Ernie Norcia

I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I loved those activities so much I took private lessons throughout high school from age 13 through 17. The strongest influences for me have been the teachers of those private lessons, Galed Gesner, Kenneth Bates, and later on, Grace Hartigan, who was the head of the Graduate program at the Maryland Institute, College of Art when I was there. Originally from Connecticut, Ernie Norcia earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Rhode Island School of Design, where his studies included an academic year of study abroad in Rome, Italy. He continued his studies, receiving a Masters degree in painting from the Maryland Institute, College of Art.

Ernie’s approach to painting is the result of years of study and interest in the distinguished traditions of European and American painting. Artists such as Leonardo, Titian, Velazquez, Degas, Ingres, and Sargent are some of his personal favorites as well as sources of inspiration. Painting the human form is a specialty, and what I’ve become known for. As an example, I received a commission to paint more than forty portraits for a recording company’s release of music on CDs. The portraits were of many legendary country music signers, classical and R&B musicians. They were icons like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Mel Torme, and Brahms. I’ve also illustrated the covers for many Nancy Drew books. My mission was to make the “larger than life” character of the 16 year-old Nancy Drew credible in the way she was defined in the early stories. Her image had changed visually over the years and my assignment was to present her as she was originally conceived. These were all challenging projects, requiring various degrees of realism, and a great deal of humanity. As a result of doing so many portraits for commercial products, he started receiving private and corporate commissions to do formal and informal portraits. His resume also includes work for Procter & Gamble, MGM/United Artists, Sony, Scholastic, and World Book among other companies. He has won national art awards and earned an Emmy in 1981 as one of the astronomical artists who worked on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series for public television. His cards and giftbags have been sold at Target, Walmart and Walgreens. Collectibles such as decorative tins surface on Ebay.

Ernie has worked with the belief that well-crafted images have a strong positive impact on viewers. Because we live in an age saturated with so many poorly conceived images, he continues to believe that high quality, “handcrafted” images can reveal and communicate most compellingly the many facets of our shared humanity.