August 2019 Issue
by: Caroline Logan Cherry
For Nelson Boren, cover artist at Pink Magazine, this is not his first rodeo. The Utah-based artist contributed the February 2009 Pink cover, the only cover that doesn’t feature a female. While Nelson has been involved in creating art since he was a child, he became a full-time artist in the 1990s and has explored painting ever since.
The word “freedom” struck me while speaking with Nelson. It was the way he spoke about it, with a kind sentiment that made the phrase become seared in my mind, like a hot brander to the brain. Nelson’s paintings give you a sense that you’re free as a cowboy with a western breeze fluttering through your hair and dirt crunching beneath your worn boots. There’s freedom in his art, not just in subject matter, but in the choice he gives you to interpret it. “I want to portray a glimpse rather than the whole story,” Nelson explains, “My paintings are pieces of cowboys, and it’s amazing how people look at that and see their grandpa or uncle. They finish the story a whole lot better than I could ever do it as an artist.”
Nelson knows how to spin a visual story. He paints with watercolors, which he describes to be like a “wild horse,” and believes in having a unique style. He adheres to gestalt, a style of art that offers a glimpse and leaves the rest to interpretation. “You have to have a signature style that’s recognizable and really catches the eye,” he explains. Besides gestalt, his other signature is more obvious. It’s his featuring of cowboys and life on the range, perfectly exhibited by this month’s cover ‘Cousins’—a painting of his granddaughters as cowgirls.
As an artist, Nelson is drawn to these “of the earth” cowboys and cowgirls. He explains how he left architecture and took the plunge as an artist. “I sold my practice, and we moved to northern Idaho and bought a farm and raised cows, sheep and chickens and good kids,” Nelson chuckled. He speaks fondly of his life on the farm, “I just liked that lifestyle, so that’s what I paint,” and he has become an accomplished and recognizable artist. Nelson has been featured in galleries across the United States and was commissioned by George Lucas to paint a westernized Star Wars character for Lucas’ book.
Nelson Boren’s love of painting and the ‘cowboy’ life all circles back to freedom. “I try to paint five days a week, but if I want to go backpacking or if I want to spend time with my kids or grandkids, there’s not a lot of tremendous pressure.” At the end of the day, “you’re your own boss,” Nelson laughs freely.
You can read more about Nelson, contact him or purchase his art at www.nelsonborenart.com.