Painting the perfect lifestyle


Alex Nelson and his wife, Carissa Nelson standing in front of his piece, “Seth,” at the Art Institute gallery in San Francisco, Spring 2015.

Valli Ford, Opinions Editor

There are many ways one can express themselves in the art world. Some may choose musical arts, while others choose literary, culinary or the fine arts. However, when one thinks of the word “art,” they think of applying that paintbrush to a canvas or a pencil to a sketchbook. We have many talented artists on campus who shine in their own way, including the charismatic and fun-loving art teacher, Alex Nelson.

Nelson recognized his love for art in his early years. “I discovered art at an early age, 11, even though I never found myself being good. I just loved it.” He became serious about his art halfway through college, even though he had a rough start. “I was undeclared when I started. I started at Long Beach, and the art program was awesome, but too much money and I was dead broke. I went back to Delta and transferred to Stanislaus, and that’s when I got serious.” From there, Nelson obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art in 1997.  Since then, he has been practicing to make his art much better. Nelson has been teaching at West High for 19 years. His first school year was the year of ’98-’99, as he was granted a job opening for art. Prior to working at West, however, he was a substitute teacher. “I taught art in Edison High School in Stockton, my hometown. I wanted to keep the job but an art teacher took it. I only taught for the first semester.”

Nelson is an artist inspired “not by a person, but so much as the world. I’m inspired by the idea of being able to create and be original. Art is my reflection and interpretation of my surroundings.”  One of his teacher assistants, senior Kaelyn Makale’a Mattson, said, “He defines the world as an influence. He’s not abstract, but he uses the actual environment for his art.” He’s also inspired by modernists and impressionists.

When making art, it’s not uncommon that the artist will face criticism. For Nelson, he welcomes it and tries to be objective, so he can use it for the betterment of his art. However, some may feel dismayed by the criticism they are given. To those feeling discouraged, Nelson advised to “be open so long as it’s respectful and constructive. Be thankful and use it. Welcome it to make yourself better. It’s hard because we want to put up defenses so quickly.” Though it may be tough to accept at first, keep your head up and try again until you are satisfied with the overall results. And to the aspiring artists, Nelson’s advice is to “recognize your strengths and push yourself to make them stronger.”

Whether it is using your paintbrush or words to paint a picture, or syncing your heart with your music to create a harmonious melody, chase after your passion and never let it go. “You don’t choose your passion; it chooses you,” said Nelson.