By training and temperament, Nella Lush is an artist and painter, but she also considers herself a philosopher. For the North Andover resident, art extends beyond the realm of depicting details and into the realm of the spiritual. “My being able to express myself in my work is a privilege and a blessing,” Lush says. “I don’t paint plein air. I write feelings and poetry, and then cover them up with layers and layers of paint. I need to paint what I feel.” Working on frescoes gives her peace and engages her tactile senses. Using multiple layers of paint, she finds the essence of the work, then loses it, then finds it again. When she arrives at balance, she stops.
Growing up in Italy, Lush painted the ocean as a child. “I really love seascapes,” she says. “I paint the essence of water and sky. I marvel at how light is different on Cape Cod—it is golden light.”
“I love the wind!” she adds. “I am fueled by the wind.” The response she has received from clients, she says, validates this experiential approach: Her clients look at frescoes of wind, waves and sand and report that they too can feel the wind.
Whether depicting flowers, figures or boats, Lush captures the essence of what is before her, and includes her viewer in the process. “I want to leave mystery in a painting,” she says, “and let the viewer finish it in his or her own way. It took me a lifetime to see it that way. I don’t have to do everything.”
Lush has an education in art history and foreign languages (she speaks five). Both of her grandmothers were artists, and provided early guidance. She has studios in Boston and North Andover. She promotes shows of other women artists on Nantucket and Cape Cod, and around the state. For almost a decade, she has mentored other artists who are technically proficient but seek the freedom to tell their own stories in their works. “I don’t critique other people’s work,” she says. “I ask them questions, so I give them permission to like their own work.” Whether she’s dealing with a client, colleague or workshop participant, Lush’s straightforward philosophy is the same: “Do what you love to do. Stay true with who you are. Follow your dreams.”
Nella Lush is represented by Cortile Gallery, 230 Commercial Street, Provincetown, and the gallery will host an opening reception for Lush and Florida artist Joseph Palmeiro on Friday, July 21, from 7-9 p.m. Lush is also represented by Thomas Henry Gallery, 15 Centre Street, Nantucket; and Paula Estey Gallery, 3 Harris Street, Newburyport. For more information, visit nellalushart.com.