Nicolette Spear grew up on a working farm in Otisfield Maine, population 179, where her father worked as a farrier. As a young girl she woke at 5am every morning before school to water and feed horses. When she got home from school she cleaned animal stalls, despite the cold Maine winters. Along with her sister, Young Nicolette carried large buckets of warm water to the troths to thaw their overnight freeze. She and her sister swung large mallets, breaking free ice that froze inside the buckets. Day in, day out, throughout her childhood these were her daily chores. Spear didn’t love the drafty, remote farm house she grew up in, but it is this osmosis of organic tactile repetition that was taken in.
Spear is in love with the profound anatomy of biological organisms and the first thing she ever painted was an animal. Today she conjures stunning, bold imagery of humanity’s inherent conflict with nature and technology. She also paints directly onto the human form.
Spear is an anatomical figure painter with an intense obsession of painting ephemeral and haunting mental images directly onto the human body. Even though body paint quickly fades, or is cleaned off, her works live on in all that have viewed them by creating a striking human experience. These paintings are made with the same degree of attention and accuracy as her anatomically detailed oil paintings. It is the dedication to the duality of the temporary and the permanent that defines her work.
We all have the same parts; organs, armature and most importantly, mortality. The body is also the temple of the soul. The body is the structure that our energy inhabits. It also humbles us as it cannot be fully controlled. It is an animal. It will die. It will have illness and it is also powerful. It gives us the ability to navigate the three dimensional world, but our parts are not perfect and will cause us pain. The body is the ultimate vulnerability and the common denominator between all beings. Spear’s work is a perfect collision between the natural world and oil paint. Her love of the human form is rooted in the body’s vulnerability and relatability.
Spear calls our current conflict between technology and nature, “The Dopamine-Hit Era of Human History.”
Nicolette comes from a matriarchy of oil painters spanning over 100 years. Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are and were all oil painters of significant power and skill. She believes that this influence lives in her and is an inherent driver of not only her work, but her desire to catalog the time of her existence with paint.
Spear embraces the creative with the work ethic of a tenant farmer. When she was a young child, long before the days on the farm, her father worked as a traveling salesman of computer software. During this time he secretly went to school in Oklahoma to be a farrier (a horseshoer and expert on hoof health) in a decision to change his life. This secretive change in career damaged his marriage but the reverberating effect was to teach Spear that one must pursue what fulfills.
Spear has never seen a body she didn’t admire and worked for years as a physical aid to those with broken bodies and neurological disorders affecting one’s ability to move. She believes that one’s repulsion to ‘broken or imperfect bodies’ is created by our own fear of what can happen to our own body and she has only found beauty in imperfect forms. While viewing an autopsy in college she saw bodies without life as pure armature. The structure is there but it is not scary but simply a reminder that we are on borrowed time. For Spear, even the grotesque parts of a damaged body are intricate and original like a snowflake. In living with malady you have the opportunity to feel the powers that sustain life. Death shows us that the body is really an intricate, beautiful machine. Watching someone die can be traumatic, however, looking at a dead body on its own is the experience of looking at beautiful architecture and an extraordinarily engineered machine.
Spear is obsessed with creating work that speaks to the time in which she lives, that seeks to document a part of history. Like her father’s journey which showed her “living in ourselves is a choice.” Growing up in such isolation, she believes, “We all follow the natural world. Plants, insects and animals know exactly what to do. Intuition and bliss are not only closely related but the compass for a constructed and disciplined life.” For human beings following what moves us, discipline and producing something that will endure the test of time, is the work of art.
THE MR. THRIVE PODCAST
What does it mean to be one with nature? What does it mean to embrace your physical form? What does it mean to be a creature of nature? Nicolette Spear’s art raises those questions. She joins Chaz Volk of Mr. Thrive Media to dissect these questions, discuss her process, and reflect on her work.
THE PLEASURE POSITIVE PODCAST
You may have seen some of our oil paintings on our IG @clittalkshow. She is a sex positive artist, oil painter & body painter. She says “Female sexuality is power and I will use that power to get your attention.” And boy does she! Please welcome to the studio, Nicolette Spear! Sign up for Nicolette’s newsletter and receive 4 free female empowerment art screensavers.