Maxine Troxell

Nancy Rice has been a Thurmont resident all her adult life. When not sitting at an easel or her workbench, her time is consumed by volunteering at her church, the Thurmont Senior Center, and wherever else she is asked to help.

Nancy’s interest in art began in junior high school, continuing through high school. She credits her art teacher, Arthur Gernand, for instilling in her a love of many different forms of art. However, she is a self-taught artist for the most part, using the Realism style. She also mentioned that each of her extended family, beginning on her maternal great-grandmother Guyton’s side, has an inherited talent for creating.  Every uncle, aunt, and cousin has an artistic skill of some kind.

In the 1980s, Nancy developed an interest in gourd art as a hobby. She grew and dried hard-shelled gourds, which she then cleaned and painted. She particularly liked painting birds and flowers and landscapes on them. At that time, gourds were very popular items at craft shows. She turned them into bird houses, bowls, dippers, etc. Nancy would also teach others, and was invited to conduct workshops at Frederick Homemakers Clubs, Rose Hill Manor, and other places. Nancy was also chosen to be included in a story in a national magazine Birds and Blooms. She continued doing gourd art for nearly 20 years and still is occasionally asked for a decorated gourd.

Nancy decided to try her luck at airbrushing. She enjoyed that type of painting very much and developed a skill for using an airbrush. Many local people knew about her painting ability and would ask her to do projects for them. One day, she received a call from a lady who had a “Gone With The Wind lamp.”  The top globe had accidentally been broken. The lady purchased a plain white globe and asked Nancy if she could paint it to match the bottom globe. Nancy agreed to paint it and did so by airbrushing a floral design. She was sort of surprised herself when it did indeed match. When she delivered the globe back to the lady, the lady was overcome with happiness, and tears flowed. Nancy saw that same reaction numerous times, thus knowing her clients were very satisfied.

After retiring from work 15 years ago, Nancy devoted a lot of time to improving her painting skills. “I developed a passion for acrylic painting on canvas,” said Nancy.

She soon had friends and strangers asking her to paint landscapes, dogs, cats, and portraits. A very popular item is a wooden replica she would make of one’s home from a photo. The very first one she created, a Virginia mansion, was so well liked by the family that she ended up making a total of nine for all the owner’s grandchildren. They remembered visiting their grandparents at that home as children and were elated to receive a replica. Nancy still chooses not to advertise her work. Word of mouth is best.

Nancy likes her work to reflect on special moments or memories. She shall always remember being asked to paint a childhood picture of seven siblings on a wooden bowl. They had lived in poverty, and the only other picture the mother had of her young children was from a newspaper article. This painted bowl was to be a special Mother’s Day gift for the elderly mom; one can imagine the joy it brought to her, not to mention how it warmed Nancy’s heart as well.

Frequently, Nancy will create her own gifts to give people for special occasions. Once, she painted a large portrait of a young couple and gave it to them as a wedding gift. 

Then, there are the dogs. She has painted so many. One client, in particular, wanted a large painting of their four beagles in a group setting, using four individual photos. I am sure it still hangs in a special place in their home.

Her canvas can also be wood, sawblades, slate, etc. Nancy is proud to have her artwork spread over many states and countries, from Thurmont to California to Norfolk, England. She said it has been a privilege making so many folks smile.

Two years ago, she accepted the biggest challenge yet. Nancy was asked to illustrate a coloring book—22 pages. Her uncle, Ernest Rice, had written a song and wanted to create a coloring book. Each page would contain a line from the song, and she was to draw an illustration to go along with the words. Hesitantly, she said yes. Well, she did get it completed and how special it is. Some pages have pictures drawn of her grandchildren, her dog, her husband, her uncles, and her aunts. The books were printed and sold, with all proceeds going to non-profit use. Her time and talent was donated—her way of giving back.  A limited supply of these coloring books are still available. Anyone interested can purchase one from Nancy at 301-271-4637.

Nancy sees no end in sight for doing what she loves—making friends and strangers happy.

Nancy Rice creates a wooden replica of the home pictured in the photo.

Nancy Rice does a large painting for a client of their four beagles in a group setting, using four individual photos.

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