“When what the attention sees brings a smile to your face, that’s what matters”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Some artists live to color. Dyah Neilson lives amidst her paintings. To get to a drawer for a T-shirt, she has to shuffle past art supplies before she juggles canvases leaning up against the dresser. To climb into bed, she crawls over works in progress.
Neilson’s bedroom-aka-studio is her shelter however the industrious artist, who also holds an almost full-time day job at Oasis furniture and décor store, is bursting out with more work than she has space to contain and more desire to color than she has hours within the day.
“I often start within the late afternoon and work well into the evening, sometimes until one or two within the morning,” said the petite 25-year-old who looks like she could be as comfortable on a couch with a puppy as she could be beachcombing. She exudes the identical almost ethereal quality that fills the canvases of her work, a juxtaposition between the actual and the surreal.
In a single large piece, a young man with long dreadlocks and eyes closed seems only mildly aware that he’s holding an enormous grouper while one other is atop his head. The theme of animals imposing themselves, competing for attention, even dominating humans, is a foremost feature of lots of her portraits.
Said Neilson: “My work is creative portraits that mix animals and other people, compositions where the person is the main focus however the animal is used to symbolize various things throughout history, or culturally and spiritually.”
In a commissioned piece called “Kingfisher”, the prominent-beaked birds by the identical name adorn a dark-skinned woman. We all know little about her from the painting despite the extreme detail showing thick, coiffed hair, a cowrie shell strand round her neck, strong breastbone structure. We sense an inner strength, but what we do know is concerning the birds which have chosen to land on her shoulders and over her head. The artist selected kingfishers because they’re symbolic of prosperity, abundance, wealth and peace.
Although portraiture is her favorite, the young Bahamian artist who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Positive Arts from York University in Canada is equally comfortable with wildlife and historic sea life. Her depiction of sea turtles swimming is so lifelike you wish to slide into the clear blue-green sea and swim with them. Her grouper so real you’re torn between wanting boiled fish and saving the species for an additional day. What seems different from the remainder of her work, as if she lived a previous life in one other era, is the body of labor she calls seascapes. In that, she paints two-masted ketches, picket hulls, rounded bow and stern like a double-ender, full sails but struggling, all the time a touch of trouble ahead.
Neilson began painting as a toddler.
“I never thought of it. There was never a moment that it was not a part of my life,” she said. “I actually have proof from after I was in kindergarten.”
That’s when she wrote on a bear the teacher gave her to paint: “I need to grow as much as be an artist and be comfortable.”
Her parents saw her interest and encouraged her, her dad making a gallery wall to hold her pictures on. Her mother showed artistic promise, something she is just getting back to now after a decades-long break, and pop and sister each have a passion for photography.
Neilson studied with Sonya Isaacs and Kim Smith when she was young, did an internship on the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) before leaving for school, had a successful one-woman show at Doongalik Studios and her work is in private collections from California to Canada.
Within the accident that she portrays together with her acrylics, she reflected on the incontrovertible fact that she originally intended to check interior design.
“I like design and I worked at Restoration Hardware in Canada for some time,” she explained.
Now, she is the shop manager at Oasis, with unique, contemporary indoor furniture at Sandyport and an outside style location on East Shirley Street.
“It’s the most effective of each worlds,” said Neilson. “I’m around beautiful things all day. The owner, Brooke Pyfrom, encourages me to display my work and supports it, refusing to take any commission, and I’m in a position to keep working more every evening at home.”
In line with Pyfrom, mixing a furniture, décor and gift store with art is natural.
“When what the attention sees brings a smile to your face, that’s what matters. It might are available the shape of a lovely hand-crafted table, the fragrance of a candle or a canvas that Dyah created. It’s all about hitting that certain comfortable place in your heart,” said the proprietor.
The one problem for the artist herself is squeezing a lot art energy right into a day that holds only 24 hours and so many supplies right into a narrow room built for sleeping.