Nicholas Coleman – Painting the Heritage and History of the American West

“An Old Meeting Place” by Nicholas Coleman

Nicholas Coleman is an ultra-talented, hard-working artist based out of Provo, Utah, and he paints some of the most interesting and beautiful works I’ve ever seen. His primary subject matter is the American West, with a focus on landscapes, natural history, wildlife, Native American culture, and exploration. I came across Nick’s work on Instagram of all places—in the midst of the app’s thousands of images, noise, and distractions, one of Nick’s images boldly stood out from all the rest. It stood out so much that I wanted more, so I went to his website and was blown away by his work.  The more I learned about Nick, the more impressed I became—he is a multifaceted individual with a fascinating back story.

Nick is not your stereotypical artist. He is a devoted hunter, fisherman, and trapper, and he’s also a voracious reader who probably knows more about western history than many college professors. He has a focused and disciplined approach to his art, working six days a week and never sitting around waiting to “get in the mood” to paint. With his deep love of art and the West, combined with his rock solid work ethic, it’s no surprise that he has been able to build a stellar reputation in the super-competitive and challenging world of professional art.

Nicholas in his studio

I could’ve talked to Nick for hours, because so many of his interests overlap with mine. We did manage to dig into the details of his art and artistic process.  We chatted about his international travels to South America, Africa, and New Zealand, as well as his thoughts on how those adventures have influenced his life and work. We discussed his education as an artist, as well as his advice for those aspiring to make art a full-time career.  We also talked a lot about Teddy Roosevelt, which is always fun. See below for the full list of topics covered.

Thanks to Nicholas Coleman for joining me on the podcast. I hope you enjoy!

All photos courtesy of Nicholas Coleman

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Episode Notes

Topics Covered

3:11 – How Nicholas describes his work
4:40 – His family’s history in the West
5:55 – Hunting, fishing, trapping, and their influence on his work
8:50 – Childhood experiences that led to a career in art
10:35 – Theodore Roosevelt and Carl Akeley
13:00 – Thoughts on hunters as conservationists
17:03 – How international travel influenced his art and outlook
19:55 – Thoughts on being self taught versus academically trained in art
23:00 – Nicholas’s artistic process
27:30 – A typical day
29:10 – The backstory on Nicholas’s studio
30:30 – The role that history plays in his work
32:10 – Where he gets his ideas for painting
34:15 – How he ensure that his paintings are historically accurate
36:40 – Recommended books about Native Americans
38:25 – The evolution of his art over the last 10 years
40:10 – How it feels to create art
42:00 – Thoughts on embracing technology
45:40 – What “conservation” means to Nicholas
48:55 – Favorite Theodore Roosevelt books
50:10 – Lessons he’s teaching his children about conservation
51:00 – Advice for aspiring artists
53:45 – Favorite books
55:50 – Favorite documentaries
56:00 – Other hobbies, including motorcycles
59:40 – Nicholas’s insane Alaskan hunting adventure
1:05:40 – Favorite location in the American West
1:07:30 – Biggest challenge facing the American West
1:11:00 – Nicholas’s request of the listeners
1:11:40 – Connect with Nicholas online

Information Referenced

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