Painting pictures, snapping photos, spreading smiles

West Hempstead artist Nat Solomon shares his diverse artwork

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The Beatles, LeBron James, and Barack Obama — they’ve all been subjects of Nat Solomon’s artwork, along with still-lifes, sunsets and the children at Camp Hillel, in Lawrence, where Solomon works as a photographer. The West Hempstead resident has been painting, printing and snapping photos for over 20 years, and for the past 15 years has been selling his artwork to people of all ages.

Solomon, who graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s in art in 1985 and a master’s in elementary education five years later, self-published a book in 2013, with the help of Hewlett-based FGP Printing Group, complete with 22 of his favorite works, separated into different themes.

The book “The Pictures in My Many Smiles: A Smattering,” includes portraits of sports stars such as the Yankees’ Derek Jeter, live-action drawings of boxer Floyd Mayweather and the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, along with abstract paintings. “Abstract and nautical art, travel photography, sports paintings and celebrity art are most of my major categories,” Solomon said.

Jerry Stulberger, a yearbook publisher at CheapYearBooks.com, a subdivision of FGP that sells affordable yearbooks to smaller specialty schools, helped Solomon with his publication. “He basically comes to me all set-up,” Stulberger said. “I do advise what’s the best paper to use, [and] I enhance the colors.”

An artist as well, Stulberger said he has been showcasing his work alongside Solomon’s at art shows for over 10 years. “[Solomon’s] work is cutting edge. It’s very bright and colorful. [It’s] trying to reach youth,” he said.

Whether it be a serene sailboat or a drawing of a Jonas brother, his variety of subjects are meant to reach all ages, Solomon said. “I’ve done nautical pictures––different kinds of boats that appeal to older men who’d like to buy their own boat and sail away,” he said. “A lot of my work is suitable for kids’ rooms, too,” he noted.

Solomon’s artistic influences range from artists Jim Dine, Willem de Kooning and Claude Monet and his muses include his wife, Karen, daughter Carla, 22, and son Gabriel, 20. Aside from painting, Solomon said he has a passion for sports photography, and Camp Hillel provides the perfect opportunity for him to capture those live-action moments using his Cannon D60, which, he said, truly captures “the key moment frozen in time!” “I love [photographing] the moment where the action reaches a peak, the action is intense, and I love freezing the action,” he said.

Ari Solomon (no relation), the director at Camp Hillel for the past two summers, said that Nat has been working at Hillel for more than 14 years. His photographs can be found posted throughout the entire camp. “He captures the [children’s] smiling faces,” said Ari. “His pictures tell a million words.”

Prior to becoming Hillel’s photographer, Solomon was head of the camp’s lower sports division for 14 years, and instructed the campers in chess. “You would think children wouldn’t want to play chess, but he has such a way with children,” Ari said.

His experience with children began at P.S. 214, in Brooklyn, where he has been an art teacher for the past 25 years. “I like making children feel good about what they do,” Solomon said. “I like bringing a smile to their faces –– that’s very important.”

To view some of Nat Solomon’s work, or purchase his book, visit natsolomon.com.