Medium

In an era of specialization, Arizona artist John Nelson–painter, sculptor, and printmaker, stands as the exception, a jack of all trades and a master of many. As a painter he’s developed a reputation for his inward-looking emulation of outsider art. As a sculptor, he has completed projects as monumental as the 35 foot high, Harry Above the Crowd, sited in Tempe Arizona’s historic Old Town.

Nelson started on his first series of personal paintings in 1989. Working essentially as a self-taught artist he enrolled in Arizona State University’s Herberger College of Fine Arts “to see if (he) had missed out on anything.” About his art school training he says, “I found out early on that all artists are self taught artists. You learn pretty quickly that you’re basically on your own. And that’s probably for the best. Still, in art you’re a perpetual student. You’re continually looking, searching, learning.”

Nelson’s vocabulary is a decidedly idiosyncratic slant on the human figure and a unique psychological take on human nature. I read many of his works as invented portraits. Though not wholly human, the beings in Nelson’s artwork, like the terrors of childhood, have less to do with monsters than the shifting role of the subconscious self. Part animal and part human, part nature and part culture, they are emblematic, archetypal. Each lives its own life, each tells its own story, each poses its own questions. In the end, there are more questions than there are answers–more mystery than reality.

Selected exhibitions
2021
John Randall Nelson - On All TomorrowsSue Greenwood Fine Art
2018
John Randall Nelson - New WorkSue Greenwood Fine Art
2017
John Randall Nelson - New WorkSue Greenwood Fine Art
View all

Luxury Liner, 2016

Mixed media on panel
50 × 40 in
127 × 101.6 cm
Sold
Location
Laguna Beach
Medium

In an era of specialization, Arizona artist John Nelson–painter, sculptor, and printmaker, stands as the exception, a jack of all trades and a master of many. As a painter he’s developed a reputation for his inward-looking emulation of outsider art. As a sculptor, he has completed projects as monumental as the 35 foot high, Harry Above the Crowd, sited in Tempe Arizona’s historic Old Town.

Nelson started on his first series of personal paintings in 1989. Working essentially as a self-taught artist he enrolled in Arizona State University’s Herberger College of Fine Arts “to see if (he) had missed out on anything.” About his art school training he says, “I found out early on that all artists are self taught artists. You learn pretty quickly that you’re basically on your own. And that’s probably for the best. Still, in art you’re a perpetual student. You’re continually looking, searching, learning.”

Nelson’s vocabulary is a decidedly idiosyncratic slant on the human figure and a unique psychological take on human nature. I read many of his works as invented portraits. Though not wholly human, the beings in Nelson’s artwork, like the terrors of childhood, have less to do with monsters than the shifting role of the subconscious self. Part animal and part human, part nature and part culture, they are emblematic, archetypal. Each lives its own life, each tells its own story, each poses its own questions. In the end, there are more questions than there are answers–more mystery than reality.

Selected exhibitions (3)
Other works by John Randall Nelson
Other works from Sue Greenwood Fine Art
Related works
Related artists
Cheryl Finfrock
DEL
American