2 min read

A Conversation with Painting Instructor Mark Daniel Nelson


I read in a statement about your practice that you create work in pursuit of the "contemporary sublime". How would you define that?
It's kind of a yin-yang idea in relation to the nineteenth century idea of sublime. I feel there's always a strong urge to get kitschy when trying to do something that communicates awe and wonder, but there's a unique contemporary language we can maniuplate to that end.

Have you achieved it yet?

Occasionally, I think, yes. I have a series called Arcadia that sometimes gets close. It's a mash-up of minimalist abstraction and twentieth century regionalism or american realism. However others like them simply because they are paintings of houses, which I'm fine with too.

What are you working on in the studio?
I'm coming off of a massive, many months-long failed abstract project. I was inspired by some great shows last fall in Denver to work in a new mode. I gave it a try on a larger scale, and...catastrophe. I'm now getting sketches ready for my next round of work. It will likely be a more conservative body of work, so I can get back to my comfort zone for a few months.
How does your practice impact your teaching philosophy? And vice versa?
For me, they are one and the same. I teach a kind of detached-attention to making work, so as not to occupy the judgemental side of the experience too closely. Working on quick projects, multiple ideas, and looking at works by other artists is common to both my teaching and painting practice.
What are you most looking forward to during your time teaching at PenArt?
With every workshop I look forward to being around curious, intelligent people talking about interesting things and trying to solve the puzzle what makes good art.
How can we find you and your work on social media and the web?
www.markdanielnelson.com, Pinterest, and Instagram @markdanielnelson.

Mark will be teaching Image to Abstract October 24-26, 2017.

Topics: Faculty Painting

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