Why Cinder Blocks?
I start with a piece of silk, the material of fine shirts and wedding gowns. I wash the silk to remove the sizing and pre-shrink it. I paint on the silk in acrylics. Slowly the luxurious fabric begins to look like concrete. I paint all the bumps and cracks and mortar joints. Soon one wants to touch it, to see if the image is flat. It is a painted illusion.
My family thinks I've gone completely insane. You see, I used to be a successful wildlife artist. I had recently finished a large painting of a peacock. It was my masterpiece.
Peacock by Nolan Haan
Everyone loved it and wanted me to leave it for them in my will. But in the back of my mind I thought, "Of course it's beautiful. When your subject is a peacock, you're going to end up with a beautiful painting." Art should surprise you and challenge you in some way. It should create a sense of wonder. And it should transform your awareness and definition of beauty.
One day, to my family's chagrin, I abandoned a painting of ducks swimming in a marsh. Instead, I unveiled a painting of a cinder block wall. No, it was not a psychotic break. I had an epiphany. Here's what happened...
The Birth of a Concept
It was a moment I'll never forget. After a long day of working in my basement studio, I leaned back in my chair, sipping a margarita. I became aware of the paint-splattered cinder block walls. My studio walls gave evidence of my years spent in that basement: a diary. Why not let cinder blocks narrate my story? A concept was born.
Two Walls by Nolan Haan
It took six months of experimenting to produce a realistic wall. I had always painted on Belgian linen, but the weave of the canvas compromised the illusion of cement. In desperation, I tried a piece of silk. Voila, I had found my medium.
How do I justify such an unusual point of view?
All of my local artist friends were doing conceptual contemporary art. As a wildlife artist, I longed to join their ranks. For over a year, I had put my radar up to find a concept that hadn't been done before. They assured me that no one was painting cinder block walls. I admit to being intimidated, which had to be overcome. I turned to the masters for confidence.
Cascade• acrylic on silk • 40 x 40 inches
Lighting designed by Caleb Charland
Warhol and friends
Campbell soup can was never considered art until Andy Warhol proved that something banal can achieve eminence. One must paint it with respect and present it in an elegant manner. Roy Lichtenstein changed the definition of art by elevating comics into a high art form. Lichtenstein taught me that a subject can transcend it origins. Jackson Pollock found beauty in paint spilled on his studio floor. For ages, artists had spilled paint, but only Pollock saw in it something special. Because of Pollock, I search for beauty at my feet. I search for unintended abstractions that others do not notice. These three artists were brave enough to take a risk and paint what no one had before them. They gave me courage to do the same.
Nolan Haan with DNA
I decided to champion the overlooked, the unglamorous. It's easy to enjoy the beauty of a flower, a peacock, or a sunset. The challenge is to discover the beauty in a dirty sidewalk. My chosen muse is a mundane, disregarded object we walk by every day without a glance. I paint portraits of concrete blocks and cinder block walls. I acknowledge their flaws and celebrate their imperfections, for therein lies their beauty. I want to entice you to fall in love with the bumps and markings and mortar joints. I want to engage you with a chunk of cement. My paintings succeed if one day you pause on the street and say, "Now THAT is a beautiful wall."
Cement blocks exude strength, character, and personality. They provide me with the ideal vehicle to tell my story. Can I elevate this humble building material into artwork that you find compelling? That is my goal. I am addicted to walls and seduced by cement.
I am the only artist in the world who specializes in paintings of concrete blocks and cinder block walls. I seek open-minded collectors like those who took a chance on a Warhol, a Lichtenstein, or a Pollock. I hope you trust your instincts enough to embrace my unusual aesthetic. I want you to look at a painting of cement and say, "WOW!"
Society installed • 96 x 96 inches • Free Worldwide Shipping