Outdoor Palette: Nick Neddo

Engineers, 2016, willow bark ink with beaver-chewed willow stick pen, 14” x 11”

What do bear fur, deliquescent mushrooms, wasp nests, antlers, and stones have in common?

Yes, these things can all be found in the forests of the Northeast. But more curiously, they’re also all found among the art materials in Nick Neddo’s studio.

Neddo is an artist, a wilderness skills instructor, an author, and a sixth- generation Vermonter. As a passionate devotee of the land, he handcrafts his pens, brushes, inks, and papers from materials he gathers. These include crushed stones for pigment, inky cap mushrooms for ink, and cattails for paper processing. Neddo explains that “one of the results of making things from the landscape is the unavoidable deepening of one’s knowledge of the local biorhythm.”

The foraging for and handcrafting of materials is labor intensive and time consuming. Preparation for each piece can include days and weeks of searching the landscape, gathering raw materials, processing and refining the elemental components, and hand-crafting them into high quality tools and materials. Neddo strives to retain some of the beauty and elegance of the materials’ original form.

In “Engineers,” the power of the image of beavers is reinforced by our knowledge of the tool used to create it – a beaver-chewed willow stick pen. For Neddo, exploring the interconnectedness of life and the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world is what inspires and motivates him. His love of the outdoors is evident in the what, the how, and the why of his drawings, and his art practice lends a refreshing dimension to the work.

“Primeval Pigments: Original Artwork from Wildcrafted Media” is on view at the Governor’s Gallery, Montpelier, Vermont, through December 29. Nick Neddo’s book, The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More From Nature, is available from bookstores. Neddo may be reached through his website.


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