Marie Nagel is well known in the Cariboo Chilcotin for her vibrant paintings of Interior landscapes, but these days Nagel is being inspired by the Pacific Ocean.
For 17 years prior to moving to Victoria in 2008, Nagel operated her own gallery and painting studio in Wells.
This month she returns to the Cariboo for a solo show of her latest works at the Station House Gallery titled Into the Landscape.
Nagel’s paintings in this show have an Emily Carr/Group of Seven feel to them but with much more colour and splash.
During her visit to the lakecity for the show’s opening earlier this month Nagel led a group of local artists in one of her favourite ways to paint –— en plein air — or outdoors in the natural settings she paints. In this case Nagel chose to take the group to Scout Island.
Nagel paints primarily in acrylics which she says are quite suited to painting outdoors because the paint dries quickly, making the painting easy to pack from place to place.
Nagel paints with two different plein air groups in Victoria and says the activity has become so popular that artists can find plein air groups to paint with all over the world.
Nagel says she has two watercolour paintings in the show and the rest are acrylics.
Her paintings have been described as semi-abstract and are characterized by strong, bold brush stokes, and vivid use of colour.
“Painting for me is what gives meaning to my life,” Nagel says in her artist’s statement. “It gives me a voice to proclaim loudly and clearly my love of painting and the beauty of the things I see around me, better than I can with words.”
While she is fascinated with the shapes, colours, and textures of the landscape she sees around her, Nagel says her interest often more with the act of painting than with the subject.
“It is those shapes, colours and textures I use as something to hang my paint on. In my painting, I am in a nonjudgemental space, and find a clear-cut as interesting as the pristine wilderness” Nagel says.
“My work does not often depict any particular location, but more the sense of it that I take with me from having been there. Often it is purely from my imagination, intuitive and impulsive. I try to empty my mind and turn off the inner dialogue before starting my painting, enter a quiet space, and let it happen rather than consciously trying to make it happen.”
Growing up in Saskatchewan, Nagel says she was fortunate to have a teacher who was also a professional artist.
At a time when a girl was expected to become a nurse, teacher or secretary, she was determined to pursue an art career and enrolled at the Alberta College of Art in the early 1960s.
Over the years, Nagel worked as a newspaper photographer, cartoonist, illustrator and commercial artist, while continuing to paint. In the mid-1980s she took charge of the Prince George Art Gallery, a forerunner of the Two Rivers Gallery.
After four years in this position, Nagel bought the old Anglican Church building in Wells and converted it into a private gallery.
For the next 17 years, she spent her winters painting and operating her gallery during the summers, selling her own paintings and other artworks by local and area artists. During 10 of those years she also published a local monthly community paper for the Wells/Barkerville area. Other artists came to Wells and the community gained momentum as a B.C. art mecca.
Nagel has had three shows in Victoria since moving to the capital and has also published a book of her paintings titled Marie Nagel A Painted World.