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Canadian-born artist Ramona Nordal studied art at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Here she studied lithography, color theory, painting and drawing with a focus on anatomy drawing and painting. Color theory has always been a huge part of Nordal’s process and she is quickly becoming known for her richly evocative color palette.

The central theme that unites all of her work is the mixture of the traditional with the unconventional, not only in her subject matter and color palette but also in her approach to materials and technique. She focuses mainly on female subjects in her work in an attempt to capture their strength and uniqueness. At first glance her figures appear bold yet offer almost ethereal characteristics. Nordal pushes artistic boundaries by incorporating drawing within her work. This is evident in the intricate detailed pen work of her subjects' faces. The softness of the drawing mixed with the boldness of the bodies and background create an incredible fusion that offers just the right amount of tension.

Her subjects are a mixture of the female form with references as early as the late 1800's to the 1970's.  By combining several decades she somehow creates figures that are uniquely Nordal. She is hyper aware of art's relationship with human emotion and her subjects reflect this as they captivate you and entice you into their world. 

Nordal works on several pieces at once in her studio in Toronto stating "I find I get bored easily and by working on three or four paintings at a time it keeps things fresh for me. I work on one then switch half way through the day and start working on another one. This allows me the freedom to work on several different collections at once. I like the randomness of the process." 

Nordal is represented by galleries in the United States, Canada, Germany and Australia. Her work has been collected in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, Singapore and Europe. Ramona Nordal currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada.  

Q & A

How would you describe your work?

I think it is tough to describe or categorize the work that you do. I think attempting to label your own work could be disastrous. The whole concept of art is to experiment and enjoy the process of creating. Once you start trying to label your work you are immediately limiting yourself. If you are consistent as an artist, your style develops automatically and no matter what it is you want to work on the style comes through. 

How would you describe the figures in your work?

The figures are my own interpretation of how I see the new generation. What I mean by that is that  they are women of the past, the present and the future. They are hip to their world and want nothing more than to entice the viewer into it. Their features are compiled from late 1800's through to the 1970's women. I mix different features together as I work on a painting until this character that I am creating "feels right". As I work on the painting the character speaks to me, not literally but subconsciously. I wonder about their story how they would react to becoming the focal point of my work. They are mysterious buy by no means bashful. It is important for me to present them as bold strong women with a story to tell. I like mixing very different concepts together because what that does is offer the viewer an unconventional portrayal.

Why do you always paint women?

I paint women because I am a woman and I think it is important to shed light on this subject matter with a bold new approach. Through the history of art women have been the subject for many historical artists. As I grew up the iconic "woman" has taken on many different forms. I think its kind of cool to be able to carve out my own interpretation.

Why are most of your subjects BLUE"

I can't quite explain how I started creating the blue figures. It just sort of evolved over time. I think when I started working with this color it just felt right. In some way, painting everyone blue allows all of my subjects NOT be categorized or judged but to just be BLUE. Over the years I have had several people ask me why I don't paint my subjects in more traditional colors and all I could answer was "why would I want to?"

When are you most productive?

Mornings. I get up around 5:30 or 6:00am most days. My mind is clear and I am extremely focused. I can get a lot done. Anytime after 3:00pm my brain starts to turn off and trying to be productive is almost impossible. I think this is fairly normal. We are not machines. Being able to sit and focus for hours takes a lot out of you emotionally and mentally. 

Who are your top 5 favorite artists?

Mark Rothko - because his experimentation with color is mesmerizing.

Jean Michel Basquiat - I love his unconventional and rough approach to his work.

Julian Schnabel - he pushes all labelling aside and truly allows himself the opportunity to create what he wants.

Leonardo Da Vinci - his drawings are mind blowing.

David Lynch - his mind is one of a kind.

What color is inspiring you right now?

Phthalo Green

What materials do you use?

I paint with acrylic on canvas, sometimes wood panel. I also use BIC pen and mulberry paper in my work. Combining the technical aspect of drawing with the bold shapes and colors in my work creates a very compelling aesthetic.

What is your artist goal for 2024?

Collaborations. I think it would be very interesting to collaborate with artists whose work is completely opposite from mine. Joining forces and working to create something fresh really interests me.

"The random collaboration of old and new is important to me because this is how I see the new generation. It is the mixture of traditional and unconventional that attracts us and takes us on a fresh new journey."  

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