Nate's Notes on Nurture to Nature

Award-winning artist and teacher, Nate Durnin shares his notes on our show…


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It is not an uncommon phenomenon in art that the creative spark is passed down through the generations. N.C. Wyeth imbued his love for painting to Henriette and Andrew, as Andrew did for Jaime. In admiring a family's artistic lineage, we can observe both the creative similarities as well as the unique interpretations of each artist. This is certainly true in the works of Joan Spillman and her daughter Kristi Gilfillan. 

A sense of serenity gracefully moves through both Spillman's and Gilfillan's paintings. The soft, hazy atmospheres and warm colors permeate the quiet spaces they inhabit. It is very apparent that the meditation provided by nature is cherished by both mother and daughter. Along with their passion for the landscape, there is a strong connection to the way paint conveys their worlds. Through soft edges, vibrant colors and deliberate brushstrokes their paintings come to life. 

In Spillman's paintings one feels deeply embedded in nature, far removed from the frantic disruptions of modern life. The air is warm and still, cows slowly graze through sun drenched fields, and clouds hardly move in the distance. The only suggestion of human presence can be seen in distant farms and lighthouses that are reminiscent of Edward Hopper but viewed through the lens of Claude Monet. The dichotomy of the pristine and the impressionistic can also be seen in Spillman's surface. The paint often veers between highly polished and playful, finding a harmonious balance between the two. 

While Spillman's paintings explore nature in all it's quiet grandeur, Gilfillan's work begins to wander out of the woods and into more populated regions. Horse races, marinas, and golf courses are all added to the landscape dialogue. The movement of human activity disrupts the stillness of nature, yet it is not a distraction but a further point of interest. Gilfillan illustrates human interaction with the environment in a way that makes the surrounding world all the more intriguing. The sea looks larger, the colors even richer. 

Through familial art the audience is permitted an intimate view of the bond between parent and child. One is privy to the similarities of passions, styles, and virtues while simultaneously observing the unique individual qualities that solidify their own character. The viewer truely witnesses nurture and nature.