Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ten Minutes with Artist Nancy Eckels

One of the features of Blogger blogs is the menu bar at the very top which includes a button that says, Next Blog. Blogs are not really sequential like a book because on any given day you can hit that button and a whole different set of blogs will emerge in succession. For the curious, it makes for an interesting way to see what else is happening in the Blogger community.

Sometimes when I surf like this I will discover several art blogs in a row, which means Google is probably using an algorithm to get corresponding blog content to agglomerate. All this to say that it was through using that button that I "stumbled upon" the abstract paintings of Los Angeles artist Nancy Eckels.

Ennyman: Where are you from originally and where are you (geographically) today?
Nancy Eckels: I was born about 90 miles north of New York City in a small town with a view of the Catskill Mountains. My Dad was transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah for his job when I was 8, so I spent my school years until high school graduation in SLC. My dream of working in show biz brought me to California for college and here I happily remain. I'm in Canyon Country, about 40 miles north of Los Angeles.

Enny: Who were your earliest influences as you were growing up?
NE: My parents met in an oil painting class and several of my aunts and uncles were painters or sculptors, so I grew up around art. Most of my art knowledge comes from osmosis. I have always dabbled at some sort of drawing, painting or creating, but didn't get serious until many years later when my first career had ended.

Enny: You obviously enjoy painting. How did you come to be a painter of abstracts?
NE: I was involved in television production for 25 years, writing, editing, and directing. Directing is a collaboration, and while I enjoyed doing it, I like completing projects that are all my own. So when I decided to change careers, I realized that painting would satisfy my need for total control over my creations. My sister began painting abstracts several years before my career change, and it looked like fun, so that's where the idea to try them came from.

And speaking of control, abstract painting gives me total control over my subject matter. I create an original painting without looking at photos, landscapes, flowers or animals. Tangible things don't influence me in any direct way. My imagination, emotion and stored experience control what ends up on the canvas. I've often thought that a non-representational abstract is the most original artwork you can produce. A landscape may be beautiful, but many artists have painted it, and photographers have taken pictures of it, so it already exists many times over, but a non-rep. abstract painting exists nowhere else.

Enny: It would appear that you have been successful at selling your work. How much do you sell online and how much is by other means?
NE: As you have probably figured out yourself, you have to be a jack of all trades to sell your own art. I started out doing art festivals because I wanted to get my work in front of the public quickly. I have continued to sell my art primarily through festivals, but I have added several galleries, and I get a bit of rental income from a company that rents my work to the movie and television industry. I hadn't focused heavily on selling my work online until the last 3-4 years. I started a blog and joined dailypainters.com and several other online sites. I sell mostly smaller work online from my blog, but sales of larger work online has also picked up in recent months. My sales at festivals and galleries are mostly larger pieces which are the bulk of my income.

Enny: What are two of the most significant things you have learned from other artists?
NE: How to sell, and how to sell.
Artists have not been as influential on my work as they have been helpful to me as far as how to sell my work. By watching and talking to other festival artists, I've gone from being uncomfortable about talking to people and "selling", to being a fairly good advocate for my own work. My sister, Karen Scharer has been a fountain of information on art supplies and equipment, and my art buddy Belinda Del Pesco was instrumental in getting me to do more with the internet.

Enny: What does a typical day look like for Nancy Eckels?
NE: If I'm not traveling to, or participating in a festival, I'm up early to check out the stock market.....a morbid fascination I guess. Then I check email, go for a 2 mile walk with my husband, exercise, then go up to the studio. I paint off and on all day long with breaks to eat and check out email, photograph and post my latest work on my blogs and websites and if I'm lucky that day, to box up a painting for shipping to a client. After dinner is when I do my marketing, record keeping, and online poker playing.....yeah, poker is how I relax.

Enny: What would you be doing if you could not be creating every day?
NE: Getting into trouble most likely. I've always created in different ways, so I'm not sure how I would live without it.....never tried it.

Enny: And finally, any advice for young art school students?
NE: Learn the rules and regulations of art and then be courageous enough to break them. That's the way you make your own art statement.

The paintings on this page are examples of Nancy's work. Click to enlarge. To see more, visit

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