Inspiration comes from all directions.
When Nancy Neeley needs subjects for her next watercolor project, all she has to do is look around her. The Bargersville resident is constantly awed by the everyday beauty she finds in her community.
From historic structures to pastoral farm scenes to a vivid setting sun, the key is to open yourself to seeing the loveliness in the simple things, she said.
“It can be anything. I drive around as the seasons change and take pictures,” she said. “My subjects can be anything. It just depends on what I find.”
Neeley brings her lush watercolors and other paintings to the Southside Art League in June as the featured artist. The exhibition will feature a variety of her watercolor paintings, as well as a few multimedia and acrylic works, most of which will be for sale.
In displaying her work at such a large show, Neeley wants other people to find a connection between their own feelings and her images.
“I hope it either visually appeals to them, or brings back a memory, and they can connect with it,” she said.
In the unfinished painting on the easel, a picture of springtime is coming together. The image is familiar to anyone who frequents the Southside Art League — the stately tree on the group’s Greenwood campus.
Pinkish-white flowers bloom on a smaller tree in front of it. For Neeley, the work was inspired by an everyday interaction.
“I volunteer at the (Southside Art League), and I sat there the last time I worked, and took a picture of it,” she said. “I don’t know how it will turn out; it either happens, or it doesn’t. You never know until it’s over.”
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Neeley was drawn towards creativity. She initially wanted to be an interior decorator, a field that appealed to her love of color, shapes and coordination.
She attended Burnley Art School and Cornish Art School, both in Seattle, as well as studying at Oklahoma City University and Everett Community College in Everett, Washington.
After earning her degree, Neeley went on to a career as a graphic designer, serving as senior production artist for print and web for several companies throughout the Pacific Northwest, Oklahoma and Utah.
By contrast, her personal artwork is a marked change from such a high-pressure profession.
“Back at the beginning, we were told we would not make a living as a fine artist,” she said. “But I’m at the point of my life now where I can dedicate my time to it.”
For the last two years, Neeley has immersed herself in painting. She has worked with a fellow Bargersville artist, painter Dianna Porter, and took art classes once a week with her. More recently, she ventured into acrylics with artist Mary Anne Davis. She has her eyes on learning pastels, too.
Neeley’s work is characterized by bright colors, varied textures and a relaxed technique that comes together for a controlled and finished look. She often incorporates elements from nature and experiments with different mediums, techniques, styles and subjects.
“I’m up for a challenge, and I enjoy seeing where I was and then seeing where I am now, and how my work has evolved,” she said.
Neeley’s show at the Southside Art League, which opens on May 31, features a variety of her works from the past few years. This is her first solo show, though she had displayed her paintings with other artists at the Southside Art League’s Off Broadway Gallery.
“I started hanging there quarterly about a year ago,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
IF YOU GO
Nancy Neeley exhibition
What: A one-artist show of watercolor paintings, multimedia work and acrylics by Neeley, a Bargersville resident.
Where: Southside Art League Off Broadway Gallery, 299 E. Broadway, Greenwood
When: May 31-June 24
Gallery hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
Information: southsideartleague.org or nancyneeleydesigns.com