California artist Nancy Davidson says she can describe what inspires her in just one word: light. “It can transform even the most mundane scene into something magical and evocative,” she says. “The potential for beauty is all around us; we just need to recognize it, when it appears.”
A self-described nature lover, who is surrounded by the spectacular scenery of Southern California, Davidson says that, “beyond an appreciation of natural beauty, I try to convey a sense of timelessness and wonder. When I am at the beach, watching the waves roll in just as they have since time immemorial, I realize how ephemeral we are and how enduring nature is.”
When she was 7, Davidson’s grandparents gave her a set of oil paints in a little wooden box, and she continues to use oils today, although she has tried other media in the past.
“Along my favorite beach walk is this cliffside dwelling, recently designated as a Santa Barbara Historical Landmark. It was built in the 1950s by sisters Frances and Irene Rich. Irene was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1920s and 1930s. The cabana represented the sisters’ vision of the ‘California dream,’ a simple structure in a magical and seemingly isolated seaside setting. Over the years, it served as a vacation retreat for many of their celebrity friends, including Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret, racing legend Enzo Ferrari, artist Diego Rivera, and dancer Rudolph Nureyev. If only those walls could talk!”
“This painting depicts Santa Barbara Point as seen from the beach below Shoreline Park. Beyond the point lies the city of Santa Barbara but, using my artistic license, I decided to paint it the way it would have looked long ago, with no buildings at all. I was drawn to this scene, because of the contrast between the cool blues of the ocean and the warm rose golds of the land.”