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Creating Art In The Time Of Covid

The world hit a milestone that most of us want to let go into history as a forgotten memory. COVID-19 has now been a part of our lives for an entire year with effects globally. Aside from those who got the virus and those who had to work, many people found themselves on a mandatory stay-at-home vacation last March. Some dove into hobbies, some caught up on housecleaning and some fought depression. Artist Vicki Neilon was able to pull herself up out of her own sadness and paint. The result is her bold and colorful work that uplifts your soul and leads your escape into the canvas.

“I believe that the coronavirus, as horrible as it is, was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “It has inspired me to create happy, colorful paintings. When the coronavirus first reared its ugly head and we were told to stay home, I went through a period of sadness. When we were told not to even go walking on the beach for three weeks, I got very upset. I could walk 100 feet from the beach on the sidewalk, but we couldn't walk on the beach? So, in order to get out of my funk, I started painting pictures that made me happy, colorful boat scenes, paintings that showed a window looking out at the beach,” she said. “Everyone seemed to love my new paintings and I sold several as I would post them on Facebook. It always helped when I would have a glass of wine in the painting!”

A retired elementary school teacher who graduated from New Mexico State University, Neilon and her husband settled into Ocean Isle Beach after moving here in 1998. “This is where we always went to the beach when we were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC in 1971. We ended up here after our children, Stephanie and Andy moved to Myrtle Beach later on in life. When Terry, my husband, retired from the military, we knew where we wanted to retire,” she said.

Neilon’s work is reminiscent of the beautiful New Mexico landscape. Her time living there greatly influenced her bold and stark colorful painting style. I was blessed to live in Albuquerque for seven years and seeing Neilon’s Southwestern influenced work takes me back to the beauty of the desert. “I wish I lived part time in New Mexico and the Southwest. There are so many amazingly beautiful, colorful scenes that are just begging me to paint them. The multi-colored rocks and landscapes, not to mention the beautiful clouds or sunsets and sunrises are an artists’ dream. I loved the trip to Taos and took many pictures of the adobe buildings. I have a huge supply of photos which will inspire me to relieve those memories of living and visiting New Mexico.”

Describing herself as an artist who is continuously evolving, Neilon’s approach to painting is superfluid and changing, keeps her work fresh and challenging. “Sometimes I will use a picture that I have taken and paint from it. Using a sketch from a photo to get your composition right is helpful. Other times I just use my creativity and no photos. Some days I just start putting paint on my canvas and it develops into a funky abstract with no rhyme or reason. It might get changed around several times before I see images in it. I started out very structured and gradually loosen up and lately have become very funky,” she said. “I love my new work and it has become my signature style, although, I still love to paint my more realistic ones. Abstract paintings are very freeing so I enjoy doing them as well. However, how I feel at the moment is how and what I paint,” she said.

Even with her years of art training and experience, Neilon gives credit to Sterling Edwards, who she said greatly influenced her work. “He has taught me a lot of techniques that have improved my art and have loosened me up. I still go back and forth with my style as my mood dictates it,” she said “I would probably label myself mostly as a realistic abstract expressionist, but I do like to switch over to painting more realistically at times.”

To see more of Neilon’s paintings, check out her work at Franklin Square Gallery in Southport and Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash. You can also check out her Facebook page, or reach her by email at


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