Marc Nelson is an artist and art teacher. He creates drawings, paintings, and graphic novels that respond to literature, history, and human rights issues, both past and present. Marc’s interest in depicting the victims of war and persecution began as a child, when he discovered his grandfather’s collection of World War One photography. These stark images of brutality, and industrialized destruction shattered any boyhood illusions of war as a heroic game. Marc was drawn to photography’s ability to both suspend time and suggest movement, and sought a way to use paint and charcoal to create images that were both static and fluid. In the last several years Marc’s work has focused on responding to contemporary images of civilians affected by conflict.
Marc uses photographs on social media from amateur and professional journalists as a starting point for his sketches. The drawings and paintings are usually created in one sitting and posted to social media sites daily. Marc is currently working to document the war crimes, and human rights violations occurring in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, and the United States.
A note on materials
Marc’s drawing and painting materials and substrates are vegan and purchased from socially and environmentally responsible companies like Gamblin. Marc creates many of his oil paints from hand, grinding dry pigments into linseed oil, and he mixes his own solvent-free mediums. His homemade watercolors are made with dry pigments and a corn dextrin binder. In his quick sketches, Marc often digitally colors his graphite and charcoal drawings.
Marc Nelson was born and raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Marc earned his bachelor of arts degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, an art education teaching certificate from Western Illinois University, and a Masters in Art degree from Eastern Illinois University. Marc’s paintings and drawings have been featured on CNN, BBC, DW, AJ+, NPR, CBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post (link) Enab Baladi, and other news and human rights agencies. He has held exhibitions across Iowa and Illinois, and his work appears in public and private collections around the world. Marc’s work has been included in international publications and documentaries. Marc and his wife, writer and educator Jill Bartelt, live and work in Kewanee, Illinois.