“It’s like a nagging feeling,” Montana native Nicole Chenoweth said of her passion to create a new piece of artwork.
“You just have to get it on paper. It just keeps nagging and nagging at you until you do finally sit down and get everything out,” Chenoweth said. “And then you finally bring pieces together and you’re like, ‘OK, this works.’ Then you just keep adding until you’re finally done.”
After initially attending Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., Chenoweth transferred to Montana State University Billings where she graduated this spring.
Chenoweth’s dark, fantasy-styled art might make casual art observers pause for a second look, and that’s all for the better as far as she’s concerned.
“The reason I do my art is I want people to actually think about what they’re seeing,” Chenoweth said. “I want to make work that’s not just controversial, but also kind of … risqué, I guess?”
She continued, “Because in some of the works you have half-naked women, or blood, and you want to make them focus on specific details like that and not be like, ‘OK, I’ve seen it,’ and walk right past it like they would in a museum.”
Chenoweth said most of her ideas come from reading a lot of fantasy novels, “and when I read I have a lot of tendency to make pictures in my head.”
She cited popular authors Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harris as some of her imaginative influences. She also expressed admiration for the late French-American “Spiderwoman” sculptor, Loise Bourgeois. Bourgeois was world renowned for creating giant spider sculptures as well as other work that explored themes like sexuality and death.
Chenoweth’s media include pencil, charcoal and watercolor. But since she grew up in the digital age, her digital artwork piques a lot of interest. She started doing it after learning the basics in a class at Northwest College, and with dedication her skills and technique evolved.
“Usually I start with the backgrounds,” Chenoweth said when describing her digital art process.
“Then I start adding my main figures, then I work from my main figures to secondary characters, and eventually I do the overflows until it finally all comes together.”
She added, “Sometimes I just start with the characters if it looks good in a certain position.”
If Chenoweth struggles with an idea, she’ll walk away from the work for a couple of days. “Because if I don’t then everything is going to get worse and nothing’s ever going to get done,” she said. “So I take a couple of days off and then I come back and then it flows better.”
Chenoweth’s college instructors and fellow students have thought her work at times a little too graphic, dark and morbid. “Or they just think there’s something wrong with you!” she said with a laugh.
She’s working now as a graphic designer, but eventually wants to be able to support herself full-time by selling her own artwork.
One of her instructors, however, recommended she show her work to book publishers so she can potentially get hired to design fantasy book covers.
As an avid reader whose ideas most often stem from reading those same books, Chenoweth thinks that’s a prudent fit for her talents.
See or purchase Chenoweth’s prints at www.etsy.com/people/nicolechenoweth.