Visual Art

A brunette woman wearing a sun hat and hiking clothes smiles towards the camera, standing in front of an art easel on location at a mountain overlook with gnarled pine trees
Painting en plein air at Minnewaska State Park.

Nell Shaw Cohen is an artist and composer based in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York. Her plein air and studio practice focuses on landscapes, wildlife, and botanical imagery rendered in watercolor and mixed media.

Exhibitions & Events

Friday, May 3-Sunday, June 30, 2024

Woodland Creatures
Wallkill River Center for the Arts, Montgomery, NY

A new painting of mine will be included in this group exhibition juried by Susan Siegel. More information here.

Saturday, June 8 (Rain Date: Sunday, June 9), 2024
Auction & Exhibition through Sunday, June 30, 2024

Plein Air Art Walk – Public Event, Charity Auction, and Exhibition
Presented by Mohonk Preserve and Roost Arts Hudson Valley
Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz, NY

I’m participating in this special event celebrating environmental preservation and the magic of creating artworks en plein air. Visitors will have a chance to watch artists at work, stationed at breathtaking views on a trail starting from Mohonk Preserve’s Testimonial Gateway. Immediately following the event, the finished artworks will be sold in an online auction and displayed at the Mohonk Preserve Visitors Center through the month of June. More information here.

A collage of four paintings of mountain landscapes, trees, and a bird, with the title "Archival-quality giclee prints: Shop at"

Purchase archival-quality giclée prints of Nell’s paintings on Etsy.


Artist’s Statement

A plein air easel is set up with a watercolor painting in progress in front of a meadow with bare trees and a distant mountain view on a sunny day“My paintings and drawings are a reflection of hours spent in observation of the visual world—especially wild places, and the flora and fauna that inhabit them.

Living in a forested valley in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York, I’m surrounded by striking landscapes, from sculpted rock cliffs to sun-dappled woodland creeks, and a diversity of fascinating plants and animals, from the nighttime hootings of barred owls in winter to the bee balm flowers of summer meadows. Study of these subjects forms the core of my artistic practice.

Having been raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the East End of Long Island, coastal environments and seascapes are also deeply engrained in my visual DNA and often appear in my works.

I respond to these natural phenomena, and aspire to convey some of the spiritual impact they hold for me, by making images that straddle observational specificity and illustrative abstraction. As a composer and musician, my artist’s eye is led by the rhythms, patterns, and contours of my subjects’ forms; searching for songs within the array of colors and textures that the visual world presents to us.

My inspirations and favorite artists include Charles E. Burchfield, Georgia O’Keeffe, Chiura Obata, Emily Carr, Hilma af Klint, Andy Goldsworthy, Michelangelo, William Morris, Tom Killion, and Jackie Morris—to name just a few.

Watercolors, often used in combination with pen, ink and/or gouache, are my preferred medium. I delight in the delicacy and luminosity that can be achieved through glazes of transparent paint; the drawing-like precision of watercolor brushwork; and the improvisatory process of mark-making in conversation with how water, pigment, and paper react.”

—Nell Shaw Cohen


Close-cropped headshot of short-haired brunette woman, gently smiling towards camera, in front of a tree trunkNell Shaw Cohen is an artist and composer based in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York. As a visual artist, Cohen is primarily self-taught. Her works are the product of a life-long journey with art, from her teenage freelance career in illustration, design, and comic books to her present plein air and studio practice focused on landscapes, wildlife, and botanical imagery rendered in watercolor and mixed media.

An award-winning composer and opera librettist with degrees in music from New England Conservatory and New York University, her musical works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by major arts organizations and GRAMMY-nominated musicians. Learn more about Nell’s music.

Cohen’s work is available for exhibition, commission, and purchase. To get in touch, email