This month we are pleased to present Nina Anderson Coler
Nina Coler will open her new solo show of watercolor paintings at the Shelburne Arts Coop, “The Lay of the Land” , on March 27, with an opening reception on April 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. Nina depicts rural landscapes of this area in her realistically detailed watercolors.She grew up in Buckland where her family has lived for five generations, and hopes her watercolor landscapes can help preserve open space and rural life by sharing the beauty of the “dying architecture of a way of life--I want people to see my work and say, Oh, we need to preserve this.” Her art is the perfect complement to her 88 acre, off the grid homestead in Ashfield, her deep family roots, and her community involvement that includes being on the board of directors of the Franklin County Land Trust.
You might say her art career is truly home-grown in the best sense of that word--she learned to paint by taking workshops alongside her father. “He was having so much fun at these classes with Joan Boryta I said Let’s go together!” That was 24 years ago. Nina studied with Joan until she felt her work was taking on a bit too much of her teachers style, and she struck out on her own with it.
Nina did not study art while she was in college at UMass, she studied dance. “ I think a lot of things are similar in composition with dance and with painting. You have your focal point, and your line of action. A diagonal is always more exciting than a horizontal and its the same for movement. Fast or slow can be like long or short strokes, same with cool and warm. It’s a balancing act in order to make an interesting composition. You want to have it all to make it exciting.”
Winter is her favorite subject. “I love the blue, blue shadows of snow, and the lines of the world are there, exposed for you, like the bones of the earth.” Nina does not paint plein aire, but goes out (in winter on skis) with her camera to gather images to work with in her home studio. These serve as a foundation for more emotive interpretations of the landscape she loves and knows so well. (Perhaps the bare trees are also dancers on a stage?)
Of the seventeen images in this show, however, there are only two winter scenes. Nina is portraying the use of land in this exhibit: haying, sugaring, grazing—agricultural activities she witnesses and participates in. She and her husband garden heavily, harvest firewood on their own land, and make wine, some of which will be served at the opening reception. There are many autumnal scenes, and she has delighted recently in the challenges of painting fog and mist, with gradations of color and clarity to deal with.
“The places that I am painting—well, I go by them all the time and I study them, so when I am ready to paint, I know them and have a feeling for them,” said Nina. “I struggle not to tighten up in my work. It’s been 30 years now that I have been painting, and it is still a constant challenge to stay loose.” She admits that each painting contains a crescendo of doubt halfway through, when everything seems wrong, but “you just push through it” to the other side and then there is relief and joy. I am so hooked on watercolor... It’s a lifelong thing to improve yourself.”
Next door neighbor and former fellow coop member Sarah Holbrook was the contact that first put Nina in touch with the Coop gallery and she has been a member now for about ten years. “It’s such a supportive group, it’s not just a business, it’s a group of friends. And I’ve been very happy being a part of it,” commented Nina.
Her last solo show was 8 years ago, but she has shown her work in other places over the intervening years as well, gaining exposure at Elmer’s Store and several hospital galleries. Come in and be refreshed by a glimpse of the fertile seasons in The Lay of the Land during April!