Nellie Enns

Nellie Enns - Collected Works

January 3 to January 30, 2020

Opening Reception

January 3, 2020, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Nellie Enns (September 6, 1929 - September 6, 2015) was an amateur painter of realistic and idyllic subjects. She is noted for her talent in expressing herself through still life work inspired by nature, and her skill in the use of colour, texture and shading to create depth and draw the viewer into the scene.

Formal Education

Although Nellie exhibited an interest in art early in life, she was formally educated in teaching and nursing. She graduated from Normal School (equivalent of a teaching degree) in 1952. In the early sixties, she pursued a passion for nursing and graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1963, and subsequently with a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Manitoba in 1966. She then completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1967, a degree she had started during her years as a teacher.

Artistic pursuits

As a child, Nellie loved to use every crayon to colour and draw on scrap paper. She received a paint book and watercolours as a Christmas gift in 1940. She spent many hours using the watercolours to paint numerous illustrations in her prized paint book. Even as a teen her attention to detail and her use of colour and shading was advanced for her young years.

Nellie’s life was significantly altered when her mother experienced a stroke in 1970. She elected to sacrifice her nursing career to become her mother’s primary caregiver. During this time, Nellie renewed her interest in art and enrolled in painting classes. She initially painted in the basement of their home in Winnipeg, but upon moving to a condominium, she enrolled in art classes at the Forum Art Center in St. Boniface.

Nellie exhibited enormous talent in expressing herself in the visual art of painting. She used multiple media, including oil and acrylic paint, charcoal, pencil and ink on substrates such as paper, hardboard panel and canvas. Her early paintings were done in oil and acrylic on paper or hardboard panel, followed by oil on canvas, and subsequently acrylic on canvas. She also dabbled in pencil, ink and charcoal sketching on paper.

Nellie’s still life work was most often inspired by nature as evidenced by the flowers, animals, birds, fruit and vegetables frequently seen in her work. Some of her pastoral and idyllic subject matter was inspired by other artists such as Thomas Kinkade. She loved to experiment with colour and shading and spent many hours mixing paints on her palette to transform a blank canvas into the vision in her mind. Nellie never ‘finished’ a painting. In her self-deprecating opinion it was never ‘complete’.

Numerous family members eventually removed paintings from her grasp saying “its done - its really done”! Nellie never titled, dated or signed her artwork, with the exception of the watercolours done in her teen years. Her sister, nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews have titled the works they have been gifted.

Current Exhibit

All paintings and sketches have been gifted to her sister Margaret Peters, nieces and nephews, and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews, and as such, are not for sale. This posthumous display is generously curated by nieces Hertha Penner, Lindy Schlichting and the staff and volunteers at Killarney Heritage House for the Arts. Biography compiled by sister Margaret Peters, nieces Lindy Schlichting and Carol Reimer and nephew John Enns. Exhibitions Nellie’s work was previously exhibited at Pembina Place Personal Care Home in Winnipeg in 2014. Select works were exhibited at the Community Gallery, Assiniboine Park Conservancy Pavillion in Winnipeg, and at the Forum Art Center Fresh Art Show in St. Boniface.