Nancy Spahr
Artist Web Site:
Bio Information    

Artist Statement


Ten years ago I viewed some of the work that a friend had painted while in NYC during a Master’s of Fine Art program.  One of the paintings in particular that caught my eye was where she had used tar as one of her mediums.  I thought that someday I would like to try working with tar as well

Well, two and one-half years ago I finally took that leap. I had also done some Internet searches for artists that used tar in their works. James Griffith was one of those. His tar paintings that use nature as a theme really amazed me.  He actually went to the La Brea Tar Pits in California for his tar!  Also, Italian artist Alberto Burri created more contemporary works.  Of course, I called my friend to get her advise on working with tar.

I was off to an art retreat in Bath County for a week! My car had been packed with my oil paints, brushes, mediums, easels, boards, canvases, sketchbooks plus a can of tar -- asphalt. I was hooked after dripping and brushing tar onto my first canvas!

The past 2 years have been an exciting time in my studio.  I have embraced tar as my new medium, along with my oil paints, larger canvases, bigger brushes, bolder use of color and composition and, more recently, adding a sculptural/textural element to the surface of the painting. This exploration has resulted in my producing a whole new group of paintings, my Bird Nest Series, ‘Nesting In’.


“Why I paint with tar” and “Why I paint bird nests,” answers are on my website,

 “May you enjoy these paintings as much as I had creating them.”