Art has a way of transcending boundaries and bringing together seemingly different fields, creating a harmonious fusion that sparks intrigue and wonder. One artist who beautifully embodies this fusion is Patrick Nevins. From his early days of sketching as a child to his refined still life and Trompe' l'oeil works today, Nevins has cultivated a unique style that captivates viewers and invites them to explore the intersection of art and science.
In this exclusive interview, we delve into Nevins' artistic journey, the influences of his military background, and the inspiration behind his recent solo exhibition, "Elemental." Discover how he meticulously represents elements of the periodic table with physical objects, the challenges he faced along the way, and the deeper meanings behind his art. Join us as we unravel the stories behind his works and gain insights into the mind of a talented artist who seamlessly blends science and art.
Patrick Nevins in the studio working on his solo exhibition, "Elemental."
You've had quite a journey from serving in the Marine Corps to becoming a professional artist. How do you think your experiences in the military have influenced your art?
The self-discipline and dedication instilled in the Marines has definitely helped me in my pursuit to become a professional artist in ensuring that I sit down and paint regardless of if I am inspired or not.
You've mentioned that you've been sketching and drawing for as long as you can remember. Can you share more about your earliest memories of creating art as a child? How did these experiences shape your artistic journey?
I remember going out to dinner as a kid and the restaurant would always have paper placemats and crayons. I would always draw raccoons as at the time they were my favorite animal. For some reason that memory has always stuck with me.
In your artist statement for “Elemental,” you mention a combination of science and art. Can you tell us more about how these two seemingly different fields intersect in your work?
I have always loved science, especially astronomy and the stars. Some of my earliest paintings include celestial bodies, such as the Milky Way and the Pillars of Creation. For example, I painted a green bottle appearing to contain the Aurora Borealis with a simple Monarch butterfly fluttering above. The Monarch is known to fly all the way from parts of Canada to Mexico.
You've chosen to represent elements of the periodic table with physical representations. What was the most challenging part of this process?
Initially, the most challenging part was actually deciding how to represent the elements with a physical representation. I quickly discovered however, painting all those tiny letters and numbers became the real challenge.
How did the idea of combining the element Krypton with a Superman toy come about? Can you tell us more about the process of creating this piece?
The little Superman toy had been lying in a drawer unopened for some time. But when the idea for this series came about, I recalled that Superman (from the movies with Christopher Reeves) had an Achilles heal of Kryptonite. Although, it is a made up material, I think the reference is understood.
Krypton by Patrick Nevins
Your work in the "Elemental" series showcases a range of textures, from shiny glass to matte balloons. How did you decide on these specific textures and what was the process like to recreate them so realistically in paint?
I have always been drawn to painting different textures as realistically as I possibly can. The process can be painfully slow and requires my utmost attention, but when it clicks, it is always worth it.
Your still life and Trompe' l'oeil works exhibit a level of detail that almost tricks the eye. What draws you to this genre of art?
I have always been drawn to a highly detailed and tight style of painting. It just took a while to find my niche in trompe' l'oeil. I love the challenge of trying to represent something as if it were right in front of you and that you could almost reach out and touch it. The illusory factor is what really drives me.
You've been known to incorporate unique subjects into your work, like a skull or a Swiss Army Knife. How do you choose these subjects and what do they represent to you?
I like to paint a wide variety of subject matter to keep my eyes fresh and challenge my abilities. Initially, the skull was my attempt at a Vanitas style of painting. It soon found its way into several additional pieces. As for the Swiss Army knife, it was just a new subject to paint.
Can you tell us more about your journey from drawing and sketching in your early days to the detailed still life and Trompe' l'oeil works you create today?
The journey has certainly been a long one. Throughout most of my childhood and well into my twenties, I had primarily just used traditional pencil and paper. It wasn't until a trip to a little town in Vermont that I first purchased oil paints. I attempted to paint the beautiful mountain lake vista alla prima. It wasn't good. However, my sister wanted to keep it. I think she was just being nice.
From there it was the College of Charleston in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina where I majored in Studio Art, courtesy of the government and the G.I.Bill. Although, the drawing course were pretty rigorous, the painting courses were the complete opposite. No color theory, mixing training, or anything remotely close. I guess you could say I am primarily self-taught. Perhaps that is why many of my early works are mostly monochromatic.
It wasn't until within the last 5-7 years that I have really started getting into Trompe' L'oeil and I think I have really found my genre.
Early Birds Get the Worm by Patrick Nevins
You're currently at a fascinating point in your artistic journey. Could you share how this phase feels to you? What are your future ambitions and goals as an artist?
To be honest it feels both amazing and daunting (but mostly amazing). Amazing in that collectors are gracious enough to want to purchase my art, however daunting in that I need to keep this momentum going and continuously create new and intriguing work.
My ultimate goal is to keep producing quality paintings and selling my work. Then to finally, some day, be able to quit my 9-5 and paint full time. That would truly be phenomenal
I guess the only thing I could really say, which I am sure they have already heard, is that you have to put in the work. I myself have days were I just don't want to paint after working all day. But once I sit down and put paint to panel, all that melts away and I am truly in my happy place.
As for style, that is a bit tougher. Almost everything "new" has roots in something "old". Just paint what makes you happy and keeps your interest.
You're currently at a fascinating point in your artistic journey, where your solo exhibition "Elemental" received significant recognition, including selling out minutes within the collector preview going out. In fact, a total of 12 works, including commissioned pieces, were purchased by Delta Airlines for their prestigious Delta Sky Club at the new Delta Boston location in Terminal E. How does it feel to have your artwork embraced and prominently displayed in such a prestigious space? Can you share your thoughts on this recent milestone in your career?
It is always an honor, not to mention a shot of encouragement, when my work is embraced. To be displayed in such a prestigious space is icing on the cake but I certainly don't mind the exposure. It is both extremely humbling as well as exciting. As for the recent milestone, I just want to keep the momentum going and continue to make paintings that people relate to and want to take home.
Finally, can you share a little about what you hope viewers will take away from your "Elemental" exhibition? What kind of connection or understanding do you wish to inspire in those who experience your work?
I hope viewers come away with a different perspective on the elements that make up the periodic table. Not just the boring numbers and letters, but a visual into what an element is used for or where it occurs in nature. Even in doing research into these paintings I have learned quite a lot.
For those who experience my work, the ultimate connection I wish to make is joy. For the most part, I feel my pieces are light-hearted and invoke humor and playfulness. It may sound cheesy, but I think I just hope to inspire smiles.
Preparatory Sketches for Patrick Nevins' "Elemental" Exhibition
Patrick Nevins' "Elemental" exhibition at Abend Gallery took viewers on a captivating journey through the periodic table, offering a fresh perspective on the elements that shape our world. Through his masterful use of textures and attention to detail, Nevins invites us to explore the fascinating realm where art and science intertwine. As we reflect on his journey from a Marine Corps service member to a professional artist, we are reminded of the power of dedication and self-discipline in pursuing one's passion.
Nevins' future ambitions and goals as an artist shine through his work, as he continues to create new and intriguing pieces that evoke joy and inspire smiles. His dream of painting full time is within reach, fueled by the support and appreciation of collectors who are drawn to his art.
Join us in celebrating the artistry and vision of Patrick Nevins as he continues to push the boundaries of creativity and bring science to life through his remarkable paintings. Step into the world of "Elemental" and let the elements speak to your imagination, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the beauty and significance of the periodic table.
To explore more of Patrick Nevins' captivating artwork, visit his dedicated page on our website.