As one views the work of Abilene artist Marilyn Nease, they may not agree with her personal assessment of her art skills as a “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
The former professional art teacher still gives instruction, but is also quite open to learning new techniques and honing her painting skills.
“I never had any training in watercolor, but I do an awful lot of it now for fun,” she said. She’s been learning under the tutelage of Abilene Artist Bonnie Karracker.
Her preferred style of painting is to work off a photograph because it allows her to see the values from light and dark rather than trying to make it up as she goes. As an artist, she has a lifetime of experiences that has led her to fine tune the work she does today.
Teaching art in public school for 39 years has given her the mindset to be open to new things, learning new techniques and the understanding that art is not a definitive.
“Nobody paints the same,” she said. “You can have the same still life in a setting with 10 students and you will get 10 different paintings.’
The way each individual processes what they are looking at results in a different outcome for each painting. That is the message that she has tried to instill in the hundreds of students that she has instructed over the years. Once they understand that philosophy they are more apt to let their individual style present itself.
“My biggest joy is seeing someone who says ‘I can’t do this,’ come up with something that comes out,” Nease said.
She still gets to experience that joy as she teaches drawing and acrylic painting classes for adults. Although she maintains that she isn’t real good at any one art form by itself, she is proficient at teaching drawing and perspective drawing, which is necessary if one is to have a grasp of painting realism or impressionism.
“You have to understand your vanishing point; your vanishing point is your eye level,” she said, citing the basic geometric shapes as the next important concept to know. “You can draw anything if you know your geometric shapes. If you can draw a circle, square, triangle, and rectangle, you draw those and embellish them. It’s so simple once you break it down.”
As her students learn and she sees their progress and the joy on their faces she is reminded while teaching may not have been her first dream, it has provided her with a fulfilling life.
“I love the teaching. I don’t care for administration and all that jazz that goes with it, and the stupid — and I mean stupid meetings — that take away from time with the children,” Nease said.
Had her first artistic dream worked out, the children who have benefited from her expertise would never had had the chance to see how easy drawing could be.
“I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said. At least she wanted to be the illustrator that drew the pictures of the clothing in the advertising for the large department stores.
“I got scolded in grade school. I would finish my assignment and draw girls in fashion clothes on side,” she said. “I would have loved to have gone to the Parsons School of Design in New York.”
But after having borrowed “every red cent” to go to college, and working her way through her college years, and knowing she would need to keep borrowing in order to continue on with a career in fashion, she changed direction.
Now that she is retired from formal teaching, she continues to teach occasional classes, mostly to adults, which she says, at her age, she now prefers to teach.
“They don’t talk back and they get their work done,” she said.
This is one in a series of articles featuring Abilene artists, musicians, performing artists, and craftsmen. If you would like to recommend an artist to be featured please e-mail Gail Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.