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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Nathan Durfee

Nathan Durfee

Nathan Durfee was born in the small town of Bethel, Vermont on June 26, 1983. Nathan's artistic aspirations first showed themselves in the classroom: a self-described "doodler," moments of boredom became sketches and designs in notebook margins. After spending his high school years in Nevada, he migrated South to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design to become a traditional portrait artist. As his current work boldly exhibits, Nathan instead decided to take his art in a unique, wholly personalized, direction. "I thought I would be a traditional, realistic painter…but then, if I'm able to create a reality, why do I need to have it adhere to the one we live in now?” This ability to create both conventional and alternative realities allows him to push and pull his work from the realistic to the abstract with imaginative skill.

His fanciful, often abstract, subjects share an organic connection with his informal school-day sketching. While working, he says, "I try to keep that wandering state of mind—as I start laying down brush strokes, a narrative begins to develop. I keep molding and polishing the story until I'm happy with it, and in most cases it's something completely different than what I started out with.”
Despite his uncanny subjects, his paint application is studious and technically informed. How he paints, he says, is more important than what he paints. The relation of emotions to brushstrokes is keen: anger will produce a harsher, quicker stroke than a feeling of calm or contentment. Durfee likes to get his work done in as few sittings as possible, for the less time there is between work periods, the less likely emotions and brushstrokes will vary. Durfee's academic side carries over into other parts of his artistic process as well. An avid chess player, he likes to play before painting; it serves as "a mental warm-up." While painting, Durfee listens to lectures on a multitude of diverse subjects, such as philosophy, history, and quantum physics. It is important to him that his painting (the verb, not the noun) stay as "academic and sophisticated as possible."

When he's not at work or at his studio, Nathan is busy riding his bike and sketching people and scenes in his Moleskine notebooks. He's taken great advantage of Charleston's picturesque downtown area, with its coffee shops, restaurants, and parks, life-watching with the same sort of constant curiosity as last-century Parisian artists sketching at their sidewalk cafes. Nathan has also become quite busy with digital art, using the computer to combine his paintings, drawings, and photography into new works of art. It allows a blurring together, a creation of things that "look natural, but achieve textures and details that exceed the limitations of a paintbrush.”

That certainly doesn't mean that his work in oils, acrylics, or ink will subside: luckily for Charleston's artistic community, "I have to paint—I can't go a day without it." And that means that we will be seeing Nathan Durfee and his canvas dreams for a good long time.

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