Finding a Cure on the Horizon

Written by on March 2, 2012 in Art - No comments
Subliminal Essence

By Leigh Ann Simpson

Scientific breakthroughs in traditional medicine have saved lives and improved the quality of life for millions – billions – of people. However, healing can also stem from less obvious remedies.  Nicholas Down, MD, illustrates this point perfectly. He has been practicing as a family medicine physician for nearly 30 years. Down is also an artist, using his tranquil paintings to provide soul-soothing treatment for his patients, in addition to typical medicinal therapies.

Down’s love for both art and medicine developed at an early age. As a teenager, he struggled with his career decisions, having to choose between art and medicine. After much deliberation, science and medicine prevailed as his initial career choice, but art has never separated from him. “My work as a general practitioner over the last 27 years has always been at the edge of the ‘art’ of medicine, with my interests being in people and the way in which illness and suffering impact their lives,” Down says. “Increasingly, as an artist over the years, my work has attempted to bridge the gap between the sublime and the unknown, and in some of my paintings, I attempt to communicate the mysteries where body suffering gives way to pure spirit.”

It comes as no surprise that Down’s upbringing greatly influenced both his painting and his medical career. Spending much of his childhood in Uganda and Tanzania, his experiences were richly impacted by the beauties and mysteries of the natural world. “I love the expansive, vast horizon lines and the drama of skies and broad landscapes,” Down explains. In the midst of such beauty, Down also experienced tragedy that made a profound impression on him. “As a child, I was closely involved with the realities of life and death and the realities of sickness and disease,” he recalls. “I lost two of my young friends to cerebral malaria, and I became increasingly aware that life and health are precious gifts that we cannot take for granted.”

Art critic Jenny De Soutter at Surrey Life magazine has hailed his work as genius, stating “the link he forges between direct observation and abstract expression is a hallmark of his work, and his technical mastery.” His unique use of color hypnotizes observers, almost making them second guess exactly what they are seeing, ultimately being stunned by the realization of the painting’s subject. The depictions of horizons that Down paints have been inspired by a transcendental sense he has found in certain natural settings, including the White Sands of New Mexico, the Canyonlands in Utah, and Death Valley in Nevada. “They are all unique gifts from the natural world where a sense of color, form and grandeur can co-exist,” says Down.

Down particularly enjoys painting the majestic scenery of the mountains of Scotland and the North West Highlands and Islands. Recently, he has been enchanted by the magnificent landscapes of the American Southwest and the Sierra and Cascade Mountains. At the age of 55, Down is soon retiring from his medical practice to pursue a full-time career as a professional artist, something he says he has always dreamed of.

To find out more about Nicholas Down visit:

Leave a Comment

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box