Alameda artist Nancy Seamons Crookston, a designated Oil Painters of America Master and one of the most widely recognized artists in the nation, died on Friday, November 17, from complications of shoulder surgery. She was 74, a week away from her Thanksgiving Day birthday.
According to a KTVU News report written by Crookston’s daughter Sara Sedillo, the artist had been walking with friends on her way home from breakfast when she tripped over a bump in the sidewalk, fell, and broke her right shoulder—her painting arm. The artist had surgery to repair the bone and was healing well.
“I’m doing great,” Crookston told her daughter eight days after surgery. “You don’t need to worry about me at all.”
A few hours later, a postoperative blood clot moved to Crookston’s lung. She died “suddenly and unexpectedly,” according to the family’s announcement on Crookston’s Facebook page. “We are beyond shocked and devastated.”
More than 500 people expressed their shock and sadness in comments on that Facebook post.
“I’m so sad to hear this news,” Lisa wrote. “I loved seeing Nancy’s cafe and street sketches, the paintings of girls by the beach, and all her other beautiful paintings.”
Lori wrote: “Many years ago, when I bought my first house, I bought a piece of her artwork and loved looking through her new works. Her art spoke to me like no other.”
Beth added, “I’m still in complete shock. Nancy was so full of life. I loved following her on Facebook with her daily doodles. I am blessed to have a few of her priceless paintings hanging in my home.”
The heartfelt expressions of shock, sadness, and love for Nancy Crookston tell a story of a life lived beautifully and shared generously.
Keri summed it up: “Like thousands upon thousands of people, I felt so loved by Nancy. The world was her playground, and she has loved ones all over it. …Nancy’s connected investment and unconditional love for [her family] and for people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life has always been clearly communicated through her drawings, sketches, and paintings, and even more obvious in her presence. In one sense her eyes passionately danced; in another sense her eyes were serene, still, and locked in whenever someone shared their story with her, as if she could hear with her eyes. I’m imagining how much her family will miss these trademarks and her contagious joy.”
Crookston was known all over Alameda—and in Utah, her birth state. She had more friends than she could count. She was a permanent fixture at Ole’s Waffle Shop, where employees put a small gold plaque at the table where she used to sit with her husband and sketch.
Nancy Seamons Crookston was preceded in death by her parents, Rendell and Rhonda Seamons. Continuing forward are her husband Garr Crookston and their five children: Amelia, Jesse, Sara, Raymond, and Maxwell; nine grandchildren (Taylor, Mary, Elizabeth, Samuel, Margaret, Ethan, Cooper, Lucy, Simon); nine great-grandchildren; her brother Jay, sister Renee, and brother Clayton.
The family plans to hold a celebration of Nancy Crookston’s life and will share details on her Facebook page. Crookston will be honored with a California Art Club signature member designation posthumously, and a memorial account has been established in her name for anyone wishing to donate and carry on her legacy: Nancy S. Crookston OPAM Memorial Contributions.