A cacophany of color

Published 6:53 pm Friday, March 14, 2014

web.3-15 NANCY art three

Google “Nancy Murphree Davis Art.” Then click on “photos,” and be absolutely amazed at the volume and quality of Davis’ artwork.

Davis laughingly said that she finds time and makes time from her busy schedule as a wife and mother of two teenagers to do what she loves to do – paint.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“A couple of years ago, I made the decision to get serious about my artwork,” she said. “The children had gotten old enough that I didn’t have to haul them around so much, so I had more time to devote to my art.”

The Pike County native works at home and at her studio at Red Studio at Art Underground in Arlington, Va.

As an artist who is passionate about her work, Davis is just as prolific, partly because she works in so many different mediums and finds each “almost” equally interesting, challenging and exciting.

In 1992, right out of college, Davis married a young man who had chosen the Air Force as a career

They “moved all over the place” so she didn’t set up an easel because she might have to take it down before the paint on the canvas was dry.

At that time, Davis didn’t envision herself as an award-winning artist with a studio and a flourishing career. Her background had prepared her, but she had small children and a moving van was too often in the driveway.

“When I was in school at Pike Liberal Arts, we only had art in sixth grade,” Davis said. “But, I entered an art contest and I painted this giant picture of oranges. I won the state competition. I was encouraged but I didn’t do any art in high school.”

When she graduated high school, Murphree enrolled at Auburn University with plans to pursue a career in architecture. However, she found her way to the art department and to the place where she wanted to be.

“Painting was my major, but I fell in love with printmaking,” Davis said. “I knew if I changed my concentration one more time my parents would kill me.”

Davis graduated from Auburn University with an educational background that would prepare her for a diverse and exciting career as a professional artist when the time came.

As the Davis family moved around the country, from the Washington D.C. area to New Mexico and back, Davis took advantage of opportunities to explore the world of art.

In Alexandria, she found the Torpedo Factory Art Center where she took classes and honed her talent as a printmaker. For a couple of years, printmaking was the focus of her artistic endeavor.

She didn’t own a press, so as she and her family moved around the country, painting became her primary focus. She did some painting with acrylics but most of what she did was watercolor.

Back in Arlington, Davis renewed her affiliation with the Lee Arts Center and the Arlington Artists Alliance, which she will serve as its next vice president. She has been approved as a member of the Potomac Valley Watercolorists and recently participated in its juried show.

The subjects of Davis’ watercolors are associated with her experiences and interests, which are many and varied – her educational experiences, her travels all across the country and her roots in rural South Alabama. She moves from one type of art technique to another. But she has developed a unique style that is distinctively Nancy Murphree Davis. Her watercolors stand apart.

She describes her watercolors as a “cacophony of color.”

“I mean to convey beauty in the mundane or give a whole new perspective to the already interesting or beautiful,” Davis said. “I’m drawn to industrial towers and structures, architectural facades and landscapes with bold shapes or anything with a strong pattern.”

Davis works from photographs, usually her own, which she manipulates digitally to simplify and abstract.

“When I take out the paints, I use an extensive palette, but rhythm and repetition make a harmonious melody of the color. I often flip flop negative space with positive space. This adds interest and creates a strong visual path.”

In the fall of 2013, Davis made a discovery that intrigued her – alcohol ink.

“Maybe I’d heard about it, but I’d never seen it,” she said. “Alcohol ink is a mixture of dyes and an alcohol solution that flows on its own. It wants to do its own thing more than watercolor and blends if it touches another color even if one part is dry.”

Davis is finding a way to use alcohol ink with the jewelry that she makes.

“A new thing for me is fused glass,” she said and added that it’s fun, interesting and challenging to work with different mediums and techniques. Davis always manages to find new things to do in the world of art and new ways to do them. And she always does them with the style that is uniquely hers – imaginative, magnificent, and oh, so, colorful.