We’ve all seen something beautiful, like a sunset or the view from a mountaintop, and wanted to share our experience. So many times a photograph falls short of the experience that we had. Watercolor lends itself well, not to expressing realistic detail, but to capturing the feeling—the impression—of the experience. In some ways it becomes an even more realistic representation, because it hits closer to the impression that we felt.
The nature of watercolor is to be free; it dries fast. Once you put down a mark you cannot paint over it like you can with acrylic or oil. Each touch of the brush is a deliberate mark colored by the artist’s perception and attitude of the subject. Watercolor requires you to be confident with yourself and correspondingly with your strokes. You have to enjoy the way the pigment settles; if you do try to rework anything, it only looks encumbered. Watercolor is honest.
I feel like my lifestyle enhances the way I paint. Art is more than just paint on paper; it is what comes as a result of living. Everyone has their own art. Loving my children, accidentally burning the chicken, taking out the trash, smelling the air—all of the separate parts work together and become what I or anyone else creates. The fact that we are all living our lives and creating, in any small way we can, connects us to humanity. I would rather be connected than disconnected.
I’ve noticed my work takes the direction of E. E. Cummings concept of “Enormous Smallness”…tending towards the humble rather than grandeur, subtle rather than the obvious, gentle rather than dramatic. I like exploring light and mankind’s relationship and interaction with itself and to nature.
The artwork I make reflects on what the landscapes I associate with home feel like to me. I have spent virtually my entire life in “the west” and all of the colors and textures that I chose to use in these works are sourced from years of travelling and living in the I-80 corridor. As such, I feel that each print is representative of my own observations,
experiences, and memories of a life in Wyoming. Perhaps the most significant part of my working process is my use of layers. The various layers of ink and paper in each print overlap and respond to each other; ultimately forming a combination of individual entities that generate a completed whole. This completed whole is effectively a visual representation of my own formative experiences as influenced by the unique aesthetics of Wyoming.
Ben Nathan was raised in Green River, Wyoming as the oldest of five siblings. He works primarily in printmaking, but also spends significant time painting. Ben graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wyoming, and recently moved to Logan, Utah to pursue his Master of Fine Arts degree at Utah State University. Ben is interested in making art that: is inspired by the west, and presents a contemporary approach to representing the landscape. Ben is a recipient of The American Heritage Center Undergraduate Research Award for his Wyoming-focused work in printmaking. In his work, he tries to incorporate colors, and textures that seem reminiscent of the land he calls home.
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