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Hodgenville woman creates art under glass

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By Robert Villanueva

When artist Nancy Musika needs creative inspiration for her glass paintings it’s as close as her front door.

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On her wooded property in Hodgenville, birds and animals find a friend in Musika, who often provides food for them.

“I really love nature, and I love wildlife. I have a terrific respect for wildlife,” Musika said.

That love of wildlife frequently translates to an art project.

“Really, the process starts with me seeing a bird or something I just love,” she said.

After taking a photograph of a bird or other animal on her property, she uses it as a reference for her glass paintings.

To create the paintings, Musika produces art on the top surface of a square of glass. She sits on her living room couch, using a sunlight lamp because it shows truer colors, she said.

Using acrylic paints, her sessions can last for 30 minutes or several hours. The total time to complete a glass painting, from beginning to end, also varies.

“I’ve had paintings I’ve worked on for six months and some I’ve done in two weeks,” Musika said.

When the painting is finished and dry, she places another square of glass on it and frames the two pieces. The process, she said, involves trial and error until she gets a painting right.

“I can tell when it’s done and I quit before I work it to death,” she said.

That doesn’t mean she hasn’t had occasional desire to scrape off her work in progress and start over, she said.

After the paintings are completed and framed, she offers them for sale at places such as Wild Earth Gallery in downtown Elizabethtown and at art shows.

An owl, geese, raccoon and blue heron are among subjects of her art. Musika has even visited Woodland Wildlife in Radcliff to find subjects, she said.

Because her property attracts a variety of wildlife, Musika is at no loss for subject matter. She even has a family of raccoons that has learned to knock on her front door when they want her to feed them.

Eventually, she hopes to be able to do a painting of a baby raccoon.

A painting she has done of an adult raccoon was one of the most difficult because it was under some leaves. Creating shadows, she said, proved a challenge.

Overall, though, Musika doesn’t look at her art in such terms.

“I must say, I don’t see them as challenging,” she said. “I see them as fun.”

Musika has been creating glass paintings for about four years, but it is just the latest artistic arena she’s entered. Acrylic and oil paintings, wood carvings and sculpture are some of the other art she has created.

Additionally, Musika is a musician, playing a variety of instruments including the hammer dulcimer. She is part of the Heartland Dulcimer Club and also meets with a small group of hammer dulcimer musicians.

Though she earned three degrees in art, Musika realized she needed something else to make a living and earned a doctorate in psychiatric counseling. She had a private practice for a while in Virginia and later took a psychologist job and moved to Hodgenville.

Her art, she said, is a way of expressing things around her. She believes her glass paintings of wildlife offer a unique opportunity.

“It allows people to see what they didn’t notice,” Musika said.

Ultimately, Musika hopes to create 3-D art that incorporates natural elements such as bark and leaves. She still is working on the logistics of presenting such art.

“I’m going to have to design my own frame,” she said.

While Musika enjoys tackling art in various media, she does so at her own pace. Any other art projects will have to wait for the time being.
“I’m not tired of glass paintings yet,” she said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.