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Artist
Tara Zalewsky-Nease Monroeville, Pennsylvania

Tara Zalewsky-Nease draws on the soul of the desert to create her impressionist landscape paintings. While earning her Masters in Fine Art Painting at the University of New Mexico, she experienced the magical energy of the expansive panoramas and the timeless geography of the southwest. She hiked, journaled and captured reference photography during her time there, as well as during her trips to the Pacific Northwest, France and Japan. Two common motifs in her works are hummingbirds, which are totems of good luck, and foxes, which allude to her young son. Tara has had solo exhibitions in Sante Fe, Albuquerque and Taos. She currently lives in Sewickley, PA where she shares a studio with her mother, who is also a painter and fiber artist. When she is not creating art, she teaches art classes at several universities and also enjoys playing the piano, spending time with her pets and family and acting in several community productions.

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    About The Artist

    Tara Zalewsky-Nease draws on the soul of the desert to create her impressionist landscape paintings. While earning her Masters in Fine Art Painting at the University of New Mexico, she experienced the magical energy of the expansive panoramas and the timeless geography of the southwest. She hiked, journaled and captured reference photography during her time there, as well as during her trips to the Pacific Northwest, France and Japan. Two common motifs in her works are hummingbirds, which are totems of good luck, and foxes, which allude to her young son. Tara has had solo exhibitions in Sante Fe, Albuquerque and Taos. She currently lives in Sewickley, PA where she shares a studio with her mother, who is also a painter and fiber artist. When she is not creating art, she teaches art classes at several universities and also enjoys playing the piano, spending time with her pets and family and acting in several community productions.

    Artist Statement

    In New Mexico, I learned to paint. I traveled there for graduate school, but it wasn’t so much the classroom that taught me to hone my artistic skills, but rather the landscape. The Cadmium red of the rocky ground, intense Cobalt of the sky and pungency of the dusty sage became my palette. My en plein air painting was more than just a record of what I saw in front of me, on the long tenting trips spent backpacking and painting in the desert landscape, but a journal, a meditation on the heat, the overwhelming expanse and the almost painful beauty of being in an environment that existed long before me, and would remain long after I am gone.

    I learned the importance of a single brushstroke applied with speed, intuition, and precision to capture a brief moment of light, or imply wind or heat, and juxtaposed intense colors with immediacy, letting them optically blend on the canvas, a technique which continues to be the cornerstone of my oil painting.

    Although I have since moved from New Mexico back to the East Coast, I brought the soul of the desert landscape with me. Whether I’m working outdoors, or referencing photos in my studio, I rely on the magic of gesture, and the hues of thick paint to convey a sense of atmosphere and place in my work.

    Like the Old Master Whistler, who signed his paintings with a butterfly, I enjoy slipping in foxes and hummingbirds into my paintings, as these animals have become my personal iconography. I painted hummingbirds in New Mexico, after reading that they were harbingers of good luck in Southwestern lore. Hummingbirds continue to find their way into my paintings, along with foxes. After my son was born, I felt a little fox symbolized his sweet and troublemaking nature, hence the frequent foxes hiding in the thicket of my brushstrokes, or dreaming alongside painted waterfalls.

    Currently I’m incorporating collage techniques in some of my paintings, balancing thick brushwork with the swirl of marbleized paper, or golden patterns. I hope you enjoy viewing my work as much as I enjoy painting it!

    Artist Background

    The University of New Mexico
    Master of Fine Arts, 2006

    Kent State University

    Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2003

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