by Nancy Honaker
Growing up in the Midwest as the youngest of six kids, I found a lot of free time while my siblings were in school in which I had to entertain myself. Being a shy child, I found solace in solo activities such as jigsaw puzzles, piano and art. I loved coloring books and always colored within the lines. When I was in 4th grade, one of my assignments was to write an autobiography and I said that when I grew up, I wanted to be an artist who copied pictures. Little did I know at that time, there would be digital photography for me to capture those beautiful images to “copy”! My favorite toy was the Etch a Sketch and I would doodle for hours, while my mom was in the beauty salon. Those Etch a Sketch drawings were true masterpieces and Mom would grandly show them off to her beauty shop friends and I would be shyly embarrassed, but secretly proud. When I won my first blue ribbon for a butterfly drawing in second grade, I was truly hooked as I stared wide-eyed at my drawing hanging in the hallway of the elementary school.
“It was all trial and error, experimenting with pencils and paper. I was a sponge soaking it all in.”
Autobiography page from 4th Grade. In the future, "I want to be an artist who copies pictures and have my own studio in my house someplace." Fulfilling my destiny!
I continued taking art classes throughout high school and graduated with a BFA from college with a degree in Graphic Design. This, of course, was before the days of computers and the designs were all meticulously drawn with RapidoGraph pens and press type. My favorite class was painting, especially when we copied works from the old Masters and my professor graded on if the task had been completed, not if he personally “liked” the painting. I appreciated that because art is so subjective, it’s hard to put a “grade” on it. There’s that old saying by Lucille Ball, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” I feel that way about my art. I have to love it first and be proud of it, before exposing it to public scrutiny.
"A Key to Nostalgia". My first accepted entry into the CPSA exhibition in 2020. Also selected to be in the12th Annual Strokes of Genius competition printed in The Best of Drawing Winter 2021. Such a moment of pride!
After college, I moved to CA and worked in the film business for about 20 years, during which time I did very little art, just an occasional project here and there. In 2010, we moved back to Ohio to be closer to family. It was at this time, my sister started dabbling in mixed media art. This was something I had never done, as I had always “colored in the lines” and I wanted to play along. We had paint, ink, stamps, paper, glue, glitter and every art supply we could find flying through the air. This was so freeing! Anything goes! I had so much fun with this art style, but to me, I still felt more at home creating art leaning toward realism and working from photographs. So, I began doing some pen and ink pet portraits for people. As my commissions grew, I started looking around Facebook at different art websites and happened upon a colored pencil art challenge. I figured why not try it? I had an old set of Prismacolors laying around from my college days, so immediately grabbed the pencils and an old piece of drawing paper and began. I liked my drawing well enough, so I entered that contest. By the second contest, I received an Honorable Mention. This truly lit the fire and I started following other CP artists, reading all I could read, taking classes and learning as much as I could. It was all trial and error, experimenting with pencils and paper. I was a sponge soaking it all in. I couldn’t talk about anything else and was sleeping very little as I stayed up in my studio drawing for hours on end. I had truly found my passion!
"What's All the Racket" won a Chartpak award for excellence in the CPSA Explore This 17 competition. It's such a feeling of pride to be recognized amongst peers. Hard work and hours at the drawing board paid off!
As I created more drawings, I started putting my art out on social media which can be rewarding or brutal. This is where pride of your work truly has to take precedence. Most art sites are super supportive, but there will be the occasional negative comment and as humans, unfortunately, it’s that one we remember. Constructive criticism is one thing, and can be helpful. But just plain negativity is another, and we shouldn’t let others negativity sway our opinions. If I was proud enough to put it out there in the first place, I must stand by it. I am my own biggest critic, so therefore, I must also be my biggest fan. I follow so many fabulous CP artists online and they truly inspire me. But as my son once said to me, maybe MY work inspires other artists. Funny how that hadn’t occurred to me!
“I couldn’t talk about anything else and was sleeping very little as I stayed up in my studio drawing for hours on end. I had truly found my passion!”
It has been about 4 years now that I began with colored pencils, and I have since won several awards, been published in International magazines and been juried into gallery shows. I always go back to the basics of how I felt as a little girl – being proud of my work. When entering contests, or submitting for gallery shows, it’s important to have faith in what I’ve produced, understand if it doesn’t get accepted, and be joyful if it does, knowing art is subjective. I create art because I like it. It’s as simple as that. I still feel that great moment of pride, just as I did with the Etch a Sketch, each time I show my Mom, (who is now 91), a new drawing or a piece that has been printed in a magazine. Being able to share my art with others is an absolute honor and thrill, and that little girl who wanted to be an artist who copies pictures really did have her dream come true!
About Nancy Honaker:
Nancy graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and has worked in many different mediums through the years, but after nearly 30 years away from her artistic roots, she discovered the joy of colored pencils four years ago. She still works a day job, but looks forward to her evenings, drawing commissioned pieces or working on her own ideas of “things to draw”. She has been published in many International magazines, accepted into gallery shows, and is a proud member of CPSA.
See more at: https://nehonakerart.com/