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South Park artist putting down roots with 'Nature Art'

Nancy Neel uses tree roots, dried plants and even weeds to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

SAN DIEGO — It's never too late to find your calling in life. In this Zevely Zone, I met a San Diego artist who is a force of nature. 

Nancy Neel is an artist who says if nature is all around us then so is art. We found her playing her guitar singing to her backyard buddies. "That is Skating Man right there," said Nancy pointing to a creature made out of a large tree root. Nancy makes her friends out of dried Aloe, Eucalyptus bark and weeds pulled out of the earth.

Armed with a can of spray paint, brown roots from a dead plant instantly become colorful hair.

Credit: CBS 8

What used to be a four-by-four piece of wood became art. "Now it is Raphael. We'll call him Raphael," said Nancy. "This is my outdoor studio." Nancy told me she had 400 unfinished projects and if you visit her home, you will believe her. Every time Nancy goes for a nature walk, her work follows her home.

Credit: CBS 8

She makes art out of sticks, bamboo, and pumpkins too. "This is the top of a pumpkin," said Nancy. She took Woody from Toy Story and created boots for him out of a pumpkin stem. "Because they just looked like boots to me. There was no doubt when I saw it," said Nancy.  

Credit: CBS 8

RELATED: Sun art created by San Marcos artist featured by CBS Sunday morning

Another dead plant was given new life as Annie Oakley. "When I set her down like this, I saw a boot coming down and Yee haw!" said Nancy who then took me over to her power saw. "Pulling out the power tools," said Nancy. Because I'm a reporter, Nancy decided to make one out of a board and a cut up can. "You see what's going on, do you?" asked Nancy. "Life is art, live yours in color."

Credit: CBS 8

RELATED: Park visitors 'stumped' by mysterious tree art in Chollas Lake Park

Nancy was a full-time teacher for thirty years. The best part of education for her? "Honestly the paycheck, ha, ha no just kidding," laughed Nancy. She never knew it until she retired, but she was born to be an artist. "It feels good to be creating something," said Nancy. "I guess that is what I wanted to do with my life." She discovered her purpose through repurpose and planted it right here in South Park putting down roots. "Looks like I might be," said Nancy.  

Nancy doesn't sell her art. She says every piece makes her happy and she has a lot of work to do.

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