Her portraits are studies of men, women, and children who are vulnerable and disarm us with their honesty. They are all very human and reach us on a personal level. Her beach painting evoke the delight and atmosphere of humanity at play.
"Portraiture has always fascinated me because it unconsciously reveals so much about ourselves. It demonstrates that we are not always what we seem...that there is a very complicated facade. To me this world is built on a lifetime of experiences which we relate to without having ever met. My work centers on that 'story' behind the eyes...that which ordinary human features describe which is unique to that portrait, yet common to all. That 'story' is revealed by the turn of a lip, the oddity of a nose, or the peculiar quality of a glance of an eye. Facial features and gesture of an unknown person in an ordinary situation elicit sympathy, compassion and even self-knowledge in the viewer."
Nancy Saarinen was born in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her BFA at Illinois Wesleyan University. After college she had a 25 year advertising career. Saarinen was an art director for the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency and subsequently became an Art Director, Creative Director, Vice President for D’arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowels.
Growing up in a houseful of sisters and through her experiences as an Art Director, she became fascinated with the way we view women. The presumptions we make or the images we project on women had little to do with authenticity. Her current work strives to tear away the illusions. Saarinen’s women are caught in introspection.