Nicole Duennebier is a terrific painter based at Massachusetts. She paints intricate undersea ambiance and life-forms in a lavish classical style with acrylics, and sea is a predominant theme of her art. Hidden from a general view, some of these are algae-like- hideous yet beautiful when they appear in their vibrant nature wielding in the darkest regions ever found. There’s a charming decay in some of her works where microscopic organism devour the larger creatures and ‘amalgamate’ them. Nicole has received much acclaim and recognition for her works which have been exhibited by renowned galleries and acquired by collectors.
I grew up in Connecticut. My mother is an artist and I remember spending a lot of time trying to mimic her watercolors. Both my sister and I became artists, although I don’t think either of us wanted that as children. I thought that being an artist as a profession would make me miserable as an adult. This is turned out to be true, but it’s a complicated kind of misery that is basically tolerable for most people if they have a day-job. I attended the Greater Hartford Academy of Arts in high school and then went on to Maine College of Art. Art-making has all but killed any other hobbies I’ve had. To keep up my practice and livelihood I work as a receptionist at a music school in Massachusetts.
Making pretty things is probably the only thing I’ve had any interest in. Although what I consider to be pretty has changed over time. …At some point I realized that it is an accomplishment in itself just to continue making things and not to be consumed by discouragement and lethargy.
Sometimes I wonder if I have a “means to an end” relationship with art. I’m not particularly interested in process. All I want is the feeling of satisfaction at the end when I’m able to assemble something that I’ve imagined. Although that satisfaction is fairly brief, I have to start a new project in order to feel it again.
I exploit the sea in my work, probably too often. I’m always copying the sea’s ideas. It depends on how long a painting is sitting around in my studio. I can generally finish a painting in two months, although I could continue to work on it for a year or more if it isn’t needed for an exhibition.
I once saw “biomorphic” listed as a style of painting. Ever since then I tell people that my work is “biomorphic still-life” whenever I’m pressed to list a style.
I find that I am always trying to work toward my original idea of what art is. I grew up going to the Wadsworth Athenium in Hartford, CT with its salon style art galleries of dark paintings. I’ve always wanted to live around those paintings and I think that’s why I paint that way myself.
I use a slew of different Golden brand acrylics… especially their really watery acrylics. I am training myself to use an airbrush right now, it’s a fun gadget. I like it because it makes me think of all the mean girls in middle school that had their names airbrushed on t-shirts with a palm tree or a bulbous heart or something. One day I’ll be able to make myself one of those t-shirts but I’m not quite there yet.
I’m always surprised and delighted by how friendly everyone who likes my paintings are. I would like to think that my work is particularly attractive to those who are interesting and kind.
What are your views on contemporary art scene?
I like the art scene in Massachusetts. Lots of brilliant and helpful people out there, you just have to find them and fiercely hold on to their coat-tails.
I am building a giant paper diorama right now. It’s a 5×7 foot red forest, it looks like the inside of a body.
Mostly, I like to reference a picture book my sister bought me about the devil. I’m really partial to those illuminated manuscript illustrations with mono-chromatic angels and saints.
I take a lot of inspiration from other artists though… to name a few: Julie Heffernan, Anne Harris, Christian Rex Van Minnen, Meghan Howland, Corinne Reid, Derek Smith Luke, Yinka Shonibare, Victoria Reynolds, Louise Zhang, Ashley Capachione, Athanasius Kircher Andrea Mastrovito, Denis Forkas. Nicola Samori, Resa Blatman, Susan Lyman, Lisa Kellner, Angelika Arendt, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Philip Henry Gosse, and Hieronymus Bosch.