Nicki Gustin

Chrome and Chartreuse
(oil, 36×36) by Nicki Gustin was a finalist in the Still Life category of the 23rd Annual Art Competition (2006).


Residence: Overland Park, Kansas

Start in Art: As a child, I loved to draw, paint and even fashion “pottery” from backyard mud. But as a young adult, I decided to pursue a non-art career and art got pushed aside for several years while I worked and started a family. I eventually realized that life didn’t work well for me without art, so I began taking courses in ceramics and painting. Not only was balance restored to my life, but I was fortunate to become good friends with other artists and experienced a profound improvement in quality of life.

Media and Genres: I enjoy both pastel and oil. Still life is my favorite genre but I also make forays into landscape and portraiture—of dogs.

Working Process: My process begins at the farmer’s market or grocery store where I spend time perusing the product. I then retreat to my studio with my purchases and proceed to assemble still life setups (making an enormous mess in the process by dragging dishes, table linens and other objects from all over the house). I take multiple digital photos of each setup, experimenting with different lighting and perspectives—then I eat the fruits and vegetables before they go bad!

A weekend session usually supplies me with several still life photos. I draw the still life onto canvas or pastel board and work from the photo to complete the panting. In both oil and pastel, my approach is to build up layers of color to achieve richness and depth. In oil, I find glazes particularly effective.

Although my color palette will vary depending on the subject, I generally find myself reaching for cadmium yellows, cobalt or cerulean blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson and chromium or veridian green.

Inspiration for Chrome and Chartreuse: When I found these gorgeous, intensely green Granny Smith apples and set them up on a reflective dish, I knew it was a combination I had to paint.

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