More about Amy Nelder
Born in 1971 in San Francisco, painter Amy Nelder calls her work “Pop Trompe L’oeil.” Employing realism with precise technique and accuracy of detail, she infuses pop au courant imagery to celebrate unsung domestic moments or to convey messages of contemporary socio- political import. She seeks to convey the joys, and ironies, of our lives with a sense of lightness. Nelder’s more recent still lifes have expanded into global commentary, including her Covid19Art, Bunnies and Guns and Build-Your-Own Eden series.
Nelder studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Early in her career, she was the Forensic Artist for the San Francisco Police Department and the Medical Examiner’s Office. Nelder now focusses entirely on her own fine art.
Nelder’s work has been shown in the de Young Museum and the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, California and at the Uffizi Galleries, Florence, Italy, in partnership with Advancing Women Artists and the Medici Archive Project. Gallery shows include the Chloe Gallery, San Francisco and Blue Line Arts, Roseville, California.
The media are paying attention. Nelder’s work has enjoyed film coverage by the de Young Museum and written press in the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Art Business News. Her work is in numerous national and international collections spanning the globe from California to New York, as well as London, Bangkok and South Africa. Nelder’s oeuvre includes several commissioned murals in San Francisco municipal buildings.
I call my primary still life work Pop Trompe L’oeil - I’ve been painting in this particular style since halfway through my pregnancy with my daughter, Chloe, the namesake of my Chloe Gallery in San Francisco, founded by me and my husband Greg Lejnieks in 2009. One day in the middle of my pregnancy, I became obsessed with painting a cupcake and a diet coke in trompe l’oeil style. I had never had any sort of connection to still life or high realism til that moment, it was simply an image and an urge that came over me quite obsessively and all-encompassingly. I was in the middle of a commission in my old style at the time, and I was so distracted I had to stop and draw this little still life image on a post-it note to get it out of my head but couldn’t find time to paint it for another two weeks. I felt such relief when I finally got it onto the canvas! I thought that was it but then my brain wanted me to paint another, and another, and I found myself constantly seeing and thinking the world in high realism still lifes all the time, everywhere I looked I saw a narrative still life painting. Eventually it became clear it was a pregnancy craving - the only one I ever really had - so I thought it would leave me once Chloe was born, but it didn’t - although it took me about a year to realize my brain chemistry had changed permanently - I could no longer obsess the same way about my old style, everything became trompe l’oeil still life all the time inspired by scenes of our domestic life. My painting process became inextricably intertwined with the messy but romantic moments of my marriage and parenthood. To this day, I see the world in still life, catching moments of light on a gorgeous corner of tinfoil on a cookie tray; mesmerized by the curving refractions of a bag of chips through the orange juice glass; endlessly inspired by the luscious play of dark and undulating light on chocolate cake icing and the reflections of items on a table on the round curve of a half-full red wine glass. But I can’t seem to paint things just because they are beautiful - there has to be a story. And usually, that story is mine. I hope to continue to convey the subtle but meaningful layers of simple human interaction in ways that bring people to an appreciative consideration of the joys, and ironies, of the less-advertised moments in our lives - and to continue to grow in strength, intention, and invention as a painter of highly realistic still life. My realism comes from a place of meticulous, self-satisfying obsession - I am both a colorist and a realist, and I paint to satiety.