MARQUETTE - It isn't uncommon for many to find their passion or calling as children. But for Brady Nelson, something clicked when he took a few art classes while pursuing a degree in education at Northern Michigan University in 2008.
In an email interview, Nelson wrote of his journey following his passion for art.
"At some point, I had purchased a set of oil paints, which I had no idea how to use," Brady recalled. That night, after finishing his classes, he decided to paint a portrait of his wife.
Shown is Brady Nelson, standing next to his winning painting, “Treasure of Youthful Virtues.” Nelson won the media award for the 21st Annual Northern Exposure XIX exhibit at the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center in Escanaba. (Photo courtesy of Brady Nelson)
"I was so wrapped in the process that I lost track of time and painted the night through."
Since that fateful night, Nelson has gone on to develop his own unique techniques. His pencil portraits mix graphite, charcoal, conte and pastel to balance the tone of the drawing and eliminate the shine that comes from solely using graphite. Nelson's techniques served him well in a recent submission to the 21st Annual Northern Exposure XIX Exhibit at the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center in Escanaba. The exhibit ran from Nov. 8 through Dec. 20 and featured works by artists from across the Upper Peninsula.
"We have incredible artists up here and we need to recognize that and celebrate it," said Mollie Larsen, executive director of the Bonifas art center.
Larsen said about 120 entries were submitted, with approximately 65 artists represented.
"There was such a response to the exhibit that it had to be juried down to a manageable number," Larsen said.
Nelson was selected for one of the show's media awards, which highlight artists who were selected by local newspapers.
His painting, "Treasure of Youthful Virtues," depicts a young girl and a story.
"My inspiration for 'Treasure of Youthful Virtues' is to witness and exemplify the God-given gifts that we have and how as children we are uninhibited to share and explore them," Nelson said.
Going forward, Nelson said he hopes his work will reside in the homes of people across the nation.
"Where families and friends gather, this is where art is truly enjoyed," Nelson said. "I know these works will be a treasure hanging on the wall, and a legacy passed on to future generations."
Nelson owns a studio - BN Art&Design - located in Gladstone. He offers classes at his studio for artists ranging from beginners to advanced. He will also lead a drawing class at the Bonifas Art Center in February.
For more information, visit bradyraynelson.wis.com/arts email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 906-420-3786.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.