Nancy Pane Fortwengler began her painting career in New York, acquiring several awards regionally before moving to Washington, DC. While a student at American University, she found a market for commissioned paintings and drawings, always focusing on the figure and the portrait. After working in the diplomatic community in Washington, she resumed her academic study of art, subsequently studying for several years with John R. Young, a realist painter, National Gallery of Art conservator and lifelong friend and colleague of Andrew Wyeth. With more time devoted to study, she began to take class at The Art League at The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA. It was there that she began to study with Diane Tesler, who remains a teacher and mentor after more than two decades of association. Nancy has also studied with Danni Dawson and Albert Handell, and has attended workshops with Burton Silverman.
It was during her years of working in the backstage world of the ballet that Nancy began painting ballet dancers. It was a natural progression for further investigation of the human figure, now taken to another level with bodies in motion. The strength and endurance of the dancers, masked by outward fragility, along with the inner world of the layered transparent costumes, became the focus of her work for many years. Working primarily in the pastel medium, sheer layers of color strike an explosion on paper, providing the viewer an intimate view of the dancers and their hidden world. Layers, light, and color are the essence of the work.
The ballet paintings evolved into the current series, the figurative dresses. This body of work is highly focused paintings of the transparent, multi layered costumes, or dresses, taken out of the dance series and set into a life of their own. The bodies of the dancers are irrelevant. Often in movement, and surely inhabited by a human presence, they exist on and off the stage, and each has a story to tell.
Educated at the American University in Washington, DC, Nancy has made her home in the Washington DC area for over 30 years. During this time, she has exhibited widely in the metro area, and is a regularly juried artist at The Art League Gallery in Alexandria, VA. Other shows have been held at the Clinical Galleries of the National Institute for Health, Office of Secretary Thompson, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the INOVA Fairfax Hospital. She has exhibited at The Peninsula Gallery, Lewes, Delaware. Her work is held in private collections, both nationally and internationally.
Nancy is a resident artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center Studio 223, in Alexandria, Virginia. She is also a member of The Art League at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, Virginia, and is a full member of the Degas Pastel Society as well as the Pastel Society of the West Coast.