Spray paint artist wows at sidewalk sale

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@tc.tc
Published on July 17, 2014

SUMMERSIDE – Watching Nathan Salmon paint is akin to watching a machine.

There’s no stopping and starting, no agonizing over every little detail.

Everything is one fluid motion as he grabs seemingly random cans of spray paint and waves them over his blank canvas.

He doesn’t even stop when one can runs out of paint. Without missing a beat he magically produces another of the same colour, smacks the cover off and keeps painting.

His creation looks like a jumble of random colours and shapes, the crowd of people gathered around him during the Summerside Lobster Festival’s Downtown Summerside Sidewalk Sale wonder aloud what is making.

A few smudges with an old newspaper here, the outline of a doodad there.

After only about four minutes, start to finish, Salmon holds up his creation: a psychedelic moonscape with a tree and pyramid.

It’s trippy.

The crowd claps in appreciation.

He gets up from where he’s been sitting on the curb to lay his latest creation with the pile of others.

He explains that creating these images, and the show that goes with them, has been his summer job for the last couple of years.

He’s a biochemistry student at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. he said, but he’s also a life-long artist from a family of artists.

He first saw this type of spray paint performance art while on a trip to Mexico.

“It just kind of caught my interest and I went and painted for eight hours a day for two months to try and figure it out,” he said.

He doesn’t have the steady hand needed for really intricate artistic work, he added, but this spray paint method is anything but. 

The technique is all about layering. Bringing one layer to the top or pushing another down, smudging them and so on.

Each painting takes less than five minutes to create, he said, so it’s a great form of performance art.

“The whole thing is about surprise. I cover things up, I uncover them, the crowd thinks I messed up, but then it looks great after that. It’s all entertainment based,” he said.

He travels around to different festivals and events each summer to ply his trade on the street and he does pretty well at it.

It is, however, not going to be his career.

That he’s reserved for the art of science.

Anyone who’d like to check out more of Salmon’s work can see his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/salmnat or look him up during this year’s Old Home Week in Charlottetown.