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Nancy Depew
by Charley Parker

Web Blog: Lines and Colors
February 28, 2006

Nancy Depew paints landscapes, still lifes and figures. In each case her approach, although consistent in many ways, is so strongly tied to her intentions toward the subject that you might think it the work of three different artists if you didn’t know otherwise.

Her landscape paintings are usually deep within the woods, at the edge or center of streams, in thickly canopied areas occasionally punctuated with light. She works in a meticulous and refined realist style and infuses her landscapes with subtle emotions by controlling the light. The light invites you in, but the darkness is always there, at the edges. Her landscape images are at once appealing and slightly disconcerting.

Depew’s still life paintings are primarily of floral subjects. Rather than the expected arrangements in a vase, her flowers are often lying on a flat surface, as if carelessly tossed aside, or pulled up roots and all. The colors are simultaneously delicate and strong, vibrant and subdued. She often plays with a subtle spotlight effect as in her landscapes, drawing your eye to a particular point from which you then move to other areas of the image, exploring her wonderfully rendered textures and careful arrangements of tone.

There are also figure paintings and charcoal drawings on the site. Her figures are most often in curled or contorted positions, as if haunted by something or struggling with emotional isolation. Her figure paintings show a masterful command of traditional techniques and perhaps a fondness for Velázquez.

After seeing the figures your perception of her landscape and still life paintings may be altered, so I recommend viewing the figure work last.

The paintings are in oil. Unfortunately, Depew has taken down the small gouache landscapes that used to accompany the oils.

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