Skip to main content

View raptor paintings at Albertsons Library

Osprey returning to nest with a fish in it's talon
Osprey in the Teton Valley, Norman Nelson

Early life

Norm Nelson began painting birds of prey in 1980, using oil and following the traditional wildlife technique. He grew up surrounded by raptors, literally and figuratively, the son of famed conservationist, Morley Nelson.

John Collias mentored Norm in traditional oil approaches. Collias, a famous portrait artist, is known locally for his weekly “distinguished citizen portraits” in the Idaho Statesman from 1963 – 1993. He also taught art at Boise State.

Painting style

Norm works with oil on canvas, watercolor ink, salt, pastel and pen and ink drawing. The pandemic sent him back to the studio, where he completed five new pieces using an “action approach.” He researched the style of European wildlife artists, like Manfred Schatz. They use soft brushes, wet-on-dry layers, less detail, abstract backgrounds and swifter brush strokes to give a feeling of action. Norm included the Harpy eagle in his collection, since it is now the focus of conservation in South American rainforests.

On display

The Hawk Show is now complete, and totals 16 pieces. “I hope The Hawk paintings reveal the power, inspiration and diversity that are common to the raptor species. With appreciation comes the opportunity to conserve and protect the birds of prey, and wild lands upon which they depend,” says Norm of his work – no doubt paying homage to father, Morley.

Norm continues to work with abstract designs he finds in nature. He finishes these in either oil or watercolor with ink and salt. His exhibit will be on display at Albertsons Library through Nov. 18 during the library’s business hours. It’s free and open to the public.