have caught Nancy’s interest.
Styles she loves
Over the years Nancy has had the opportunity to try out many different styles and techniques. From her humble beginnings with crayons and pencils to creating oil paintings, which is her current favorite medium. For many years she focused her craft on the art of pencil sketching doing portraits of pretty much anyone around her who sat still long enough. She sketched the likenesses of children more often than adults. This was a choice she made because children are less likely to be critical of their portraits.
She has had limited opportunity to seriously pursue watercolors. Her teacher was less than helpful when she did take a class on painting with watercolor. She dabbles in sculpting with her students. She also loves to work with colored pencils and favors the Prisma Color line.
The bulk of her art lately has been in the form of oil paintings along with the occasional acrylic painting that she works on with her students. She has entered many of her paintings in art competitions and fairs over the last year. The blue ribbons and other awards are a testament to how well received her works were.
Nancy the teacher
Nancy started her teaching career at a local elementary school. She taught for many years before funding for the arts was cut. She never pushed art on her children though she was very supportive of any of them in their desires to learn. She has in the last several years taken up giving private lessons to children in the community and has even branched out to giving lessons to adults.