Steven Nicoll was born in London England in 1957, received his undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at the famous Goldsmith College in London England and then perused his Master’s in Fine Art at The University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, England. Steve is an artist and a master woodworker/restorer, who uses his hands to construct, layer, texture and decorate works of art. His early apprenticeship training in joinery in London formed an understanding of materials and building which are displayed within his paintings’ supports.
His grandfather, a decorative painter in London, influences his decisions of texture and graining that is beautifully used as a means of expression in his paintings. These areas of texture and faux wood finishes provide a greater depth of visual study. The inherited collection of his grandfather’s decorative combs and brushes make up Steve’s collection of tools to help him manipulate the paint layers as he works out the design.
Steve has commented that he’s always loved the hard edge. You can put strong colors adjacent to one another and see how a color sits next to one another. As an Adjunct Professor of fine art at the College of Charleston, he became close friend to Michael Tyzack , the Director of the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston, who also used the play on color in his work and with him as a friend and colleague, Steve found a fellow soul mate of color use and hard edges. Design within Steve’s artwork of straight edges and paint drops add to a sensitivity of form and a playfulness of the artist. His signature, his drops of paint, along with the layering of tin lids in his composition, remind one that there is an artist’s play being conducted within the artwork. The tin lid breaks the uniformity of the surface and provides a reminder that what is expected by the viewer can be startled with a texture imperfection – exactly as the artist would desire. As Steve states, “I do not care for a surface of perfect texture. I am trying to bring a little bit of a jolt into the brushstroke.”
The breakdown of space and form with Steve’s still life works is influenced by his deep respect for one of his most admired artists, Joseph Braque. And while this artist’s influences are easily visual in Steve’s work, there is also a deeper play with the influence of music, especially jazz. Geoff Rigden, a lovely London artist and friend of Steve’s during Goldsmith’s days, explained to Steve that improvised jazz would not start with a melody, it would just come in and start. He stated that was what made the best jazz and what his paintings were all about; an influence that has carried on into Steve’s works. You do not have to have a start or beginning, one just finds something and starts dabbling on it and your art begins.
“The surface sheen of a painting fascinates me whether it is matte or glossy or especially the space in between. It is where I am the most interested and a flat color can be gorgeous. I have spent many an hour when I lived on Cape Cod and on the beaches of South Carolina walking along the ocean and studying the sand and water relationship to one another. The sand represents the matte texture while the water represents the gloss and these contrasts have always interested me. I love the way the two bump up to one another and I have tried to capture that in my artwork.“
The layering of study in Steve’s painting is much like the many layers of his pieces and the complexity of his many outside influences.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff – Master of Art in Fine Arts (1995-1997)
Goldsmiths College, University of London – B.A. Honors, Fine Arts (1979-1982)
Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey, UK, Foundation Art (1978-1979)
Richmond Upon Thames College, Twickenham, U.K. – Advanced Craft Certificate in Carpentry & Joinery (1974-1978)
Nicoll & Daubon, LLC, Licensed Residential Builder in Charleston, SC. Specialized in restoration joinery and millwork to blend with the era of a dwelling and fine decoration. Restored several historic Charleston homes including 45 Pitt Street which was a recipient of a Preservation Society’s Carolopolis Award in 2004.
Interim Director of the City of Charleston Gallery for one year (1999-2000) during which eleven shows were produced.
Adjunct Professor in the Fine Art Department, College of Charleston under Professor Michael Tyzack. Taught all levels of Drawing and Painting. Faculty Advisor for the Visual Arts Club and organizer/installer of three exhibitions at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston. (1997-2000)
Taught millwork courses for the Clemson Architecture School, College of Charleston Architectural preservation program.
Professor of Architectural Carpentry, American College of the Building Arts, Charleston, SC (2015-2017)
Smallbone USA and Smallbone UK, cabinet installations for upscale private residences and for showrooms in London, New York, Washington, DC, and Greenwich, CT. (1982-1984, 1988-1992, 2007-2009)