Craig Nelson / "Out & About"
24″ x 30,” Oil on Canvas
When Craig Nelson transitioned to full time fine artist in the late 1980s from a career as anon demand illustrator of album covers and movie posters, in the process moving from Los Angeles to Northern California wine country, most of his painterly oils were figurative. But my biggest detriment as an artist, he laughs, is that I get bored easily. So I am always looking for different subjects.
His search for something new led him to landscapes and cityscapes. But all my students are already painting San Francisco, says Nelson, who directs degree programs in drawing and painting at the widely respected Academy of Art University. So he is journeyed farther afield to capture urban settings in places as diverse as New York City, London, and Tuscany. I look for light, mood, and character, he says. I want subjects that look like they have a history.
Rich in their sense of place, his paintings feel deeply immersive, capturing such iconic imagery as the red telephone booths in London and double decker busses and the rain slicked streets of Manhattan. In his cityscapes, one notable element is human forms. It is not the city that makes the people, says Nelson, still a figurative artist at heart. It is the people that make the city.