‘I followed my dream’

Artist hones her craft and encourages others to pursue creative outlet at Brooksby Village

Created date

February 19th, 2020
Nancy Marculewicz’ apartment at Brooksby Village is filled with artwork, both her own pieces and those of artist friends.

Nancy Marculewicz’ apartment at Brooksby Village is filled with artwork, both her own pieces and those of artist friends.

For Nancy Marculewicz, artistic endeavors have been a lifelong pursuit.

“Apparently, I told my parents at the ripe old age of eight that I was going to be an artist when I grew up,” says Nancy. “I followed my dream.”

Over the span of her career, Nancy’s body of work has included large serene acrylic paintings, monotypes, and intricate collages of coastal scenes.

Now, Nancy is encouraging others in the arts through the Live and Learn continuing education series at Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living-managed community in Peabody, Mass., where Nancy lives with her husband Bob.

Nancy’s six-week drawing class, ‘Yes! Anyone can draw,’ is a popular offering, often with a waiting list. 

“All you need is a couple of pencils and a pad of paper,” says Nancy. “If you can write your name, you can draw.”

Nancy says her aim is to encourage class members to shed their preconceived ideas about art and focus on what they are creating.

“When you engage the right side of your brain, everything else fades away,” says Nancy. “You become immersed in the work at hand.”

It’s a sensation Nancy has felt repeatedly over the years. She continues to work with various media in her two-bedroom, two-bath Lancaster-style apartment at Brooksby Village. She’s currently exploring artistic possibilities using gouache, a type of opaque watercolor paint.

“I always have a sketchbook going,” says Nancy, a Connecticut native. “Over the years, my sketchbooks have become of combination of journal and sketchbook.”

Artistic beginnings

Nancy met Bob at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was studying machine design engineering and she was working toward a degree in fine arts with a major in painting.

“I’ve pursued art all along, giving private lessons, painting, and exhibiting while we were raising our family in Essex [Mass.],” says Nancy, whose work has appeared in exhibitions across the United States and Europe.

A mid-career foray into a new medium created an interesting addition to Nancy’s artistic portfolio.

“I attended Bradford Junior College [in Haverhill, Mass.] for two years before I went to the Rhode Island School of Design,” says Nancy. “Francis Merritt was the director of the art department at Bradford, and he acted as a mentor of sorts.”

Merritt went on to become the founding director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. 

“Haystack Mountain is a magical place,” says Nancy. “One summer, Francis was teaching a week-long class in two-dimensional design. I talked it over with Bob, and he encouraged me to go. He took care of the kids for a week while I went to Maine.”

Merritt was developing a method of creating monotypes using gelatin as a base, a technique that captured Nancy’s imagination.

“The process so intrigued me that I later worked with Francis on a book about his method,” she says.

The book, Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate, was published in 2002 and is available for purchase on Amazon.

“It took eight years from conception to publication,” says Nancy, whose career was also influenced by time spent in academic settings.

“I got a part-time job in the art department at the high school [The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass.] my kids were attending,” says Nancy. “Then I had the opportunity to fill in for an art professor at Endicott College who was on sabbatical. I love my vocation, my avocation, or my passion—whatever you call it—and I love sharing it with others.”

Power of art

Nancy’s work proved especially therapeutic when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment at Lahey’s Breast Center.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was frightened and confused,” says Nancy. “I was inspired by Tibetan mandalas to help me concentrate on healing both body and spirit.”

The word ‘mandala’ is loosely translated as circle, and Nancy created 81 mandalas over the course of her treatment. The individual mandalas are similar in size, but each circle has its own colors and design. She fashioned the mandalas into a 90-by-90-inch art piece, which she titled Mantle of Healing. Nancy donated the artwork to the Lahey Clinic, where it’s displayed as a testament to the power of art to heal and inspire.

“Art has always been a part of my journey,” says Nancy. “It’s one of the great pleasures of my life to create and to share my passion for the arts with others.”