We Fancy Nancy! And You Will, Too

In celebration of artist Nancy Hoerter’s solo exhibition, we talked to the artist about growing and arranging her own still-life subjects, Charleston’s community of artists, and her dog, Lily.

Meyer Vogl Gallery: The light in your paintings is stunning and delicate.  How do you capture it?

Nancy Hoerter: When I set up a still life, I study how the light falls upon the subject and look for a beautiful pattern that draws the eye through the painting.  For there to be light, there must also be some dark, which gives mystery and depth to the painting.

MVG: Tell us about your studio.

NH: My studio is actually rather small, but efficient.  I worked as a black-and-white photographer for years and even had a tiny darkroom in my house. During that time, I learned to work effectively in a small space; since then, I’ve remained comfortable in such surroundings.  Because of the small size, I use a wall easel and also have mounted boards where I keep inspiration for future paintings.

MVG: Do you create your own arrangements?  Are the flowers from your personal garden?

NH: Yes, I do create my own arrangements. For me, this is often when the concept for the painting begins. I grow hydrangeas and camellias and look forward to the seasons when these are in bloom. The process of choosing the greenery and flowers (with the help of my four-legged assistant, Lily) has become a very enjoyable and relaxing part of my work.

MVG: You’re known for your backgrounds, which are often abstracted and juxtaposed against a representational subject. How do you create the backgrounds?

NH: I create my background in several stages, frequently using cold wax mixed with the oil paint.  I apply my medium with a variety of tools, and after several layers have built up, I scrape certain areas to reveal the previous work underneath. This is a time-consuming process but is frequently one of the most enjoyable parts of my work.

MVG: You’ve lived in Charleston for many years.  How has life in Charleston
influenced your work?

NH: Charleston is a wonderful place to be an artist. I’ve always found it important to be a part of a larger community of artists, and Charleston certainly provides that to me. There are so many fine artists here, and an amazing generosity of spirit.  I am so fortunate to be a part of this community.

MVG: What does your perfect day in Charleston look like?

NH: A perfect day for me starts early in the morning with a cup of coffee in my studio.  After a few hours of painting, I head to Sullivan’s Island for lunch at High Thyme.  Spending the afternoon visiting my favorite galleries is definitely next on my list, and dinner practically anywhere downtown completes a perfect day.

MVG: Favorite places to travel to be inspired?

NH: I certainly have places I enjoy visiting, but for me living in Charleston provides a constant source of inspiration. That said, two particular trips come to mind: in San Miguel, Mexico, and Brittany, France, I discovered colors of light that are unique to those locations.  I believe travel is an important avenue of growth for everyone, and particularly so for artists.