About Natalie Colleen Gates


Natalie Colleen Gates graduated Cum Laude from VCU Painting and Printmaking in 2005 and was winner of the First Art 10 Commission with the New York Youth Symphony in 2007. She lives and works in Richmond, VA. 

She is interested in painting urban architecture and scenery as a means to explore the relationships between social class, nature, and gentrification. Visually she is interested in the structured repetition of doors, windows and telephone poles and their fractional nature. She thinks this resembles notes and phrasing in music and thinks of this as a musical element in her work. Finally, although her work is representational and subject matter is important, Natalie’s primary motivation in painting is the paint itself and the expressive and unexpected ways she is able to use paint using a photo-realistic framework.

 She primarily uses photos on her phone as reference for a few reasons; The phone has become so ubiquitous in modern life that working from it better represents how most people experience the world around them. It’s a tool that allows her to precisely match colors in a way that direct observation would not allow. And finally, her professors in school frowned upon it so much that wickedly she finds using it quite gratifying.

Her influences are wide ranging; Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Sargent, Casatt, Warhol, Rothko, Henri, etc. A primary question guides her approach to painting: If photography can represent the world perfectly why do painters need to also? She is pulled between an urge towards perfect representation and a basic understanding that perfection is unnecessary.


Artist Statement:

I was sitting in my car waiting on a passenger when a man bolted in front of me and was shortly thereafter followed by four cops with their guns drawn. I looked out my driver’s side window and noticed how the setting sun reflected bright yellow in rows and rows of identical rectangular windows in brick buildings beginning to fall into shadow, and snapped a photo with my phone. Though I must admit this was an unusually dramatic moment of inspiration, this is a good example of how I choose subjects for my paintings. 

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