Nancy Blevins is a Haywood County original

By Margaret Roberts | Dec 25, 2013

Nancy Sale Howell Blevins is the real deal. By that I mean that she is a true product of Haywood County.

She was born and raised here and except for a few years away for college and a short stint in Nashville Tennessee, she has lived here all of her life. I mention this because I believe her art reflects this background. The subject matter for her paintings reveal her love of these mountains, her horses, the birds, waterfalls and all of the special features of Haywood County.

Her execution of this subject matter reveals something else. Her work incorporates the techniques learned from nationally recognized artists/teachers, observations from her extensive travels and her love to experiment in general.

Nancy always loved to draw and color when she was young but it was the experience of winning a transistor radio in a drawing contest that spurred her on. Her winning entry? A drawing of a “One eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater!” Her loving, but practical, parents encouraged her to focus on academics and art lessons weren’t a part of her education, but that didn’t discourage her love of art.

Although Nancy has no formal art degree, she has a large and varied art education. A friend, Belgian artist Judith Hue, introduced her to silk painting 35 years ago. When Judith moved back to Belgium she left Nancy all of her silk supplies.

Silk painting is a relatively unique process so Nancy was left to experiment on her own. Watercolor workshops abound and Nancy credits Florida watercolorist Pat Weaver with her education relating to the basics of design, composition and color theory.

“I have brought home a 'pearl' from each instructor; stringing all of these 'pearls' together to create the look and style I have today,” she said.

Silk painting and watercolor are Nancy’s favorite mediums. Several years ago she accidentally dropped a piece of painted and steamed silk into a puddle of gel medium resulting in the silk colors being dramatically intensified.

This prompted her development of the technique of adhering dyed silk to canvas, which is her favorite thing to do at the moment. Her works are beautiful and I still love her gorgeous silk scarves, large and small.

Among the artists that Nancy admires are Donna Howell-Sickles, Carrie Fell and Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey.

“Each of these women is accomplished at painting her subject with emotion and feeling- no cold photographic realism here,” she said.

Nancy explained that Waynesville is not the same small country town it was when she was a child. The Waynesville Public Art Commission (her husband David is a member), has been instrumental in procuring and placing wonderful sculpture throughout our town.

Haywood Community College has been encouraging artists with it’s art degrees and now has a new Creative Art Center.

“The instruction is here, the setting is breathtaking; the people are welcoming,” she said. These attributes would be an encouragement to any artist and is a factor in Waynesville becoming a Mecca for artists and art lovers.

“I believe God gives all of us gifts and talents of various kinds. The more I use my 'will' to develop these gifts, the more God’s power is developed in me.  This is joy for me and I hope that comes through every piece of art I create,” she said.

Nancy’s work is sold through Cedar Hill Studio, Main Street, Waynesville.