Monday, July 16, 2012


Hello, Friends. I have an announcement to make. For months, I have been working away on a project very near and dear to my heart, and it is finally time to share it!

AS IS: An Urban Portrait Project

In a world where most human interaction is strained down to its digital pulp, this project asks the question “Do we really see each other anymore?” by bringing fine art onto the street. AS IS developed out of my desire to meet people where they are, to give my full attention to them there, and to leave the experience of being noticed as a gift for their taking.

I paint large-scale formal oil portraits of strangers going about their day. These paintings are several feet in length and take between forty to eighty hours to complete. The finished portraits are then installed in the public spots around the city where I first met each subject. Next to each painting I post a handwritten sign stating that the portrait is a gift for the person it depicts. The signs read "If this is you, this painting is yours to take." Unlike my commissioned work, these portraits are intended as unexpected presents for their subjects.

I believe that while the attention that we pay to each other requires very little of us, we don’t often give it away freely. I want to tell people that they are seen. It is my hope that in some small way this project will ignite conversation about the power and the gift of notice.

AS IS has been selected by the public art project, Habitat for Artists, under whose umbrella I will be painting my seventh urban portrait! Over the next few weeks, I will be painting in studios erected in front of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and THEARC in Anacostia. I'll be posting field notes here if you care to follow along.


  1. I love this, Nic. So inspired and good.

  2. Amazing. I love this. I believe in you and your talent inspires me so much.

  3. Thank you both so much! It mean the world to me.

  4. Wow Nicole, this is amazing!!!! i can't wait to talk to you about this next time I see you at RCCF!!!!! Stephanie

  5. I loved the story of As Is snuggled into All Things Considered this afternoon, 9/26/12. You have made my lips and soul smile.

  6. My husband is one of the people you painted(Pete at the wharf:0) I was astonished someone would be so selfless with their time and talent. I was absolutely shocked you would go out of your way to paint a stranger, a feat in itself, then go out of your way to try to make sure the person receives the painting. Your act of kindness left me speechless. The painting itself is beautiful but what it represents, even more so.
    Thanks for being a blessing and reminding others to allow themselves to be the same.
    My husband and I visited the Eastern Shore this weekend. As we paid the toll at the Bay bridge we paid the toll for the car behind us, telling the operator to tell them a stranger in DC had done a tremendous act of kindness for my husband and to try to pay it forward. They caught up with us miles later to inform us they surely would:0)...It's my hope that your kindness will cause a ripple effect(it already has, & we're not done yet;0)
    There are good people in this world, it's important to be one of them. Sincere thanks.


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