Decision to join art circuit has paid off for Bryan Prize winner Nicole Vanover
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 10:05
Nicole Vanover, winner of the 2012 Bryan Painting Award, in her vendor tent at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Painter Nicole Vanover’s 4-year-old son loves to help at his mother’s booth at art fairs, including the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
“My son really tries to help set up,” the artist said recently in a telephone interview. When it comes to sales though, she’d prefer he go with his father to the youth arts area.
“He tries to sell all my work for $1,” Vanover said.
That’s quite a bargain for the photorealistic acrylic paintings that won her the Dorothy Uber Bryan Painting Award at the 2012 Black Swamp Arts Festival. (The award has been retired in favor of a 2D award sponsored by the festival committee.)
Vanover, with husband and son in tow, will return to the festival with a booth in The Masters Gallery Sept. 7 and 8.
Her son, she said, is part of the reason she started working the art fair circuit last year.
Her love of art dates to an earlier time. She started creating art at a very young age, and with an older sister who was also interested in art, used sibling rivalry to spur her own growth. “I kept trying to get better to compete with her.”
In grade school her teacher showed her colored-pencil works by an artist who drew the leaves on plants so vividly they seemed to shine. “I couldn’t believe somebody could create something that looked so real, even realer than a photograph,” Vanover said. The lesson stuck with her.
“That’s what I strive for all the time,” she said.
In high school Vanover took every art class she could, and when she graduated she attended the Columbus College of Art & Design for a year. But the cost caused her to have second thoughts about whether she could make a living in art.
“Art was always what I wanted to do,” Vanover, 33, said. “It was kind of a fear that was holding me back from pursuing it 100 percent.”
So she pursued a number of other occupations — EMT, waitress, veterinarian assistant and day care provider.
But after her son was born, she looked at her life through a new lens. “I want him to see you never give up. If you really want something, you really go for it. It’s given me more confidence.”
The plunge paid off. “It’s fantastic,” said Vanover, who lives in Pataskala in Licking County. “Being an artist it’s hard to find a way to be able to show and sell your work. This is a great outlet for that.”
Her work focuses on glass and water, capturing the reflections, the bending light and play of shadows in vivid color.
Luke Sheets, one of the 2012 judges who awarded her the Bryan prize, said he was impressed by the control she demonstrated. Her choice of subject matter — everyday objects such as a fish bowl — showed a personal vision.
“I’m happy with the sales,” Vanover said. “I was actually surprised I did as well as I did last year ” even though she was new to the circuit.
“I was a little scared to start,” she admitted, “to put a lot of money into something, and I didn’t know how I would do.”
Not only has it worked financially, but “we meet some really fantastic people.”
Those include patrons. “I’m glad people are out there responding to art,” she said.
“It’s funny to hear how people view things,” Vanover said. Two people can have very different opinions about the same piece, and sometimes very different from what the artist sees.
“It’s funny it makes me look at other people’s work differently, and think about what other people see in their work as well.”
Vanover also gained from the experience of her fellow exhibitors, especially those who have been doing the rounds of art fairs for decades.
Sometimes the advice addresses technical details. That can include how to secure a tent in the event of high winds.
But it can also more philosophical. “They’ve gone through tough times and had to survive when the economy was at its worse,” she said. Yet they persist. “That positive attitude is the best thing I’ve taken from other artists.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 13:18

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