Nicole Dyer is a painter and illustrator working and living in Baltimore, Maryland. Her paintings exist through her honesty and vulnerability. They stand as raw visual diaries that represent an intimate coming of age. We were excited to visit her at her studio in Baltimore to talk about her relationships, her views on partying, and how it all how it all synthesizes into art.
What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on a series of paintings about my time at ACRE residency in Wisconsin.
Do you find that you rotate between drawing and painting?
I try to always do both! They work together as a team. There are times when I focus on just one of those things, and that is usually drawing.
Do the drawings inspire the paintings or do the paintings inspire the drawings? Or are they two separate practices?
The drawings inspire the paintings. I'll think, "I want to make a painting," so the next thing I do is make a bunch of drawings. There is a lot of drawing before a painting happens. Drawings can be their own things though too - I feel like I draw what I am feeling, and with paintings I am painting something that happened.
What are the narratives in your paintings?
Love. Intimacy. I started painting about going to parties. I was in college, and I did this to make myself go out. I thought, “I'll just be myself and try to be free. Then I'll make paintings about it.” It was both a reason to be social and an excuse to be social. Ha! Longing is a consistent narrative in my recent work. Remembering something special or someone. It is less about getting drunk more about holding hands.
So did you live paint at the parties?
NO. NO. That was just what I was interested in making work about. I would go to parties and feel justified in going because I would make work about it later. Or feel justified in my decision making.. I thought it was allowing me to be "bad." Ha! But I think I was making decisions pretty typical of people my age. Since graduating, it's been different. I don't go out as much. I've been in more relationships, and that has found its way into my work. I think about who I have been with intimately or really special moments with friends. In this painting, "25 Is A Good Year To Start Making Bad Decisions," it's a depiction of me being hungover in our bathroom. I just paint things that are happening, but it usually involves excessive amounts of something happening or an excessive need. You know when you’re talking to someone and you kind of stop and think “Wow this is really important/amazing.” I’ll paint about that.
Have any good party stories that inspired your work?
Haha. I think that my stories are really not that interesting from your typical party stories. It's just that I’m kind of obsessed with them.
How has the internet affected your work? An article comes out every year asking if painting is dead. Do you think that painting might have any sort of shelf life?
I think the Internet has really helped my work . At least the practicality of it. I can sit in my studio and be at my sketch book, and post about it on the Internet. On the Internet, you can find a group of people that are just like you. It's a thing that is going on right now. There are people who are making work and writing poetry about their feelings. It has a big following. It is all over Tumblr and Instagram. My Facebook posts are all coming from the same place, and I like that I can make these thoughts public. I've never been somebody who hides what they are making, so I'm not afraid to put it all out there. And LOL painting’s not dead people will be wanting to do it for a very long time.
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
I've always drawn. I drew a lot of small animals as a child. I drew a lot horses. I was a total horse girl. I would get all the How to Draw Horses books. I was really jealous of kids i knew that had horses, like I was so jealous of this one girl… also maybe I had a crush on her haha. ANYWAY I have always made art but I didn’t really know if was a thing someone could do until middle school so that was when I really decided I would be an artist. I didn't start painting though until college because I hadn’t really been exposed to it and considered myself a “drawer”. Now I know that’s all irrelevant though.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up?
I’ll be having a show with ACRE within the next year. Right now I’m focusing on making this new body of work and planning the next best thing!