The Las Cruces Arts Fair, hosted by the Doña Ana Arts Council, returns March 16 – 18 to the Las Cruces Convention Center. One of the over 90 artists exhibiting work this year is Mike Nail, who has discovered time in his retirement to become the artist he always hoped to be.
Nail’s richly detailed pencil and charcoal drawings often depict Native Americans, wildlife, and Western themes and have been displayed in several local galleries as well as the Las Cruces and Ruidoso art fairs. He works not only with black charcoal but also white charcoal on dark paper, where you draw the light rather than the dark. He says, “It’s 180 degrees, but amazingly I can get it closer to what I want to draw with the white charcoal.”
Recently he has started working with colored pencil, bringing more hues into his work. An early colored pencil piece was a portrait of Festus from the “Gunsmoke” television series. Nail says, “I love to do portraits, that’s my favorite, whether Western or not.”
He always enjoyed drawing while growing up in New Mexico and his subject matter was influenced by the Western movies he watched as a kid. After high school, he enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University as an art major but decided he was too immature to focus on college courses and decided to go earn a living instead. He retired from the City of Las Cruces in 2012 and now has the time to focus on his art. Mike is a self-taught artist who makes use of the Internet to learn from others. His work is exhibited at the Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery and recently his art was displayed at the Doña Ana Arts Council’s Arts & Cultural Center.
About his shift from working full time to being an artist, he says, “It was night from day from what I was doing. I was a construction inspector and then trying to be an artist it was fairly dramatic, trying to figure out if you’re good enough to show. I’ve now had enough praise and support from friends and family that I’m really enjoying it.”
Nail’s original pencil and charcoal sketches, as well as prints, will be available for purchase at the Las Cruces Arts Fair. His art can be seen on his website, www.pencil-by-nail.com.
The Doña Ana Arts Council’s Las Cruces Arts Fair, the area’s most expansive collection of art and fine crafts, will feature 90 artists from across the country, who will offer work in numerous categories. Admission for the Arts Fair is $10 for one adult or 2 adults for $15 if purchased in advance before March 16. Each ticket is good for 2 days: Friday evening (5 – 8 pm), Saturday (10 am – 5 pm), or Sunday (10 am – 4 pm). Children aged 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets available at the DAAC office at 1740 Calle de Mercado, Suite B, The Cutter Gallery, Art Obscura or call (575) 523-6403.