Nancy Aurand-Humpf



Painting of flowers.

Rhythm Garden by Nancy Aurand-Humpf. Photo courtesy of artist

My life and my art have been a journey through color. Color evokes memory for me, like a favorite song from youth. I think to myself, “I know what I was doing when I saw that color. I know why it is important.”

Color is how I put together pieces of my life in a way that makes sense to me. It is a way to weave together the joys and sorrows of my life into wholeness. It is a way to re-frame the sorrow of raising a disabled child. It is how I tell myself, “Yes, this is awful, and, the sky is still blue, and, I am still in love.” It is my sense of gratitude.

I weave the hues of my life throughout my paintings. When I look at them, I find the olive drab of the fatigues that I wore as a soldier in the U.S. Army. There are deeper greens from my dress uniform and walks in the wood. I see blues from Lake Michigan and pastels from agates that my brother and I collected as children. Sometimes the muted hues of hospital waiting rooms are apparent to me.

To me, color is the most delicious part of a visual work of art. It is a multisensory experience. It is a rich experience, as devourable as chocolate cake.

I grew up in southern Michigan near the heart of the American automobile industry. There were four of us: my mother, father, brother, and myself. We were all left-handed, and each creative in our way. My parents enjoyed the arts. They enjoyed theater and took us to museums.

I became interested in painting in a middle school art class. We were given the assignment to create a value sketch in pencil, and later paint a painting in an analogous color scheme. I was surprised to find that I could create a realistic-looking drawing. I choose a photo from a Life magazine of activist Angela Davis as my subject. I painted her portrait in hues of yellow, orange, and red. The result was my very first painting, and the beginning of a journey that would lead me away, and eventually back to painting.

After high school, I joined the U.S. Army where I remained for two tours of service. I worked as an air traffic controller for ten years. After that, I stayed home to raise my severely disabled child. Caregiving took all of my energy, so I put my dreams on hold. Now that my husband and I are “empty nesters” there is time for my art.

As an artist, I am a devoted late bloomer, nearly obsessed with painting. I began painting full-time in late 2013. Still, finally having time to create is just part of my artistic journey. It is the joys and the heartbreaks that I have experienced during the time that I could not create that helps keep my paintings honest.