Natalie Norrell

Montana, USA

Mediums: oil, watercolor, pastel and occasionally charcoal

Style: Impressionistic realism

Favorite Quote: “A woman who owns horses goes where she wants” ~ Lakota Sioux saying

Favorite Books: I am a voracious reader – I always have a least one and usually more on my night stand. Currently I am reading “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton, “Treasure Hunt” by John Lescroart and “In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” by Peter Levine.

Favorite Movies: Firefly/Serenity, Star Trek (all of them!), Secretariat, Pow Wow Highway



Anptaniya (first glimmer of morning) © Natalie Norrell - Early morning in Glacier National Park.


In addition to being in private practice as counselor and art therapist, I am a contemporary western artist. I work in an impressionistic realism style. It is a versatile and endlessly challenging style which depicts poetry of the subject implying detail. I often employ the visual vocabulary of the viewer and encourage them to “finish” areas of the artwork in their own unique way. Through design, it is best to view my paintings with a little distance, while the brushwork and palette knife together create a textural variety and paint quality that entices a closer look. The influence of my training as an art therapist has taught me to embrace the experience and process of painting. In other words, I am not overly interested in the finished work as a product – I am more interested in the knowledge and observation gained throughout the entire process of painting a piece. My paintings walk a fine line between abstraction and realism. For the most part, I paint with oils and occasionally pastel, charcoal or watercolor.

Please tell us about your first experience creating.

I am one of those girls that never out grew that “I so freaking love horses!” stage. I was often chided as a child for drawing horses instead of doing my school work and to this day my work often features horses.


What music do you like to have playing while creating art?

It is a pretty eclectic blend: Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, Nora Jones, Afro Celt, Tribal Voices, Ulali, Robbie Robbertson & The Red Road Ensemble, P!nk, Garth Brooks


What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?

I think I am trying to evoke a sense of place and belonging; or recognizing the essences of an animal if that is what I am painting.



Wiahinapa (to have the sun rise on) © Natalie Norrell  - Another early morning in Glacier National Park-Bowman Lake


Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion:

I am a process painter and I like to enjoy the process of painting. I find that this frees me up so that I am not so concerned about the finished product. When painting in the field plein air or in the studio I paint predominately alla prima style therefore the majority of my paintings are done in a single session with maybe some detail work later on. I often do studies in the field of a painting prior to beginning the actual painting, but not so much when I am painting in the studio. I prep the canvas with a neutral under-painting - grey or transparent red oxide depending on the subject matter. I do this ahead of time if I am headed outdoors. If I am painting in the studio I do it right then and get my palette ready to allow it to set up for a few minutes. Then I loosely sketch out the major shapes of the painting. Next I block in the major masses highlighting the light and dark values with very thin diluted paint. In a landscape painting I usually work from the sky down and from the background to the foreground. When I am doing an animal I start with the foreground and finish with the background.


What things inspire you to create art?

My art work is primarily inspired by the beauty and spirit of the Montana landscape. I particularly enjoy plein air painting – or loosely translated as “open air” in oils. I enjoy the inherent limits imposed by time constraints, weather and light that force you to be intensely present in the moment, deeply focused and deliberate. My love for animals also plays a substantial role in my choice of subject matter.


What exhibitions have you had?

First Rain of Autumn Recent Highlights:

  • Montana Artrepreneurship Preparation (MAP) Flathead Valley Cohort 2010: The 2012 Montana Artists Gathering is a professional art festival with participants including artists and mentors who have significant participation in the Montana Artrepreneurship Program (MAP)*,
  • 12th Annual Benefit Auction of Miniatures
    On Exhibit April 25 — May 17th, 201312th Annual Benefit Auction of Miniatures: The 12th Annual Benefit Auction of Miniatures will be held Friday, May 17, 2013, 6-9PM at the Hockaday Museum of Art. For 2013, all pieces will be juried into the show and sold via silent auction.
  • Drinking From the Source – Solo Exhibition
    Opening Reception Thursday May 9th, 5:30-7:00pm
    Wellness Resource Center, 725 6th Ave East, Kalispell Montana
  • The Hockaday’s 6th Annual Plein Air Paint Out will have renowned artists painting outdoors in the Flathead Valley June 19 - 21, 2013.

First Rain of Autumn © Natalie Norrell 


Have you sold any of your artworks?

Yes. To date, primarily through local exhibits and I am beginning to market on the internet.


How do you promote your art on the internet?

Website, Facebook, Pinterest and now you folks!


Tell us about influences

I love alla prima and plein air painting.


Please recommend another artist you admire.

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was the most successful portrait painter of his era, as well as a gifted landscape painter and watercolorist. Sargent was born in Florence, Italy to American parents.

Sargent studied in Italy and Germany, and then in Paris under Emile Carolus-Duran. Whose influence would be pivotal, from 1874-1878. Carolus-Duran's atelier was progressive, dispensing with the traditional academic approach which required careful drawing and underpainting, in favor of the alla prima method of working directly on the canvas with a loaded brush, derived from Diego Velázquez. It was an approach which relied on the proper placement of tones of paint.


Tell us something interesting in your life

My father was in the military and as a child I lived in England for five years. The English are mad for horses and dogs. I went to dog shows and I learned to ride. To this day I still love a good “cuppa tea”.


If you could live your life over again, would there be anything you would do differently?

No, not really. Everything that has happened makes me who I am and helps to create a depth to my work.


What plans do you have for the future of your art?

I intend cutting back to very part time as a therapist and working full time as a highly successful artist.


Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?

Fail harder! Persistence is the holy grail of making it in the business of being an artist.


Natalie Norrell

Montana, USA

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