Paint Along With Nancy
The Show

Title ... was one of HTV's occasional outings on the ITV network. Occupying a 12.30 or 3.30pm, 'filler' slot, the programme attempted to teach viewers - ostensibly housewives and sick school children - to paint. The lessons consisted of Nancy rendering a picture in twenty-five minutes.

A 'handsome' woman, her towering frame and broad Pennsylvanian accent diminished all around her - including her paintings - a formidable achievement in itself.

Her co-host for the early episodes was Alan Taylor - for many years regarded as the voice of HTV. A well-liked figure, Alan was a sort of latter day Richard Whiteley; he never seemed particularly comfortable in the show - as a fan of Caravaggio he was clearly an art lover. However, the reason for his presence was clear - he was the interested amateur, the viewer's representative to Nancy who was there to ask all the difficult questions. Seldom did though ... ALAN: Now this isn't a magic knife of yours is it Nancy? NANCY: No, the hand's magic. ALAN: Ha-ha, that figures.

For Nancy was a law unto herself; here was someone who knew what she wanted and, more importantly, what she didn't need - not for her, the usual artist's trappings; the tortured existence, the louche Parisian garret ... a brush. Nancy not only threw a pot of paint in the public's face - she chucked the easel too; and her studio was their studio - HTV's Bath Road premises in Bristol.

The Set The set, and the sense of timelessness it suggested was a major contributory factor to the show's atmosphere. A simple creation - a flat with a few Moorish holes punched in it partially obscured by a bit of net curtain, was the background to her magic. Together with her offset palette knife (never any mention of an offset palette) and copious amounts of curiously appropriate bog-roll, Nancy would set out to create a picture in twenty-five minutes. She never failed.

Starting with the ritual wash of burnt umber and turpentine (Alan: 'This is burnt umber - the colour'), Nancy would then follow through with a set of grid lines (to place the subject) and roughly sketch in a drawing of sorts - this always the most prized part of the show, as we could watch Nancy wield a brush, before she moved on to the cutlery. The subjects were many and varied, Vase of Flowers, Rocky Coast, Fruit in a Bowl … Rocky Flowers … Fruit on the Coast. Grid lines

The main duration of the show would be occupied with Nancy caking on the Rowney Georgian with a vigorous disregard for moderation. During the 'session' (as Alan liked to call it), Nancy would dispense wise counsel to her avid home students.
Mixing the paints Breaking off only to refuel her knife with another bucket-full of Vermilion Crimson, Nancy would implore viewers to copy from the impressionists, 'as they have distortion of form' (conveniently) - her own influences extending from Pissarro to the then-young Aiden J. Harvey. 'Paint what you see and not what you know to be there', (Alan always got this mixed up) and to a lady who asked her 'Why paint?' she replied 'I paint to match the drapes.' (Insert chip-pan fire-gag here).

Another viewer wrote in about Nancy's formidable speed. The correspondent complained that Nancy was appending her signature and Alan signing off while she had only just finished erecting her easel. Nancy explained gently that the title, 'Paint Along With Nancy' was not meant to be taken too literally.

It wasn't enough however that Nancy should paint a picture in a mere 25 minutes - oh, no - she'd already done an earlier version before the cameras even started to roll. This was for 'the recap' - one of the show's highlights, where the picture would paint itself in less time than even Nancy could manage. This sequence, (shot on 16mm although, curiously edited on VT) was always heralded by a luxurious chord on the harp. On hearing this cue, Alan would step smartly to one side, better to accommodate the inset picture. The 'Recap'
Executive producer: Patrick Dromgoole The show would end with Alan spluttering amazement, gratitude and admiration at Nancy's ability to 'paint a picture in the session … apart for a little touching up'. End titles would roll - usually a recap of the recap (since they'd spent all that money on shooting it in the first place) and a list of weird and wonderful credits that added the finishing touch to this surreal quagmire; Biggs ... Dromgoole ... Doncaster …

And then suddenly, she was gone. Whatever happened to Nancy Kominsky? The last sightings were a video in John Menzies, Greater Manchester (Middleton Branch) in 1987 and a second-hand how-to-paint book on a market stall in Aberdeen in 1998. Sadly, neither tied in with the HTV series.

More importantly, what happened to all those pictures? We can only wonder. Decorating the mantle-shelves of Bristolian collectors? Nestling provocatively on the walls of provincial art galleries? Fueling open fires? The possibilities are endless.

'... and welcome to another edition of 'PaintING Along With Nancy.' NANCY: 'You're sounding a little sexy today, Alan.'  ALAN: 'Ooh, I don't feel it!' NANCY: 'I don't know of anything else like that that's shaped orange, this way we stay out of trouble'
Nancy's demise is the TV art world's loss. Today it's left to Alwyn Crawshaw (the nearest we've come to Nancy's TV successor) to continue the tradition of regionally produced how-to-paint in twenty-five minutes, low-budget TV programmes. It's just not the same though, for various reasons - not least the association of watching Nancy with being off from school.

The main trouble is, compared to Nancy, Crawshaw and his ilk have so little style; he looks like a artist, he goes outside, finds a subject and actually looks at it while painting it. He even uses a brush! Where's the skill in that?

Nancy admonishing Alan ALAN: You feel as though you could almost reach round the back of it ...

 

EPISODE GUIDE
SERIES 1
Nancy Kominsky with Alan Taylor
Networked, ITV at 12.30pm
1 21/11/1974 Sunflowers
2 28/11/1974 Rocky Coast*
3 05/12/1974 Still Life*
4 12/12/1974 Spring in the Park*
5 19/12/1974 Pears*
6 02/01/1975 White on White*
7 09/01/1975 Early Morning

SERIES 2

Nancy Kominsky with Alan Taylor
Networked, ITV at 1.30pm
1 30/05/1975 Snow Scene 
2 13/06/1975 Pink Poppies (?)
3 20/06/1975 Pink Poppies
4 27/06/1975 Wooded Glen*
5 04/07/1975 Geraniums*
6 11/07/1975 Low Tide*
7 18/07/1975 Bowl of Violets*

No episode on 06/06/1975 – “Europe – the Nation Decides”. 
TV Times refers to both 13/06 and 20/06/1975 as Pink Poppies. The existing Wooded Glen episode refers back to the previous week as Pink Poppies so 13/06/1975 is probably something else. 
Series 1 and 2 appear to have been recorded as a single production batch.

SERIES 3

Nancy Kominsky
Networked, ITV at 12.30pm
1 02/01/1976 A Rainy Day in London*
2 09/01/1976 Gladioli (guest Ed Stewart)*
3 16/01/1976 Still Life with Fish
4 23/01/1976 Thames, Grey Day at Blackwall (guest Alan Taylor)
5 30/01/1976 Still Life with Eggs
6 06/02/1976 Bonnie Banks, Scotland
7 13/02/1976 Portraiture 1*
8 20/02/1976 Portraiture 2
9 27/02/1976 Early Spring
(guest Rhoda Kelleway)*
10 05/03/1976 Yellow Shrub Roses
11 12/03/1976 Wine and Fruit
12 19/03/1976 Lilacs
13 26/03/1976 Wind on Exmoor

SERIES 4

Nancy Kominsky
Networked, ITV at 12.30pm
1 11/01/1977 Anemones*
2 18/01/1977 Strawberries
3 25/11/1977 Snow in Central Park
4 01/02/1977 Nasturtiums (guest Alan Taylor)
5 08/02/1977 Twilight in the Cotswolds
6 15/02/1977 Still Life: Vegetables
7 22/02/1977 San Juan Mountains – Colorado
8 01/03/1977 Yellow Tulip (guest Rhoda Kelleway)
9 08/03/1977 Old Rome
10 15/03/1977 White Daisies (guest Nina Baden-Semper)
11 22/03/1977 Wind on the Adriatic
12 29/03/1977 Red Apples
13 05/04/1977 Last Three in Totterdown

SERIES 5

Nancy Kominsky
Networked, ITV at 3.20pm, except eps 10 - 12 at 3.50pm
1 08/02/1978 Magnolias
2 15/02/1978 Ponderosa Lemon
3 22/02/1978 English Garden
4 01/03/1978 Wine and Persimmons
5 08/03/1978 Flowering Tree
6 15/03/1978 Moonlight on Lake Tahoe
7 22/03/1978 Seascape
8 29/03/1978 The Old Mill
9 05/04/1978 Yellow Lilies
10 12/04/1978 Umbrian Countryside
11 19/04/1978 Water Mellon
12 26/04/1978 Dust on the Desert
13 03/05/1978 Windmill in a Wheatfield

An asterisk denotes that the episode exists officially in the ITV archive.
 

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