Nicole Etienne Powell and Still Life Art
“Painting is just like love making. Sometimes slow, sensuous strokes of the brush and prolonged drags of charcoal are right. And other times quick splatters and fast lush swipes of color are the technical narrative a painting needs to reveal the story. One of my favorite artists, Eric Fischl, told me that if I am not feeling what I am painting, nobody else will either. I actualize joy while creating art, sort of rev up the engine and materialize sex, love, lust… whatever it is I am trying to evoke.”
Born in Santa Cruz California in 1974, Nicole Etienne Powell grew up between redwood trees and suburban Silicon Valley. Her mother, an active artist, kept Nicole healthily covered in paint and dirt and nurtured her budding career with full access to her supply cabinet.
After moving to the Bay Area her family joined a liberal California utopian group which focused on human rights, anti-war activism, and the belief that by surrendering to a process of personal transformation they were to achieve a greater awareness of the earth and each other. Nicole was encouraged to be intuitive and explore.
It wasn’t long before the conservative, buttoned-up world of Silicon Valley felt a little too parochial. She traveled widely, studying, painting and exhibiting, and in NYC Nicole was able to find her footing — and her voice. She has created work of sincere and tender human encounters. Painting lush groves with strong “angelic amazons” that blossom with sexuality and womanhood, she twists old myths with new, creating woman as the “romantic hero” in a world completely of her own.
Her technique copies the brightness of watercolor with the thickness of oil paint. A struggle between keeping the original marks of charcoal and the glow of the underpainting; and the desire to smear on thick hunks of paint until it melts together.
Nicole began her collegiate art education at UC Santa Barbara transferring to UC Santa Cruz where she received her BFA in 1997. She studied abroad at the Lorenzo Medici School of art in Italy and graduated with her MFA cum laude in 2009 from the New York Academy of Art.
She has painted and lived in Italy, London, and Ireland. It was on a trip to Cornwall, England, that Nicole met her husband, creative director Peter Powell. They now live in New York City with their cat Moo.