Inspired by the natural beauty surrounding the Lower Connecticut River Valley, Leif (pronounced LAYF) Nilsson paints his plein air impressionistic landscape compositions directly from life. Setting up his easel in and around his hometown of Chester, he creates engaging garden, Connecticut River and village paintings that invite the viewer to walk right in. Some of the paintings are completed “ala prima”, meaning all at once, while others may take several sittings at the same time of day to achieve the correct harmonious atmosphere as he observes it. Generally, heavily textured paintings have more layers applied in an effort to represent the scintillating effects of light in nature over a period of time. Nilsson’s brushwork is a result of his dedication to observing nature.
Leif completed a full curriculum of Classical Studies at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, CT. He enhanced that education with several sojourns to Scandinavia, Asia Minor and Europe where he studied the French 19th and early 20th century painters; Bonnard and Monet for color; Pissarro and Vuillard for composition and Van Gogh for energy.
A successful working artist for over 20 years, Nilsson continues to exhibit his paintings in several galleries throughout the United States, while also promoting his work through his website, and at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, LLC in Chester where collectors visit him regularly to view and purchase his latest works. He teaches painting to children and adults and gives lectures at high schools, universities, art clubs, and museums.
Nilsson paints outdoors in all types of weather. He will often paint the same place over and over again, trying out different compositions and sizes at various times of day and in all seasons. These paintings often result in a series of works attempting to describe the many moods of nature on a particular subject. Born in Old Lyme, CT he has always had a connection to boats and the estuaries of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.
Some of his awards include: Best in Show, Mystic Art Center Museum, Mystic, CT Spring 2014; Award of Merit, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, Spring 2015; Best in Show, Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, Spring 2015; Best in Show, Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, Summer 2015; Award of Excellence at the Thirty Sixth Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic CT, Autumn 2015; Second Place Cash Prize Winner at the Lyme Art Association Maritime Exhibit, Old Lyme, CT June 2016; Best in Oil, Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, July 2016; The Barnes Award, Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, August 2016; Stobart Foundation Award for “Painting from Life” presented by John Stobart himself! At the Thirty Seventh Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT, Autumn 2016; 2017 Poster Contest Connecticut Historical Gardens for the oil painting of The Florence Griswold House Museum Garden, CT, 2017.