Wednesday Apr 23 2008
Rich colors a constant in Meadow Vista artist's work
By: Dori Barrett, Gold Country News Service
Nancy Langhorn’s focus is abstract art
Nancy Langhorn may be introverted by nature, but an extroverted personality is reflected in her paintings. Color, and lots of it, is a constant in her art. Langhorn took studio courses and studied art at the University of Colorado, Boulder, but didn’t begin to paint seriously until the mid 1980s. While sailing with her husband and their then 1- and 3-year-old daughters to Baja California, Langhorn dabbled in watercolors. She had become comfortable and adept with that medium, but a passion for color led her to the more expressive style of abstract art. “The colors are just more intense,” Langhorn says of the oil paints she now uses. For the past 10 years she has been developing a skill and finding a niche in this genre. Abstract art, according to Wikipedia’s Web site, is generally understood to mean “art that does not depict objects in the natural world, but instead uses color and form in a non-representational way.” For Langhorn, the color and form is the focus of her pieces. She says her work has “evolved from representational imagery to abstract compositions.” The mystery lies in the art-making process. Inspired and motivated by color, she can express herself without reservation. Retreating to her studio in her Meadow Vista home, Langhorn creates freely. “My studio gives me a place where I belong,” she said. “I am totally in balance there.” Music playing while she paints varies from The Police to Yo Yo Ma. Langhorn describes a little of the process. “I make the first marks on the canvas,” she said. ”This begins the journey of actions and reactions. Working intuitively, I remain open to whatever happens. Pure energy takes visual form.” Using both large strokes and fine lines, she covers the entire canvas, often a minimum of 3 feet by 5 feet. Sometimes she will add dimension and an element of surprise by painting on the glass that frames the art. The journey ends when the “marks vibrate and the color glows,” Langhorn says. For the viewer, the journey of discovery begins. Angela Tahti, executive director of the Arts Council of Placer County, is a fan of Langhorn’s work. “Her art is simply fun,” Tahti says. “The colors are joyful. She plays with the shapes and repeating patterns. Her work really dances for me. It’s interesting, too, because it defines what your first impression of her is because she’s so reserved.” It’s difficult to describe an appreciation for visual art, so Tahti relates it to wine. “I don’t have to know anything about making wine to know what I like,” she says. “The same is for the art experience. You can just enjoy the result.” Langhorn is thrilled to be part of such a vibrant community of artists. PlacerArts, now in its 25th year of service, helped to provide better opportunities for the artists to exhibit, she said. Langhorn will participate in the Autumn Arts Studio Tour in November. The PlacerArts-sponsored event, now celebrating its 15th year, features 70-90 artists from Colfax to Granite Bay, displaying their art at their studios. She also contributed a piece to the PlacerArts “Outside the Box” exhibit. The showcase of regional artists will be on display through April 26 at The Arts Building Gallery, 808 Lincoln Way in Auburn. Her range of artistic expression has varied over the years, but Langhorn plans to stay with the non-realistic style for a while. There are still plenty more opportunities to express herself, she says. “I like the challenge of starting with format and color and seeing where it takes me,” she said.