Nan McCarthy, creator of impeccably detailed fine art, has loved art since she was able to hold a crayon. Even at an early age, she preferred the skinny crayons, no doubt a precursor to her current use of very teeny paintbrushes. She was fortunate that her parents kept her well supplied with paper and the largest available box of crayons. Her mother, who came from a family of artists, was her first art teacher. Despite the fact that the elementary school art teacher liked students to “express themselves” with dribbles, scribbles, and blots on paper (this was the Fifties, when abstract art was in favor), Nan preferred realistic subjects, drawing the suburban streets and houses where she grew up. She took her first formal training during summer vacation with a local professional watercolor artist while she was in high school. By that time, in order to leave room for a heavy course load of science, math, and languages, art was relegated to whatever time was available after the homework was completed. She attended Wells College and was thrilled to learn that math majors could use Studio Art as a minor. This, in turn, led to Nan being awarded a work-study scholarship for one year at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, where, to avoid the ubiquitous abstract art, she took life drawing.
Although Nan has worked in many mediums over the years, she now works almost exclusively in acrylics. She has made her peace with their quick drying time and loves their versatility. She uses many layers of thin paint on a smooth panel. Working from her own photographs, she specializes in miniature (25 square inches or less) and small (up to 35 square inches) photorealistic New England landscape scenes. The process of creating a beautifully rendered painting from the photograph takes many painstaking steps, starting with size 8 (5/32") or smaller flat brushes and continuing with many hours of meticulous detailing using a size 0 round brush (1/32" in diameter). Because everything is downsized, these paintings can take as long or longer than completing a larger piece using large brushes. It takes Nan about two weeks to complete a painting; she loves the challenge of creating these small, intimate works of art. She revels in detail and considers “render,” “tight,” and “it looks like a photograph,” to be compliments, while “loosening up” is not one of her goals.
Her work is in collections in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and England. Over the years, her paintings have won several awards. She is a Signature Member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters (formerly National Acrylic Painters' Association) an Associate Member of The Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C. (MPSGS), and a member of The Association of Miniature Artists.