Nancy Boren, “Cimarron Solstice,” 2016, oil, 30 x 32 in., private collection, studio, 2nd Place in the 6th Annual Plein Air Salon Art Competition

Nancy Boren’s oil painting “Cimarron Solstice” won second place in the 6th annual PleinAir Salon art competition. Read about her inspiration for the work, and learn how she created the scene, which exudes both grace and whimsy.

How the Oil Painting “Cimarron Solstice” Came to Be

By Nancy Boren

The idea for “Cimarron Solstice” grew directly out of a previous painting, “Thunder on the Brazos” (below). I painted a girl jumping for the first time in it, using primarily blue and yellow. I wanted to explore the idea again, but in a different color scheme and with a different feeling. The same model posed for both; she lives down the street from me. Being a ballet dancer and a willowy young person, she is very graceful and has lots of practice at jumping. I live near a golf course and knew that a certain tee box was right on the lake and faced west, so late in the afternoon there would be lots of warm light, as well as a soft area of grass for my model to jump barefoot in.

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose,” oil on canvas, 68 1/2 x 60 1/2 in.

I take inspiration from John Singer Sargent (don’t we all?!) and his perseverance and dedication to his vision as he worked on “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” (above). Not that mine was a plein air piece, because it was not, but he art-directed practically every aspect of that painting: the girls’ dresses, their hair color, the lanterns, the lilies (he sent dozens to the mother to pot up for him for the second summer he would work on it), the time of day.

If Sargent could try that hard, I thought, surely I could try to make my much simpler vision come to pass.

I knew I wanted a very warm pinkish, sheer fabric for the dress, so I found the closest thing I could and made the outfit. I considered several different props for her to hold to add a bit of narrative and whimsy and finally decided on transparent balloons, since they would add interesting shapes but would not add another color that I would have to accommodate. I also liked the extra feeling of floating and airiness they provided.

Naming the Art

The title of a painting can be so very crucial. I wanted something that suggested warmth and sunshine, and when I finally thought of “solstice” I liked that, and of course I was thinking of the longest day of the year, not the shortest. I was going to a gallery in Colorado and so I threw in Cimarron, a place name that conjures up the far West and just gives me a good feeling.

Nancy Boren, “Thunder on the Brazos,” oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in., $4,500. Read more about this painting at Boren’s blog. 

Learn more about Nancy Boren and her art at

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