A bunch of fruit in a bowl may not be that exciting to look at, that is unless you’re looking at it from Nancy Colleary’s point of view. Through her still-life paintings, the Westbury resident explores shadows, colors and light to make the most ordinary objects appear beautiful.
Colleary has been doing oil still-lifes for the past 30 years and says she’s attracted to the art form because of its simplicity and use of light.
“I love a strong light source that contrasts. Even if it’s just a pear or bowl of fruit, with a good strong light source it’s very exciting to me. I could spend hours studying it,” said Colleary. “It forces me to look and see the subtle changes that make things look realistic. I find it incredibly exciting, even after 30 years. It still thrills me.”
Her subjects include animals, fruits, flowers and wine bottles. Three years ago, Colleary also started doing wedding dress portraits. The original oil paintings are often given as gifts to brides and at the moment, Colleary is currently working on five. She does about 25 a year.
Colleary, a life-long resident of Westbury, says she is a “big fan” of the village’s recent emphasis on arts.
“It’s a wonderful place. I think the new theatre has brought people here and everyone’s excited about it. It brings more culture and notice to a wonderful town,” says Colleary. “It just adds another dimension to a wonderful place and makes me even more proud to be a resident.”
Colleary’s creative spirit was fostered by growing up in an artistic home, with a mother who was a “very creative, artistic person.” While Colleary grew up dabbling in the arts, she had her “Eureka moment” in her early 20s when she took an oil painting class with her mother.
“From that point on, I haven’t stopped paining. That first taste really sold me. I’ve tried other mediums, but ever since I tried oil, I was done. I love my oil paintings,” she says with a laugh.
Colleary opened a studio and gallery on Drexel Avenue in 2006 where she held classes and held shows for five years before moving into a small space in front of San Giorgio Florist in Carle Place. She was there for three years before leaving last year and moving her studio to her basement.
From her in-home studio, she continues to hold classes and work on her own projects, which includes paintings that are on display at Walk Street in Garden City and Chef’s Corner in Mineola.
Nowadays, she also stays busy with her two grandkids and says she hopes she can pass her love of art down to them.
“I hope to never stop painting,” says Colleary. “I want to keep doing what I’m doing.”
To find out more and see more of Colleary’s work, visit www.nancycolleary.com