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Posts Tagged ‘Dale Nichols’

I wrote about late artist Dale Nichols (1910-1995) a few years back after being completely charmed by his paintings of snowy scenes from his home state of Nebraska. In that blog entry I mentioned that there wasn’t a huge amount of info on the artist. The only book was a book that accompanied a show of his work from back in 2011 at a small but not unimportant museum, the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, in his hometown of David City, Nebraska. I was shocked to find that this book was selling for $458 on Amazon which is a testament to the lack of literature on this wonderful artist. Happily, I found a copy at a normal price at the museum’s online gift shop.

I came across a nice short called The Forgotten Artist from Nebraska public television that features Nichols’ work and the Bone Creek Museum. It is a charming look at his work and the relationship he had with his niece. I thought I’d rerun the article I ran earlier along with the video. Maybe it will help make Dale Nichols a little less forgotten.

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Dale Nichols- Company for SupperMost likely prompted by the recent weather here as well as a desire to try a slight change of palette, I have been doing a small group of snow paintings recently.  I thought I would look at several other artists, especially those with a distinct personal style,  to see how they handle snow in their work.  One of the artists whose snow works really stuck out  was Dale Nichols, who was born in Nebraska in 1904 and died in Sedona, AZ in 1995.  He is considered one of the American Regionalists,  that loosely defined group of painters whose work  for which I have long expressed my admiration.

Dale Nichols- After the Blizzard 1967His biography is a bit sparse with but Nichols lived a long and productive life, serving as an illustrator, a  college professor and the Art Editor of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  He also spent a lot of time in Guatemala which resulted in a group of work with Meso-American forms that is quite different from his Regionalist work.

But Nichols is primarily known for his rural snow scenes and it’s easy to see why.  The colors are pure and vivid.  The snow, put on in multiple glazed layers with watercolor brushes has a luminous beauty.  The stylized treatment of the crowns of the bare trees adds a new geometry to the paintings.   There is a pleasant warmth, a nostalgic and slightly sentimental glow, to this work even though they are scenes that depict frigid winters on the plains of Nebraska.  Free of all angst, they’re just plain and simple gems.

You can see a bit more of Dale Nichols other work on a site  devoted to him by clicking here.

Dale Nichols- The SentinelDale Nichols- Silent Morning 1972Dale Nichols- Mail Delivery 1950Dale Nichols- Bringing Home the Tree

 

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GC Myers-2014

I am still taking in this new painting, an 18″ by 18″ piece on canvas that remains unnamed as I ponder it a  bit more.  It is, at first glimpse, a snow painting.  At least, it was intended to be so.  For me, there is something quite challenging in presenting this surface that translates as pristine but, in fact, is far from it, having multiple layers of color beneath it which show through at points.  The edges show a glow of red oxide and violet, giving it a warmth that belies the coolness of the white blanket.  It’s a departure from the snow of Dale Nichols‘  paintings that I showed here yesterday, which is pure and luminous.

The thing that I have found with using the white of the snow is that it really displays the lines of the forms underneath.  The lines of  landscape in the foreground here, for example, really pop off the surface.  This could be a bad thing if they don’t have an organic sense of rightness,  that vague and elusive quality to which I often refer.  I think this piece has it.

While looking at this painting this morning, I began to ask myself, “What if that isn’t snow?”  This change of perspective gave the piece a very different reading , one that I hadn’t thought of when it was being painted but one that might pass through the mind of some folks.  What if this is some desolate post-apocalyptic landscape, devoid of  vegetation and covered in ash and dust?  The ravaged  landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road immediately came to mind.  The painting suddenly took on a different feel but it still felt warm and even jubilant in a way.  As though the Red Tree,  fatigued at the end of that dark ribbon of road, had finally met the warm gaze of the sun that burned through the hazy sky.  The Red Tree was still standing despite the desolation around it and was rejuvenated, lifted up, by the sun’s energy.

It brought to mind the poem Strange Victory from the late Sara Teasdale, a poem that I have featured here in the past.  It is one of my favorite poems and expresses the contrast that I often try to impart in my work.  I think it fits this reading of this painting very well.

 Strange Victory

To this, to this, after my hope was lost,

To this strange victory;

To find you with the living, not the dead,

To find you glad of me;

To find you wounded even less than I,

Moving as I across the stricken plain;

After the battle to have found your voice

Lifted above the slain.

Sara Teasdale

Funny how a simple shift in perception  can alter the whole meaning of a piece.  It was originally meant as snow and will probably remain so .  But for the moment I find myself asking:  Is it snow?

 

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Dale Nichols-  Company for SupperMost likely prompted by the recent weather here as well as a desire to try a slight change of palette, I have been doing a small group of snow paintings recently.  I thought I would look at several other artists, especially those with a idstinct personal style,  to see how they handle snow in their work.  One of the artists whose snow works really stuck out  was Dale Nichols, who was born in Nebraska in 1904 and died in Sedona, AZ in 1995.  He is considered one of the American Regionalists,  that loosely defined group of painters whose work  for which I have long expressed my admiration.  

Dale Nichols- After the Blizzard 1967His biography is a bit sparse with but Nichols lived a long and productive life, serving as an illustrator, a  college professor and the Art Editor of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  He also spent a lot of time in Guatemala which resulted in a group of work with Meso-American forms that is quite different from his Regionalist work.  

But Nichols is primarily known for his rural snow scenes and it’s easy to see why.  The colors are pure and vivid.  The snow, put on in multiple glazed layers with watercolor brushes has a luminous beauty.  The stylized treatment of the crowns of the bare trees adds a new geometry to the paintings.   There is a pleasant warmth, a nostalgic and slightly sentimental glow, to this work even though they are scenes that depict frigid winters on the plains of Nebraska.  free of all angst, they’re just plain and simple gems.

You can see a bit more of Dale Nichols other work on a site  devoted to him by clicking here.

Dale Nichols- The Sentinel Dale Nichols- Silent Morning  1972 Dale Nichols- Mail Delivery  1950 Dale Nichols-  Bringing Home the Tree

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