Artist Spotlight: Nina Doerr
Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Nina uses oil to create gorgeous landscapes that sweep you away to another world and capture the beauty and joy of nature.
Let's talk to her a little bit.
Do you feel like where you live inspires a lot of your work?
Yes, absolutely. I was born and raised in Maine. I traveled a few years – I did a cross-country trip over the US, but I've spent pretty much my whole life in Maine. This is home for me. There are very few people here, and it's very nature-oriented. That’s important to me. It snows almost half of the year, but it's really nice in the summer.
My newest work has been straight from the landscape around me, but my older work has bits and pieces of pictures and scenes from driving. Whenever my husband and I driving, I'll see something that sparks inspiration and tell him to stop and pull over so I can take pictures.
“This is home for me.”
Who do you feel are your biggest influences?
People from art history – I really like Monet and Van Gogh – their movements and brush strokes and use of color. Pretty much any artist that focuses on impressionism or trying to capture light instead of every single detail.
One artist now that really has kept me inspired to keep seeing beauty in the world is Emily Jeffords. She does landscapes as well, but hers are moody but really vibrant with the colors she uses.
I've been getting into a lot of raw pigments – foraging, I really like that.
Have you done any foraging?
It’s really hard in Maine because most of our rocks are the same, and there's a lot of granite, but I’ve been finding some. I've been using raw pigments that I've purchased. It’s been a great experience outside of just buying tubes of paint.
What would you say your pieces are about? What's the meaning behind them?
It’s about seeing beauty in the world. I have a general anxiety disorder so to be able to slow down and not be anxious and busy. Remembering to breathe - that’s been the basis of what I strive to communicate through my work.
There’s a spiritual connection to nature. Using pigments has added even more of a spiritual connection – getting your hands dirtier while painting and using the earth around me. Nature has that ability to help you slow down and reconnect.
For me your art has this ability to transport. I feel like I can hear your artwork, like I'm standing in the field with wind and nature all around me.
Thank you! That's what I want to come across in my work.
Well it's definitely working.
What’s your favorite part about painting?
Right now my favorite part is mixing pigments and once the painting is completely finished stepping back and realizing: holy crap, I made that. It being what I wanted and what I pictured in my head. The middle stage is the worst. That point where I may want to give up or I don’t know if it’s going to work out.
So you never give up on a painting?
No, I never let them sit more than a month.
It's so interesting, because I'm the same way. I get terrified in the middle of the painting and I'm never sure if I should give up or keep going. It seems like we all feel like we're walking these paths alone, but really we're not.
Yes, that's what's interesting about being an artist! We're all walking this path alongside each other. It all looks different from the outside, but it's the same journey seeing the world through different eyes.
“It all looks different from the outside, but it's the same journey seeing the world through different eyes.”
How has your style changed over the years? Has it grown with you?
It’s changed quite a bit. When I was younger I would only draw or paint people. At the time, I was like, "How can you paint just landscapes?"
My shift in style over the years has come from letting go of trying to please everyone with my work. A big thing for me is looking in other peoples work just to enjoy it and letting go of comparison or wanting to add that into my art.
I know you have a two-year-old. How is it balancing your artist life and your mommy life?
That has been the biggest struggle, but at the same time it's been really great. I didn’t start being a full time artist until after my daughter was born. My husband and I were like: okay this is the perfect opportunity to focus on our daughter and work on my art most difficult it has been. She needs to be painting when I'm painting. Being able to paint together is wonderful.
Do you plan your collections ahead of time?
I have an ongoing collection. Every few weeks I'm releasing a few paintings for it. I kind of plan ahead, but I don't stick to any particular palette. I choose the size I want and a theme, but I don’t want to stick rigidly to a theme.
I want my collection to communicate what I'm feeling while I'm painting. When I'm finished with the collection, I'll see the common thread of the work and understand what it was all about. The message comes back after.
I get to look back and see it unfold.
Nina Doerr is a landscape oil painter and mother living in Maine. Follow her @ninadoerrartist or see more of her work at ninadoerr.com.