“The Deep” at Hanson Scott Gallery

“The Deep” at Hanson Scott Gallery
May 7 – May 30
Join us for First Thursday Artwalk May 7, 5 – 8 pm


312 S. Washington St. Studio D
Seattle, WA 98104

Appell_Untitled_mixed media on canvas

“Untitled” by Nicole Appell, 2015, mixed media on canvas, 18″ x 24″


Woodblock collage workshop at Garden Essentia

Join us June 13 for another woodblock collage workshop!


June 13, 2015 1:00 – 3:00 pm
$35 Per Seat

Back by popular demand! Hurry – sign up quickly. The last class sold out! Register here

Join professional teaching artist Nicole Appell as we create a unique mixed media collage on a woodblock, using a variety of interesting papers, matte medium, and acrylic paints.

Inspired by the multi-layered approach that Nicole takes in her own work, participants will have the opportunity to explore colorful and patterned papers to be incorporated into their personal collages. Optional: If you have any special photographs or images from home that you would like to incorporate into your piece, please bring a copy.

There are no mistakes in this playful process. No experience is necessary. All Materials Provided.


“Our Community” at McClure Middle School
An Artist-in-Residence Program


Nicole Appell in collaboration with Carolyn Grane and 7th grade students at McClure
1915 1st Ave W Seattle WA 98119

2014 – 2015, Mixed media on plywood panels, 36″ x 184″

transcending the dreaded artist statement

birdframeIf making art isn’t hard enough, writing about it is even more difficult. I find the artist statement elusive and intimidating as I struggle to put into words the multitude of messages that can be read in layers of imagery.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, as I was writing my artist statement for the upcoming “Plumage” show, it launched my work in a new direction.  Usually it’s been the opposite for me.  I make the work, and then struggle to find words to describe it.  This time, I wrote first and created second.

At first, I was writing about some older pieces that I was thinking of showing, but then when the artist statement was complete, in addition to describing the earlier “blue” series, it was also describing some works that did not exist yet.  I’ve been in the studio every minute I can, ever since, trying to create what I can see in my imagination, what I feel in my heart.  The work is not there yet, but I am standing on the precipice of a new doorway, filled with light, exploring new themes such as landscape and surrealism, with all its’ inherent symbolism and layers of meaning.

Below is an exerpt from the statement that launched this new series.  The wonder of art is that it can have different meanings for different people.  I’m not including the artist statement in it’s entirety because I want you to find your own meaning in the work.  You can read my statement at the opening for the Plumage show April 19 at Gallery 4500.

thebestschoolsPlumage Show Artist Statement, Spring 2013

Birds represent passages to me.  Flight reminds us of transitions, a change of seasons, a turning of time….


TWO Art Shows and the Courage to “Take it to the Second Floor”


TWO art exhibits in the same week?!  It’s all because I agreed to be interviewed for a doctoral dissertation on the need for courage in creative work.  Sigh.  Now that I’ve gone on record exploring this idea, I guess I can’t let fear get in my way.

In 2011, I was approached by Sibel Golden, Ph.D, LMHC, a (then) doctoral candidate in psychology who was writing her thesis on the role that courage plays in creative work.  I am one of three artists she interviewed for her thesis.  She has been to my studio, seen my work, knows my walls are filled with art.   How could I be the subject of a doctoral thesis on courage in creativity, but allow fear to keep me from hanging my work in her office?

Then another opportunity fell in my lap to hang some work in the West Seattle Artwalk.  I looked around my studio, wondered if it was enough for two shows, and thought “Oh well, I’ll just hang up some of the artwork that’s hanging around my house.”  No biggie.  Since we’re talking about courage, what excuses do I really have?

Is it finished?  Not even close!    wewilltakeflight

In my recent work, I’ve been challenging myself to push beyond the place where I usually stop, inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, a mixed media artist in New York City.  I’d been following her “Take it to the Second Floor” challenge, an invitation I felt personally compelled to respond to in my current defiance of fear and the safety of my comfort zone.  For the past few weeks, I’ve taken down most of the work from the walls of my home, and pulled works out of storage I haven’t looked at in years.  I’m looking at it with fresh eyes, and working over the top of varnish in many cases, transforming pieces that had been “finished” years ago.

Ms. Fei-Fan Balzer’s prolific production and courage to share is an inspiration.  She makes art and shares her work every day.  While I’m nowhere near as frequent a blogger as she is, her energy and enthusiasm for the creative process often propel me to my art table and easel where I can play, create, and make a mess without fear.  Now if only I can be as courageous and enthusiastic about putting my work out there as she is.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  – Scott Adams

Art show details:

West Seattle Artwalk – December 13 – Better Builders, 4800 SW California Ave, Seattle, WA  98116  (December 13, 2012 – January 8, 2013)

Blakely Wellness Center, 2901 NE Blakeley St. Ste 3B, Seattle, WA 98105  (December 16 – indefinitely)

Come artwalk with me on Thursday night!

Wax painting

Another successful community push toward recycled art!  THANK YOU to everyone who contributed crayons.  We collected about 25 lbs. of old, beat-up crayons for this project.  TWO of my favorite things – UPcycling, that is, diverting items from the landfill to use in artworks, and collaboration, that is, folks coming together for the sake of art in the community.

Our theme for this visual art series was the Circus.  Inspired by old-time circus posters, we created accordion-style books from mat board scraps, newspaper, black tempera paint, duct tape, and crayons melted into liquid wax form.

Students discovered that the process of starting with a newspaper background, and sketching with a fat paintbrush with black paint led to a loose, painterly underpainting.  Then they gooped on layers of melted wax to create a deeply textured surface, which could be carved into and manipulated in an almost sculptural way.  The wax cooled quickly so we had to work fast.

Details may have been a bit elusive with this medium, but that places the burden of emphasis on your composition and form, or in layman’s terms, it forces you to focus on the big picture instead of getting lost in the small details.  Art presents many profound lessons for life.

Warhol-inspired Self Portraits


Artist Residency 2011 – 2012 in collaboration with Artist Carolyn Grane and the 7th grade class at McClure Middle School, Seattle, WA.

For inspiration, we focused on Artist Andy Warhol and the pop art movement of the 1960’s.  Looking at examples of Warhol’s pop art imagery – Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Mao Tse Tung, Campbell’s soup cans, etc, students were led through a drawing and painting sequence.

Placing a sheet of Plexiglas over their photo, the students traced their picture, exploring varying qualities of thick and thin lines, patterns in hair and clothing, and the selective omission of lines. (wrinkles, smile lines, etc.)

In our painting session, student artists were challenged by exploring the ancient reverse-painting technique.  The process invloves painting in reverse, or mirror image on the back of the glass.  The front will be the glassy side, the linework visible through the glass.  The kids were excited to use bright, unrealistic colors in the vibrant style of Warhol, expressing their colorful middle school personalities.

The 150 finished artworks are permanently installed in the school.

Thank you to McClure PTA for fuding visual art.

Auburn ArtRageous!

Auburn ArtRageous is a free art festival in Auburn, WA. I led a hands-on art activity, making mixed media art dolls using fabrics, recycled bits and bobs, and found objects.

My booth was next to a chalk artist, and I enjoyed watching her creation grow throughout the day.  She had a section for kids to contribute as well.  I couldn’t see it from my booth, but I was close enough to one of the Pianos on Parade to hear lovely music while making art with lots of folks on a hot summer day.