Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “inspiration”

Summer Plein Air Adventures

This summer marked my first serious foray into true outdoor (plein air) landscape painting, in an effort to deepen my knowledge on the visual effects of atmosphere and natural light. This endeavor also conveniently bridged a longstanding divide between my love for exploring the outdoors and my love of painting.

Until this year the two had been almost always mutually exclusive, routinely prompting an internal conflict on beautiful days over whether to satisfy the urge to paint in the studio or the urge to go outside. But I finally confronted my fear of alla prima painting and began the difficult process of learning this completely contradictory painting technique to the one I’ve trained in for over a decade.

muddy creek session

Although discouraging at times, I couldn’t be happier with my experience so far; it feels like a whole new artistic world has opened up to me…the proverbial kid in the candy store phenomenon. I feel reinvigorated creatively, which any artist knows is a joyous feeling, and I’m excited to see how this new painting discipline evolves my artistic vision.

For now I’m still entrenched in the learning curve, looking forward to each new (and challenging)

outing, where I’m slowly gaining the experience needed to bring this vast new body of knowledge back into the studio for larger and more ambitous works in my usual indirect layering technique (ala the Hudson River School methods).

So here are my favorite plein air studies from this summer, a few of them completed at an incredibly fun workshop taught by Thomas Kegler in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. All are oil on panel and sized either 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 inches.


purple trail-lowres

“Purple Trail”, Sleeping Giant State Park, CT

"Muddy Creek", Lockhart State Park, TX

“Muddy Creek”, Lockhart State Park, TX

"White Mountains Sunset", North Conway, NH

“White Mountains Sunset”, North Conway, NH

"Cathedral Ledge After A Storm", North Conway, NH

“Cathedral Ledge After A Storm”, North Conway, NH

bridge and creek 8-15-lowres

“Bridge To The Studio”, Lockhart, TX

"The Hill Country From Mt. Bonnell", Austin, TX

“Hill Country Sunset From Mt. Bonnell”, Austin, TX

Take Refuge: Fallout Shelter Designs

Here are some graphics I designed for a tattoo-related project last year, with accompanying text (see the final product here).

I made the following images around the same time as these, using the same original photographs (shot with a Canon EOS Rebel before I even owned a digital camera…I feel old) and Photoshop CS4.




The concept of the fallout shelter gained popularity in the 1960s, in response to the threat of nuclear annihilation posed by the Cold War.  These protected spaces offered survivors of a nuclear blast a life-saving refuge from the deadly radioactive energy and debris, which would rain down in the aftermath of a detonation.

As part of the nationwide fallout shelter program, the U.S. government unveiled a symbol depicting three inverted triangles within a circle, which would become prominent throughout the urban landscape for several decades. But in the 1980s, the threat of worldwide nuclear war was averted with the fall of communism. This new era completed the rise of powerful corporations, as Big Business brought their own version of peace and prosperity to the world. As a result, the fallout shelter and its symbol have largely faded from public consciousness.

Yet unbeknownst to many, a certain Cold War still rages on—not externally, but internally—as an all-out assault on our minds and spirits by the cultural influence of the aforementioned capitalist elites. Their fantasy of escape through mindless consumption is served to resigned, debt-ridden and overstimulated masses, who despite living in material abundance, often report increasing levels of angst, anxiety, depression, and a lack of fulfilment. It’s in this 21st century war zone that the fallout shelter concept can re-emerge with a new significance.

So I say to those in search of a meaningful and passionate life, the rebels and social misfits, the misunderstood and the cast aside, the spiritual seekers and restless explorers, creatives, visionaries and dreamers, and of course, all the artists striving to bring forth authentic and original works expressing beautiful truths:

Take refuge in yourselves. 

Build shelter in your minds and hearts. Cultivate in that place an inspiration that may overcome the corporate enforcers of the dull and dreary, the false idols of passivity and obedience. Strengthen your will for the cultural battle of our era, this New Cold War.