How Neltje Dances With Color

The artist is known for exuberant abstract canvases swirling with layers of color


From the series “Tell Me, Why Flowers?”
Acrylic on canvas 10 x 30 feet


KNOWN FOR Exuberant abstract canvases swirling with layers of color.

ON BECOMING AN ARTIST “It sort of overtook me. It had nothing to do with my making a decision. I was friends with the Abstract Expressionists, and I hung out with them, so it was like something I saw my brothers and sisters were doing.”

THE LURE OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM “The power of energy, the power of color, the power of line—it touched me deeply. It was like I had a voice, which I’d never had before, and that was huge.”

WESTERN INFLUENCE “It has been responsible for the change in size and the change in colors, and the very basic energy transference that it delineates. Wyoming is different from other states. It has a sweep of space and powerful light and a very direct way of speaking and powerful landscapes. And I could go on! Cowboy boots…”

COLOR AND ENERGY “Color is my life’s blood, color is how I breathe, color is the sun I inhale and the snow that I exhale. I’m translating myself; I’m translating how I feel. I’m translating how I feel looking at or being part of the landscape, the skyscape, the intimate and the large. I record my feeling of a moment, not of an hour or a day, but just of a moment. And if I can get somewhere near what that moment was, I’ve done my job.”

LARGE SCALE “I hear the shout of flowers. I don’t think small.”

PAINTING AS DANCE “You know, as a kid the one thing you can do when you’re having a good time is you dance. And I haven’t grown up.”

NEXT Neltje’s series “Tell Me, Why Flowers?” and “Dialogue of My Mind” are both on exhibition at the Yellowstone Art Museum, in Billings, Montana, through October 18, 2020.

Categories: Artists & Artisans