Friday, December 26, 2014


"Friends", acrylic on canvas 12" x 12"
At the farmers' market I saw two families have a chance reunion.  These girls were so delighted to see each other they did a little happiness dance!

Saturday, December 20, 2014


"Bobo", acrylic on canvas 12" x 4"
Bobo is a sweet little bear I've had since childhood.  For some reason his expression has always reminded me of this wonderful self-portrait by Rembrandt:

"Rembrandt Surprised", etching by Rembrandt van Rijn

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


"Buddies", acrylic on canvas 8" x 10"
I'm just a kid at heart.  Love my toys!  I'm entering this one in the Epperson Gallery's "From the Heart" exhibit.  Will post again if it's accepted. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More Mandalas

"Little Mandalas Two", Watercolor on Canvas

"Kaleidoscope", Watercolor and Acrylic

"Butterfly Mandala", Watercolor

I love color.  Can you tell?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Snowflakes and Mandalas

"Two Snowflakes", Ink and Watercolor, 6" x 4"

I love the beautiful, intricate design of snowflakes (not that I've ever seen one in person.)  Thought I'd invent a couple in cool, wintery colors.
"Little Mandalas", Watercolor, 6" x 4"
Here's a group of little mandalas inspired by snowflakes, flowers and radiant light.  It's so much fun drawing these geometrical designs and playing with color schemes to give each one its own personality.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blog Hop Around the World

"Red, White and Blue Mandala", watercolor

My friend Kaethe Bealer invited me to participate in an artists' "Blog Hop Around the World" by posting my answers to the following questions.  To keep the "hop" going I'd like to invite artists Robin Purcell and Chris Carter to do the same on their blogs, if they're interested.  Cheers!

1.  What am I working on?

I'm working on a series of little watercolors playing with color and design, inspired by a recent workshop with Chris Carter.  So fun working with watercolor again!  I'm finding the mandalas are a great way to wake up my brain and start thinking in new directions.

2.  How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I love vibrant, expressive color.  Although I usually start with a realistic drawing, my colors come from the heart.  I also love structure, and I try to pare things down to their essentials.  A lot of my paintings, especially my landscapes, become a mosaic of simplified, streamlined shapes -- almost an abstract.  I like letting the lines of my drawing show through to create a kind of unifying framework.

3.  Why do I create what I do?

I've always loved to draw and paint -- it just feels good.  My favorite subjects are simple, familiar things like tools and toys, old buildings and trucks, farmers' markets and local landscapes.  I also love drawing people and feel very lucky to belong to a local group where we sketch beautiful costumed models every week.

4.  How does my creative process work?

When the weather's good I paint plein air in our local orchards, parks and classic delta towns. I'm kind of a slow painter, so I usually get the bones of my painting blocked in on-site, then finish it at home in my studio while listening to classical music.  In colder months I work in my studio painting from my field sketches, photos, still-life set-ups, memory and imagination.  I always start with a drawing and then begin adding color in layers, letting the painting tell me what it wants as the pieces come together.

Friday, December 5, 2014


"Rose Dala", Ink and Watercolor, 10" x 10"

I took a wonderful workshop with artist Chris Carter a couple of weeks ago, and she has completely inspired me! Chris coined the word "dala", a spin-off of the mandala concept.  In a dala you start with a circle, swing a few "strings" to divide it into organic zones, then plunk yourself down and begin to draw, twisting and turning the elements of your subject as you move your way around the circle.  I did this drawing during the workshop in the rose garden at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center in Santa Rosa, and finished painting it at home.  Part of Chris's challenge was also working with a limited color palette for unity and harmony.  This painting was a joy to create.

"Dala Dala", Ink and Watercolor, 10" x 10"
One of my treasured possessions is a Swedish Dala Horse toy my mom gave me.  Here he is as the star of another dala painting.  Although the toy is actually red-orange, I chose this color scheme to convey a peaceful, Christmas feeling.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


"Special", Acrylic on Canvas, 6" x 6"
This vintage trolley car is on display at the National City Depot, just south of San Diego. The museum has done a great job restoring it and I thought it looked especially striking -- almost heroic -- on this clear, sunny day. I like that its last journey was to someplace "special."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blue Victorians

"Blue Victorians, Alameda", acrylic on canvas, 6" x 6"
Here's a new one in my "Architectural Gems" series. These beautiful Victorian neighbors are on Benton Street in Alameda. Since I took my reference photo the paint job on the nearest house has changed radically -- now it's white with black trim and a mural of pop-art designs.  People in Alameda are so creative!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Street Crew

"Street Crew", acrylic on canvas, 6" x 6"

When I saw this street crew I was attracted by the spots of ultra-bright color against a backdrop of complex machinery.  I bet those vests can be seen from space!  I'm entering this one in the Randy Higbee Gallery's 6" Squared Exhibition, along with another one I'm just finishing of a pair of Victorians in Alameda.  Will post again if they're accepted.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A new Isleton painting

"Shop on Main, Isleton", Acrylic on Canvas, 16" x 12"
Started this one at our Suburban Sketchers paint-out a couple of weeks ago and finished it in the studio.  I love Isleton.  So many interesting old buildings, and a relaxed, friendly feeling.  A great place to paint!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Two new gems

"Lilac House, Alameda", acrylic on wood, 8" x 8"

"Purple House, Alameda", acrylic on wood, 6" x 8"

Here are two new ones in my "Architectural Gems" series, small acrylic paintings on wood panels.  I love painting these beautiful Victorians with their elegant proportions and lovely, lacy details.  They were built at the turn of the century when craftsman took real pride in their work.  It's exciting to see the amazing array of creative paint colors in Alameda, where homeowners really respect and maintain their architectural heritage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Happy Pig

"Happy Pig", Acrylic on Wood, 6" x 8"
Piggy loves his colorful nest!  This is a new one in my series of small paintings on wood panels.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Architectural gems

"Italianate Jewel, Alameda", Acrylic on Wood, 8" x 6"
"Alameda Gem", Acrylic on Wood, 8" x 8"

"Century Plant, Alameda", Acrylic on Wood, 8" x 6"

This is a new series of small paintings I'm doing on wood panels.  I'm really enjoying the texture of the wood surface and the look of the grain where it glows through in the transparent passages.  The Scene on the Strait is featuring a special new miniatures exhibit this year and I'll be including "Century Plant" and several other small paintings (the other two shown here are already sold.) This wonderful, family-friendly art festival is happening August 9 in Martinez.  For details visit the Scene on the Strait page on Facebook.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rio Vista Victorian

"Rio Vista Victorian", acrylic on canvas 16" x 12"
Rio Vista is a beautiful town.  I started this painting on location a few weeks ago and just put the finishing touches on in my studio.  I'll be showing this one at the Scene on the Strait, Saturday August 9 in Martinez.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May Market

"May Market", acrylic on canvas, 12" x 16"

I started this painting last Saturday at the Brentwood Farmers' Market and finished it in my studio.  It was Memorial Day weekend and the height of cherry season, so the place was packed.  Such a fun jumble to paint!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New classes at Delta Gallery in Brentwood

"Fantasy Forest", watercolor by Nancy Roberts

I'm excited to be offering art classes for kids, teens and adults at the beautiful new Delta Gallery of the Arts in Brentwood starting June 11. To register call (925) 516-5935 to reserve your spot, then complete your registration in person at the gallery.  Delta Gallery of the Arts, 2485 Sand Creek Road, Suite 128 in the Streets of Brentwood (next to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.) Space is limited to 12 students, so early sign-up is recommended to assure your enrollment.
Here's what's coming up for summer:

Fantasy Art Workshop (Ages 7 - 13)  Let your imagination run wild! In this fun 3-week class you'll invent your own characters and creatures and design the world they live in. Working with a variety of drawing and painting media you'll bring your creations to life with color mixing, light and shadow, perspective and special effects. Students who've worked with Nancy before will receive new challenges to build on personal progress. A $10 materials fee is payable to the instructor on the first day.  Fee: $45 (3 weeks) Wednesdays, 12:30 - 2pm, June 11 - 25.

Fashion Art Workshop (Ages 8 - 13)  Do you have amazing ideas for creative new clothing designs? In this fun 3-week class you'll turn your ideas into professional-looking illustrations using a variety of fine art media and techniques. Projects combine drawing the fashion face and figure, garment basics and designing with fabric, pattern and color.  Students who've worked with Nancy before will receive new challenges to build on personal progress. A $10 materials fee is payable to the instructor on the first day.  Fee: $45 (3 weeks) Wednesdays, 2:30 - 4pm, June 11 - 25.

Summer Paint Zone (Ages 6 - 12)  For young artists who love to paint! In this fun 3-week class you'll strengthen your skills and learn some new techniques as you explore tempera, liquid watercolor and acrylic paint on canvas. Themes will range from the realistic to the fantastic with an emphasis on creative self-expression. Students who've worked with Nancy before will receive new challenges to build on personal progress. A $10 materials fee is payable to the instructor on the first day.  Fee: $45(3 weeks) Wednesdays, 12:30 - 2pm, July 9 - 23.

3-D Drawing for Teens and Tweens (Ages 10 - 17)  For students who already have some realistic drawing experience, this 3-week workshop takes your skills to the next level. Projects focus on creating the look of three-dimensional form and space using perspective and shading techniques. Seeing, understanding and drawing the effects of light and shadow will be explored in depth. Materials will include pen, pencil, charcoal and pastel. Students who've worked with Nancy before will receive new challenges to build on personal progress. A $10 materials fee is payable to the instructor on the first day.  Fee: $45(3 weeks) Wednesdays, 2:30 - 4pm, July 9 - 23.

Acrylic Painting for Adults and Teens (Adults and teens age 13 and up)  Acrylic is a wonderfully versatile medium that can be used like oil paint, watercolor or both. For those new to acrylic, this class will introduce you to the basics of handling the paint, mixing color, working with value, understanding light and shadow and designing a strong composition. More experienced painters will have the chance to build their skills and work on personal goals. Subjects, demonstrations and individual help will be tailored to the students’ interests. You'll find examples of Nancy's work and a list of suggested acrylic supplies on her website,  Fee: $80(3 weeks) Saturdays, 1 - 4pm, August 16 - 30.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Moon Cafe in Locke

"Moon Café, Locke", acrylic on canvas, 16" x 12"

I started this painting a few weeks ago when our Suburban Sketchers group had a paint-out in the historic Delta town of Locke.  What a cool place!  Overwhelming, too, with its narrow Main Street full of rickety old shops, balconies, colorful signs, the din of motorcycles and a constant bustle of activity.  Finished it in my studio listening to peaceful classical music.  Ahhh! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Diablo Looking West

Here's another view from Mt. Diablo, looking west from a vantage point near the summit.  It was a vibrant Spring day and I was inspired to really push the color.  I love the cascade of hills and valleys from this vista and decided to exaggerate their contours with some swooping shapes and patterns.

"Diablo Looking West", acrylic on canvas, 12" x 16"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Diablo South Slope

I started this painting at Mt. Diablo in Northern California, alongside my friend and mentor Chris Carter. While many artists choose the spectacular, downhill vistas in this area, Chris suggested looking up. She was right -- what a glorious view! The striking, linear clouds and mid-day moon added a magical feeling to the day.

"Diablo South Slope", acrylic on canvas, 16" x 12"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Portrait of a beloved vacation home

"House on the Lake", oil on canvas, 15" x 30"
This painting was commissioned by Cathy Daniel as a surprise for her mother.  The house is nestled among beech trees on the shore of a scenic lake in Michigan.  Cathy asked me to include herself and her two brothers as children playing on the beach.  It was a joy to paint such a lovely home!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

River Road Bridge

This beautiful bridge is just north of Isleton along the Sacramento River.  I started the painting on location last Fall, blocking it in with acrylic.  Once I got it home I decided to build the top layers in oil, and worked on it off-and-on, never feeling quite satisfied.  I was finally able to finish it over the Christmas holiday, and now I'm happy with it.  I'd like to paint this bridge again -- I love its balance of delicate laciness and massive strength.

"River Road Bridge", oil on canvas, 12" x 24"

On location

Initial block-in, in acrylic