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Boylston’s Nancy E. von Hone Journeys Through Art

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Boylston's Nancy E. von Hone's life has been a journey. A New Englander born and bred, she is well-traveled with an impressive education and impressive career, a "serious adult doing serious work" as some may put it, but the itch and desire to create emanating from within her is overwhelming. In the late 80s she rediscovered a childhood love and has made the most of it, showing her brilliant and rich pastel and watercolor paintings at numerous galleries, shows, and exhibitions across Central Mass.

There are numerous benefits to growing up in this area of the country. One has quick and ready access to some of the most renowned educational institutions in the world, a vibrant creative community, and the most beautiful landscapes nature has to offer. Von Hone has taken full advantage of all of it.

She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and the graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her career, now as an administrator for the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology at UMass Medical School in Worcester, brought her to Boylston in 1987 where her love of art was quickly rekindled.

"I began drawing and painting with watercolors as a child with early tutoring by my father, but, like my dad, put away my art things to try to be a “Serious Adult Doing Serious Work” through college, graduate school and career-building days," she says of her initial forays into the world of painting.

"Then, after seeing a fabulous exhibit of watercolors by John Singer Sargent at the Worcester Art Museum in the late 1980’s, I was inspired to take an art class at the Museum School and began to see the world with new eyes.  That early tutoring by my father, and several years of study with Worcester Art Museum teachers Ella Delyanis and Bill Griffiths, have contributed to my artistic expression."

Inspired by the work of John Singer Sargent, Nancy began to paint using watercolors, but soon discovered the wonderful world of pastels while taking a class on landscape drawing and painting at WAM. For years she switched back and forth between the two mediums before finally settling on pastels for good.

"There is a wonderful tactile element to working with pastels, with hands in direct contact with the pastels, that I find particularly rewarding, and the pure pigmented colors of pastels are a joy to work with. "

The picturesque New England scenery is ideal for the kind of subject she wishes to express in her pastel paintings.

"Mostly I paint the landscape, presenting it as I see it, and as I have experienced it.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to have travelled to many parts of the world, and to live in a beautiful part of New England," she says glowingly of her home.

"I work from my own photographs attempting to bring out in my paintings what a camera seldom does – the sense of the journey, the feel of a place. The subjects of my paintings typically reflect my New England roots and love of travel to out-of-the-way places."

Landscapes are a favorite subject for painters and art connoisseurs for many different reasons. For van Hone, landscape paintings perfectly fit her style and her particular artistic desires. Most importantly, landscapes and pastels are perfect partners in this mission.

"I am drawn to paint landscapes that convey a strong sense of space and of movement.  Within that space I’m particularly interested in the interplay of color and light in a landscape, the balance between light and dark, shadow and illumination.  The rich, solid colors of pastel sticks readily lend themselves to both sharp contrasts and soft, atmospheric interpretations of the light and shadows," she says.

Nancy's paintings and the world around her have a relationship of mutual growth. Her life as a painter has lead her to view the world around her differently, and the world around her has allowed to fulfill a life as a painter and indeed fulfill life in totality, allowing her some temporary, much-need calm in a world of constant frenzy.

"My painting has made me an intentional, rather than casual, viewer of the world and I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration for my paintings from the world around me.  My artwork is an expression of my journey.  The process of creating a painting is my meditation."

In other words, she says, "painting encourages me to see my surroundings with new eyes."

When something inspires her to paint, her process of creation sounds simple but it works remarkably well.

"My pastel paintings begin as rough sketches on a sanded paper base over which I layer and blend my pastels to create a richness of color, depth, and a strong sense of atmosphere."

For the viewer lucky enough to view this final creation, Mrs. von Hone hopes they feel what she feels while painting it.

"The sense of ‘calm in the storm' that I feel while creating my paintings is the same sense that I hope my paintings bring to the viewer," she remarks.

In addition to her busy work schedule, von Hone is also on the boards of ArtsWorcester and the Westboro Arts gallery collective; she is also helping to organize Boylston artists for the upcoming Wachusett Reservoir Art Path Open Studios Tour.

But despite all this she still continues to find time for her own painting. She has even begun experimenting with oil painting in addition to her work with pastels, and is planning to begin a new series of paintings with pastels, using photos she took while visiting the British Virgin Islands of a magnificent rock formation called the Baths.

"The 'landscape' in these will be much more abstract than my paintings to date – a new kind of challenge for me," she says of these potential paintings.

The journey continues.

For more information on Nancy E. von Hone and to view her work please visit http://www.nancyvonhone.com.


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