London native Ed Nash sold art for several years before he began creating art of his own in his 7,000-square-foot Nashville studio. “I moved to America in 2008 to become a fine art dealer,” he says. “I was an antique dealer, selling late 19th-century and early 20th-century paintings. I did that for about four years. During that time, it really helped me to get a sense of the art market [and] what made a great painting.”
Ed sold his flat in Edinburgh, moved to Nashville with nothing but a backpack, and started making calls. “There’s a lot of people in America that could collect art but don’t,” he explains. “I’d talk to them about the different criteria that are used to determine the value of art — the condition, the subject matter, rarity, historical aspect, provenance.”
His time in the art-dealing world made him realize that there were a lot of people who wanted abstract paintings. “I got my green card,” he recalls, “[and] I thought, I’m really going to be an artist. That’s what I’m gonna do. People started buying my paintings, and that’s kind of how it … took off from there.”
Armed with a dual degree in psychology and fine art, as well as business experience from summer jobs during college, Ed built his own brand: Ed Nash Fine Art. “The overriding theme of my work is the Japanese theme of Wabi-sabi,” he says. “It basically deals with beauty through the impermanence, beauty through the decay and the patina, [and] beauty through the processes of time — which is kind of opposite from our western culture, which is [all about] everything new.”
Ed says that he was always interested in Wabi-sabi even before he knew what it was. “I loved Roman walls — these beautifully patinaed walls [and all their layers]. I liked that, and I didn’t realize there was a word for it. I don’t think there’s a word for it in English,” he laughs, adding that this concept is all about exactly what he’s interested in developing: organic beauty.
“That’s kind of what I’m trying to create in the layers of my paintings,” he says, referring specifically to his Terrain collection. “There are lots and lots of layers. First, I’ll do some spray painting. I’ll cover the canvas with some paint, [then] I’ll come back — do another layer, do another layer, do another layer — then I’m gradually sort of building up the areas [and] blocking areas out, and then I’m left with certain sort of compositions within the layers of the paint.”
The result is a one-of-a-kind, textured piece that resembles a topographical map. Ed gives them names like “Coastal Trench” and “Arctic Forest.” “The ones that are really textured,” he adds, “they are made up of glue and sawdust and spray paint. They kind of build up texture over time, and they crack. I loved geology in school and plate tectonics, just the natural processes of the earth. So, these paintings for me are kind of interesting. [They] form themselves.”
The Terrain collection is just one of 10 listed on Ed’s website. Most of his other collections are acrylic paintings. When asked which of the 10 are his favorite, he exclaims, “That’s like asking a parent who’s their favorite child! I enjoy different parts of all of them.”
He says one of the most critical aspects of his craft — regardless of the collection — is being able to present his pieces in people’s homes. “I’ve got a great assistant,” he beams. “I couldn’t do it without him. He’s a really important part of the process. We load up the truck [and] we take paintings to homes. It’s kind of like a whole experience for [the homeowners]. They see the paintings on their walls, in their home. We might take 10 to 15 paintings [with us].” This part of Ed’s process allows buyers to see exactly what his art will look like in their abode; they are able to get a feel for how the art fits in certain spaces, under specific lighting, and next to particular furniture. “That’s one of the most important parts [of my work],” Ed emphasizes, “ … being able to offer that service.”
Sometimes, in-home service isn’t requested or possible, but it doesn’t stop customers from adding Ed’s art to their collections. He ships paintings around the world, and has pieces in galleries all over the U.S., from Georgia and New York, to New Mexico and Montana. His work can also be seen in the Nashville airport, at the Waldorf Astoria in Atlanta, and even at StyleBlueprint’s main offices.
“One of the things that people often ask,” Ed explains, “is, what are the elements that make an artist successful? It’s a combination — there are several factors.” The first factor, he explains, is ensuring paintings have a finished look. “I frame every one of my paintings in a very specific molding, which kind of gives the painting another finish on the outside. It’s yin and yang; you have the texture and the finish of the canvas.” The second factor is innovation — finding a new medium, process, or materials. “I’m trying to stretch things a little bit,” he says, describing how he has begun to incorporate lasers, ultraviolet pigment, and other new ideas into his work. Lastly, he finishes, “An artist has to work hard mentally. [Artists] are philosophers, and they’re taking concepts and themes and culture and incorporating them into their work — but you’ve got to stay mentally disciplined.”
Thank you, Ed. Learn more about Ed Nashville Fine Art HERE. All photography provided by Ed Nash.
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