Atherton’s Nolan Lee is an artist with no formal training. “I had a hard time with rules,” says the former University of Hawaii football player. “I work best by making mistakes and learning from them.”
The son of an architect, Nolan lives with wife Brooke in an airy, light-filled studio loft situated in an Atherton barn. “I’ve always done art – ever since I was a kid. I began to get opportunities to sell my work during my junior year, after I transferred to the University of Colorado,” he says. “I never dreamed I could make a living from art.”
The couple relocated when Brooke took an intern position at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and they discovered that Northern California presented many more opportunities for Nolan’s talent. His current work explores the twin themes of justice and redemption.
Nolan works in many media, including acrylics, water color and spray paint. His latest works are produced by burning newspaper, a technique he picked up during a family crafts day. “We set the wood burning kit on top of some newspaper,” he says. “I wondered if you could burn the newspaper without going all the way through.
“I did this one piece and sent it to one of my clients. They wanted a whole wall focused on injustice. They loved it.”
To Nolan, his art is a means to an end. “My hope is that it raises awareness on justice issues and redemption,” he says. “It’s also challenging because there’s always something new – and that keeps me learning.”
Photo of Nolan Lee by Chris Gulker; artist’s work used with permission.