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Portfolio of
 Wesley Nielsen 

Jacksonville, FL
United States

Media Type(s):
    Oils & Acrylics

e-Mail Artist

Galleries in Portfolio:



Wesley Nielsen

Artist Statement

My art is packed with subliminal imagery and emotion. When my brushes and pastels become possessed, seductive figures, suggestive imagery, and strange faces conjure themselves without deliberate intent on my part. The process is truly magical. These images usually don’t register consciously, but they elicit disturbing feelings and strong emotions… subliminal digestion at work. You’ll find these “bonus images” in nearly every nook and cranny of my work: a stalk of celery is really a spooky composition of alien-like beings; a splash of wine is really a complex montage of faces and figures. Once this “under-belly” is pointed out, the reason the piece has such an affect on the viewer becomes obvious: not unlike discovering the secret behind a magic trick.

Although my technique is tedious and time consuming (6 to 8 weeks, give or take a few, to complete a pastel piece), the satisfaction is well worth the time. I use both pastel pencils and sticks to blend colors on high quality pastel paper that yields photo quality images (which is what I’m after), even down to the detail of individual hairs. The best I can do, and be satisfied, is about a square inch an hour. Often I agonize over form, balance, and structure – sometimes for weeks. I use complimentary colors extensively to embolden pastel’s inherent “eye-popping” impact. Unfortunately, the quality of the files posted on this site doesn’t reflect accurately the detail of the originals.

Usually, pastels are fast and free while painting is painstaking and refined. My acrylics on the other hand, are fast and loose. While some of my acrylics are inspired by vivid, lightning-bolt images during sleep (Man, Meat, Mutt), others begin with absolutely no preconceived image at all (Poker). Quickly the possessed brushes take over and the image splashes onto the canvas. These, as with my pastels, are replete with subliminal imagery (the dead plants in Man, Meat Mutt are actually faces).

Enjoy my gallery.


Wesley Nielsen is a bit of a conundrum. A Navy Fighter Pilot turned actor and artist – go figure.

He was born in Northern California and took an interest in art at a very young age. In order to nurture this talent, his parents enrolled him in an oil painting class, but he didn’t like being told what to paint – the skill was clearly there, but the artistic “choice” was lacking. He dabbled here and there during his teens, but social pressures required more attention.

Wes is one of the lucky one’s that knew what he wanted to do very early– fly Navy Fighters. To make sure that aviation suited him before signing on with the Navy, he became a private pilot at the age of 16 and took to airplanes like a fish to water.

After high school in California, he attended Jacksonville University in Florida on full NROTC scholarship. Psychology interested him most, but at that time, only 1 in 10 Psychology PhD’s were working in their field. So, being good at math, he also studied physics thinking he would need something solid after the Navy. At that time he had no idea that his love of flying high performance jets would seduce him to be a lifer. He graduated in 1983 with degrees in Psychology and Physics, and minors in Math and Naval Science and headed off to flight school to answer his calling.

His Navy career was nothing short of a spectacular. Everyone thinks that flying a Fighter would be fun - it turned out is was better than he could possibly have imagined. He was a flight instructor, an operational F/A-18 pilot, Navy Test Pilot, and Commanding Officer on board the USS Lincoln during Afghanistan and the opening weeks of Iraqi Freedom. He lived throughout North America during his career (Florida, Rhode Island, Texas, Maryland and California) and even spent a tour with the Royal Air Force in England at the British Flight Test Center teaching future test pilots how to do this flight test thing. He’s flown nearly 100 different types of aircraft (jets, props, turbo props, helicopters, and gliders), logged over 4, 000 hours of flight time, and has nearly 1, 000 arrested landings on 13 different aircraft carriers. He’s been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/ Bronze Star and Combat Distinction Device, 3 Strike-Flight Awards, 4 Navy Commendation Medals w/ Combat Distinction Device, 2 Navy Achievement Medals, and numerous other campaign and deployment decorations. Somehow along the way, he earned a graduate degree in “Aviation Systems” from University of Tennessee and another in “National Security and Strategic Studies” from the U. S. Naval War College. His only professional disappointment was not becoming a NASA space shuttle pilot, after being a finalist 3 times in a row – always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

After retiring to Jacksonville Florida, he saw a spot in the newspaper one day announcing open auditions for a Chekhov play. Since Fighter Pilots are nothing but a bunch of bravado and funny movie one-liners, it turned out to be a pretty good fit. One thing led to another and now he is a professional actor with dozens of film, TV, theatre, and commercial credits to his name throughout the Southeast. Nothing really major yet, but it won’t be long.

When Wes is not doing art or making films, he teaches “Aircraft Accident Investigation” and “Human Factors in Aviation” part time with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is an aspiring novelist, a seasoned triathlon competitor, and a person who approaches anything interesting with gusto. To say that he is an aviator, actor, artist and academic, pretty much hits the nail on the head.


Neptune Gallery, Jacksonville FL
Beaches Art Walk, Jacksonville FL


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