1904 - 1995
Dale William Nichols was on born July 13, 1904 on his father’s grain farm in the small town of David City, Nebraska. His parents noticed Nichols’ talent in art by the time he was four years old, but the busy lifestyle of a farm family kept him from pursuing it in earnest until he reached high school.
Encouraged by his high school teachers, Nichols moved to Illinois at the age of twenty to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and even abroad in Vienna, Austria. He spent only seven months studying art in a scholastic setting.
Despite showing talent as a lithographer, wood carver, designer, and writer, Nichols ultimately preferred to create images from his own childhood experiences of Nebraskan farm life as a Regionalist painter.
Nichols was a strong advocate of naturalism and the commercialism of art, going against the popular modernist trends of the time and causing his work to be snubbed by art critics. Fifteen years after moving to Chicago, Nichols was named the Carnegie Professor of Art at the University of Illinois in 1939, and was featured in Time Magazine. That same year, his painting The Cold Wave won the Watson F. Blair prize from the Art Institute of Chicago, beating the work of numerous modern artists. His success in Chicago, coupled with the purchase of his painting The End of the Hunt by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, proved to Nichols that his Regionalist approach to art was not to be dismissed.
Throughout the 1940s, Nichols painted covers for several magazines including The Saturday Evening Post and Liberty. His art was also frequently spotted on Christmas cards released by the American Artist Group. From 1943–1948, Nichols served as Art Editor for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nichols moved to Tubac, Arizona in 1948, returning to the secluded, simple life he had known as a child.
He established the Artist’s School in Tubac and painted there for six years, effectively re-founding the town as artist’s colony that still remains today.
During his later years, Nichols spent his time traveling; he lived in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Guatemala and Alaska, often incorporating the regional cultures and landscapes of each location into his painting style. In 1995, Nichols’ art was featured on a series of United States Postal Service postcards. He died on October 19 of that same year in Sedona, Arizona.