Dee Nickerson’s distinctive paintings have gathered a cult following among collectors, as well as being featured on a hugely popular range of greetings cards. We are very excited to be showing some of her new paintings in our upcoming spring exhibition at Churchgate Gallery, Porlock. We interviewed Dee to find out more about her inspirations and techniques, and the Artist behind the work.
How and why did you become an Artist?
“It is difficult to be succinct in describing how and why i became an artist, or who has inspired and influenced me, because I have been producing and studying art and art history since I was three. after all what could be more alluring than the clean sheet of paper, the array of drawing materials, the smell of the artist’s studio, the feel of applying paint, the over whelming wonder of paintings that exist and the struggle of trying to achieve a satisfactory piece of art.
There is also the pleasure those efforts produce in other people who see what you have done. I am not certain what made it so compelling or why, even in the face of adversity, I choose to constantly pursue it no matter what else was going on in life
Nearly twenty years ago a dear artist friend made me frame some work and take it to a nearby gallery, it started to sell and about ten years ago I had enough interest in my work to become self-employed. Green Pebbles cards have made my work visible to so many people.”
You have a very distinctive style, have you always painted like this, or has it developed over the years?
“When I was at art school, I was anxious about having my own style and asked my tutor how to set about creating one. He said that I did actually have one already, even if i couldn’t see it, and said the only way to achieve this was to continuously work and a distinctive one would emerge. I took his advice. It has developed
and I hope it will naturally continue to do so.”
“If I know what i want or have to paint, I do make sketches and drawings before i start painting. Mostly I just start putting paint on to the surface, heavy paper or wood, beginning in an abstract way, building up the layers, adding, and removing, motifs and details until either satisfied, rarely, or I can do no more or, more likely, it has gone to the framers.”
Which other artists inspire and influence you?
“I particularly like Eric Ravillious, Stanley Spencer, Mary Feddon, Holbien, Mattise, Carravagio, Bruegel, Sisely, Mary Newcomb, Alfred Wallis the list is endless!”
What else do you find inspiring?
“Influence comes with any other thing interesting me at the time, books i’m reading, films and television. Also textiles, fashion, observations of pattern, colour and small incidents, snippets of conversation, the wireless, personal recollection. I am easily influenced and always wandering about just looking and absorbing.”
“My subject matter is decided either during the painting or dictated by what is going on around me or taking my interest at the time. A recurring theme is the head, the ‘perfect’ face, inspired by icons, it often leads to other things. I do make considerations as to where the painting is going to be shown.”
Do you work directly from life, or do you use your imagination? Why do you choose this way of working?
“The figures are now all from imagination. I use them symbolically to connect humans to the outer world and to help describe the story. However, people often relate personally to these figures or find they remind them of people they know.
I usually work from imagination. If I need to be precise about a certain object, person, place, I will make drawings from life, and only use photos as a last resort. They distill things I think. Painting from the imagination allows me to both visualise and feel the subject. It allows distortions of reality that can explain the subject more emotionally than what is before your eyes.”
Your paintings often strongly convey the atmosphere of a particular season- what is your favorite season to paint and why?
“I am very aware of my surroundings so the season at the time of painting will always be evident. I am unable to paint snow in July. I probably find summer the most difficult practically and aesthetically. I love the organic changes in the landscape, the colours, different
qualities of light. These are not always so easy to visualise unless present.”
“I feel I haven’t even begun to make the paintings I want to do, i’m still not sure what they are. I have both intellectual and instinctive relationships with art, they don’t always agree, perhaps in the future they will reconcile. My experience tells me they are best left to evolve on their own. All I know is that, while I am able, I will continue to try to share my view of our world through art in some form.”
Thankyou to Green Pebble Cards for some of the images used in this post.