Nancy Marple enjoys entering her home studio and seeing paint tubes and brushes ready to use on an abstract acrylic painting or mixed-media collage.
“There’s always that rush of excitement in the beginning,” said Marple, whose creations deal with nature, history and, sometimes, current events.
Her interest in art started when she was growing up in West Virginia. She had little formal training then, except for a few grade-school projects, she said. She later attended Goucher College in Baltimore, Md.
At Goucher, “My eyes were really opened to the art world,” she said.
She changed her plan of majoring in English to study art history. Then she worked several years at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
Marple now shares her talent with residents at the Cypress of Charlotte in SouthPark, where she and her husband, Don, live. She taught fine-art collage, color and design recently in the retirement community’s art room.
Travel has been central to her work. She said she spent time studying at La Romita School of Art in Italy, in a renovated Capuchin monastery from the 16th century. The tiled roofs of nearby buildings and visits to small hillside towns inspired some of her art.
“It was enough to make me fall in love with Italy,” she said.
She also made several trips to Ghost Ranch, a national education and retreat center in New Mexico, where artist Georgia O’Keeffe painted. Marple drew creative insight from the landscape and rock formations of the Southwest, and came to respect Native American philosophies about nature, she said.
Marple estimated she’s also gone at least 10 times to a workshop series in Myrtle Beach at the Springmaid Beach Resort, where she’s interacted with nationally known instructors and other artists.
“You just eat, and you sleep, and you paint, and you talk art,” she said.
She has taken master classes led by artists including Carrie Burns Brown, who taught collage techniques, and Katherine Chang Liu, who taught how to express concepts with paint.
The scrapbook in her studio holds invitations to the many exhibitions where her art has been shown and news articles about her work and awards.
Her art has been part of corporate collections in Connecticut, New York and elsewhere.
A significant honor came in July 2013, when an image of her acrylic and collage painting “Ode to Sibelius” was chosen for the cover of an issue of Genetics in Medicine, the official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Her piece was inspired by a monument in Helsinki, Finland, honoring Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
When she is working, she’s not just dipping her brush in paint, Marple said.
“I’m thinking about something deeper and more important, and the paint is helping me say it,” she said. “There is a visual language that’s apart from words, and artists use the color, and shapes, textures, to write that language, always hoping that they say what they want to say, so that the viewer can read that language.”
Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.