Tom & Nelda Nixon @ Fairbanks Community Museum

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Pristine. Have you ever heard a word and then a mental image of what that word means materializes in your mind? My wife, Nelda and I had it happen to us this past summer when we joined Rusty and Marie Scholle on board their 44′ boat “Fantaise” for a 9 day cruise on Prince William Sound. Nelda and I are landscape watercolor artists painting for the most part here in the Interior of Alaska. The Scholles had extended an invitation to join them on their annual summer excursion out of the Port of Valdez, Alaska.

There is an old axiom in art that says “Once a year treat yourself to some place visually inspiring. Some place you have never been before.” Our trip to Prince William Sound was all of that and more. Nearly every day as we traveled we did studies and paintings to record the colors and moods of the fog and mist, bays and coves, mountains and glaciers, rain and waterfalls of the areas that the Scholles knew so well.

As I look back thru the notes in my journal names of places like Bear Trap Bay, St. Matthews Bay, Jackson Cove, Glacier Island, Granite Bay, Port Wells, Marsha Bay, Knight Island, Montague Passage appear. Each with a memory of its own. The beauty of these places and many others is breathtaking. They are awe inspiring and in many instances, especially if you are an artist, nearly spiritual.

There were times as we were midway in a passage from one area to another that I simply sat up on the fly bridge with camera in hand composing photos for future paintings. Thank goodness for technology that gave us the digital camera. We could have never carried enough film to cover what we photographed. When we came home and down loaded the camera we had over 750 photographs.

In the beginning of the trip we were both more involved with getting into the routine of living on board a 44′ boat that sleeps 6 very comfortably. Waking up in the early morning snug and warm in the V-berth while at anchor in a protected cove to the gentle rocking of the boat and the sound of waves against the hull. Thinking of the adventure of the previous day and wondering what we would see the coming day. Going up on deck and seeing a new day begin in an area that is timeless. Seeing the colors of the sunlight peek through the mist and clouds. Watching the fog slide silently down a hillside and meet the grey green waves.

As the adventure unfolded for us over the 9 days and nights, I came to realize that Nelda and I might never pass this way again. That thought prompted me to ask my wife if she would like to paint what she saw and felt and I would do the same, independent of each other. Then see what we came up with.

Over the past several months we have painted from the studies and sketches, photos and memories that each of us have compiled and more importantly from the emotions of that wonderful piece of country that has touched us so deeply.

We have joined with the Fairbanks City Museum located in the Old City Hall on the corner of 5th and Cushman to display our works for your viewing pleasure. The show opens on Friday, December 3rd, 2010 and will hang for the month of December.

We extend a warm invitation to all who love Alaska and all of it’s diverse areas to join us at our Artists Reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. as we share with you artistically how we feel about the Interior of Alaska and South Central, more especially Prince William Sound. That piece of the world that must have been the inspiration for the word “Pristine.”

Tom Nixon  


First Friday, December 3rd, 2010- 5:00pm – 8:00pm


Fairbanks Community Museum

410 Cushman Street