Yampa woman lives for art | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa woman lives for art

Naugle accommodates students by traveling to their homes

Autumn Phillips

— Nita Naugle wears blue jeans and drives a pickup. She grew up on a ranch outside of Yampa, was an animal science major in college and is a member of the Routt County Cattlewomen’s Association.

None of this belies her secret Naugle lives for her art.

Her signature, NHeroldN, looks like a brand pressed into the corner of each painting and drawing. Herold is her maiden name.

She liked the way her maiden name looked when she bookcased it with her married initials.

“Marriage balanced me out,” she said.

Naugle married two years ago to a man who drives a dump truck for a living. He didn’t know she was an artist when they met.

“He had no idea what he was getting into when he found me,” she said.

Naugle has been drawing for as long as she can remember. She always took creative projects in 4-H such as photography and flower arranging.

Her family was always supportive because they are artists themselves. Both of her parents paint, her brother is a woodcarver and her grandparents on both sides were artists, she said.

She grew up on the Herold Ranch, a fifth-generation resident of the valley.

As a result of her background, Naugle is an artist in one of the oldest American traditions: the pastoral landscape or what she calls agricultural art.

She draws the nature she sees every day.

The winding Yampa River, a close-up of a bird, a field full of cattle are all subjects in her work.

Naugle has seen the Yampa Valley first as a rancher, then as the trails coordinator for the Forest Service.

The Forest Service commissioned her to do a drawing for the Mandall Basin Trailhead. Her pen, ink and colored pencil drawing tells the story of the trout that live in the area, including their habitat and the flies they eat.

There is little of the outdoors Naugle hasn’t experienced firsthand, but it was time, she believed, to leave her hands-on experience with the land and dedicate herself to rendering it on paper.

She took a job delivering mail from Oak Creek to Kremmling and started teaching art lessons. She opened her business, “Across the Creek Art,” and began offering art instruction much like a rural doctor doing home visits.

“I drive to their house, because I remember how tired my mom was from running me around,” she said. Most of her students are elementary-school aged, but she also teaches adults.

Her method is to complete a project right next to her student.

“I have my own sketchbook and we do it step by step,” she said.

She teaches clay, carving, pencil drawing, oil and watercolor. Every lesson is tailored to the student’s abilities and desires.

On Friday, Naugle met 8-year-old Marcie Norris at the Oak Creek Public Library for a drawing lesson. They meet wherever it is convenient.

Norris took first place for her drawing of a rose at the Routt County Fair this summer. The rose took her three lessons to draw.

Naugle doesn’t set a time limit on any lesson. Sometimes she will work for hours on a drawing with her student.

“If we didn’t keep track of the time, we would work until 3 in the morning,” Norris said.

The major difference between child and adult students, Naugle said, is that kids haven’t learned to say “I can’t.”

“Kids aren’t intimidated by new things like adults,” she said.

Naugle encourages anyone who wants to try their hand at art.

“Anyone can be an artist,” she said. “For some it comes easier than for others, but for everyone it takes practice. Just think about how much time it took you to be able to speak English well. It’s the same with art.”

With adult students, Naugle knows that it’s something they really want to do. They have made a time and money commitment to learning, which makes the lessons rewarding for both sides.

Naugle charges $10 and hour per student for her lessons, plus the cost of supplies.

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