Noelle Nelson Gets Trippy With Art and Ancient Cultures

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You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we look at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Noelle Nelson, a self-taught painter who was born and raised in Denver, graduated from East High School last spring and has spent the summer kicking off her art career. “I took a couple of high school art classes, but never went to art school or anything like that,” says Nelson, who will be starting college at the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall with the intent of majoring in anthropology.

Art and anthropology might seem like two very different tracks, but “in some ways they are similar,” Nelson says, noting that she draws inspiration from “different cultural influences," including Mayan and traditional Native American art.

Nelson plans to take what she learns about cultures and people at college and translate that into art. “Indigenous cultures do really interesting pattern work,” she notes. And that’s sort of Nelson’s specialty. “I really like mark making and experimenting with different lines, line widths and shapes,” she says. 

Mark making, she says, is a nod to the ancient cultures. Nelson keeps things modern by incorporating bright, attention-grabbing colors that make the pieces “trippy,” as she puts it; she uses marker and watercolor, along with pen and ink, to add depth to her pieces.

The artist is also inspired by her home state, where her family has lived for three generations. “I love it here,” Nelson says. “I love the scenery. I love to hike and raft and do anything outdoors.”

Some of the colors Nelson uses might look familiar. “I pick them because I feel that the red rocks of Colorado are an iconic part of the environment, and those deep, earthy tones represent the passion people feel about Colorado,” she says.

Over the past few months, she's reached out to local businesses and art shows to display her work. “Art was just a hobby until recently,” she says. “I realized that if I love it so much, I might as well give it a shot.” Nelson will be showing pieces in Sugar Bakeshop and Coffee House later this fall; some of her art will also appear in the increasingly popular birdy magazine next month. 
  For more information on Nelson’s art, visit her website

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