Vermont Arts Council

“Avian Encounters” Takes Flight

Impeccably detailed watercolors in understated, elegant frames hang in the Council’s Spotlight Gallery. The paintings and collages depict birds and were made by Nancy Tomczak, an artist from Milton. This artist has always spent time in nature, and always loved making art. She grew up in Buffalo, New York. Both of her parents enjoyed working with their  hands. Her dad, a dentist by trade, enjoyed woodworking in his spare time. Her mom did a lot of sewing and knitting—some practical, some fiber arts. Nancy took art lessons and delighted in creating things with clay and papier mache. She also found joy in drawing and building detailed miniatures. Birdwatching was a family activity.

Later, she and her husband raised two children south of Buffalo in a geodesic dome the couple built. The family hiked and gardened together. Nancy was busy as a stay-at-home mom, but consistently made room to paint, work with stained glass, and explore other art forms. Following moves to the Finger Lakes and East Aurora, New York, her husband’s new job brought them to Milton. This is where Nancy decided to leave her work at the time—jobs in dental labs—and concentrate on making art full time.

Changes Over Time

The exhibit contains 25 pieces made over three years. All of the work is representative, but Nancy’s methods change. Most notably, the more current pieces incorporate collage. Here are some specific examples of the evolution, with relevant details from the art.

Nancy’s first objective in painting birds was to capture detail in a way that made the birds look alive. In her words: “I finally got to the point where I could get a lot of details. With watercolor!”Look-Alive-150
Satisfied with the look of the birds, she began to look for new ways to approach the paintings. She experimented with the idea of magnifying details of the birds in circles. Nancy: “‘Thru the Lens’ and ‘Owl’ were some of the first paintings I framed and showed.”Thru-the-Lens-150
It occurred to Nancy she could use pieces from old paintings in a new way. She began to cut out specific parts and use them for collage. “I paint a lot. Sometime I like the paintings and sometimes I don’t. I stash them away, but there are parts I like.”crows-150
She began to build more collages, not always from stashed paintings. “Now,” she says, “I just paint pieces I know I want to put into a collage.”blue-150
Nancy is attending figure drawing sessions; figurative pieces and birds are her current focus. Both are included in “Within Grasp,”  Nancy’s most recent work in the show.grasp-150

Opening Friday

Nancy Tomcazk will be at the Council September 4 from 4-7 p.m. Come by to meet her, see her work, and visit the new exhibit in the Sculpture Garden.  Nancy said she is happy to get this opportunity. “I’ve shown a lot of work in Burlington and some in Waitsfield and Barre. It’s nice to add another venue.”

Nancy Tomczak’s website
Artist Statement for Avian Encounters