NATURAL FOCUS: Davis’ artwork is as ‘fresh as the ocean breeze’
Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2016
Time seems to stand still when Nancy Murphree Davis is painting.
But time has not stood still for the Troy native. For three decades, she has been honing her talent as an artist. Her artwork is greatly appreciated and much sought after among collectors of fine art all across the country.
Davis is the featured artist in the upper gallery at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy. Her exhibit, “Natural Focus,” opened Wednesday and will hang through September 10.
Vicki Pritchett, JCA director, had never met Davis until she came “be-bopping” into the gallery on Tuesday.
“The first thing that struck me when Nancy walked in was that she is as vivacious and lively as the beautiful watercolors she creates,” Pritchett said. “She is excited to have her work exhibited in Troy and we are so excited to have another hometown artist showing.
“We just had Chris Beck’s metal art exhibit and now Nancy’s exhibit that features her vibrant watercolors that are as fresh as the ocean breeze.”
Davis now lives in Key West and many of her watercolors are of scenes from the seashore.
“When Nancy looks at a seashell, she doesn’t see what most of us see,” Pritchett said. “She views the seashell with an artist’s eye. She sees all of the different shapes that make up the seashell and all of the colors. What she sees, she paints and it’s all absolutely beautiful.”
Davis, the daughter of Tom and Susan Murphree, grew up in Troy and is a 1986 graduate of Pike Liberal Arts. She is married to a U.S. Air Force officer and has lived in different sections of the country, most recently the Washington D.C. area and now the Florida Keys.
Davis’ guess is that she has always been an artist but because she didn’t grow up with structured opportunities to do art and was “too distracted by other interests,” she didn’t really do art.
“I didn’t see art as a career so I didn’t pursue it for a long time,” she said. “I learned that my artistic talent is something I couldn’t quash so I embraced it and I’ve never been happier.”
Davis, who graduated from Auburn University with a fine arts degree, laughingly, said those who knew her when she was growing up in Troy might be surprised to hear her say that she is an artist.
“Not many people knew that I had an interest in art,” Davis said. “But, I’ve always been able to draw fairly well and was rather creative. But I didn’t consider doing anything artistic until we moved to Virginia in 2005 and I took a printmaking class. A couple of years later, I started to incorporate watercolor into my artwork and began to exhibit at galleries and do shows.”
Davis works in different mediums but tends to concentrate on one for several months and the switch.
“I do more watercolors in the summer when it’s sunny and alcohol ink paintings in the cold, gray days of winter because the bright colors are cheerful,” she said. “I do printmaking because it just fun because you never know what you will get. But, if I had to chose a favorite, it would be watercolor.”
Davis said receives inspiration for her art from everything she sees.
“Very few days go by that I don’t see something that gives me an idea for art,” she said. “I enjoy walking the shores and I snorkel and do a lot of underwater photography. So a lot of my art includes birds, fish, shells and reefs.”
Davis said the favorite part of watercolor painting comes from watching and controlling the ebb and low of pigment in the water.
Although most of Davis’ artwork is influenced by the seashore, she has not abandoned the architectural interests that were so prevalent when she lived in the Washington D.C. area.
“I am still inspired by architecture, both rural and urban,” she said. “I am working on a giant piece of New York City that I will give to my daughter, who is a theater student and will probably live in New York at some point in time.”
Davis does commission pieces that include architectural treasures and even a cat and a giant backyard tree.
“I don’t do a lot of portraits but I do some and I want to get better at that. Art is fun. I’ll try anything, Davis said laughing. “I mainly make art because I love to paint and create and because I have so many ideas in my head that I need to get out.”
Davis sells because she can’t keep all of her creations.
“When an art collector loves a piece and wants to own it, I am overjoyed,” she said. “I want people to see a subject in a new way and to bring their own feelings and emotions to the piece. I want the piece to bring good thoughts into their lives and make memories.
“I just love making art. Time stands still when I am lost in my world of brushes and pigments.”