Christopher Nichols | Artist Story



“I grew up in a household of artists. My father taught painting and drawing at The University of Texas-Pan American and paints in both acrylic and watercolor. My mother, Maxine McClendon, teaches drawing privately and does large commission works for major corporations. She uses acrylic on canvas and handles it like watercolor. All family trips are structured around art museums. So what else could I do? Art came in the bowl with the breakfast cereal.

Drawing gives me a sense of inter-action with the conscious and unconscious elements of the subject matter. As for my love of painting, I find the use of color captures the soul inspired substance of the subject. Painting landscapes has become my greatest joy because landscapes portray the essence of a certain place during a given time of day. I feel taken into the spirit of the subject while I am painting and ponder what the subject has to tell me about life. At the moment, my main interest in terms of subject matter is the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It gives me great pleasure to work with the native plants and trees. I have developed a great fondness for painting sabal palms, ebony trees and the resacas of the Rio Grande.

The exciting world of Michael Graves design is also delightful to paint. I am a big fan of his. These still lifes lead me into working in light, shadows and reflections—all things I find to be interesting challenges. When painting, I feel carried away by the essence of the subject matter. I like to think of my work in terms of telling a good story about the still life and what it could portray to the viewer.

I choose to use watercolor rather than acrylic. Watercolor lends itself so well to painting light and shadows and has such a spontaneous and fresh feel for portraying the reflected and wash effects of color as seen in cast shadows. It allows tonal gradations that suggest a 3-dimensional rendering of the subject.

I just hope that the people who purchase my work get as much delight out of viewing it as I do painting it. That is truly the best part of being an artist…being able to share with the world what it is that I see and feel.”