WESTMINSTER -- Frances Nyce got a wonderful -- and, according to her, an unexpected -- surprise on Friday.
Her luscious still life watercolor, "A Basket of Peaches," won the best of the show award in the Senior Art Competition for Carroll County.
"It is really nice to get recognized. It is amazing how much confidence you get from people liking your work," she said.
Nyce said she had struggled with the idea of submitting her work to competitions because "you never know how people will react to your work."
However, hers was chosen as the best of all the paintings, sculpture and ceramics submitted by Carroll seniors as part of the Maryland Office of Aging's effort to encourage seniors to produce works of art. Nyce's painting will be entered in the statewide competition.
Working with watercolors is a new experience for Nyce.
When she was in her 20s, Nyce, who is now 68, had painted with oils, but then stopped painting. It has been about four decades since she did any serious painting.
About a year and a half ago, Nyce decided she wanted to take it up again.
"I really didn't do anything with it for a long time," Nyce said. "I wanted to try my hand with watercolors. It is a little more difficult medium for me. At this time of my life, I thought this would be a challenge."
She said watercolors intrigued her because they dry faster than oils. "There is a freshness about watercolors that is very attractive," Nyce said.
Nyce said she has been taking weekly lessons with Susan Mancha and has been gratified by some of her results, discouraged by others.
"I almost quit a couple of times. The paint doesn't always do what you want it to do," she said.
Nyce said she hasn't yet established a personal style.
"Sometimes I try to be more impressionistic, but other times I paint in a more realistic way," said Nyce, who said the winning still life was painted in her realistic style.
A native of Montgomery County, Pa., Nyce earned a bachelor's degree from Juniata College, where she studied English, French and Spanish. She attended graduate school at the University of the Pacific, where she focused on religious studies.
She came to Carroll to work with the Brethren Service Center at New Windsor, where she trained Brethren volunteers.
Nyce also spent time in France and returned to New Windsor several times.
During her final stint at the Brethren Service Center, she met her husband, William. They were married in 1966.
Nyce said she stopped working and spent most of her time as a volunteer. She lives in Westminster.
She said she has trouble finding time to paint. So most of her painting is done during her weekly three-hour lesson.
"Painting is not something you do at the end of the day when everything else is done," she said.
She said she regrets not taking up watercolor painting sooner. "I feel like I have lost some time, but I hope to continue painting for a long time."