You can almost smell the sea air and feel the sun on your shoulders. Nancy Tuttle's paintings of the Jersey Shore are infused with sand, sea water and a happy feeling of being there.
After 25 years spent teaching writing, reading and art appreciation, most recently in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Nancy has recently retired and is loving having more time to dedicate to painting. She works in both watercolor and acrylic on canvas
"Up until now, I have only been able to paint during a few weeks every summer because I find that painting is a 24-hour activity -- not the actual painting, but the thinking, problem solving," says Nancy.
The resulting pictures are not just scenes from the beach; the sounds, sights and smells of the seashore seem to percolate in her paintings and make you smile at the familiar scene that presents itself. They are awash in sunshine and splashes of sea water and the summer sun present in each painting makes colors sizzle and gives a texture that reminds you of the sand and saltiness that sticks with you after every visit to the beach.
The paintings show a childhood refuge with the sound of waves crashing in the background and a happiness brought from simple things - pails and spades, beach umbrellas, seagulls and digging in the sand. Growing up, Nancy's childhood was not idylic but her family had a house in Normandy Beach and her Grandmother had a house in Avon where she frequently stayed. "That place is magic for me and still gives me so much happiness," explains Nancy.
"I paint red candy apples and merry-go-rounds from the Asbury Park of the 1950's. I love the ocean water, and the colors and smells of the bridge from Avon to Belmar so I keep trying to paint that. I paint old canvas umbrellas and families on the beach and seagulls and plastic beach toys."
"I read somewhere that children don't draw because they love drawing," Nancy explains; "they draw because they love WHAT they draw." This is true for nancy who clearly loves the shore and finds a source of happiness from the memories it triggers.
"I draw and paint because there is something about the Jersey Shore that resonates in the deepest part of my psyche. Maybe because I spent all my summers at the beach, the smell of the ocean on a foggy day, the sound of the gulls, just swimming in that salty water, they are like a spiritual experience for me. I want to capture it somehow, so I paint the Jersey shore."
When not at the shore, Nancy grew up in Westfield, New Jersey. She got a degree in writing from Northwestern University, and later a BFA from the School of Visual Arts. After travelling all over the country, Nancy came back to New Jersey to live most of her adult life and she has always worked as a teacher and a graphic designer.
See Nancy's beautiful, atmospheric paintings at her website downtheshoreart.com