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Masters of fine arts candidate Nathan Zeidman said he aligns his art medium with the Vincent Van Gogh quote, “The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting.”
Born in New Jersey, Zeidman said he discovered art first through skateboarding and then photographing his friends skateboarding.
Zeidman said he considered himself a serious photographer during high school, and he didn’t begin to really draw or paint until building his portfolio to apply to art school. At the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, Zeidman said he fully let go of photography to immerse himself in painting.
“Painting for me is a way to actually feel like I’m engaging with the world and paying attention to my life,” Zeidman said.
After a gap year of working as little as possible – catering on weekend nights, house painting and teaching summer art classes at his alma mater – Zeidman said he spent a year painting as much as possible.
Zeidman said he was always interested in Los Angeles. Upon arrival, Zeidman said the first thing he did was buy a pick-up truck large enough to fit his up to 15-foot wide oil canvases that he was limited to carrying around back home.
“Out here I can just go wherever I want,” Zeidman said.
Zeidman’s faculty mentor and painting and drawing professor Roger Herman said Zeidman was one of the youngest graduate candidates in his class and brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to work. Herman said he is amazed by Zeidman’s ability to travel to these urban places, from Sunset Boulevard to Figueroa Street, pull over and paint life.
“He has this incredible energy to run around and paint and paint,” Herman said. “He’s like a runaway painter.”
Zeidman said the ability to work outside year-round with minimal difficulty in Los Angeles immediately shifted his work’s aesthetic.
For Zeidman, the intangible particularity of Los Angeles art means a lot of neon lights – a stark contrast in feel to the dirtiness and darkness of Philadelphia.
“My work got pretty L.A. pretty quick,” Zeidman said.
Zeidman said his participation in the classroom as a teaching assistant, from “Beginning Drawing” to “Advanced Drawing” and “Beginning Painting,” has been a mix of highs and lows. Zeidman said his takeaway from the classroom is dependent on the experience of the faculty member and the interest of the students. Also, Zeidman said there will definitely be no iPhones or laptops allowed for classes to come.
“It’s only fun when the kids are curious and inquisitive about what the class is actually about,” Zeidman said. “When they aren’t, it’s just brutal.”
As he’s getting to know his own material better, Zeidman said he’s trying to keep things interesting in his work to let new art happen.
“I’m becoming a more painterly painter,” Zeidman said.
Zeidman said after receiving his master’s degree, he wants to make and show art for a living, trying to make some money, too. Eventually, Zeidman said he hopes to end up teaching at a university.
“I feel like I’ve had such amazing professors that have made a definite impact on my life,” Zeidman said. “I feel the old sense of wanting to give back. It’d be nice to be that person for another person.”