Robert A. Nelson and his wife, Louise, live on a quiet farm in the mountains of Lakeside, Oregon, with dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, dinosaurs with guns, astronaut sai, and axes. There is a wielding frog. Some of these animals live in the couple’s barn, while others come back to life on Nelson’s drawing board.
Nelson, a 96-year-old former Millersville University art professor, says he works at least eight hours each day. He says his unlimited supply of ideas is a source of both joy and panic.
“I’m very happy to have an ongoing mission that I can’t complete,” says Nelson. “It’s a world of ideas. Sometimes I open the door and I see something I’ve never seen before. I’m panicking just talking about it now. I’m far behind. . “
Nelson’s elegant and fantastic drawing and collage “Animals” will be on display at the Karen Anderer Fine Art Gallery in Lancaster until November 6th.
“I’m fascinated by his imagination, his natural talent for anatomy, and the stories he can create as well as the viewer,” says Anderler.
Nelson and Anderler have been working together on the exhibition for over a decade. And his exhibition with Anderer regularly features his latest work, along with a selection from his large vault.
“This latest new collection has exceeded my biggest expectations,” says Anderler. “This is not only the best work I have ever exhibited, but it was done at the age of 96. He is getting better and better. More detailed, more accurate, stronger coloring, he More Layers to the Story-I think it’s much more complicated, like himself. “
The “Animal” exhibit presents a new archived selection of Nelson’s series of works, estimated at around 5,000. Drawings, collages and prints are the influence of Old Master Nelson like Leonardo da Vinci, 20th century Surrealism, love for history and mythology, his diverse living experiences from almost a century on Earth, And it is drawn from his own very dark sense of humor. The result is a beautiful, terrifying, timeless, extra-world work.
For example, mixed media lithograph collage “Bird Hog” may reveal Nelson’s time working as a draftsman at a meat packaging factory in Chicago. The collage / etching “Trainbomb Toot” and the lithograph “Fly Capturing Zeppelin” may be drawn from the experience of drawing airplane engines and flying airplanes for the Air Force during World War II. A 2021 pencil and colored pencil study entitled “Autumn of Icarus” demonstrates Nelson’s knowledge of Greek mythology and his skillful Da Vinci-like skills in capturing human anatomy.
“That’s an interesting story,” says Nelson in Icarus mythology. “You can play with it for 10 years.”
Nelson says he wakes up every morning, drinks coffee and goes to work. He may be painting a horse and feel that his hooves are completely captured, but something on the animal’s knees may be offensive. So he goes to the barn to study horses. Ideas may hit him, and he suddenly gets hooked.
“Last week I was drawing a dog’s nose for about three hours,” says Nelson. “I finally woke up and wondered,’What are you doing to draw a dog’s nose?’ But you can’t ignore what hits you.”
Students and teachers
Nelson studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He then taught at his alma mater, Cleveland State University, the University of Winnipeg, and Millersville University. At the last university, he was awarded the position of Professor Emeritus in 1997. However, much of his education is the creation of works and his visits to some of the best museums in the world.
Nelson remembers visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. I was so overwhelmed by Da Vinci’s work on display that I had to reach out and touch it when the guards weren’t looking.
“Every time I went to the Uffizi Gallery, I had to wear dark glasses,” says Nelson. “Tears spilled on my cheeks.”
Another painting that Nelson says shed tears is “Watson and the Shark” by John Singleton Copley in 1778. This is a picture of a shark attack. It’s easy to see why Nelson was impressed with it. It combines the beauty and horror that Nelson can easily call in his work.
Upon arriving in Spain, Nelson said he had a power outage and pulled it out of the candlelight, just like his favorite Old Master. As a portrait instructor at Millersville University, Nelson used his experience to bring him into the classroom.
“Every student needs to bring at least 10 candle lumps and you put them in front of the floor drafting board,” says Nelson. “When 30 students were doing it, it was really some kind of brightness there.”
Nelson also recalls creating some elaborate life-sized anatomically correct figures for his students.
“Students always seemed to enjoy themselves, but I didn’t use them. I just crushed them and put them in the trash,” says Nelson. “Later, I found out that the students were in the trash can and pulled out of these things to flatten or iron them until they were almost flat.”
What is his advice for future art students?
“Go to dentistry,” says Nelson with a laugh.
His actual advice is what he shows every day. A lifelong dedication to his technique.
“I’m always in front of the drawing board,” says Nelson.
Robert A. Nelson’s latest exhibition “Animal” shows that artists are getting better with age | Entertainment
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