Press Article

Rising Stars: Meet Nancy Reyner

Woman smiling in art studio with colorful painting.
Article by Voyage Denver; April 2, 2024

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Reyner.

Hi Nancy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a contemporary fine art painter living in Santa Fe, NM. Life inevitably takes us on a journey through many experiences. All of these have helped shape my life and art, bringing me to a fortunate place today where I am making a living with my creativity. When I was nine years old, I saved enough allowance money to buy a big box of oil pastels. I was mesmerized by its amazing display of gorgeous colors. Never could figure out why my girlfriends played with dolls when it was more exciting to paint.

It wasn’t until high school, and time to apply to colleges, that I made the decision to go to art school. I chose well and the Rhode Island School of Design was at that time more experimental focusing art students on their creativity instead of business aspects. From art school, I headed for New York City. What else does a budding artist do, right? It was then that I made a brave decision to never waitress again, and instead do whatever it takes to stay in the arts. So, lesson one – perseverance.

My art career kicked into gear running a puppet theater based in the city, performing in cities along the East Coast. Painting theatrical sets, building life-size puppets, and performing on stage put me smack on an art path. An addiction to painting quickly followed, and I headed back to school, receiving an MFA from Columbia University.

My first job after Columbia was with New York’s MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). At that time the city was looking for ways to involve the community to help clean up the buses, trains, and subways. I was hired to create a grants program to encourage local artists to enhance their station with artistic projects. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of melding government with artists, I felt the urge to get back to my own art.

After organizing and running this program for some time I made the big move out west to Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place that honors the late master painter Georgia O’Keeffe. I credit my mature and signature work to this move. New Mexico was O’Keeffe’s old hangout and gave birth to several famous artist colonies in the early 20th century. Painting from New Mexico’s exquisite and diverse scenery initiated my passion for creating paintings that combine landscape, abstraction, and magical nature.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, then living for a decade in New York City, I now reside full-time in Santa Fe. For over 30 years I have painted up a storm – exhibiting in numerous shows, enjoying representation by agents and galleries, teaching workshops, authoring four best-selling books on painting with North Light Books (now Penguin Books), and even forayed into television as a feature guest on HGTV’s That’s Clever. I continue to evolve my paintings through an exploration of play in all forms, determined to have fun while doing it.

Abstract ocean wave texture painting in blues and whites.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Isn’t there a saying that nothing worthwhile in life comes easily? Yes, there were struggles. Making a living, paying bills, dealing with the usual stuff life throws our way, and raising a family – presented the main challenges for me – juggling tasks. Creating art demands our full attention, and it’s important to learn how to get into the creative zone quickly and stay there despite all the distractions. No matter how good we are at juggling, there’s always something new thrown into the mix, and this balancing itself becomes a creative act.

Then there’s inspiration. Once one great idea runs its course it’s time to seek another. I find myself continually journaling, collecting images, visiting museums, and shooting photographs just to keep my inspiration fresh. It’s like having two full-time jobs – getting ideas, and then making the art. Actually, it’s three full-time jobs if you decide to make a career out of art. The business side of being an artist can demand a lot of time.

Another struggle is dealing with the times in between inspiration. Often called a creative block, this is where many artists lose hope. Perseverance is the key to keep going no matter what. Criticism from others, lack of sales, and difficulty in finding a gallery can all add to this struggle.

Painting of a cityscape at twilight with illuminated streets.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?

Sharing my knowledge and helping other artists is an important part of my life’s mix. Now that I’m a professional artist making a living at it, I enjoy spending time teaching and coaching other artists. I’m known as an acrylic specialist, having invented several painting techniques that make my work stand out from others.

My first book, Acrylic Revolution, was the #1 best-selling painting technique book worldwide. It was the first book on acrylic painting that focused on the unusual qualities that acrylic can achieve. At that time the few acrylic books that were published focused on how to force acrylic to look and act like oil or watercolor – the two then common mediums.

While my book shows how acrylic can imitate these other mediums, it went beyond, showing how it can do so much more. Following that I wrote three more books on painting, each with a different focus. I am also known for specialty techniques that combine acrylic and gold leaf. I call my paintings exotic versions of heaven – places that are beautiful and meditative.

Gold leaf and other unusual materials combine with paint to create these imaginary worlds. Nature is my muse for inspiring luminous interpretations of air, water, earth, and light. Merging the literal and metaphorical, my paintings hover somewhere between pure abstraction and realistic landscape. Art is a rewarding pursuit that adds quality of life, and I share this passion in my art and with my students.

What do you think about happiness?

I love making something beautiful and then sharing it with others. I am also happy when I can help another artist achieve a goal. When I see the light turn on in someone’s eyes, because I was able to inspire, I am happy.

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Painting of a cityscape at twilight with illuminated streets.
Hand painting pink heart on wall.

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Glazing with acrylic paint

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Learn everything you need from your first brushstroke to the finished painting. Acquire techniques and ground breaking concepts to shape your artistic vision.

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