Walking into Nancy Jacey’s Henrico County studio might seem like a visit to a doctor’s office waiting room, though one in which the occupants have an unusually bold eye for large-scale colorful artwork that seems to leap off the walls in dramatic fashion.
Going big is a signature characteristic for Jacey, an artist, illustrator and art teacher, but there’s a good reason for that. For all the little details in the world that we miss as we go about our busy lives, she’s there to capture and bring them to life in exaggerated ways.
Jacey is the featured artist for November at the RTD Gallery at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her work will be on display Friday, Nov. 3, through Friday, Nov. 24.
A Richmond native, Jacey earned her undergraduate studio arts degree from Virginia Tech, and her master’s in fine art and illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her artistic journey spreads across a variety of platforms: Fresh out of graduate school, she was illustrating for the children’s book company Scholastic, as well as its Weekly Reader magazines. She ran a community art gallery and teaching studio in Florida, and several years ago, began working with national residential and commercial home décor companies to create paintings and pieces that can be transferred to decorative flags, mailbox covers and ceramic tiles.
That doctor’s office vibe in Jacey Gallery on North Parham Road (it’s also her teaching and painting studio) isn’t made up — indeed, it used to house an orthodontist practice. In fact, it was her orthodontist’s office when she was young, she said. The partitions that used to separate patients are gone, however, replaced with a big room that allows her students, from kindergarten through adulthood, creative reign. She also hosts art shows there to showcase her students’ work.
On her own, Jacey specializes in large, vibrant wax pencil creations, as well as the occasional oil painting. She’s available for commissioned works, and her art can be found locally at her studio and at various galleries throughout Virginia and Florida from time to time.
“I like big; I like color; I like to exaggerate and blow it up,” she said, walking through her space past pieces with flowers, birds and other animals. “As people we don’t really take the time to notice all that’s around us in life.”
Her customers appreciate that attention to detail.
Roanoke resident Carter Moore knew Jacey from high school and kept up with her after. When Moore’s wife needed to commission a portrait of her mother, they sought out Jacey.
“It was a great process, very fluid,” Moore said, adding that he was impressed by Jacey’s early pencil sketches and the time she put into making sure details were taken care of. “It’s just very realistic.”
Tennessee resident Carie Burgess was the recipient of a Jacey piece more than a decade ago when Jacey was close with her family. The whimsical piece features two giraffes, a mother and her baby, and when Burgess had her first child, she commissioned Jacey to work on another piece for her son’s room. Her son’s nickname, “Monkey,” along with his baby blanket and rattle, inspired a piece that contained elements of all of those things.
Jacey was commissioned a second time when Burgess’ son turned 4, and this time the piece was based on his love of the “Llama Llama” books coupled with one of their favorite weekend activities, feeding ducks. Finally, a third piece was commissioned (that’s four pieces in all, if you’re keeping count) when Burgess had her second child earlier this year. It features polar bears, with the effects of the Northern Lights added for color.
“Nancy is documenting the history of my family and capturing priceless moments in a style that brings joy to everyone (who) sees it,” Burgess said by email recently. “Each work is personalized and each one is irreplaceable.”
“She is a truly gifted soul (and) we don’t hang her work in a gallery or some stuffy hallway,” she added. “We hang them where they were meant to be — watching over their inspiration all day and all night.”