Solo Show, Monotypes

December 2-31, 2006

Arlington County Central Library
Arlington, VA

(excerpts from artist's statement)

"...reveal the ever-changing perspective I have of the world around me... color and texture in multiple layers yields results that are anticipated, but not fully controlled...lends a freshness lost with more deliberate techniques"


The Sound of Silence

After receiving several inquiries about my lack of new material shown here, I thought I would check in and leave an update:
I have pieces in both Small Works and Art and Politics this month at the Torpedo Factory.
*update - my Small Works piece, "Bream" sold*
I am currently busy completing some works in progress for the studio show/sale mentioned below as well as a solo show at the Arlington Central Library that will hang during the month of December. I've also had some slides taken of some new completed works. I will add them to the galleries as soon as I receive them.

Lee Arts Center Annual Holiday Show and Sale
Saturday, November 18, 2006 10:00 am- 4:00 pm

"On Wing" monotype by Nancy Murphree Davis

Looking for some one-of-a kind gifts for this holiday season? The studio artists of Arlington's Lee Arts Center will hold their annual fine crafts show and sale that will include fine pottery, sculpture, prints and jewelry by its artists.

Lee Arts Center, 5722 Lee Highway in Arlington, Virginia. Sale is free and open to the public. For information, call the Lee Arts Center at 703-228-0560


Art is Like a Box of Chocolates

Last year I bought some gorgeous chocolates that featured artwork by area artists. I contacted the Chocolate Artisan, Jason Andelman, to inquire whether I would be able to have him make some of these for me to give as gifts this Christmas. He told me that set up costs would be too expensive; although no price was actually given. So, I decided that this just wasn't a project he wanted to take on.

In the spring I saw that the group that produced the chocolates was seeking new artists for this year's box. I submitted a design and now I have my design on chocolates!

Here it is:

Here is the design I submitted; it is entitled Arlington Bridges and features three of the bridges that cross from Arlington into DC:

If you would like to see the entire collection, visit the Artisan Confections website.


New "Gallery!"

I have now set up a gallery of my work in the sidebar. Have fun browsing and feel free to send comments or questions. (Be aware that I don't post the comments, positive or negative, but like reading them.)

My etching Prince of Peace was chosen to be displayed in the Ellipse Gallery's All Arlington Salon opening this month, October 2006. You can see it under the intaglio prints section at right.

My monotype On Perch was accepted into the Art League October member show over at the Torpedo Factory. (UPDATE: On Perch sold.) It was the third show since June into which I had a piece accepted, so I will be able to sell work there beginning next June.


September 11th Commemorative Show

Two pieces of my artwork have been accepted into the Arlington Central Libraries Arlington Remembers Commemorative September 11th Art Show. Pieces were requested to depict images surrounding the attacks of 9/11/2001 or the subjects of intellectual freedom, democracy, and patriotism.

There are addtional events here in the DC are if you are interested.


Monotype: Palmettos and Sparrows #1

by Nancy Murphree Davis
The Palmettos and Sparrows series changed during its execution. At conception, it was a very rigid geometric design, but as I worked with the palm leaves, more and more feelings about the plant, the source of inspiration, began to reveal themselves and expanded into more ethereal and literal interpretation.
Prior to moving to the D.C. area, I lived in a still rural, but growing area of the Florida Panhandle. Our house had saw palmettos in the backyard that were left when the property was developed. Saw palmettos are not exactly a desirable yard plant, but their importance in the wild cannot be understated. They provide food for many insects and animals, habitat and cover for reptiles and mammals and birds, especially the grasshopper sparrows, love using its fibers for nest building.
Palmettos are slow-growing; they gain only about 1.2 cm of stem height per year. Some saw palmettos have been estimated at more than 700 years old. Palmettos are by no means endangered but the older and larger examples of their species are threatened by the ongoing development by man and by forest fires that are fueled in part by the heavy wax covering the palmetto leaves which ignites easily.
I find that often the things that I take for granted leave an indelible mark in my creative eye.
Technically, this work is a monotype with hand-tinted collaged etchings and other collaged monotype elements.


If you ever use other artist or designer's imagery to inspire or as a collage element in your own artwork, it can be tricky to determine whether you are infringing upon their rights. I ran across a source with excellent guidelines. The list was centered around the craft world, but much pertains to any creative venture and should be helpful.


Commission Work

I do occasionally undertake commission works in monotype with the following terms:
You tell me the general subject matter and colors you are seeking and we discuss whether you prefer the format horizontal or vertical, etc.
Generally, I charge $1 per square inch of the image area. I require a deposit of $200 or half the cost of the finished piece, whichever is the lesser amount.
I prefer to work with rough, not detailed sketches. If you would like to see these, that is fine. If you require a more detailed sketch, we will have to come to terms about an additional fee.
I do the print.
You look at the print and see if it is what you had in mind. You pay me the balance and take the one-of-a-kind work, or I keep some or all of your deposit and you can walk away. (The amount I keep is based on the salablity of the work due to the subject matter/color etc.)

Below is a commissioned piece I did for a little boy's room. The client requested a fireman theme and said she would like primary colors.

by Nancy Murphree Davis

Sheep Monotypes

Rambouillet I & Rambouillet II
by Nancy Murphree Davis
NFS, but I have a similar set available, $375 each or both for $600

Note: Rambouillet sheep are a common breed of sheep in the U.S., bred for wool


Hokusai at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

This exhibit was on display from March 4, 2006 - May 14, 2006 at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. Many of the paintings, prints and other works are from the collection of Charles Lang Freer. Freer was the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art which connects to the Sackler Gallery through an underground passage.

From the time I started seeing the advertising for this exhibit in local publications and on the metro, I knew I had to go see it. I had no idea what an interesting character Hokusai was!

Hokusai (pronounced hoe·koo·sigh) began his artistic career as a woodcut engraver when he was but a teenager. He next learned to paint kabuki actors from a master, Katsukawa Shunsho . The exhibit had quite a large collection of these prints which were extremely popular in their day. I found the majority of these works skilled, but they elicited very little emotion from me. The exception to this statement would be two pieces at the end of that section. (They may or may not be part of the kabuki work, but were in the same time period.) One work depicted teenage girls applying makeup.
The composition has a very modern and western flair and was quite appealing. Another had a young boy with a hairbrush. Both seemed somehow out of place for the 1800's; I can see how he could have greatly influenced Western artists.

Hokusai is probably best known for a painting nicknamed "The Great Wave." This was the work used to advertise the show here in DC. I must admit that the forms and colors were terrific, but I had never noticed the small people huddled in the boat until I visited the show. The print was much smaller than I had anticipated. (Perhaps because many of the publicity posters were five feet tall?)It was part of a series 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. (Later he did ten additional views.) He did other series as well. From the One Thousand Pictures of the Ocean series, my favorite work was "Whaling Off the Goto Islands." (shown at right)

My favorite item in the whole show was a book of Single Brushstroke Drawings dated 1832 and owned by the British Museum. All the items, people and animals depicted were fresh and caught the essence of the form in one stroke. Amazing. The closest image I could find is this one. It is not "one stroke" but the same essence I saw in those.

Other images I loved were Ducks in Flowing Water and a turtle one whose title I did not record. In Ducks... you could see the duck above water and the feet below. Hokusai had even blurred some forms to give the optical effect of the water's movement.

In general, I did not love the paintings in the downstairs exhibit. I liked the geese in the Months of the Year screen series, and I liked the Egret's feet, "Cock and Hen," and the opossums.

The sheer volume of work that "The Old Man Mad About Painting" produced induced awe. Each time he changed his style or tried to escape commissions he changed his name. Each of his names used would have been respectable career on its own, but together they are a marvel.


Illustrations and Art

Last night I spent some time blog surfing. There are just too many interesting things out there to see. I started looking at illustration blogs. I ran across some great illustrators which reminded me how I used to buy the gigantic and expensive illustration annuals from the bookstore in college. No, I could not afford them, but they were such inspiration to me. I loved that the styles varied so much in one book. Now, I can go from blog to blog and see the same thing!

Ian Sands has some really fun illustrations and from there I linked to Illustration Friday! where I signed up to get a challenge each week. I don't know if I will do (all) the challenges, but it will be fun to dream about them.

I also had fun on Drawn! I especially liked the random creative blogs area in the sidebar.

While looking at the wonderful talent represented on the sites and blogs, I started thinking about the difference between illustration and art. Obviously, illustration can be used to illustrate or portray an image from another medium such as book illustrations or an album cover, but at what point does it become illustration and not art? I don't mean to imply that it isn't art, but is it the commercial aspect which leads someone to call themselves an illustrator instead of an artist?


Polaroid Transfers and Emulsion Lifts

Ball's Crossroads by Nancy Murphree Davis
I recently took a class on Polaroid transfers and emulsion lifts. Essentially, you use Polaroid pack film (the old peel-apart kind, for those old enough to remember it) and place the image onto surfaces other that the Polaroid paper.

Traditionally you use slides and a slide printer, but I prefer to use digital photos which I alter in Photoshop and then print onto transparencies and mount in a slide frame.

The two different processes, image transfer and emulsion lift yield different results. Overall I prefer the image transfer, but am planning to experiment with applying the emulsion lift to monotype or etching. I will post the result when it is completed.

Today, I did an edition of a triptych entitled Balls Crossing which depicts images from the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Glebe Road here in Arlington. That corner has an interesting stainless steel sculpture entitled Bud/Blossom which I have attempted to show at interesting angles. It is still drying, but I will include it soon. I am hoping to sell some of them at the Ballston Art Market at Welburn Square which resumes next month.


St. Michael's, Pensacola, FL

St. Michael's, Pensacola, Florida
by Nancy Murphree Davis

Since I am not overwhelmed with words today, I will just add an insight and post a photo. This picture is an original watercolor that I painted from a personal photo dating from approximately 2003 (pre Ivan and Katrina.)

Today was a studio day for me. We are in the middle of a portfolio swap. When I arrived ready to print my remaining eight prints for the edition, the drying rack was mostly full of prints from yesterday.

I asked the (3) studiomates if they thought the artist whose work was on the drying rack would mind my stacking their work. I got a (slightly non-committal) "no."

Knowing that this work was (at least) twelve hours old, I gently stacked it (in order). I printed my remaining eight prints in the edition, I took a break. When I returned, I found a very upset artist. Apparently the prints I had stacked were not sufficiently dry. I felt extremely bad and apologized profusely. I think the artist realized that it was not a malicious act and there may me additional circumstances surrounding the drying time, but I felt terrible.

My husband keeps saying that I should set up my own studio, but I feel the interaction among artists overshadows the problems of the shared space. What works best for you?



Sunday I received our new book for a Lenten study. The cover is a rich, Expressionistic painting. I quickly opened the paperback cover and began scanning for the credit for the painting I believed to be Rouault. The ONLY credit given is, and I quote, "Cover Art: Private Collection, Texas/Super Stock."

I searched (in vain) to find this painting elsewhere. I found some wonderful paintings that Rouault did of Christ, but not this one.

Feel free to weigh in or enlighten me.


Edvard Munch

I decided to go to the Smithsonian Kite Festival. This was not meant to be an "art outing," but a fun day with my family. It was quite fun, but upon returning home, I was at a loss for a blog topic. While reviewing my photos, I began to ponder why someone had chosen Edvard Munch's "Scream" for their kite design. I have always liked the painting, but I did not realize it had permeated pop culture to the extent that it has. A quick web search proved that the original image can be found on a myriad of objects and that the image has been made into an even wider array of joke items.

Depending on which source you believe, there are somewhere between four and thirty versions of "Scream." The high number also includes sketches and studies, while the lower number represents what appear to be finished paintings. Munch described the walk he was on when he received inspiration for the painting, "The sun was setting -- suddenly the sky turned blood red. I paused, feeling exhausted ... there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city ... I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

I was also unaware that one version of the painting was stolen off the wall of a museum in Norway in 2004 in the middle of the day. Reports of the theft said that this famous artwork was hanging on the wall by a picture wire, with no alarms and minimum security. It was insured against water damage and fire, but not theft! I found this incredible. Many months passed before the painting was recovered, unharmed. Three individuals were arrested.


Ellipse Juried Photo Show

Today I visited (as planned) the photo show over in the Ballston area. It was quite tricky to see this show which is open limited days and limited hours. For some reason I always want to do this type of thing on Monday, which is not an option. Also, last time I was over there, I was told I could park at the building and they would validate my parking. I attempted to do this, but there was a big sign saying "Monthly Parking Only." I circled a few times and found a metered space. When I inquired, I was told, "Oh, it does SAY that, but you can park in the garage." Next time, I'm going to try it.

The show itself was juried by Michelle Anne Delaney who has worked at the Smithsonian American History Museum (nickname) for more than fifteen years. Almost any medium loosely fitting into the photography category was eligible for inclusion. The array of alternative processes chosen for the exhibit was dizzying. A few I recall were silver gelatin prints, Ilfachrome, Polaroid transfers, digital prints (many), cyanotype and palladium prints. I have probably left several out.

The images themselves were mostly architectural or figurative. Many street scenes from around the world, but most American scenes had a nostalgic bent. A very small percentage of the works were in color, perhaps one-fifth. A few were handcolored, but most of these were digital prints, so likely "Photoshopped." A small percentage of the photos looked like amateur photos of children and the like which just happened to come out well. Others were well thought out or planned shots. There were almost no animals in the show.... two pieces with horses and one with sheep. Surely there was a dog somewhere, but I don't now recall it!

One of my personal favorites was a black and white photo taken in China of a man (I think) begging on the street. There was a printed container on the sidewalk in front of him with beautifully designed Chinese bills inside. He was laying down on the pavement over his cane. The salt and pepper hair, his weathered skin and the ornate money were a wonderful composition. The emotion it elicited was also powerful.

Another photo I enjoyed was titled "Mall Rats." It was taken on the National Mall in DC and showed wonderful elongated shadows of two people. Very small in the background you notice the Capitol building. Although a regular black and white photo, the image appears abstracted or distorted. Maybe it is just me, but I have always loved the elongated shadows in the afternoon.

One interesting thing I noted was that visitors to the gallery were given tiny stickers to place under the title cards to "vote" for which works they believed should have been given awards. I was not offered a sticker, so I don't know if that was done by a specific group or if they have just stopped doing it since the show has been up for so long. What a democratic way of silently showing approval or disapproval with the outcome.

If I have piqued your interest, the show only runs until April 1, 2006. Sorry I don't have a link to the Ellipse Gallery, but apparently it doesn't have its own website.


Cezanne in Provence

I recently visited the National Gallery of Art to see this exhibit which runs through May 7, 2006. Although I like Cezanne's work and was happy to be spending the day at the NGA, I had not anticipated what kind of reaction I would have to the exhibit. Without the audiotour and my art history studies, I would have been disappointed. However, this was not my experience. The audiotour and placards on the walls filled in forgotten details of Cezanne's life, and I found the exhibition fresh and educational.

One of my favorite pieces was a portrait of Hortense, the woman who Cezanne eventually married and who bore him a son. It was stated by the audiotour historian that Cezanne's sisters did not care for her and made her time at L'Estaque unpleasant. The portrait conveys a formality that makes this apparent, while compositionally drawing you back into it.

Considerable wall space is given to Cezanne's quarry paintings, which I could not grasp on any level. This was also true of some of the paintings of trees and Chateau Noir. On the other hand, other the rare painting of a tree spoke volumes, especially the lone pine tree painting(s). I also greatly relished the room graphite and watercolor sketches which humanized the iconic painter.

All in all, the exhibit was time well spent. Great effort was made to collect similar themes for comparison and contrast, and this makes for contemplative inspection. The exhibit does what great art always accomplishes for me, leaves me in awe while making me believe that I too can go and accomplish great things.


Plein Air Painting and Paint Outs

I recall in art history classes studying the Impressionists and learning about plein air painting. I suppose that ever since that time, artists have worked in this manner. Not being a landscape painter per se, I have given this subject little thought until recently.

One day at the studio, a friend asked me if I had ever heard of a paint out. I had not. She proceed to tell me that there has been a resurgence in this method and a friend of hers in California had been attending them and said she MUST try it. We talked a while about how different this would be for us, considering that printmakers aren't often producing art out of doors; not many presses are sitting in the center of the park!

Yesterday as I was leaving the studio, I caught sight of a flyer titled ArtFest. I picked it up and noticed that there is going to be a Plein Air Paint Out here in the town where I live in about ten days. Artists will meet at 10am and paint until noon. At that time they will gather for lunch and informal critique.

I just may try it. Who knows.....it could my new thing! Just kidding, but it sounds like fun and a great way to spend a few hours outside. (Tip from those who have done it. Bring bug spray!)


Master Street Painters

What fun it is to share this next unusual talent with you readers. I was forwarded some photos of work by Julian Beever. Though the medium I am impressed with, pavement paintings, is not associated with fine art, given a bit of scrutiny you can certainly appreciate his genius. I would love to see a piece of his work in person, especially one like Make Poverty History. (Be sure and look at both pictures.) This work is an example of an anamorphic illusion. This technique is credited to China and was brought to Italy in the 1500s. It has been used on a smaller scale since the Renaissance. It was used by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Hans Holbein the Younger. While looking into Julian Beever, I also ran across an American artist who does pavement drawings. His name is Kurt Wenner. His works are typically more classical in style, but are also amazing.



Today is the first day of spring. I can't think of a better day for beginning my blog. I hope my blog will be an effective way to discuss my artwork, the creative process and interesting art and artists.

My name is Nancy Murphree Davis. I am a 38 year-old artist just getting the nerve to pursue art as a career. Between a professionalism workshop I recently attended and the encouragement found through the tasks and methods of the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron I feel empowered to take the next steps. I welcome constructive comments, suggestions and especially reactions and comparisons to others' artwork. If you also have an art blog, I would love to view it and when I find it interesting, I will likely link to it.

I moved to the DC area last summer. The excitement of having so many art opportunities nearby fired the creative furnace. I subscribed to several local email newsletters. To my surprise, one of them listed a roundtable discussion where one of the featured panelists was an artist that I went to undergraduate school with. Her name is Margaret Boozer. I think her large wall hung pieces are beautiful, interesting and very different than past usage of clay as a medium. The Smithsonian blog, Eye Level agrees. Read their take here.

Another artist I would like to mention is Duane Keiser. He has a blog where he posts one new painting per day. These oil paintings are small (approximately postcard sized) and exquisite. The site was recommended to me by a fellow artist at the studio where I create. I find the paintings exquisite. It did not hurt that the first one I viewed is an olive shell, one of my favorite shells. If you like the paintings, or are intrigued by the "A Painting a Day" idea, you can have each new painting image emailed to you.