© Nick McPhail

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Nick McPhail

Los Angeles, California

Artist Statement

The peripheral is at the core of my practice. What we see but do not focus on; what we overlook or take for granted. The quiet subject matter of my work — empty streets, architecture meeting vegetation, power lines dividing the sky, dancing shadows on a wall — is revealed as a voyeuristic element of urban life. Each of my works begins with observation. I use photography to capture moments of detail and the resulting images are the starting points for future compositions. I then translate them into oil, acrylic, and gouache paints on canvas, wood, and paper.

I start with a bright base color, a painting technique from the renaissance, to set the overall tone and energy for the painting. Then I build layers of acrylic and oil paint, combining washes and textures to create a history within the piece. Personal memory and intuition dictate how much of the underpainting is revealed as the final composition takes shape. The finished paintings are not a literal representation of a specific place, building, or tree. Each is influenced by the source imagery, but is abstracted and edited as I work with it in the studio.

© Nick McPhail

Nick McPhail's Portfolio

© Nick McPhail

Artist Biography

Nick McPhail (b. 1982) is Los Angeles-based painter and sculptor using renaissance techniques to consider the peripheral mundanity of urban life. Born and raised in Laingsburg, Michigan, Nick attended Michigan State University where he studied painting and ceramics, graduating with a BFA in 2006. Since then, he has maintained a consistent practice that has evolved to rely on personal observation and photography as the basis for his intuitive compositions. Recent solo exhibitions include: Amélie Maison d’Art in Paris (2022); Ochi Projects in Los Angeles (2020); Untitled_1983 in Geneva (2019); and Holiday in Los Angeles (2018). He has completed residencies at Untitled_1983 in Geneva (2019); Ochi Gallery in Ketchum, Indiana (2019); and 100 West Corsicana in Corsicana, Texas (2018). In 2017 he was awarded a grant to attend a residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. His work is in private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and beyond.



© Nick McPhail

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