Artist Interview: Nanci France-Vaz

Nanci France-Vaz

This June, we welcome Nanci France-Vaz. A modern renaissance artist drawing inspiration from the Pre-Raphaelite and Naturalist periods of art, poetry, and classic literature, and film. Combining her strong foundation in life painting with imaginative backgrounds fusing classical with contemporary realism. 

Q: Can you tell us about your Artistic background/education?

My background was acting/dance and I wrote short stories. I started art college mid career and received my BFA at SVA in NYC as a 3d Animation major for film and special effects. My foundation teacher and mentor was John Frederick Murray at SVA. I continued my studies in portrait/figurative painting at NYAA and GCA in NY and studied with Michael Grimaldi, Dan Thompson, Nelson shanks, and Paul W McCormack privately.

Q. How has your creative journey evolved over the last 5 years?

As artists, my thought is we always need to progress and search within our souls for a voice. In the beginning of my career, I played it safe doing portrait commissions as that was my bread and butter along with teaching. In 2017, something grew inside my heart, a longing to be a figurative storyteller as well as Imaginative Realism. My husband said “why aren’t you doing your imaginative paintings”? Just go for it and see where it leads you. Great advice! That has freed up my head space to allow anything and everything to be visually available to me so I can tell visual stories.

'Paolo and Frances Canto 5' Nanci Frances-Vaz

Q. Do you work in a studio or from home?

I always worked in studios when I lived in Brooklyn, and Manhattan. The rents kept going up, so we bought a home by the Jersey Shore by Asbury Park. I have 2 studios. One for painting and one for storing, teaching, and computer workstation with printer.

Q. Who are your Art Influencers? Inspirations?

That is a loaded question. I have eclectic taste so, it is Van Dyck, Bouguereau, Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites. Todays masters are Arantzazu Martinez, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Anne Christine Rhoda, Daniel Sprick. Dan Sprick inspires me to to search for the beauty, honesty, and truth within. Authenticity reveals your soul on canvas and that is very appealing to viewers in my experiences.

Q. What helps you to create your work, music? quiet? Film!

The moving image has always been my passion. I think of creating a still frame when I start a new painting. Music gets me to feel what I am painting as does audio books of poetry and the masters.

'Ode to a Flower Child' Nanci Frances-Vaz

Q. Do you keep a sketchbook? How often do you use it and do you travel with it?

I do keep a sketchbook. Whenever I have an idea for a series or painting, I sketch it out first. I used to use it everyday, and now about 3x a week just as a warm up. Whenever I travel, I always have a sketchbook, especially if I am on a train or plane.

Q. Where does a piece of work begin for you? Can you describe your process?

I always have a story to tell about an experience spiritually or a moment in time that I have lived. If I work on a series, I stay very focused to complete several paintings that can work as a visual story. I start with an idea from words in a film or song. Being literal, my process was always title, storyboard, shot. I then proceed to find my models that fit the story, the wardrobe I have, or they bring theirs. I stylise the shoot and do the hair and makeup as well as the lights and camera work. It’s as if I am the director and cinematographer of my story in a frame.

Q. What are your most important artists tools?

Bray Rollers, Palette knives in assorted shapes, toothbrushes, windshield squeegee. My Sony camera, led lights, light modifiers such as softboxes and reflectors. Imac, Ipad, and Iphone with Photoshop and Adobe Premiere full version cc are my production tools.

'Emergence' Nanci Frances-Vaz

Q What are your favourite materials/technique?

Michael Harding Oils as paint must be consistent and buttery. I have tried allot of brands but find Michael’s paint to be so vibrant and buttery. It never fails me! I use Rosemary brushes almost exclusively and love the sables and combers best. Artefex ACM Fine Linen Lead primed a must! Any tool I can scrape, roll, and splatter with like bray rollers and squeegees. My technique is wet over dry, indirect painting! I do not like wet in wet is too mushy for me. I like to apply effects over dry paint, so I use Cremnitz white so that the paint is dry in two days and sometimes next day if I use Liquin.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A series called 'Bohemian Spirits' that I hope to finish by the fall in time for the IX ARTS Main Show. I am an exhibitor this year. The series is imaginative realism and tells a story of the 70’s Bohemian lifestyle. It is experiential, my lifetime and memories of events when I was a kid.

Q. What is the best advice you were given early in your creative career?

Get rid of the word CAN’T in your vocabulary. If you want to be great at anything, stay focused on the big picture and never give up! Work hard, have excellent time management, have the courage and confidence to stay in the game no matter what anyone says. FEAR never got anyone anywhere. Its False Evidence Appearing Real.

'Out of Eden' Nanci Frances-Vaz

Q. Where can we see more of your work online or in person?

You can see my work on my website at

Follow me on IG @nancifrancevazart to see Reels on my works in process and tips



Catherine Peters
Catherine Peters

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