A biography about Leif Nilsson which includes exhibition and educational information.

One Spring Street
Chester, CT 06412


Leif Nilsson painting a composition of flowers en-plein-air in his garden in Chester, Connecticut in the spring of 2012. More pictures of Leif painting.



Inspired by the natural beauty surrounding the Lower Connecticut River Valley, Leif (pronounced LAYF) Nilsson paints his plein air impressionistic landscape compositions directly from life. Setting up his easel in and around his hometown of Chester, Nilsson creates engaging garden, Connecticut River and Coastline, and village paintings that invite the viewer to walk right in.

Some of the paintings are completed ala prima, meaning all at once, while others may take several sittings at the same time of day to achieve the correct harmonious atmosphere as he observes it. Generally, heavily textured paintings have more layers applied in an effort to represent the scintillating effects of light in nature over a period of time. Nilsson's brushwork is a result of his dedication to observing nature.

Leif Nilsson completed a full curriculum of Classical Studies at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, CT. He enhanced that education with several sojourns to Scandinavia, Asia Minor and Europe where he studied the French 19th and early 20th century painters; Bonnard and Monet for color; Pissarro and Vuillard for composition and Van Gogh for energy.

A successful working artist for over 30 years, Nilsson continues to exhibit his paintings in several galleries throughout the United States, while also promoting his work through his website, and at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, LLC in Chester where collectors visit him regularly to view and purchase his latest works. The studio is open on weekend afternoons from noon to 6:00 pm and other times by chance or appointment. Twelve First Fridays a year he hosts a gallery opening reception for his newest works along with other galleries in Chester. He occasionally teaches painting to children and adults and gives lectures at high schools, universities, art clubs, and museums.

Nilsson has hand-made most of his Florentine style, metal leafed, finished corner frames in his studio. The soft luminous gold tone complements his paintings without overwhelming them. Now he orders them from reputable framemakers and assists collectors with their choices. Click here for a sample and a testimony!

Limited Edition Fine Art Prints have been made of several of Nilsson's original oil paintings. A complete catalogue is available on-line at www.nilssonstudio.com and in his Chester studio.

Nilsson paints outdoors in all types of weather. He will often paint the same place over and over again, trying out different compositions and sizes at various times of day and in all seasons. These paintings often result in a series of works attempting to describe the many moods of nature on a particular subject.

Chester is a favorite subject of Leif Nilsson's. Its uniqueness and charm have captivated his imagination for years. He has painted many scenes of Chester Center in different times of day, weather conditions and seasons. The vernacular architecture of old crooked buildings lining the curved piazza of Main Street come alive in his colorful paintings of the village in springtime with Rhododendrons in full bloom. Winter is a favorite time of year for him when the town is blanketed with virgin snow, especially at dusk when snowflakes swirl around the glowing lamppost in front of his studio.

The Connecticut River from Haddam to the Long Island Sound offers a wealth of pictorial opportunities for Nilsson to explore. From the hazy dawn over Eustasia Island in Deep River to the quiet harbors of Old Saybrook's North Cove and from the golden marshes of Chester to the sweeping meadow of Pettipaug in Essex, there's plenty of material to keep a landscape painter busy yearlong.

In 2004 he bought a 19 foot 1980 Angler outboard runabout studio boat and began exploring the Connecticut River and its creeks and coves from an anchored perspective. In 2022 the waters of Fisher's Island Sound and Watch Hill became accessable for him to paint when he lauched his 1980 Atlantic City 24 foot Catboat.

On spring mornings Nilsson is usually busy in his backyard garden tracking the sunlight with a loaded brush or knife revealing the rich colors and textures of the plants and flowers he has cultivated.

He takes painting trips around the United States and the tropical islands and occasionally travels abroad to interesting European villages. His little paintings of Prague in the Czech Republic, Casares, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, The Azores, Canary Islands, England, Portugal, Malta and Nova Scotia, Canada from recent trips are also favorites among his collectors.

One of his favorite pastimes is to play the banjo. His band "Arrowhead" is quite active and he is in an Old Time Fiddle band called Paddy Whack.

View the Scrap Book of Newspaper Clippings from the early 1990s.


Essex Art Association Gallery. Essex, CT 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1987
Lyme Academy Gallery, Old Lyme, CT 1989
Chester Gallery. Chester, CT 1988, 1986
Raymond Gallery. Cincinnati, OH 1993
Ongoing Open Studio, Chester, CT 1990 - Present
Marmara Gallery, New York, NY 2002,
The CT D.E.E.P. - Arts in the Parks Show, Hartford, CT 2015
gallery526, Collinsville, CT 2015


Chasen Galleries, Sarasota, FL, Richmond, VA
Devon House Antiques & Gallery, Stonington Borough CT
Dassin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
De Wahl Fine Art, Maitland, FL
D M Gallery, La Jolla, CA
Donovan Gallery, Little Compton, RI
Edward Montgomery Fine Arts, Carmel, CA
Essex Art Association (Elected Artist Member), Essex, CT
Fleur De Lys Gallerie, Essex, CT
gallery526, Collinsville, CT
Gregory Gallery, Darien, CT
Handwright Gallery, New Canaan, CT
Hudson Valley Art Association, White Plains, NY
John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Lilly Pad Gallery, Watch Hill, RI
Lyme Art Association (Elected Artist Member), Old Lyme, CT
Pfizer Corporation, Groton, CT
Reynolds Fine Art, New Haven, CT
Salmagundi Club, New York, NY
State of the Arts Gallery, Hartford, CT
Summa Gallery, New York, NY
Susan Powell Fine Arts, Madison, CT
The Slater Museum, Norwich, CT
The Alexey Von Schleppe Museum, Avery Point, CT
The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mysic, CT
The Finer Line Gallery, Mystic, CT


"Long Tidal River: Four Artists, Four States", The Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT August 11 - October 9, 2017
"Unfiltered: An Exhibition About Water", William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs, CT August 31 - December 17, 2017


Aetna Insurance Corporation, Hartford, CT
Pfizer Corporation, Groton, CT.
The Hartford, Hartford, CT
Sol Lewitt, Chester, CT
US Trust Company, Essex and West Hartford, CT
Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT


Cover; Merle's & Marilyn's Mink Ranch, Papier Mache Press. 1991
Cover and Article; The Companion Magazine, April-May 1992
Cover and Article; "A Show in Print"; Discover CT Magazine, May 1993
Cover; Annual Town Report, Town of Chester, CT 1993
Image; House Beautiful Magazine, August 1993
Images and Feature Articles: Several Local Newspapers, 1980s to present
Images and Feature Article; Picture Framing Magazine, November 2002
Image; Brooks Pharmacy "Artists of New England Calendar", December 2003
Images and Feature Article; The Art Guide, November, 2004
Images and Feature Article; The Hartford Courant, "At Home Section" November 12, 2004
Images and Feature Article; INK Magazine; December 2005
Images and Article; Offshore Magazine, January 2007
Images and Feature Article; INK Magazine; December 2008
Images and Article; The Inspired Garden, Spring 2009
Images and Article; Northeast Boating, September 2009
Video interview; Finding Bliss, October 2010
Images and Article; Artscope Magazine, March 2011
Radio interview; River Valley Rhythms, WESU - 88.1 FM, March 2011
Images and Article; Old House Magazine, June 2012 http://www.oldhouseonline.com/house-and-gallery-in-an-old-hotel/
Youtube channel,Videos of the painting process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml4jxUUte08
Video Interview: Ann Nyberg's Network Connecticut, June 2012 http://www.networkconnecticut.com/2012/06/26/a-beautiful-backyard-for-music/
Art Out In The Open Air http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-air-painters-0831-20140830,0,1678569.story, August 2014
Video about the Lower CT River Valley(at 2:28) http://centerofct.com/non-stop/episode-10-river-valley-adventures 2014
Cover, Images and Feature Article; INK Magazine, May 2015
ICRV Radio, Talk show about life and art, on occasion, May 2015 ongoing
Cameo at the Florence Griswold Museum in "The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism" documentary on Garden Painters by Seventh Art Productions, Spring 2017
Images and Article; Seasons Magazine, Autumn 2017
Lost track...
A new video of me explaining myself! https://youtu.be/afsFx-aN8r8


"Best in Show", Mystic Art Center Museum, Mystic, CT Spring 2014
"Award of Merit", Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, Spring 2015
"Best in Show", Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, Spring 2015
"Best in Show", Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, Summer 2015
"Award For Excellence" at the Thirty Sixth Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic CT, Autumn 2015
"Second Place" Cash Prize Winner at the Lyme Art Association Maritime Exhibit, Old Lyme, CT June 2016
"Best in Oil" Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, July 2016
"The Barnes Award" Essex Art Association, Essex, CT, August 2016
"Prestigious Stobart Foundation Award and cash prize" for "Painting from Life" for the "virtue of its uniqueness of style, quality of light and atmosphere" and was presented by John Stobart himself! I am honored at The Thirty Seventh Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT, Autumn 2016
"2017 Poster Contest"Connecticut Historical Gardens for the oil painting of The Florence Griswold House Museum Garden, CT, 2017
"Prize" Essex Art Association, June 2017
"Prize" Lyme Art Association, July 2017
"Prize" Lyme Art Association, June 2018
"Prize" Essex Art Association, July 2018
Lost track for a while...
"First Prize" for the Long and Lean Exhibit at the Lyme Art Association, March 2023
"The Dock Award" Essex Art Association, May 2023
"Best in Show" Essex Art Association, June 2023
"1st Prize" at the Lyme Art Association New England Landscape Show, October, 2023

Much more publicity listed in the "scrapbook" and on the "Events" pages.



National Academy of Design; Classical Studies, New York, NY 1986
Henry Hensche; Color Study, Provincetown, MA 1986
Lyme Academy of Fine Arts; Full Curriculum; Classical Studies, Old Lyme, CT 1980 - 1986
Middlesex Community College; Humanities Curriculum, Middletown, CT 1980 - 1982
Hammonassett School; Alternative Arts High School, Madison, CT 1978 -1980
Lyme Old Lyme Public School, Old Lyme, CT 1968 - 1978


Independent Travel-Study in Europe, Scandinavia and Asia Minor;
1981 - 1982, 1983 - 1984, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010


Born in 1962 and Raised in Old Lyme, CT

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Leif Nilsson at

One Spring Street
Chester, Connecticut 06412

Open Weekends noon - 6 p.m.
Other times by chance or appointment

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Gallery Homepage - Paintings by Leif Nilsson

Exhibit lists - American Art Review - The Art Guide

Fine Art Prints - Links - About Leif Nilsson

Click Here for Comprehensive Lists of all Paintings on this Site by Leif Nilsson