Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year

Instead of making "resolutions" 
I like to set specific challenges and goals 
for the New Year. 
Both personally and artistically. 

Sudden Breeze
10 x 5 oil on carton board 

I snuck a few hours in the studio 
today and tackled one of my first artistic challenges; 
adding texture and working on edges.
This just got me more excited for the New year!  

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. 
Because if you are making mistakes, you are making new things, 
trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, 
changing your world. 
You're doing things you've never done before, 
and more importantly,
 your doing something. "

Happy New Year
 and I'll see you in 2016.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Our long term project for the semester was to do a painting from life,
working on it over many weeks.

I chose to do a self portrait
(so my subject would always be available.)

Self Portrait 
11 x 14 oil 

Painting yourself is an eye opening process,
and this is the final version after many attempts.
Looking at yourself in a mirror for hours on end
certainly leads to self-discovery!

"Are we to paint what's on the face, what's inside the face,
or what's behind it?"
Pablo Picasso

Happy Holidays everyone!
I'll see you in 2016!

6 weeks old  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Last Class

Yesterday was our last class of the semester.
For homework, I did "copy" of 
Odalisque by Ingres 1814.

Note:  An Odalisque is a female slave 
or concubine in a Turkish harem. 
Who knew?  

This semester has been an extraordinary experience.
I am leaving with countless new ideas and insights, 
and I can't wait to see where it all takes me.
is an amazing instructor. 
I'm going to miss the weekly challenges, 
the camaraderie, and sharing.  

I highly recommend taking a college level course.
Any where, any age! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Path to Discovery

It's almost the end of the term 
and I'm happily seeing positive results!

At first, I resisted the whole idea of doing a drawing using straight lines
and "a body bag" before painting the figure.  
I found it tedious and thought it would take away some of my 

Now, I can see the benefits of slowing down 
to get the drawing correct by measuring.  
 That way, when I start to paint, 
I can focus on finding the correct colors and values. 
It's actually more freeing!

I've always wondered why some folks take classes/workshops
and resist doing the lessons presented. 
Letting go of preconceived "truths" 
is an essential path to discovery in painting! 

(And life in general, I think!) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Copying an Old Master

Our homework this week was to "copy" 
a very detailed and complicated Old Master painting

using the fewest shapes possible.

My version of  Vermeer's "The Letter"
8 x 10 oil
(image shows inaccurate colors,
but you get the idea) ) 

The exercise is a great way to force yourself to
simplify and focus on the shapes
 in the correct colors and values.
I loved doing this.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Head

It was great to be back in class today after 
a two week break. 
We are now working on the head.
Our goal was to break the motif down to 10 shapes. 

Head Study 
8 x 8  

These exercises are incredibly eye opening.
 Today I worked on skin tones. 
There are so many color combinations, 
and not many are "Barbie pink"!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Among the many blessing I'm thankful for, 
this year the glorious weather we've had this fall /early winter 
is high on the list. 
Almost as if Mother Nature 
is putting on a show. 
I've been compelled to paint plein air again 
and it's inspiring. 

The Meadow October 
8 x8 oil 

 The Woods October 
8 x 8 oil 

   Gordon's Pond November 
8 x 10 oil

I was walking in the woods this week
when the late afternoon sun light on the top of the trees
took my breath away.
I am grateful for those moments.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

After Color Study

After doing the color study last week, 
I took out my wooden blocks in various shapes, colors, and values
(purchased from Peggi Kroll Roberts
I set up three random blocks on a turquoise
cloth for a simple still life, 
lit by a 75 watt full spectrum candescent bulb.  

8 x 8 colored block study 
(not accurate colors)  

My goal was to focus on mixing
the most accurate color and values I could, 
using the 16 color pallet from class. 

This is such a great exercise, 
I'm thinking about including a version of it
in my classes down the road.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Color Study

For homework this week,
 I did a color study using three of each
Primary and Secondary color I'm using lately.

The top three rows are each of the primary complementary colors 
mixed in equal parts,
followed by the secondary combinations.   
The lowest row is all the colors I used with white added. 
Can you guess what colors they are? 
(I need one more purple for the math to work.)

This exercise taught me so much about how
each color affects another
and there were many surprises.
I look forward to using this chart as a reference,
especially for skin tones.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday of Bliss

We had a Sunday session today 
at Mass Art from 11 - 5 pm. 
Six hours of focussing on nothing but painting 
Ernesto, our fabulous model.
No news. No sports. No politics. No egos. 
It was pure bliss. 

With the challenges we are facing living in today's world,
 escaping is essential. 
I highly recommend it.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Holiday Small Works

It's that time of year! 
These four small paintings will be showing at the Copley Society
now through December 24. 
There is an opening reception tonight (Thursday 11/12) 
from 5:30 - 7:30 pm.

Green Chair 
8 x 8

Yellow Hat 
8 x 8 

In the Moment
6 x 8 

Treasure Hunting 
8 x 6 

You can preview the entire show here!

A gift of original art is always appreciated

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Private Studio Lessons

During my mini sabbatical from teaching weekly classes,
 this winter I'll be offering  
Salty Dog Studio. 
We can tailor the lesson(s) to your level and need 
and price accordingly.

Painting lessons make great holiday gifts too. 
Contact me here if you're interested! 

NOTE: Testimonial from a former student:

Jennifer Whitfield

"Amazing workshop with Nancy Colella at the Cape Cod Art Association! 
I tend to fuss and focus on details in my paintings. 
This class was geared to encourage spontaneity, 
train the eye to look at big shapes and shadows for dynamic paintings from photos. 
The blonde chicken was painted upside down, looking at an upside down photo! 
All this to be done in 1 hour! 
I was invigorated after taking this 2 day workshop. 
Very excited to let loose using pastels in my landscapes! "

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Plein Air Landscape

I haven't done a Plein Air painting in a long time,
but the weather was so gorgeous this week,
I did this standing outside my studio.

The Meadow 
8 x 8 oil 

The challenge I gave myself was 
to think of it as painting with cut paper. 

The light kept changing while milky clouds came and went. 
I used some new colors (no neutrals!) 
and mixed them with a pallet knife. 

It was so calming to be painting outside,
especially since I was nervously waiting 
for my first Grandchild to arrive! 

Nicholas David Colella. (Nico) 
We're going to have a lot of fun together! 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Seeing Color

Last week our model laid on the floor surrounded by 
colored pillows and cloths. 

There were many challenges here, 
the least of which was using a limited pallet of 
quinacridone red, Indian yellow, and ultramarine blue plus white. 
(The foreshortening almost put me over the edge!) 

Limiting my pallet is helping me see color 
in a whole new way, 
and I just find that exhilarating!  

Monday, October 26, 2015


The best thing about taking a college course as an adult
is that there's homework. 
And you WANT to do it! 

"Cello Watching the Pats"
(homework sketch)

Each week, we are required to take a life drawing class
outside the class and/or draw from life at home. 
Cello makes a great model because she sleeps a lot.  

I'm being reminded that drawing from life is truly, 
the only way to learn how to see. 
Happy drawing, painters! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Another Discovey

My newest and most exciting discovery is  
A professor of art at Ohio Wesleyan University,
his blogs are incredibly informative. 

8 x 10 acrylic by Frank Hobbs 

Most known for his landscapes, 
his latest acrylic figurative paintings from a trip to 
Cortona Palcoscenico, Italy are just amazing.

Have fun fellow painters! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Coloring Book Exercise

This week, I introduced my new
Coloring Book Exercise
(aka Pattern Painting)

The idea is to create a dynamic painting
by filling in large outlined shapes with flat color.
The fewer number of shapes the better. 
No modeling. No blending. 

My 20 minute demo

Note: These are the last of my tomatoes. 
They'll be sauce by the end of today.  

 student work in progress 

This exercise is a great way to get students to stop 

For more information, here is a link to my blog post 
from 2012 on the subject of Pattern Painting.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I am making all kinds of discoveries lately,
and my latest is the artist Euan Uglow.

Here is an in-depth  Paintings Perception article about him
with many images of his work. 

Curled Nude on a stool
by Euan Uglow
20 x 39 inch oil 

His mathematical approach and perfectionism fascinate me
because it is the antithesis of how I paint.   
For now. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Learning New Skills

I'm adding new colors to my palette and 
experimenting with new techniques. 

Catherine Kehoe shared this quote with us in class last week: 

"Do what you have to do now and learn all the skills and needs 
and little by little you will morph into yourself-to-be. 
What you are doing in paint now is preparation for the unknown future.
A great life."
— George Nick

8 x 8 

"In the Moment"
6 x 8  

It's all part of this awesome journey! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Austin Kleon

Thursday night, my friend and I went to
Trident Bookstore to hear
Austin Kleon
talk about his new book.   

Well, it's not really a book, but a journal! 
"It's jam packed with prompts and exercises 
that are geared to get you thinking more creatively. "

He was very entertaining, showed us samples of all kinds of journals,
and spoke a lot about why journaling is so important
during this technological age. 

Now everyone knows what they are getting for Christmas!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Drawing the Figure

There are numerous ways to accurately
describe the human figure.

My 20 minute demo for 
"proportions of the figure" exercise
for Monday class at NRAS. 

My three value study 
done for homework
at life drawing class 
Monday night.

No matter what method you use,
it's all about measuring and correcting.
And lots of practice!   

Monday, September 28, 2015

Teacher / Student

I did this quick study as part of an experiment 
for the class I'm taking at Mass Art. 

6 x 6 study 

For this approach, we use a "body bag" 
to determine the relationships of shapes. 

It's a bit confusing at first,
but I get why and how it works. 

I'm enjoying being a student again.  
I'm teaching three more sessions at NRAS this term 
and will take a bit of a sabbatical from teaching this winter. 
I want to enjoy being a student for awhile, 
and I think it will make me a better teacher.
I need new material. 

(And, I'm going to be Grandmother 
for the first time in a few weeks! )

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Opening Reception tonight! (Friday)

My friend Page Pearson Railsback and I 
are hosting an opening reception for our art exhibit
"Two Friends / Two Views" 
tonight 9/25 from 6 - 8 pm at the  
Pratt Memorial Library 
Cohasset, MA 

"Bank On It" 
12 x 12 acrylic by 
Page Pearson Railsback 

"Colors of Summer"
20 x 20 oil 
by Nancy Colella 

Page and I met over 20 years ago, when I took a yoga class from her. 
At the time, she was an accomplished watercolorist and I was studying 
oil painting with John Kilroy at the North River Arts Society.
            Over the years, our friendship has evolved and grown, 
as have our paintings. 
Page’s work has been by inspired by many “colorists”; 
namely Roz Farbush, Cynthia Packard, Debenkorn and Matisse. 
Her focus has been on the affect colors had on each other. 
Meanwhile, I followed a more “tonalist”, representational approach 
to my paintings, inspired by many of the contemporary Plein Air painters 
such as Ken Auster, Charles Sovek, and Peggi Kroll Roberts, as well as Edward Hopper. 
My focus has been on establishing a strong value plan.
              As we took different paths on our artistic journeys, 
we learned a great deal from each other and our friendship flourished. 
Our mutual love of all things art, gardening, entertaining, traveling 
and just living life to the fullest, has been a gift to us both.
            The work in this show represents new work by both of us, 
depicting our different views on the world that surrounds us. 
The differences and similarities of the work demonstrate 
the subtle influences we have had on each other.

I hope you enjoy the show! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Magic Happens

 You put a group of dynamic painters  
together for two days and magic happens. 
Our workshop this weekend at CCAA didn't disappoint!

A lot of sharing happened and I'm still processing it all.

A few demos...

20 minute 
Designing with three Values

limited stroke 

Upside down

No matter what level,
each painter interprets the exercises their way.

I think that's what excites me the most!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Slice of Green

It's rare to see lawn at the beach. 
This little slice of bright green caught my eye 
so I thought I'd build a painting around it.  

"Slice of Green" 
10 x 12 

Getting packed up and ready for the two day
"Expressive Painting from Photos" workshop 
I'm teaching on the Cape this weekend.

Looks like a great group.
Can't wait to see what they teach me!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Out of the Comfort Zone

Last week, I made it to Mass Art with 
plenty of time to park, get my ID and an iced coffee
before beginning my new foray in to painting. 

my last sketch done in class
20 minute pose 

There is nothing better than forcing yourself 
to go out of your comfort zone. 

It's humbling and enlightening!