The art of CT Nelson

An interview with Christopher Todd about his pieces, influences, and future work.

Joining a unique representation of light and colour, Christopher Todd better known as CT Nelson creates fantastic, surreal worlds—a combination of abstract and illustrative details. Nelson is a self-taught artist born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, a cold college town where as a kid; he exercised his talent in drawing.

In 2002, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he studied Design and Art History at the University of Nebraska. Even though he started painting when he was 25, his curiosity and desire to learn enabled him to develop his unique style of painting. However, Todd believes that his passion for art has always been instilled within him since his early days.

“It’s always been there; just now it’s more on a professional level. I highly doubt that any serious artist flips a switch in their head and decides to go for it. Art for me has been with me since the beginning and will leave with me in the end.”

Every artist has their own influences they contribute their inspiration to, and revered figures in art history such as Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh introduced him to the power of art.

“As I grew more sophisticated it went from Klimt to his brilliant young, Egon Schiele—I loved his dark contorted gaunt figures, I still do. From time to time I end up in Vienna, and I am most eager to see his works out of them all,” said CT. “Out of my contemporaries, it is former Colorado resident Christian Rex Van Minnen, who now has his studio in Brooklyn, NY. He, in a roundabout way, taught me how to come up with the initial start of each of my works. An old master underpainting of a translucent color such as Burnt Sienna and the reduction method to create shapes spontaneously.”

CT’s new works are expressions of natural dynamism, showing the constant motion and changes that happen around us, and catching a universal energy made out of bright colours. His paintings reflect visions of science fiction, hallucinations, and vortex motions, capturing the essence of his subjects and offering a fresh emotional perspective.

The artist aims to refrain from forcing a story to his viewers, instead he prefers that they explore and lose themselves in the piece. It’s a mesmerizing tale of understanding the intent of the artwork, based on the perception of the audience.

“I love to balance bright, vibrant colours with the strange non-objective flows and goes; sometimes using impasto to create the enhanced illusion of depth. The term I have come up with is Non-Objective Realism—the feeling of something real yet far away from reality.”

As any prominent artist, different approaches to the creation of art is paramount to the progress of the artist themselves. CT Nelson finds quite a contrast between the use of acrylics and oils, preferring the latter when it comes to expressing his ideas.

“Oils are so much more fun, very forgiving medium and I can do things that acrylics could never do because they stay open longer. For instance, I can wipe away whole parts of a piece I’m working on, and it reveals something I never intended, a color or shape,” expressed CT. “I learn from moves like that, and even more important; the piece can go in an entirely new and better direction. Acrylics are locked down in minutes any artistic moves that were made by the artist previously are entombed, forever lost. The colors of oils being derived from nature (earth and minerals) are more natural and beautiful than acrylics, which are essentially plastic.”

CT Nelson is recognised and awarded for his work and simultaneously has been exhibiting in numerous art galleries mainly in Colorado. Darker Side of the Light is one of his exhibits that incorporates paintings characterised by an ethereal glow and atmosphere, such as Critical Mass and Wings are Chains.

The artist still keeps experimenting with new approaches such as the use of various combination of colours, discovering their dynamic ability to allow his artwork to stand out.

“I am exploring the combinations of colors right now, to get dynamic grays and darks using colors from the opposite sides of the color wheel. Makes for some beautiful colors, and makes for a more sophisticated painting. It is a great complement to my bright color palette and in a way, it ‘grounds’ my works. Brings the psychedelic colors back down to earth a bit.”

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