Location: United States
Ultimately as a traditional artist, I'm most comfortable painting or drawing, but my approach toward art emphasizes value in the work process, where means to expression are diverse, and despite the outcome, creativity is an attitude toward life.
I grew up in Alberta, Canada, where three years of formal education led to a home-based business in eastern Ontario, working freelance while my children were young. Along with a variety of on-site work for Interior Designers, commissions included fabric design, illustrations, acrylics paintings, portraits, pet portraits, and customized wall murals for homes and restaurants. Until moving to the U.S. in 2002, volunteer work at schools involved developing educational projects around themes of Art History, multiculturalism, and environmental issues.
Photography is an ongoing interest, influential in my work as inspiration, where I'm guided by the experiences and observations. Changing style is characteristic of my work, as it is mostly dictated by subject matter and the unique challenges presented by each individual piece as it unfolds. I work intuitively and don't really have pre-set, predictable methods, except there is constant concern for negative spaces being as important as the main objects. I'll remove material to create marks, imply structures, backgrounds and spatial movement, using damp cloth and dry brushes on paintings, pottery tool and fingernails with oil pastels, and different sizes of erasers for graphite and soft pastels.
Recently (2020-23) I've been doing large format soft pastels on paper, trying a broad range of subjects and portraying some of the amazing places I've traveled to.
Paintings: acrylics on canvas.
If signatures would impose on or dominate a composition, some paintings are signed on the side.
The square 11H x 11W x 3D inches series can be hung on a wall or placed on a shelf or flat surface.
Paint Arson, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Saint Catherine's Sunset, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Jone's Falls - Ontario, Canada, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Decaying Ceiba Leaves, Costa Rica, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Young Howler Monkey, Dallas World Aquarium studies
11 x 11 x 3 inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
The Majesty of Trees Collection
Neighborhood Heron, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, gallery wrapped sides painted
The Dancing With Trees collection
Chapala Wind (Mexico) 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Bird's Eye, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Sweetgum Pods, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
Kookaburrahs (Queensland, Australia)
11H x 11W x 3D inches
Acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted
First Snow 02, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Goldenrod, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Loosestrife: Beautiful Invasion, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Nimkish Lake, BC Canada, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Forest Spirit, Banff AB Canada, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Fern Song, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas
Dancing With Trees 02, 48H x 48W inches acrylics, varnish and resist medium on canvas
Firewheels, 18H x 24W inch acrylics, with use of masking medium.
Feild of Gaillardia, Coppell, Texas
Dawn at Bell Rock, Arizona – 24H x 18W x 2D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides painted, trim frame.
The Fourth of July 01, orange milkweed in fields of Kentucky, 36H x 48W x 2D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides painted, sturdy custom built stretcher frame.
Sold but a similar piece can be recreated special order. $750.00
Lake Louise, Alberta Canada, 16H x 20W inches acrylics on canvas
First Snow, Calgary AB Canada, 40H x 27W inches acrylics, crackle glaze on canvas and box-frame. Sold but a similar one can be recreated $750.00
Polypore Fungi, 58H x 41W x 2 inches acrylics, modeling paste and plaster on canvas, wrapped sides painted, narrow frame. $750.00
Dancing With Trees 03, 85H x 45W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted, narrow frame
Oil pastels and soft pastel pieces are inspired by travels throughout the United States and Canada, to Mexico, Costa Rica, Australia and Tasmania, Singapore, China and Laos.
Gold In The Mountains (Rocky Mountains, southern Alberta, Canada) - also part of the Paper Places series
With a few exceptions, pieces in the Paper Places series are 14 x 11 inches Oil Pastels on 70 lb cold pressed paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Intuitive response to subject matter reflects the individual character of each piece, so styles are deliberately different.
Changes unfold from concept to finished product, so each piece in this series has undergone its own independent, sometimes dramatic, evolution.
The oil pastels are applied in layers and successively removed, using a pottery tool and good ol' fingernails!
when things are gone
and people passed
and roads and paths
to The Essence.
Please visit www.nikkiartwork.com
Wild Canada - Stony Swamp nature trail, Ottawa,Ontario, Paper Places series, 14 x 11 inches oil pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Eastern White Pine, 18 x 24 inches Oil Pastels on paper, framed 26 x 31.5 (sold)
March Winds, Paper Places series, 14 x 11 inches oil pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Dancing With Trees 01, Paper Places series,14 x 11 inches oil pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Pacific NW Sunset, 18H x 24W inches soft pastels on paper (140 lb cold pressed)
Salt Spring Island Fog, 18H x 24W graphite, soft pastels on paper
Eucalyptus Tree, 14H x 11W oil pastels on paper
Calgary in September, 14H x 11W inches oil pastels on paper
Fairy Lake Sumac, 12H x 16W oil pastels on paper
Cape Bridgewater, Australia, 16H x 20W inches dry pastels on 140 lb. watercolor paper
Cormorants, Moeraki New Zealand, 16H x 20W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolor paper
Great Egrets, Coppell, Texas - 18H x 24W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolor paper
$550.00 double mat, unframed
Goldenrod, late Summer in Southern Alberta, Canada, 14H x 11W inches oil pastels on paper, Paper Places series, 3 inch wide white double mat, 26H x 22W inch white custom wood frame with crackle finish
Scurvy Pea, Grapevine, Texas - 14H x 11W oil pastels on paper
Part of the Paper Places series
Texas Bluebonnets, soft pastels on charcoal paper, off-white mat, 26H x 22W inch white custom wood frame with crackle finish
Moon Over Myrtle - August morning moon at 10:00 a.m., North Carolina, 14H x 11W oil pastels on paper, white double mat, total size 26 x 22 inches white frame with white crackle finish
Redbuds: Springtime in the South, USA - soft pastels on charcoal paper, 11 x 14 inches, framed size 22 x 26 inches
Texas Paintbrush, Grapevine, Texas, 11 x 14 Oil Pastels on paper, white double mat, total size 22 x 26 inches white frame with white crackle finish
Sold but a similar piece can be recreated $350.00
Tennessee Poppies, Hwy 40 northeast - 11H x 14W inches oil pastels on paper
Queenstown Peaks, New Zealand - 18H x 24W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolor paper
Sacred Sunrise, Uluru, Central Australia, 16H x 20W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolorpaper
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon US - 16H x 20W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolor paper
The Moor Klein Bylaer, Holland - 16H x 20W inches soft pastels on 140 lb watercolor paper
Thunderbird Park Totems, Victoria BC Canada - 18H x 24W inches soft pastels on watercolor paper
Coconut Palm, Costa Rica, 14H x 11W inches oil pastels, white 3 inch wide double mat, 22H x 26W inch white frame with white crackle finish
Silent Witness, Juniper at Grand Canyon, Arizona, 14H x 11W inches oil pastels on paper, Paper Places series, 3 inch wide white double mat, 26H x 22W inch white custom wood frame with crackle finish
Galahs in Traffic, South Australia 14H x 11W inches oil pastels on paper, Paper Places series, 3 inch wide white double mat, 26H x 22W inch white custom wood frame with crackle finish
Lake Cote Forest Reserve, Costa Rica, 14H x 11W inches oil pastels on paper, Paper Places series, 3 inch wide white double mat, 26H x 22W inch white custom wood frame with crackle finish
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia, 11 x 14 Oil Pastels on paper, white double mat, total size 22 x 26 inches white frame with white crackle finish
Portrait of Alzheimer's: A heart filled to the brim
40H x 60W x 3D inches graphite and acrylics on canvas
My Grandmother, my Mom and my Mother-in-law all were afflicted with this devastating condition.
The excerpt from Paul Simon's song, "I Don't Believe" on the album "Surprise" describes a belief that those who were such beautiful people in our lives are still with us in some form:
...I don't believe
a heart can be filled to the brim
then vanish like mist
as though life were a whim...
Adam, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Adrian, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Evelyn, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Andra, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Lucas,11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Joseph, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Renee, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper
Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) coined the term “Ready-mades” by exhibiting ordinary objects as art forms. Though he might have preferred that we be appalled by his signing of ordinary unattractive products like the urinal or a bicycle tire, we end up reconsidering the beauty of Design. His generation of artists advocated the obscure notion of “Art imitating Life”. The entire process of creating these chairs – rather, re-creating - pays tribute to all Art and artifacts ever created. The chair designs were chosen over a period of extensive research and a life-long fascination with art history, prehistoric cultures, and the objects they made.
Each chair utilizes the 29H x 29W x 29D inch structure of discarded vintage plastic lawn chairs. They were purchased at a second-hand store before realizing their value as original “Solaire chairs” designed by a French Canadian team, Fabiano and Panzini. They were completely unfashionable during the 1990’s, but I remembered their intriguing design as lawn furniture back in the early 1970’s, and how comfortable they were. A nostalgic vision to refurbish them came to mind, half-thinking that they could be thrown away if I couldn’t figure out a way to re-salvage them.
Two were non-functional with cracked plastic and large gaps. like a lot of artwork, the finished products did not materialize for many years. About ten years would pass before having enough time to start projects that were not work-orders. Two more chairs were purchased after moving to Texas, where despite my husband’s protests, I insisted on moving the first two along with the rest of our belongings. The down-side about the design of these chairs is that they can't be stacked, they take up a good deal of space, and are awkward to carry. However, items like this, with so much potential, are worth every inconvenience!
After weaving strips of canvas across the damaged areas and layering more of the fabric with white glue in a paper mache fashion, thin layers of plaster were gradually applied, allowed time to cure, then sanded in between coats. Each chair design is finalized as sketches on paper then drawn freehand on the dried plaster surface with graphite and/or marker then painted with acrylics. 3 out of 4 chairs involve some carving, with successive chairs each more elaborate than the one before. All are finished with coats of varnish and an application of wax for durability and to enrich the colors. As key pieces in the the Dancing With Trees Art Exhibition collection, the first four chairs relay fairly abstract concepts regarding the importance of trees, particularly with reference to myths, legends, other historic aspects, and cultural significance. The chairs are truly one-of-a-kind, completely functional, and are the ideal place to portray historic art themes and ancient artifacts.
In addition to the five finished chairs listed here, three more are in progress. One is a large replica of a Peruvian Moche culture turquoise and gold earring/ear plug. The second interprets a favorite iconic Hindu culture sculpture, the very graceful Lord of the Dance, Shiva as Nataraj. The third chair has been going through various transformations, first with a Zen Garden theme which changed to a Bigleaf Maple leaf over pebble. It is still going through transformations at this point, so plans are to create a large beautiful orange lily ...we will see what happens! The chairs all need curing time, so while one is worked on the others dry.
The Mayan Bowl Replica Chair: The Birth of the Maize God, 29H x 29W x 29D inches up-cycled vintage chair base, woven canvas strips, layers of plaster gradually cured, sanded and sometimes carved. Painted with acrylics, varnish, and waxed to enhance colors. Functional art, comfortable, durable
Mayan society was based on an intricate system of faith in a multitude of Gods. It was expected that perfect growing conditions for crops would be granted in exchange for human sacrifice. There is speculation that cultural decline is attributed to a string of self-inflicted and circumstantial environmental catastrophes. The loss of forests due to over-extended usage, weather, floods, volcanic eruptions and other natural phenomena, and the resulting deterioration of habitats caused and a loss of the faith, population displacements, decline and eventual extinction.
Great civilizations have come and gone. This chair is included in the Dancing With Trees collection with the statement that as modern society consumes, enjoys and depends upon Earth’s resources, we are as vulnerable to the very same consequences for our actions, and a flux of unpredictable cosmic events. Rather than spreading fear about predictions for our future, we only ought to heed the facts and reevaluate the purpose of our activities as one civilized planet.
The original Mayan bowl’s design dates back to the Late Classic Period of Mayan history, 600 - 900 A.D. Common Era. The central portion portrays two Water Gods witnessing the birth of the omnipotent Maize God who immerges from a turtle, symbol of the earth, all floating in the “primordial soup”. Customarily, hieroglyphs written along the top rim reveal the owner's name and what the bowl was used for.
Inspirational resource: Maya, Divine Kings of the Rainforest edited by Nikolai Grube ISBN 3-8290-4150
The Cycad Leaf Fossil Chair, 29H x 29W x 29D inches, is thicker and heavier than most of the chairs, with extensive carving details in the plaster emphasizing its unique character. The front of the chair is a rendition of the fossil of a Cycad leaf from the first species of palm-like trees that grew about 50 million years ago. The original Cycad leaf fossil was discovered in a Wyoming riverbed.
The circumference on the back of this chair has an informal mosaic embedded with authentic fossils of an extinct clam and pebbles. The extinct genus of shells called Myalina are estimated to be 345 - 225 - million years old, and were found in a playground in the Dallas, Texas area.
Completing the back of the chair, the surface is textured along with patterns of the bark and leaf scars of a fossilized Paleozoic Lepidodendron. The first trees on Earth were actually leafless; nothing more than woody stems standing in and absorbing nutrients from water. Lepidodendron were a primitive species of the very first trees on earth, reaching heights of 130 feet (40 m) tall, with leaves that grew flat directly along the bark around 400 million years ago.
The design on the Tree of Life Chair incorporates a few ancient, cross-cultural esoteric symbols for beliefs that still hold meaning for many of us today. The Tree of Life, a widespread mythical idea with branches and roots representing, among other things, the philosophy of “As above, So below”. Symbolic of longevity, and central to the design is the Japanese character Shou, very much resembling, and possibly originating from the shape of a tree. Stylized branches, roots and cones of the Pine, also symbolic of longevity in Japan, are interwoven in the classic Celtic style. I was also inspired by the ornate work of illuminated gospel manuscripts in “The Book of Kells”, illustrated by Irish monks around the year 800 A.D., Common Era.
Snakes are well-known as having similar religious or mystical connotations in many cultures, and two resemblances are drawn around the circumference of the chair in a familiar Yin-Yang placement. Australian Indigenous legends regard the Rainbow Snake as the most important sacred symbol; believed to be the creator of all things. Christian biblical literature advocates that the snake that offers the apple from the Tree of Knowledge to Eve. There are subtler symbolic references here as well, starting with the overall circular shape of the chair itself, and the repetition echoing within. The circle is another universal symbol, a common shape seen in nature and nature’s effects, suggesting Life’s recurring cycles, unending unity and a sense of completeness.
I played with various color combinations, painting the Celtic design over and over, also carving it out in areas and trying to make it look like ivory inlay, until finally deciding it looked best as aged Sienna colored wood. I felt the carving outline wasn't suitable, so drywall compound was reapplied, it dried, was redrawn and repainted. Colors from those previous layers add to the depth of the antique finish.
Cultures across the world throughout time have used trees and their byproducts for homes, clothing, foods, medicines, transportation, furniture, tools, as aids to construction, and more. We generally still continue with ancient traditions of beautifying utensils and everyday objects with designs that correlate to the use thereof, or simply to be aesthetically pleasing.
A whorl is the base on which a spindle twirls as it receives the yarn as it’s created. Spinning yarn and weaving fabric comprise some of our oldest known technology. The design carved on the original wooden whorl shows a central human figure holding two otters, animals that are still prevalent and adored in that area. It was found near Vancouver Island, Canada, believed to have been used by the early indigenous Salish women while spinning yarn for blankets and clothing. It’s notable that fabric was also created by chewing and refining the fibers of bark sectioned from Cedar trees.
Also native to Vancouver Island territory, a Kwakiutl prayer to a Cedar tree reads: “Look at me friend! I come to ask you for your dress, since there is nothing you cannot be used for. I come to beg you for this, Long-life maker”.
Symbolism and Significance of Chrysanthemums
With a history that dates back to 15th century B.C., first cultivated in China, where it is symbolic of honesty. In Egypt, Tutankhamen was reportedly buried with chrysanthemums. The plant is thought to have been introduced in Japan by Buddhist monks around the fifth century. Initially forbidden to grow except by nobility, the chrysanthemum is now a showy garden perennial common in gardens the world over, in a vast array of cultivars, shapes and sizes, with colors ranging in shades of purple, pink, red, white, yellows and greens.
In terms of design, the mandala formation demonstrates unfurling petals spiraling outward in succession from the center, like fireworks. is easy to see why chrysanthemums symbolize optimism and joy. Certain species of the plants are edible and contain medicinal properties. Leaves and roots can be cooked, used mainly in Asian dishes, and flower petals are boiled to make tea. Extracts of the plant, pyrethrins, are processed and preferred as an earth-friendly, biodegradable commercial insecticide. The floral industry thrives on the notion that every flower has unique characteristics. For example, the chrysanthemum is the November birth flower and also appointed to the 13th wedding anniversary.
Refining my watercolors skills with landscapes, birds and flowers. Detail images and more art forms are on nikkiartwork blog posts.
Kaniksu National Forest, Idaho - 14 x 20 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press
Clearcut, Tillimook OR - 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press
Oystercatchers, 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press
Multnomah Falls, Oregon – 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press premium
Ferny Gestures, 14 x 20 inches watercolors on 140 lb. cold pressed
North Saanich Poppies, BC Canada, 16 x 20 inches W/C on 140 lb. cold pressed premium
Bigleaf Maple, 12H x 14 watercolors on paper
Winter Forest: Dogwood, 12H x 14W watercolors on paper (140 cold pressed)
Stellar's Jays (Vancouver Island Canada), 18H x 24W inches watercolors on paper
Angel's Trumpet (San Antonio TX), 15H x 22W watercolors on paper (140 lb cold pressed)
At the Alamo, 15H x 22W watercolors on paper (140 lb cold pressed)
The Fourth of July 02 (Orange Milkweed, Kentucky) 15H x 22W watercolors on paper (140 lb cold pressed)
Birch Abstract, 9H x 12W watercolors on paper (140 lb cold pressed)
Mossy Melody, 14H x 20W inches watercolors on paper
The Campsite, Maine USA, 15H x 22W inches watercolors on 140 lb. acid free cold pressed premium, professionally framed with brass title plate, 22H x 28W inches total size. $750.00
Expressive semi-impressionist and traditional style drawings of various subjects in soft pastels on 140 lb. cold pressed and 90 lb. watercolor papers. Inspired by travels. Some are 16 x 20", but most are 18H x 24W inches, and framed size 27H x33W"