Nikki Coulombe

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. Ultimately as a traditional artist, I'm most comfortable painting or drawing.

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I grew up in Alberta, Canada, where three years of formal education led to a home-based business in eastern Ontario, starting with the unanticipated success of Earthbags, and working freelance while my two boys were young. Artwork involved illustration, acrylics paintings, people and pet portraits, custom designed wall murals, fabric design, including a variety of on-site work for Interior Designers and their associates, where limited budgets and deadlines extended my creative edge and capacity for improvisation.
Until moving to Texas, U.S.A. in 2002, volunteer work at schools included developing educational projects around themes of Art History, multiculturalism, and environmental issues. In Texas, creating an entirely new body of work, mostly paintings, I participated in gallery exhibitions and competitions, honored with the title of Artist of the Year in 2009 by the Visual Arts Society of Texas -- VAST, Denton, TX.
Now living in the Portland, Oregon area, I accept freelance work and commissions for paintings.


Portfolio:

Plants and Flowers

This portfolio: plants and flowers.

The Fourth of July “The Fourth of July”

The Fourth of July, Orange Milkweed growing alonside a highway in Kentucky, USA, 40L x 60W x 3D inches, acrylics on canvas (sold)

Firewheels “Firewheels”

Firewheels, 18 x 24 Acrylics, with use of masking medium to keep colors pure and bright
Feild of Gaillardia, "Firewheels", in Andrew Brown Jr. Park, Coppell, Texas

Goldenrod (Alberta, Canada) “Goldenrod (Alberta, Canada)”

Goldenrod (Alberta, Canada), 14 x 11 inches Oil Pastels on 70 lb cold press paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Part of the Paper Places series

Scurvy Pea “Scurvy Pea”

Scurvy Pea (Grapevine, Texas, USA) 14 x 11 Oil Pastels
Part of the Paper Places series

Tennessee Poppies “Tennessee Poppies”

Tennessee Poppies (Hwy 40, Tennessee, USA), 14 x 11 inches Oil Pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Part of the Paper Places series

Texas Paintbrush “Texas Paintbrush ”

Texas Paintbrush (Dallas, TX, USA), 14 x 11 inches Oil Pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches (sold), part of the pieces in the Paper Places series.

Bearded Iris “Bearded Iris”

Bearded Iris
36H x 18W inches Acrylics on canvas

Chrysanthemums “Chrysanthemums”

Chrysanthemums, 85H x 45W x 3D inches
Graphite, charcoal and dry pastels and primer on 100% cotton

Bluebonnets “Bluebonnets”

Bluebonnets
9 x 11 inches Dry pastels on charcoal paper

Orange Milkweed “Orange Milkweed”

Orange Milkweed
25H 36W inches Watercolors on 80lb cold pressed WC paper

Flowering Eucalypt “Flowering Eucalypt”

Flowering Eucalypt, Kagaroo Island, South Australia
16 x 20 inches acrylics on canvas

Fern Song “Fern Song”

Fern Song, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas

Dahlias “Dahlias”

Dahlias, 22H x 28W inches, modeling paste and oil pastel on canvas board

Wild Rhododendrons “Wild Rhododendrons”

Mt. Walker, Washington - wild Rhododendrons, 22W x 15H inches WC on 140 lb cold pressed premium

North Saanich Poppies “North Saanich Poppies”

North Saanich Poppies, BC Canada - 16 x 20 inches W/C on 140 lb. cold pressed premium

Goldenrod “Goldenrod”

12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas

The Magic Square Collection

All paintings in this collection are 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted. With sturdy, 3-inch deep frames, they can be wall-hung or displayed on a shelf.
If signatures would impose on or dominate a composition, some paintings are signed on the side. In these cases, images of the artwork may show a digitally superimposed signature.

Paint Arson “Paint Arson”

Paint Arson, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Saint Catherine's Sunset “Saint Catherine's Sunset”

Saint Catherine's Sunset, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Jone's Falls “Jone's Falls”

Jone's Falls - Ontario, Canada, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Decaying Ceiba Leaves, Costa Rica “Decaying Ceiba Leaves, Costa Rica”

Decaying Ceiba Leaves, Costa Rica, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Eastern Redbud in Bloom “Eastern Redbud in Bloom”

Eastern Redbud in Bloom, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Young Howler Monkey “Young Howler Monkey”

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 “Neighborhood Heron”

Neighborhood Heron, 11H x 11W x 3D inches, gallery wrapped sides painted
The Dancing With Trees collection

Jack Pine “Jack Pine”

Jack Pine - Banff, Alberta, Canada, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Chapala Wind “Chapala Wind”

Chapala Wind (Mexico) 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Bird's Eye “Bird's Eye”

Bird's Eye, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Sweetgum Pods “Sweetgum Pods”

Sweetgum Pods, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

Kookaburrahs “Kookaburrahs”

Kookaburrahs (Queensland, Australia)
11H x 11W x 3D inches
Acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted

The Dancing With Trees exhibition collection

Photography, paintings in acrylics, an oil pastels series, watercolors, and mixed media pieces are inspired by travels throughout the United States and Canada, to Mexico, Costa Rica, Australia, Singapore and China. For a comprehensive view of the scope of this exhibition, a website functions as the foundation where all related concepts are organized, both abstract and literal. Photography is compiled into sets, and the art is available to purchase online.

Life on this planet ultimately depends on the existence of trees. While the message is urgent, I consider humanity's role on the planet as positive, with the statement that creativity is our greatest asset, stressing that “Our carbon footprint is worthy”. Further, creative thinking is our most primal, yet highly advanced and ever-evolving contribution toward solutions to healing wrongs done, and changing ingrained habits to ones that are more appreciative of the environment in general.

The "Dancing With Trees" exhibition, formerly named "The Majesty of Trees" premiered at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina in June, 2009 and May 1st through June 30th, 2010, 23 paintings were on exhibit in the Steinhauer Trust Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

Gold In The Mountains “Gold In The Mountains”

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!

It remains
when things are gone
and people passed
and roads and paths
and places

we belong
to The Essence.

(Nikki 2006)
Please visit www.nikkiartwork.com
www.majestyoftrees.com

Northern Delight 02 “Northern Delight 02”

Northern Delight 02 - Birch trees, B.C., Canada, 25L x 36W inches acrylics on canvas, adhered to a 36H x 48W x 1D inches canvas. Mask/resist medium was used to maintain white spaces and pure colors in both sections.

The central painting was started in 2006, with the framing resolved in 2008, a perfect example where some paintings just need to hang around for a while before they are well and truly finished. The scene of the central painting is extended onto the larger canvas, initially intended to have the same style, but stopping for a coffee break then coming back with fresh eyes, decided I actually like the clash of styles. I always say that art is the best place to exhibit any rebellious tendencies! Besides, formal frames can sometimes cut off the energy of a composition too abruptly. Every painting does not need a frame, but finishing the edges should always be considered.

Northern Delights 01 “Northern Delights 01”

Northern Delights 01, mainly graphite on paper, 14 x 11 inches oil pastels, framed size 26 x 22 inches.
Part of the Paper Places series

Wild Canada “Wild Canada”

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 “Eastern White Pine”

Eastern White Pine, 18 x 24 inches Oil Pastels on paper, framed 26 x 31.5 (sold)

First Snow “First Snow”

First Snow, 36H 24W x 2D inches acrylics and resist medium on canvas, box frame (sold)

Cardinal “Cardinal”

Cardinal
24 x 24 inches acrylics on canvas

The Campsite “The Campsite”

The Campsite
12H x 24W inches watercolors on 80 lb cold pressed paper, professionally framed with dark cherry wood and title plate, finished size 24 x 30 inches

March Winds “March Winds”

March Winds, Paper Places series, 14 x 11 inches oil pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.

Dancing With Trees 01 “Dancing With Trees 01”

Dancing With Trees 01, Paper Places series,14 x 11 inches oil pastels on paper, framed size 26 x 22 inches.

Dancing With Trees 02 “Dancing With Trees 02”

Dancing With Trees 02, 48 x 48 inches acryllcs, varnish and resist medium on canvas

Dancing With Trees 03 “Dancing With Trees 03”

Dancing With Trees 03
85H x 45W x 3D inches
Acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted, narrow frame

White Pine Bows “White Pine Bows”

White Pine Bows
20 x 34 x 1.5 inches acrylics on canvas (sold)

Eastern Redbuds “Eastern Redbuds”

Eastern Redbuds
11H x 14W Dry Pastels on Charcoal paper
Part of the Paper Places series.

Dawn at Bell Rock “Dawn at Bell Rock”

Dawn at Bell Rock (Arizona, USA), 24H x 18W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas

Norway Maple “Norway Maple”

Norway Maple, 40L x 60W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas

Rocky Mountain Vista “Rocky Mountain Vista”

Rocky Mountain Vista, 36H x 18W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas (sold)

Clearcut “Clearcut”

Clearcut - Tillimook, Oregon - 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press

Diamond Lake, Oregon - night light study “Diamond Lake, Oregon - night light study”

Diamond Lake, Oregon - night light study - 14H x 20W inches watercolor on 140 lb cold pressed

Kaniksu National Forest “Kaniksu National Forest”

Kaniksu National Forest, Idaho - 14 x 20 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press

First Snow 02 “First Snow 02”

First Snow 02, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas

Hypnoflakes “Hypnoflakes”

Hypnoflakes, 12 x 12 inches acrylics on canvas

Japanese Maple “Japanese Maple”

Japanese Maple, 20W x 15H inches watercolors on 140 lb. cold pressed premium

Polypore Fungi “Polypore Fungi”

Polypore Fungi, 59L x 40W x 2D inches, acylics and modeling paste on canvas. The fungi on the lower portion of the tree are sculpted in 3D.

Change “Change”

12 x 12 inches acrylics, crackle medium on canvas

Portraits

Various media paintings, graphite illustrations

Portrait of Alzheimer's “Portrait of Alzheimer's”

Portrait of Alzheimer's: A heart filled to the brim
40H x 60W x 3D inches graphite and acrylics on canvas
Exerpt from Paul Simon's song, "I don't believe" on the album, "Surprise":
...I don't believe
a heart can be filled to the brim
then vanish like mist
as though life were a whim...

Adam “Adam”

Adam, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Adrian “Adrian”

Adrian, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Evelyn “Evelyn”

Evelyn, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Andra “Andra”

Andra, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Lucas “Lucas”

Lucas,11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Joseph “Joseph”

Joseph, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Renee “Renee”

Renee, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Brittany “Brittany”

Brittany, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Alexander “Alexander”

Alexander, 11 x 14 inches graphite on paper

Chairs Series

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.

Mayan Bowl Replica Chair “Mayan Bowl Replica Chair”

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

Cycad Leaf Fossil Chair “Cycad Leaf Fossil Chair”

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 Tree of Life Chair “The Tree of Life Chair”

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.

Salish Spindle-Whorl Replica “Salish Spindle-Whorl Replica”

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”.

Chrysanthemums Chair “Chrysanthemums Chair”

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.

Watercolors

Refining my watercolors skills with landscapes, birds and flowers. Detail images are on the nikkiartwork blog posts.

Kaniksu National Forest “Kaniksu National Forest”

Kaniksu National Forest, Idaho - 14 x 20 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press

Clearcut “Clearcut”

Clearcut, Tillimook OR - 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press

Oystercatchers “Oystercatchers”

Oystercatchers, 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press

Multnomah Falls “Multnomah Falls”

Multnomah Falls, Oregon – 18 x 24 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold press premium

Wild Rhododendrons “Wild Rhododendrons”

Mt. Walker, WA wild Rhododendrons, 22W x 15H inches WC on 140 lb cold pressed premium

Ferny Gestures “Ferny Gestures”

Ferny Gestures, 14 x 20 inches watercolors on 140 lb. cold pressed

Japanese Maple “Japanese Maple”

Japanese Maple, 20W x 15H inches watercolors on 140 lb. cold pressed premium

North Saanich Poppies “North Saanich Poppies”

North Saanich Poppies, BC Canada, 16 x 20 inches W/C on 140 lb. cold pressed premium

Stellars Jay “Stellars Jay”

Stellars Jay, 8H x 11W inches watercolors on 140 lb premium. Paint was manipulated blowing through a straw.

Conviction “Conviction”

8H x 11W inches watercolors on 140 lb premium. Mask medium was used, and paint blown through a straw.