Yesterday Gregory and I spent the afternoon with NANCY ROSEN, artist extraordinaire, at her studio in Chicago. What can I say about her that would begin to give you an idea of what a wonderful person and amazing artist she is.
Nancy arrives at her studio every morning at 8:00 am or so and paints until 5:00 pm or so. Surrounding her on the walls, in drawers, in piles, on tables, in boxes, leaning against chairs are thousands and thousands of pieces that she has painted. She likes to work from live models for her paintings. Sometimes the current model is painted posing alone and other times they are combined with drawings of models who have posed during previous day’s sittings. Some of her pieces are huge and others are the size of a person’s head showing only the person’s head, and still others are small stick drawings with one of the possible thousands of yoga poses on each of what seems like hundreds and hundreds of pieces. When Nancy gets an idea for a new approach to her work, she exhausts the idea and then continues even further creating new ways to see each time.
Her medium of choice is the “oil bar,” oil color in stick form, enabling one to paint and draw freely and directly onto a surface. It is a unique medium because it provides the artist with the buttery consistency and richness of oil color together with the freedom and directness of pastels or charcoal. She also like to do encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting which involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. Work with was china markers come in a close third. She also has a series of her images that have been fixed in ceramic plates, vases, and pitchers.
For the most part, she uses heavy paper that has been painted thickly with “gesso,” a combination of calcium carbonate with an acrylic polymer medium and other chemicals that ensure flexibility, and ensure long archival life. This gives the paper a thicker texture with waves, bumps, and bits of stuff stuck in. She also uses cardboard, wood, and many other surfaces that find her fancy.
Her studio is a veritable museum of among other things; found objects, gifts from friends, snapshots, tiny spent ends of wax markers, buckets of oil bar peelings, piles of assorted sized papers, new and used bottles of artistic media, and post cards from all of her shows.