Natalia Musalem finds the right texture with watercolors and charcoal

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You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Artist Natalia Musalem of NM Photography came to Denver because she wanted to be closer to the West Coast and had heard good things from a Boulder-based friend. What began as a short stint in paradise has evolved into a life -- an artful life replete with painting and photography.

See also: Suzanne Heintz and her plastic love in Life Once Removed

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After her friend extolled life in metro Denver a few years ago, Musalem sold most of the stuff in her college apartment, packed a small bag, and drove cross-country to Colorado, where she took a job at a rug gallery on Broadway's Antique Row. She's since transitioned to bilingual client support for a virtual consulting company; working from home has helped her "find extra time and freedom to be able to focus more on artwork," Musalem says.

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Her first series, an abstract sampling of paintings, has been on display at La Belle Rosette since last summer. Musalem hopes to expand the series and someday display it in a larger space.

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The La Belle series features strong lines, shapes, and textures, which are simple but quite impactful. "I like going back to the basics of texture and form because that's really what creates," Musalem says. "If you take a class to learn how to draw human form, it all starts with shapes -- a leg starts with a circle." From these basics, though, Musalem has been drawn to an abstract aesthetic and also to charcoal.

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Today Musalem relies mostly on charcoal and watercolor -- and a little bit of colored pencil. When used together, these tools -- particularly watercolor mixed with gray or black charcoal -- afford an almost endless opportunity for creating rich textures.

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The colors are muted but still powerful, eye-catching without being loud. Musalem attributes this to the watercolors. "I like to play with color a lot when I paint," she says.

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"My work really comes from emotion and what is going on in my life," Musalem continues. "I'm not sure if traveling has influenced that." The painter was born in Chile and spent her formative years there. She's since traveled around the United States, and earned a bachelor's degree in studio art in Tallahassee.

Keep reading for more from Nathalia Musalem.


Location Info

La Belle Rosette

712 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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