Art for Art’s Sake - Chrissy Nickerson, artist
Chrissy Nickerson of Canmore is a well-known professional landscape painter looking to broaden her audience.
She graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design with two degrees, a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Bachelor of Design in Environmental Planning. Nickerson is represented by Elevation Gallery in Canmore, Mortar and Brick in Lethbridge and Gallery B in Castine, Maine, USA.
She hikes to beautiful locations and paints from real life. Up to now, she has been a traditional landscape artist but her style is growing and stretching boundaries.
“My goal is to be mindful of the balance between the classical approach to painting landscape and contemporary abstraction,” Nickerson said.
She is working on traditional landscapes but adding bold swatches of paint on top of them.
“My work as a landscape painter is beginning to incorporate more abstract elements, be them flat or painterly,” Nickerson said. “I want to be more mindful between the classical approach to landscape painting and contemporary work. To balance form with the content of the landscape. So yes, it’s a landscape painting but how is it being represented and how is the form being broken up between the space of the composition? I’m entering into the dialogue of abstraction a little more. I’m learning to embrace flat colour fields as form in my stripes and into my landscapes. The paintings are for me, just as much as for the viewer, to learn how to make that step into abstraction and the understanding of it.”
It is an opportunity for more play, she said.
“Obviously I still need to support my family. But all this work right now is for me it doesn’t have gallery representation. I’m with Cheryl at Elevation and a gallery in Nanaimo, BC and New Brunswick and in Maine USA. But currently I’m painting for myself,” Nickerson said. “My kids are old enough now, I’m divorced, I have space in my life to finally really work on my own career as an artist and what drives me outside of just a pretty landscape painting. I don’t want to just paint commercial pretty landscape paintings anymore. I will always do that but what I’m looking for in my life right now is exciting new representation like in Toronto or Calgary or the opportunity to push my boundaries as a painter not just a traditional landscape based painter.”
She said it is time for a change.
“I’m going to be doing a residency in the spring in BC,” she said. “I just feel there’s a lot more to be had and I can give a lot more in productivity.”
She is producing work that’s relevant to her.
“I do a lot of studio visits with Wanda Ellerbeck where we talk and we push our boundaries. Our last show was called Bridging the Form. She’s abstract and I’m more landscape. We’ve really had a push back and forth in that dialogue,” Nickerson said.
She is doing a series of paintings of Cascade Mountain.
“I’m a painter because I love paint,” Nickerson said. “I feel that this body of work is emphasizing that it is paint. I’m not in competition with the camera or the digital world in any way but I definitely value the mark making and the theatre like qualities the digital world can bring to the composition today. But as a painter I want to dive into what that means to me and how I can push my boundaries as a landscape painter.”
Nickerson is an avid downhill skier and rower. She always paints regionally.
“One of my last shows was called Up For Development where I talked about the issues like wildlife corridors, setbacks, and what’s happening in the Bow Valley in terms of land use,” she said. “My paintings bring attention to natural resources and important habitats; not just beauty.”
Nickerson is going to the Ou gallery in Duncan for a two-week residency in April. She will produce a series of larger landscapes for gallery Merrick in Nanaimo in a solo show opening on May 1.
“I am even thinking of using big flat rollers, rolling out some big flat planes and start with that!” Nickerson said. “Coastal work is so fresh and fun. I’m so lucky I can balance mountains with the oceans.”
Check out her latest work at The Hive Gallery in Canmore.