PEPPERELL — French-born artist Nita Leger Casey is a longtime Pepperell resident whose home is shared with her husband Tim and her cozy studio where she creates portraits of homes and the scenic byways of her favorite New England and European spots.
Her artistic talents are vividly translated in watercolor, oils and pastels and even her greeting cards are enchanting small treasures.
Born in Orleans, France, the home of Joan of Arc, she grew up in a loving restaurant family that lived upstairs above the family’s restaurant, Le Bapteme de L’Air.
Her earliest memories include her mother’s comment, “You were born with a pencil in you hands.”
“I enjoyed my childhood,” said Casey, “and loved interacting with restaurant customers and life at the restaurant.”
She goes back often to visit her 88-year-old sister and 90-year old brother and to inhale — and then paint — the scenes of her youth.
She attended Ecole des Beaux Arts and then Ecole de Dessin art school in Paris and met her husband while he was stationed in France.
“We married in 1964,” she said. “The combination of my being French and his being Irish has worked out wonderfully. We traveled throughout Europe during our first 20 years with our three children. We lived in Italy for 5 years and Germany for 9, where I taught art to Americans there.
“We continue to travel throughout Europe,” she said, “but being here in the states has given us a wonderfully rich life. Some of my favorite spots to paint are along the rocky coast of Maine and the forests and mountains in the western part of the state where we have a cabin.”
“I taught art for a dozen years in the Townsend school system. I enjoyed teaching there as well as within small classes and helping private students,” said Casey. “Some of my students have moved into fabulous careers.
“Thinking about nurturing potential talent brings to mind Sara Liebman (now Hartman) who took classes with me in grades 3 through 8 and then again during high school,” Casey said. “She always had an individual style and I sought to encourage that.”
“Nita’s classes were small enough to provide individual attention,” said Liebman. “Without that, I might have lost interest in art. I ended up at MassArt and studied costume design in Boston. All my learning and hands-on work in the art arena encouraged me to start my own company, Secret Ships, which features artisan textiles from around the world. I thank Nita for helping me find the areas of passion that have fueled my life and my work!”
Matt Chenney was also a student with Nita. Today, as the display coordinator for the retailer Anthropologie, he works in New York City and is a major force of talent combined with hands-on construction work.
“The love of nature always keeps me excited,” Chenney said. “I will always remember Ms. Casey bringing us outside to her beautiful flower garden to paint. I am staying passionate and persistent!”