Twenty years ago, Nicholas Coley found himself studying at a small school in the south of France learning the fundamentals of plein air painting. Now, living in the urban San Francisco Bay Area, he continues to utilize the same technique of painting outside, though his current environment is somewhat different than the idyllic hills of Aix-en-Provence. Nicholas often incorporates city elements such as vehicles and asphalt roads into his landscapes. “I experiment with less conventional dynamics to arrange the urban and natural environments,” says Nicholas. “If you love nature enough, you will see it even here, in our urban world.”
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About The Artist
Coming home to the states and studying art was an ambiguous affair, where pluralism and general creativity replaced the achievements of a rooted tradition. Influences such as Wolf Kahn and other Bay Area figures allowed color theory to take a back seat to a generally looser love of all color and made more of a proclamation with bold brushwork and gestural lines. I looked for compositions with energy and tried to impress the immediacy and rush of painting beside major thoroughfares and in parking lots.
More recently the matter of composition has played a prevalent role in my work, as I experiment with less conventional dynamics to arrange the urban and natural environments. For example, in my Market & Pearl Street series, I use the empty asphalt of the street to create a sparse and uncluttered majority of the canvas and forcing detail and subject matter to the periphery. Along the edge I use the darkened, unresolved negative space of a row of cars as its own color field, creating reductive and raw elements of form and a chance to interpret color as broad fields which unifies for a spontaneous, perceptual painting as one might see if blinded by sun.
I see no end to the possibilities of painting out in the world. Just stand there long enough until the light shimmers off the pavement, or until you see the comforting pattern of parking meters, the side view mirrors, the shadows under cars. If you love nature enough, you will see it even here, in our urban world.