Once a college art professor, oil painter Nancy Flanagan’s latest modern landscapes are visual narratives of a life lived on the East Coast. Her years residing in Michigan have compelled her to recreate within her artwork true-to-life stories of development and prosperity that end in decline and struggle.
Nancy claims the region’s sometimes rocky history is written in the architecture and landscapes she holds close to her heart, and she enjoys being introduced to a location and investigating it to its fullest before putting her artistic spin on it.
“I make images that express the energy and distress of locations and people who work to hold onto their identity and integrity in hard times,” she said.
With a view that plops you right into the midst of things, Huron Fall, Michigan, depicts a parking lot enveloped between cramped neighborhood blocks. The varying angles of the street corners, power lines and buildings remind me of what it’s like to walk around in an unfamilar city while taking in all the sights.
Even moving two steps forward on the street can significantly alter one’s perception of the area, and I think Nancy captured that feeling perfectly by recording all the little details she saw that day. With a line of sight slightly higher than the vehicles, I also like to imagine that she was basking atop the roof of her own car while plotting out the painting—a very “artist” thing to do! :)
In John’s Field, Wisconsin, a similar approach is taken, but with a very different color palette (and location). Various green hues are dashed across the canvas every which way to abstractly portray rolling hills, long shadows, and tall dark trees.
In this place, all imperfections are forgiven for an open field and a fine sunny day. Naked tree limbs splay out like windmill blades, mourning fallen leaves that lay abundantly on the bright lawn. Meanwhile, a red dirt road leads the way to a white farmhouse nestled snuggly in the trees. Just looking at this painting allows you to let go of anxiety and bask in the glory of the day.
Last but definitely not least, Oyster, Connecticut was an instant favorite of mine due to its simple, yet gorgeous color and design.
The scene is representative of the oyster—humble, fresh and clean—with a composition that places the oyster in a wooden box, as if to recognize the naturalistic connection between land and sea and protect its delicate shell from harm.
Beautiful blue shadows loom over the oyster’s porcelain shell, reminiscent of the colors you’d see in an angry storm cloud sweeping across a tumultuous sea. The vivid blue coloring breathes life into the painting and reminds us of the oyster’s long, strange journey to where it is now.
Naturally, these three paintings depict just a small sample of Nancy’s work—I hope you’ll take a minute to visit her website and see the rest of her beautiful landscapes and still lifes from Michigan.