Nancy Whorf is known for her vibrant, expansive Provincetown scenes. She paints the town – the narrow lanes, landmarks, golden sunsets, harbor and boats, snowy walks, hidden gardens. Often her eye focuses on the town she knew as a child and young woman. There are scenes from the historic Artists’ Ball, the busy life centered around the wharves when Provincetown was a vital fishing center, town characters and remembered events. “The Blessing of the Fleet,” a large painting filled with costumed dancers, boats and flags, captures the color and spirit of celebration of the annual festival held to send the fleet out to sea with prayers for a good catch and a safe return.Whorf says her work is “thoughtful and sentimental.” She is creating a kind of visual memoir. She continues to develop her expressive emotional content and narrative element through strong pictorial language, intense color and masterful gesture. Whorf says, “I want to simplify, to suggest. That’s what I like about the palette knife. It’s easier to suggest.” With that knife stroke, she suggests the whole world of Provincetown.
At the age of 14, Nancy Whorf began her formal art study as a folk artist decorating furniture for Peter Hunt and for twenty years owned a shop in Wellfleet that sold her painted furniture. Yet, early on she wanted to explore her own painting more deeply and spent a year at the Boston Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she studied with Karl Zerbe. The influence of Charles Hawthorne can be felt from her studies with Vollian Ran and her father John Whorf, both former Hawthorne students. Since the late 80’s, Whaorf has focued exclusively on her painting. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout the country and she has received numerous commissions from public and private organizations such as Lincoln Park Zoological Society, Tiffany’s in Chicago, Abby Rockefeller, and other private individuals.