Natalie Featherston has been working on a series of paintings on and off for 15 years. It first began when the Trompe l’Oeil artist was inspired by her young niece’s crayon drawings and wanted to represent them through her own oil paintings. “I’m trying to keep the feeling of a child doing them,” says Featherston of the ongoing series called Young Artist Shows Promise. The paintings themselves look remarkably like crayon doodles and include subject matter like cowboys, horses, sheep and cowgirls playing the guitar. While originally inspired by the artwork of her niece—who is now an adult—the drawings are now sketched by Natalie herself. She traces over the sketches with Sharpie, colors them in with crayon, and then uses those as real-life references for her paintings.
Featherston will showcase new works in this series in an upcoming exhibition at Maxwell Alexander Gallery from October 6 to 27. Other paintings apart from this series will be displayed in the exhibition as well, including Trompe l’Oeil paintings of collages of animals in their natural habitats. “My new body of work has a strong Western theme, especially featuring animals. I love the wilderness and beauty of the American West; portraying the wildlife is a fun way for me to connect with that theme,” says Featherston.
Reflecting on her technique, Featherston says, “I love working in this genre because you share this inside joke with the viewer as they discover whether or not what they’re looking at is really three dimensional, or if it’s painted on canvas. Trompe l’Oeil naturally lends itself to humor and whimsy because of its artful deception, both of which are... elements I strive for in my work.”
The show will also feature a pair of paintings of rough-and-tumble cowgirls, guns drawn, contrasted with surrounding burlap and cut paper flowers.
“There’s plenty of darkness in the world,” says Featherston. “I like to make paintings that connect with lightness, humor and joy—Trompe l’Oeil is a great vehicle for that.”