Living

Love Stories: A portrait of the artists in love

Love Stories is a monthly series chronicling the romance of a married Lowcountry couple.

This month: Joyce and Don Nagel

Residence: Hilton Head Island

Married: June 30, 1956, in Kenmore, N.Y.

HOW THEY MET

Don: We met at art school (Rochester Institute of Technology). I had a fraternity brother, and I saw this cute girl who he knew from his high school. I asked if he could fix me up with her. And we started dating soon after that.

Joyce: About four years later we got married.

Don: I was a year beyond her. I graduated and went to Columbia to be in the Army. She stayed in school and graduated. I went back and we got married. I had always hoped that it turned out. With me going off to the Army, it just felt right at that time.

THE WEDDING

Don: I was from Pittsburgh and she was from around Buffalo -- Kenmore. So we decided to get married up there.

Joyce: Not a large wedding.

Don: College and high school friends.

Joyce: My maid of honor now lives in Beaufort. We had an art class in Kenmore High School. Pat Connor -- she does animal portraits now.

MARRIED LIFE

Joyce: I sure am lucky that it did work out. There was a period in the '70s where a lot friends, their marriages didn't work out.

Don: In advertising in particular, it was bad. The hours were long. At some point I was working 90 hours a week.

Joyce: I remember thinking how lucky I was that I got the right guy.

MARRIAGE BETWEEN ARTISTS

Don: I went to college for advertising design. When I got out of the service, we moved to Pittsburgh. I worked at an ad agency there.

Joyce: I was working in an art studio. Then we went to Detroit, and Don got involved in car advertising. I worked freelance on the side while I stayed at home to be a mom.

Don: I didn't come home and paint while I was working. I just didn't have time. I didn't start painting again until I retired in '98 or so. We paint together here in our house.

Joyce: We got to Hilton Head in '86, and Don worked freelance for a few years.

Don: She had been teaching. I kind of joined her and did some two-person workshops. It offers two different points on the same thing. Our technique is different. I've always said she's a painter and I'm a drawer.

Joyce: We still teach together. Sometimes I think people like that we pick on each other. We're trying to make it more relaxed and fun so they don't get uptight about what they're doing.

PAINTING TOGETHER

Don: The secret to being a good critic is ...

Joyce: ... not being too critical (laughs). Say something nice before saying something critical.

Don: Be constructive. Have a comment that is useful, something that can help their work. Also, if I say something bad, I won't get dinner (laughs).

Joyce: What I found in advertising that helps is that you're looking for client approval. You're trying to accommodate them so it opens you up to new things. You keep an open mind if you're getting that kind of feedback.

COMPETITIVE ARTISTS?

Joyce: No. When either Don or I sell a piece, it all goes in the same bank account (laughs).

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