published Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Painting the nature of nature

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    "Textures from the Heart," a 57-inch by 78-inch acrylic on canvas, is the title piece of Wyoming artist Neitje's exhibition at Tanner/Hill Gallery.

IF YOU GO

What: Reception for "Textures of the Heart" featuring works by Neltje.

When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday.

Where: Tanner/Hill Gallery, 3069 S. Broad St.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 280-7182.


ABOUT THE ARTIST

Neltje was born in New York City. She had some basic art training through school, but two marriages, children and a nearly two-decade career as an innkeeper and gallery owner delayed her artistic career.

Since devoting herself to art, she has had shows and exhibits in museums, galleries and universities around the country.

For years, Wyoming-based artist Neltje (pronounced nell-chi) used the monotype method of painting, in which the paint is applied to a flat surface, then a canvas or other medium is pressed into it.

She liked the "errors" or textures that occurred when the two were pulled apart, she said, though she rarely left the piece as it came off the press.

"Very flat things make me nervous," she said. " I don't like flat things."

When she seriously began devoting time to being an artist in the mid-1980s, she worked primarily in lifelike sculptures. She preferred the casts to canvases, she said, because, with paintings, "I couldn't feel the backside. I know that sounds weird."

For the last couple of years, however, primarily because the press she used on her monotypes no longer works, she has been creating abstract paintings using acrylics on large canvas pieces. She has shipped several of her pieces to Chattanooga for an exhibition running Friday through Oct. 31 at Tanner/Hill Gallery on Broad Street. She will be at the gallery on opening night for a reception and to discuss her work.

To counteract her dislike for flat things, she uses rich colors on the pieces.

"All of my paintings have this kind of almost mysterious quality, or they have many veils within them," she said. "They are very strong and powerful with some clear shapes. They have these enriched colors so that it isn't one flat chunk of color. There are different intensities within even one hue."

The title piece, "Textures From the Heart," measures 57 inches by 78 inches. Some of the pieces in the exhibit are new and some are older. All fit within two general themes, Neltje said.

"What I do is paint entirely from two different subjects: either that of being a woman or that of nature."

She uses the scenery around her Wyoming home for inspiration on the nature pieces.

"I have no intention of trying to paint the landscape," she said. "I paint what the landscape makes me feel. It's more like the nature of nature than any direct depiction."

While the pieces in the exhibit represent different parts of her life, she said they all have one thing in common.

"I tried in selecting these to make sure that they have a clear and strong overall feel of my passion," she said.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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