Robert Lyn Nelson

Like any artist who has enjoyed a long and successful career, Robert Lyn Nelson has mastered a wide variety of disciplines and explored a myriad of themes as he’s followed his vocation. A contemporary artist with an extensive body of work, his imagery has not only been shown in hundreds of exhibitions and become part of many public and private collections but has even made its way onto currency and album covers.

Discovering Nelson’s vast portfolio of over 10,000 works is to wander through many of the traditional byways of both art history (abstract expressionism, cubism, impressionism, surrealism) and contemporary art (environmental surrealism, photorealism, collage, monotypes, and conceptual art). Along with his deep spiritual ties to the natural world, his art is anchored in an ongoing exploration of – and veneration for – the post-Renaissance canon of painting. His current work continues to explore different techniques, emphasizing the versatility in method that has underpinned his long pursuit of our relationship with the natural world.

Though only in his 60s, he is nearing the semicentennial of his public career. He held his first solo show – which sold out – at age 14 and was the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (2001). His ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ – a work of significance to the environmental movement – was the official painting for the U.S Pavilion at Expo ’98 (Lisbon World Exposition).

Originally from California, his formal academic training began when – at age thirteen – he was awarded a scholarship to study at Mount San Antonio College. Considered a child prodigy, he began painting when he was five. His teen years were spent exploring technique and studying the artists who would play essential roles throughout his career, including Wyeth, Dalí, Rockwell, Parrish, Picasso, Leonardo, and Rembrandt.

Eventually, the abstract expressionism of Hockney, Richter, and O’Keefe became a guiding influence. His subsequent career took him down many other paths – including exploring saturated color palettes that jump from the frame in ways akin to Parrish – but recently Nelson has returned to darker hues and kinetic canvases that bring him back to his roots. In addition, he has continued explorations in what he calls Musical Surrealism – interpretations of composers as widely diverse as Mozart to The Beatles. This latest phase of his career has produced powerful, nature-themed abstracts and his Beatles Tribute Series, a collection of surreal interpretations of some of the band’s expansive songbook. Having lived and worked in Hawaii for decades, it is there that he found a direct and overwhelming connection to nature.

Nelson has a relatively high profile beyond the formal art world due to his playing a pivotal role in the founding of the contemporary Marine Art Movement. Driven by his deep bond with the natural world – a theme that cuts across his work regardless of style – Nelson’s concern about the health of the planet and climate change is intrinsic to not only his art. He has served on the board of directors of the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation and lent support to many environmental groups including Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation, National Geographic Society, and The Cousteau Society.

In 1997, Vice President Al Gore awarded him the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Hero Award. The former vice president is one of many high-profile collectors of Nelson’s work. Others include or have included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Bruno Mars, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Buffet, Leonard Nimoy, Paloma Picasso, Sir Paul McCartney, and more.

His work has been featured in a wide range of galleries and exhibitions. One of his paintings graces the cover of the Beach Boys album Summer in Paradise, while the Republic of Palau used his imagery on its Marine Life Protection commemorative coins. The United Nations has also used his artwork in a number of publications.

Nelson continues to explore the boundaries that are possible within modern painting. He is simultaneously deeply rooted within the contours of the medium’s history while confronting the realities of the contemporary world.

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2018 to 2019 — Lahaina Galleries — Lahaina/Wailea/Waimea/Newport Beach, USA

2016 to 2018 — Exclusive Collections Galleries — San Diego/Las Vegas, USAs

2012 to 2017 — Diamond Head Galleries — Lahaina/Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

2012 — Trowbridge Gallery — Los Angeles, California, USA

2009 to 2010 — Napua Gallery — Wailea, Hawaii, USA

1985 to 2012 — Shipstore Gallery — Kauai, Hawaii, USA

2011 — Takeuchi Galleries — Beverly Hills, California, USA 

2007 to 2010 — Images Gallery — Lahaina, Hawaii, USA

2010 — Jacques Cousteau/National Marine Sanctuary Event — Washington, DC, USA

2009 to 2010 — Napua Gallery — Wailea, Hawaii, USA

2009 — World Harmony Exhibition — Los Angeles, California, USA

2009 — C&S Media International — Shanghai, China

2006 to 2009 — Medea Gallery — Los Angeles, California, USA

2006 — Rancho Cucamonga Museum — Dana Point, California, USA

2005 to 2007 — Image Station — Lahaina, Hawaii, USA

2005 — Lahaina Center Art Galleries — Lahaina/Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

2004 — NMSF — American Samoa

2004 — NMSF — Key West, Florida, USA

2003 — Tripp Harrison Gallery — St Augustine, Florida, USA

1993 to 2004 — RLN Galleries — Monterey/Lahaina, USA

2001 — Smithsonian Institute Museum of National History — Washington, DC, USA

2001 — Media Arts Group — Santa Barbara, California, USA

2000 — Santa Barbara Museum — Santa Barbara, California, USA

1998 — World Expo, US Official Artist — Lisbon, Portugal

1994 to 1999 — Maui Marine Art Expo — Wailea, Hawaii, USA

1991, 1994 — Ron Seagal Galleries — Seattle, Washington, USA

1993 — Images International Gallery — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1993 — Keith Alexander Gallery — Vancouver, Canada

1993 — Graphics Gallery — Blackhawk, California, USA

1992 — Maranuchi Gallery — Tokyo, Japan

1992 — MORE JAPAN Galleries

1992 — Vancouver Aquarium — Vancouver, Canada

1992 — Barr Gallery — Vancouver, Canada

1978 to 1993 — Lahaina Galleries — San Francisco/Beverly Hills/Newport Beach/Lahaina, USA

1991 — Makk Gallery — Beverly Hills, California, USA

1990 — Israel Gallery — Tel Aviv, Israel

1989 to 1991 — Dyanson Galleries — Beverly Hills/San Francisco/Carmel, California, USA

1980 — 1989 — Images International — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1987 — Monterey Film Festival — Monterey, California, USA

1987 — Daytona Beach Gallery — Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

1987 — Falls of Clyde-Maritime Center — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1986 — New York Museum of Natural History — New York, New York, USA

1985 to 1986 — Kapalua Galleries — Kapalua, Hawaii, USA

1985 — Society for Wildlife Art — London, UK

1985 — Mauna Lani Gallery — Hawaii, United States

1985 — Walt Myers Gallery —  San Antonio, Texas, USA

1985 — Abilene Fine Arts Museum — Texas, USA

1984 — Fine Arts Museum of the South at Mobile

1984 — Show Island Gallery — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1984 — Peabody Museum — Massachusetts, USA

1984 — Metropolitan Museum of Art — New York, New York, USA

1983 — Midwest Museum of American Art

1982 — McBeth Gallery — Depoe Bay, Oregon, USA

1982 — Art Expo — New York, New York, USA 

1982 — Berkshire Museum — Massachusetts, USA

1982 — Arnot Art Museum

1981 — Nicolaysen Art Museum

1981 — Gallery Americana — Carmel, California, USA

1976 to 1980 — Gallery Hawaii — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1976 to 1980 — Hyatt Regency Gallery — Kaanapali, Hawaii, USA

1979 — Casay Gallery — Maui, Hawaii, USA

1978 — Kelsey Gallery — Maui, Hawaii, USA

1975 — Punaluu Art Show — Oahu, Hawaii, USA

1974 — Yello Hippo Gallery — Oahu, Hawaii, USA

1969 to 1973 Various Southern California shows beginning at age 14


Environmental Hero Award, Office Vice President, Al Gore

Art Conservation Award

Trends and Testimonies of Contemporary Art Award

US Official Artist, World Expo 1998, Portugal

Artist USA Award 1981-1982

American Biographical Institute For Artistic Achievements as “A Young Master Realist

”Trustee Emiriti, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Originator of Modern Marine Art Movement Credit by Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and Literature

Benjamin Franklin Award for Our Ocean Home children’s book

NOAA National Treasure

MIPA 1997 Book Achievement Award for Our Ocean Home children’s book

Year of the Reef Award, Hawaii Governor’s Office

International Year of the Reef Artist

International Book of Honor Tiger of the Year

Official Artist Epson Printers

Official Artist Dana Point Festival of the Whale

“ABI” For Distinguished Artistic Achievements-USA

Best Seller Art Books: RLN “Silver Book”

International Register of Profiles, Cambridge, England

Community Leaders of America, Raleigh, North Carolina

Personalities of America Award

Certificate of Recognition, County of Los Angeles, CA

Certificate of Recognition, City of Monterey Park, CA

Certificate of Recognition, California Legislature, CA

Certificate of Recognition, California Legislature, 60th District

Certificate of Recognition, City of Ontario, CA

Certificate of Recognition, California Legislature, 61st District

Resolution, County of San Bernadino, CA

Celebrity / VIP Collectors

Al Jardine
Andy Bumatai
Arnold Palmer
Barbara Bush
Bernie Kopell
Brian Wilson
Bruno Mars
Carl Wilson
Chad Everett
Chi Chi Rodriguez
Clare Boothe Luce
Cliff Williams
Clint Eastwood
Dan Fogelberg
Danny Arnold
David Gates
David Robinson
David Silverman
Dr. Robert Ballard
Dr. Sylvia Earle
George Benson
Gov. Ben Cayetano
Gov. George Ariyoshi
Guy Buffett
Jack Lord
Jack Nicklaus
Jackie Cooper
Jacques Cousteau
James Cameron
Jean-Michel Cousteau
Jimmy Buffet
Jimmy Messina
John Candy
John Davidson
John Denver
John Forsythe
John Hillerman
Kenny Loggins
King Tupon of Tonga
Leonard Nimoy
Lloyd Bridges
Mac David
Marlin Perkins
Marlon Brando
Michael Schiffer
Michael Warren
Mike Conners
Mike Love
Nick Nolte
Paloma Picasso
Paul McCartney
Peter Max
Pres. Bill & Hillary Clinton
Pres. George W Bush
Pres. Ronald & Nancy Reagan
Randy Travis
Richard Crenna
Richard Lewis
Robert Kennedy Jr
Robert Rockefeller
Robert Wagner
Roger Clinton
Ron Ely
Shep Gordon
Sonny & Mary Bono
Terry Shroeder
Tom Selleck
Vice Pres Al Gore
Vince Neil
Willie Nelson

Non-Profit Groups Supported

Companions of Art and Nature
Cousteau Society
Earth Island Institute
Friends of the Sea Otter
Green Peace San Francisco
Green Peace USA
Green Peace Hawaii
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society
John Wayne Cancer Clinic
Lahaina Restoration Foundation
Maritime Center Honolulu
Maui Arts and Cultural Center
Monterey Audubon Society
National Geographic Society
National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation
Pacific Whale Foundation
Save the Manatee Club
Waikiki Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium Society
Special Olympics
Steinhart Aquarium
The Nature Conservancy
Vancouver Aquarium
World Wildlife Federation
Year of the Hawaiian Club
Year of the Reef

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“San Francisco Moods” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Wisdom” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Neo Cubist Interior” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Homage to Rodin” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“June Self Portrait” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Dakota John Lennon” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Papillion First Flight” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“The Inner Light – Beatles Series” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Homage to Michelangelo” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Symphony in Red” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Woman as Music” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Big Apple Dawn” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Metaphor Changing Moods” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Magic Lives in Curves Not Lines” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Highway of Gold” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Giverny Morning Hues” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Listen to These Pictures” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Uninhibited Light” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Long Summer Days” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Romance By Moonlight” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Radiant Blue Energy” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Sisters” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson


“Vincent In Paris” Limited Edition Print by Robert Lyn Nelson