Nathan Cole is best known for his intricate and realistic portraits of highly expressive animals on scratchboard. He carefully uses negative space and the starkness of black-and-white to create engaging chiaroscuro compositions, sometimes playful, sometimes profound. The intensity and diversity of the lines and marks created with the quill depict colour, texture, movement, and depth all at once. The painstaking, slow, and unforgiving nature of quill on scratchboard works relates closely to the careful approach that must be taken for conservation efforts with these animals and their habitats. The combination of wildlife and domestic animal portraits is meant to create a commonality between the two, a shared appreciation that the artist has to protect and care for all animals.
A graduate of Fine Arts from Western University in London, Ontario in 2003, Nathan is now emerging as a professional artist after rediscovering the scratchboard medium in 2013.
Scratchboard, by its very construction and purpose, is a very fragile medium - you create by taking away and any missed stroke could ruin what you have created so far. Humanity and its relation to nature is quite similar. Humans create their society by taking away, cutting down and stripping the resources to create their cities and culture. Their impact on the wildlife and habitats around them is deeply affected by this process, but also in how they build their culture, the stories told and myths created. The perception of particular animals due to their place in history can very well determine their livelihood. Are the animals viewed as a threat to humans, are they treasured for their fur or meat, do they have mythic properties on the black market, or are they perceived as a pest to be rid of? Does your pet have more inherent value than a wild creature? Creating expressive animal portraits with scratchboard creates a tenuous relationship between viewer and creature, where historical and cultural perceptions can deeply affect how they see the animal in front of them. The painstaking and slow process of creating the art is echoed by the careful approach that must be taken for examining some of the myths and perceptions of these wondrous animals and how that may affect conservation efforts. In this way I hope that by creating art, I can improve the relationships of humans and the cities they live in to the wildlife surrounding them.