Artist Profile: Nick Lepard
Situated blocks from the action of Rogers Arena and athletic village of the 2010 Olympics, the studio of artist Nick Lepard, is in the center of the rich cultural life of downtown Vancouver.
The tall ceilings, and expansive concrete walls of Lepard’s studio seem to provide the ideal workspace for Lepard’s huge canvas paintings. “I enjoy it here, it’s the perfect situation for me to try out some new directions with my work,” reflects Lepard. “For the past few years I’ve spent most of my time in Haida Gwaii or San Diego county. When I am in Vancouver, like up north or in California, I’m mostly just squirreled away in the studio.”
When I Was An Animal ©Nick Lepard.
With his brilliant and fluid expression, the artistic voice of Lepard’s paintings is creating the resonance it deserves across the contemporary art scene. “I want my paintings to be fresh.” “The large pieces work in layers, so mistakes actually contribute really unique aspects. As the painting progresses and more layers are added, the image will be adjusted to become more “correct” but there remains a visible history,” Lepard states.
The Way In Which We Change ©Nick Lepard.
Nick’s use of color and lively brushwork leap the features of his portraits off the paint surface a sculpted depth and texture. Seeing his work up close its apparent Nick’s comfort and composition with a large canvas suits his style well.
From Milan To Vienna ©Nick Lepard.
His painting From Milan to Vienna was the first work I had seen of his. At first sight Lepard’s work reminded me of some other great artists who place their subjects close to the foreground such as Santiago Ydanez. What is unique with Lepard’s style is intense brush movement and creative palette choices – it captivates the viewer’s interest with seemingly so much to study.
Monkey in Red ©Nick Lepard.
He states, “There are things you can’t plan for that evolve from making mistakes or from happenstance. There are also the things that don’t look right on their own, but, from experience, you know will be contextualized by another part of the painting…so it’s a matter of patience and confidence and just letting some things sit.”
I then asked Nick a few questions:
What is the one tool in your studio you cannot live without?
NL: “I use my camera a lot. I find it valuable to shrink my pieces down to thumbnail size. It is important that they work up-close and from a great distance. I wonder though, if it is also the effect of living in Vancouver and seeing paintings mostly on the computer and as digital images.”
I Wanna Love ©Nick Lepard.
What artist do you reference from or find inspiration from the most?
NL: “I was just in NY and saw several Lucian Freud paintings at the MET. Being from Vancouver I had become familiar with his work through photographs, not having actually seen any in person. It’s weird, you have a relationship with this work… but then you see it and everything changes. I imagine it’s a bit like internet dating when you finally meet the person and you have all these opinions and expectations about them. You have a relationship with something, but it isn’t quite the thing itself. Painting is so material based. It’s about physicality and presence in space. Photographs of paintings really don’t capture a whole lot. So some of my influences are a bit skewed.”
What I didn’t know expect to discover during our visit was Nick’s passion and interest for surfing. Sparked by a surfing picture on his laptop, I was initially intrigued thinking he surfed off the coast of Vancouver. Only to learn Nick and his friends have driven to far stretches of Alaska and surfed the near freezing temperatures in the Alaskan ocean to catch a wave and enjoy an adventure.
Northern Gentlemen: Nick and his friends surfing in Alaska.
We all have our tales of waves and surfing adventures, but I would never in a million years surf in water that required a 6mm wetsuit. I went into the interview thinking I would be awestruck by his art, which was without question. As we drove away I shook my head in amazement and admiration that he not only surfed those waters, but seemed to enjoy doing so.
Nick Lepard is a artist and painter living in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can learn more about Nick and see more of his work by visiting his website. nicklepard.com.
This article was written by Michael Accorsi for Plotlines Art Journal August 2011.