Artist Series 2024 | Nicole Finger
With the rugged skylines of Telluride’s peaks that both attract and inspire artists, it’s no surprise that we don’t have to look far to find talented people to collaborate with on our topsheets.
Nicole Finger is one such talent. She fell in love with Telluride at the age of 15 when she came on a family trip from Maryland, and she and her husband made it their permanent home nearly 31 years ago. “The views never get old,” she said.
The 2024 Artist Series collection from Nicole Finger
Finger’s portfolio varies from paintings of food to horses to her children to landscapes, and yet, regardless of her subject matter, every piece conveys a similar feeling to the viewer. They all seem to capture a fleeting moment in time, giving them an ephemeral quality that adds to their beauty and power. We chose her recent series of what she calls “floralscapes” for our special artist-edition topsheets.
Finger’s work is also featured in galleries in Santa Fe, N.M., and Santa Monica, Calif., and has won more awards and distinctions than we could possibly list here. We caught up with her recently from her home in the West Meadows, across from Mountain Village.
Nicole Finger with one of her paintings.
Wagner: What kind of outdoor activities do you get into in Telluride?
Finger: Well, art was the only thing that came naturally to me. I was a shy kid, and my mom was an artist. I started taking it seriously in high school, because I had an amazing teacher and it continued from there. I had a side dream of being an actress, but I was better at art.
Wagner: What kind of artist was your mom?
Finger: My mom dabbled in the 1960s abstract stuff, and she did more classical stuff. She did show in galleries a little, but mostly it was a creative outlet.
Wagner: You have such a unique style, hyper realistic, yet closely cropped in a very interesting way.
Finger: I used to be a lot looser; my style has tightened up over the years. It seems like a lot of artists go the other direction.
"Frosted" by Nicole Finger
Wagner: Why do you think that is?
Finger: Being a mother of teenagers is a control freak thing. I couldn’t control them, so I had to find control in the studio. I got obsessed with the hyper-realism thing. It was a challenge to see how far I could take that. It’s tight, but very meditative.
Wagner: How did you decide to move from your figurative work into landscapes?
Finger: When we moved out of town, we had amazing views, but I never thought I was going to do landscape painting. How can you compete? How can you put that kind of beauty in the confines of a 3-foot box? I spent years just trying to think of how to express the feeling that the mountains give you and do it in an inventive way. So I came up with this concept of mixing the florals in. I liked the softness and delicacy and fragility of the flowers against timeless mountains. I like high contrast, both literally and figuratively. It’s been a fun series and I’m thrilled to get them on the skis.
"Gossamer" by Nicole Finger
Wagner: Looking at all of your art, regardless of the subject matter, gives me a longing, nostalgic feeling…The same feeling of when I’m standing in front of the mountain, like I feel my own insignificance or something.
Finger: It's so funny you say that, because I’m just your basic grounded person; I’m not super spiritual. And when I paint, I’ve thought that I do it from a visual standpoint. But when I think about it, there is that tie with all my paintings. I went from horses to water to food to portraiture—and it all had to do with the passing of time and fragility and that ephemeral feeling. It’s always there. Every single theme has led back to that fragility of life.
Wagner: When did you start painting full-time?
Finger: My father passed away from cancer when I was 39, and my kids were toddlers at the time. He told me, ‘This is your time.’ I took that to mean that I have a wonderful family, this is the prime of my life, to not let his death pull me down, and that I should go for whatever means something to me. His passion was racehorses, and I started painting horses as a cathartic thing. But then all of a sudden, I was getting into galleries it was, like, boom.
"Lavender Skies" by Nicole Finger
Wagner: Is this the first time you’ve worked with Wagner?
Finger: I remember speaking to Pete [Wagner] years ago, but I never had the right material to go on such a long, extended shape. At the time I was doing the figurative stuff, and when I started doing the floralscapes, I thought that would be the perfect thing to put on skis.
Wagner: Do you have a pair yet?
Finger: Not yet, but they’re coming. I was laughing because it’s the worst economic decision I ever made: My kids each want a pair, I want a pair, and I want to get four of them to put in the showroom….
"Tulips & Wildflowers" by Nicole Finger
Wagner: Maybe Pete will give you a deal.
Finger: I hope so! I’m so excited to see my images out on the ski hill. I think it’s like the icing on the cake when there’s a commercial use for art that touches us personally. My son was and is so entrenched in the ski thing and after living here for so long, to have my art on the skis is just so fun.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? CHECK OUT THE OTHER ARTISTS IN THE SERIES:
Article by Kimberly Beekman
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.