Nathan Durfee came to Charleston six years ago with a paintbrush and a passion. Each painting he did was a mission to develop his style, and he created unique characters for each painting. These characters have stayed with him throughout his career and will be featured in his upcoming exhibit at Robert Lange Studios, Tangled Dreams of Knots and Leaves.

When he was first starting out, Durfee worked to get each painting done as quickly as possible so they would mirror his emotions. “The relation of emotions to brushstrokes is keen: anger will produce a harsher, quicker stroke than a feeling of calm or contentment,” Durfee said four years ago.

  • One of Durfee’s earlier works

Now, Durfee is more likely to slow down and focus on his technique. “Back then it was about discovery and learning. I had to paint and move on. This show I was able to slow down and take my time.” He began focusing on his patchwork, but now he realizes that there are so many other styles and he’s moving from there.

He credits Megan Lange for inspiring him to work on his textures. He began working on collaborative paintings with her where she would paint the background and he would paint his characters in her atmosphere. “She really inspired me to flesh out my world,” he says.

  • A recent painting from Durfee

You can see how he has added clarity in his imaginary world through brush strokes. Not only is he perfecting the appearance of his world, but the characters in it, too. Mr. Abordeer is a central character in the upcoming exhibit, a father figure of sorts. Hector, a fuzzy-friendly-monster-boy, and Diana, a slender mother figure, are prominent parts of the puzzle as well.

Characters that were created to advance his technique are now given personality and a community — think friendly monster relationships in a surreal forestland, but don’t expect a storybook. “I am writing the story as I go, but I’m also not concerned with it being chronological,” he says.

Keep an eye on Durfee. Although his characters have no set path, it looks like he’s headed in the right direction. You can find details on his upcoming exhibit here.

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