After Nancy Maas has spent large amounts of time and energy perfecting a watercolor painting, she cuts it up. All that hard work down the drain? No, cutting her paintings into strips is just one step in Nancy’s watercolor weaving technique, a process that she has been developing over the past two decades.
Nancy first came up with the idea when she was painting the leaves and wildflowers in the woods outside of her home. She became frustrated when she couldn’t capture the energy and animation she saw in the vegetation before her. Disappointed and impatient, she began cutting out the parts of the works that she liked and combining them. This gave her the idea to cut the paintings into strips and weave them together. Nancy was thrilled with the results. The woven texture expressed the vibrancy and energy of nature much better than the original paintings did.
In order to create her masterpieces, Nancy must first complete two very similar paintings of one image. She cuts one of the paintings into vertical strips of varying widths and attaches them with artist’s tape to a foam core board or the drafting table. Then she cuts the other painting into horizontal strips and interlaces them with the first. After rearranging the strips until she’s happy with the final image, she carefully glues the piece on to museum board to complete the process.
Nancy finds much inspiration in her hometown of Ithaca. Her studio is located in a wooded area, so she often sees subjects to paint right outside her window.
“I need to feel deeply connected to what I paint, so the natural world of upstate New York is my prime source for weavings,” she said.
For this method, Nancy said that less defined subjects such as vegetation, general landscapes or images of falling water work best. Anything that is too specific or detailed won’t come out right.
“Patrons sometimes ask me to do a watercolor weaving of their house, but this just doesn’t work,” she said.
Nancy’s art is currently on view at Contemporary Trends and the Corners Gallery in Ithaca. Visit www.nancymaas.com to see more of Nancy’s collection.
by Stacy Majewicz