My transition from wildlife art into contemporary art was a series entitled Urban Cave Paintings. I combined my love of wildlife, my fascination with prehistoric cave paintings, and my new passion for cinder blocks. This series answered the question, What if you bought a house and went into the basement, only to discover a cache of ancient cave paintings?
In 1991, this painting was shown in the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's Wildlife: an Artist's Perspective and was chosen for their world tour. It was the first time one of my cinder block paintings was exhibited, so it was a proud moment for me. In the catalogue, the reviewer wrote:
"...Another unusual work is Urban Cave Painting: Wounded Stag by Nolan Haan. The only wildlife in sight is a crudely rendered prehistoric antelope on a cinder block wall. All of this is rendered in acrylic on silk in perfect illusionistic detail. It is one of the few works in the show with depth of content."
-Ron Netsky, Professor of Art, Nazareth College
To achieve this combination of styles, I first painted the cave drawing (from Lascaux) and the cinder block wall. Like all my work, it is painted in acrylic on silk. I then covered areas with masking tape that I wanted to be seen in the completed painting. After taping, I covered the entire surface with gesso and painted the graffiti tag. When I removed the masking tape, the cave drawing underneath was revealed. To complete the illusion and to add depth, I added a shadow and highlight to all these cut-outs. So, two paintings for the price of one. What a deal.