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Artist finds woodburning as outlet

Nancy Horn, of Westminster, shows off a couple of her works.
Nancy Horn, of Westminster, shows off a couple of her works. (Photo by Lyndi McNulty , Carroll County Times)

Nancy Horn is a local artist from Westminster. When she was 5 years old, she constantly had crayons and was always drawing. When she was 11 years old, her father gave her a paint-by-number set for Christmas, but she didn't like the sharp lines and blended them into the painting.

Horn majored in art at Parkville High School. She studied oil painting, watercolor and woodcuts. Her final was a large painting, 36" x 40" in oil that would hang in the school cafeteria. Horn painted a modern art image of three fish in bright colors. They are abstract and swimming underwater. The painting hung in the school cafeteria until recently when she called the school to see if it was still there. They had just taken it down and she was able to retrieve it after all these years.

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After she graduated she continued to paint, but when she had her family, Horn had to stop painting. Horn satisfied her creativity by sewing at that time and worked as a professional seamstress.

When Horn got divorced, she went back to college at Catonsville Community College where she majored in art. Horn didn't finish because she needed to get a job and support her children.

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She got help from an organization called Displaced Homemakers who placed her in a job at Robert Thomas Jr and Assoc. as a receptionist, an all around "go-fer" as she described it. But with her talent, they soon had her doing layouts and paste ups for such prestigious clients as Baltimore Magazine and Maryland Magazine.

When she remarried in 1984, her husband encouraged her to go back to school at Carroll Community College. Herbie Coal was her painting instructor at that time. She also studied 2-D design, a color class with Maggie Ball, who is now head of the Art Department at Carroll Community College. She was taking classes when the new building was built on Washington Road. Horn was in the first art class there.

In 1992, Horn headed up the group that started the art exhibits they have in the Great Hall at Carroll Community College, a popular tradition that still exists.

In 1995, she volunteered at Bear Branch Nature Center to do murals. They cut out puzzle pieces and painted them depicting areas in Carroll County including wetlands, animals and city and how they were interrelated. Horn also did a large mural as a back drop for a nature exhibit including deer and other wildlife.

Starting in 1992, she did scenery for Carroll Players (carrollplayers.com) and continued for 25 years. Horn designed costumes for September Song as well as scenery.

In 1991 she became the Art Director for Prism Magazine, featuring artwork, stories and poems. As Director, Horn chose the artwork for the magazine. She chose artwork to go with literary items published in the magazine. Many of her own works were published in the magazine as well.

During that time she did the display work for Leggett Department store which is now Belk at the Town Mall in Westminster. She painted and designed many displays including those for fashion shows held at Martin's in Westminster. Horn did the displays for the Swatch Watches which were fashionable then.

Her artistic career continued in fashion design when she designed bridal gowns for the Leggett Department store.

Horn was also on the Board of Directors for the Carroll County Arts Council when they were located in the basement of Winchester Exchange before they moved to their current location 10 years ago.

Horn has always worked in the visual arts in some form. In 2000, she decided to paint again when her son died and she needed an outlet.

In 2002, Horn was asked to be the artistic judge for wood carving for the Carroll Wood Carver shows. That led to her judging the Catonsville Senior Center art shows.

She became interested in pyrography when she judged the carving shows. Horn was fascinated by their use of pyrography to feather the birds. Pyrography is wood burning as an art. It has been done for thousands of years and was an art form practiced by the Egyptians as well as early African tribes. A variety of methods and tools are used to burn decoration into the surface of wood. Horn also uses the technique of pyrogravure to add just a touch of color to her artwork.

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Basically, she is a self-taught pyrographer. She uses her drawing, painting and design skills to create fine art in pyrography. Currently, she has a piece at the Images of the Civil War Show held at the Carroll County Arts Council through August 6 (carrollcountyartscouncil.org). Horn completed an image of a woman spy from the Civil War. She is an award winning pyrographer in area shows around Maryland where she has taken first place and best of show.

She has just started doing shows again. Today she has her studio up and running called "Nandick Hill Studio." Her designs are called "Burnt-umber Designs." Horn and her friend, Inna Coleman, will be selling their works at the series the Detour Winery events this summer and fall.

Horn most recently attended classes called "The Business of Art" held by the Miller Small Business Center at Carroll Community College that teach artists on how to sell their art for profit and fun. Marketing and promotion, biographies, signing and numbering prints, legal issues and websites such as Etsy are discussed.

"I get a sense of accomplishment from my art. It relaxes me and I can forget what is around me," Horn said. Her work reflects her love of nature on wood. "I like the subtle beauty of blending of wood with rich earthy hues of burning."

She can be contacted at

and her work is shown on Gizmosart.com. Horn can be called at 410-857-4707 or 443-398-7702.

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