Nancy House, a busy volunteer for the Galveston Art League, knows her way around 3-D visual arts. House works in clay, paper mache, acrylics, fused glass, mosaics, and beading. And she sells her artwork at the Galveston Art League Gallery, 2117A Postoffice St. in Galveston; Affaire d’Art Fine Art Gallery, 2227 Postoffice St. in Galveston; and at the College of the Mainland in Texas City.
House’s day job, now that she has retired from the aerospace industry, is director of the Lifelong Learning Program at the College of the Mainland. For seven-plus years, the Texas City resident has taken classes and workshops through the program and now teaches a paper mache class ― papier mâché to the Franocophiles out there.
Q: Do you have a favorite medium?
A: Paper mache is my favorite, although clay is right up there on the list. I like paper mache because it is a green art ― almost everything in a paper mache sculpture is recycled. It is fun to see a project come to life by just turning the head or working with the eyes. Q: When and how did you discover your passion for art?
A: I have painted since I was a child when I started painting horses on glass. When I was about 50, a group of friends did the book, The Artist’s Way. My creativity was reignited and I have been studying and dabbling in many media since then.
Q: Who encourages you?
A: My family and friends are all very encouraging. The group of women that did The Artist’s Way have continued to support me and attend openings of shows for the last 20 years. My family is also very supportive; they always know that a gift certificate to Texas Art Supply is welcome. That solves the gift dilemma for most occasions.
Q: Is there a certain subject that is your specialty?
A: It depends on the medium. I love to create whimsical animals in paper mache. When working in acrylics, I gravitate toward birds and nature. In clay, the quirky planes and brilliant colors of Picasso have inspired me to sculpt faces ― masks, actually.
Q: What is your biggest challenge artistically?
A: Two challenges come to mind. First, perspective, which leads to the second ― realism. I have learned to embrace whimsy in my artwork because, let’s face it, the piece will probably not be a realistic depiction of the subject.
Q: Do you follow any rules in creating your artwork?
A: Enjoy it; it is art. There is always a blank canvas waiting to receive a new creation.
Q: If you've won awards, please list the two or three that you are most proud of.
A: My first award, a best of show at an art exhibit in Friendswood, is memorable. At the most recent show at the Galveston Art League’s former gallery in Texas City, I won a first and two honorable mention awards, which was unbelievable.
Q: Do you often enter competitions? If yes, why?
A: We members of the Galveston Art League are extremely lucky. Many people have rare opportunities to enter a competition or juried show; at the GAL, we have three opportunities a year at the Galveston gallery on Postoffice Street. Schedule permitting, I try to enter all of these.
Q: What’s your favorite artwork by a famous artist?
A: By a locally famous and living artist, Eddie Filer’s studies of Jim. By an internationally famous person, either The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali or the juxtaposition in Pablo Picasso’s The Dream. As a scientist, I would be remiss to neglect Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.
Q: Tell me about your roles with area organizations.
A: The Galveston Art League [www.GalvestonArtLeague.com] is one of the great loves of my life. I have been involved since 2004, participating that year in the first show held at 2117A Postoffice. A few years later, I became a member of its board of directors and have held various board positions…
I coordinate the Texas City Art Festival every April. This is one of the largest art festivals in Texas, with over 1,000 works of art on display during the week-long festival.
As a member of the Animal Alliance of Galveston County, I actively work on their mission to provide education regarding responsible guardianship of pets to prevent overpopulation.
The Lifelong Learning Program at the College of the Mainland is designed for people 50 and older; however, anyone over the age of 18 can register for over 130 classes and numerous trips and lectures. We have morning, afternoon, and evening classes, covering topics in the fine arts like acrylic, watercolor, and oil painting. There are courses in cake decorating, greeting cards, beading, painting on silk, collage, mosaics, origami, fused and stained glass. Our seniors learn Spanish, computer skills, woodworking, photography, sewing, quilting, embroidery, and knitting. There are fitness programs [and] day trips such as birdwatching, genealogy research, museums and attractions, cooking. Evening excursions include bus trips to performances at the Hobby Center, the Alley Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, and The Grand in Galveston. Our students participate in educational travel adventures within the United States and abroad.