A native Nevadan and an art teacher at Truckee Meadows Community College, Nicol's pieces often employ resins that can only be applied when it's 70 degrees or warmer, making the summer the only viable time for that stage of her work.
"In the winter time, I just print," Nicole said. "It's nice because I have several different bodies of work to deal with. I work every day."
Nicol deals primarily with printmaking techniques, layering different oils, resins and other materials on digital photos to give her work an abstract, dreamlike effect.
"It keeps me busy," Nicol said with a laugh, explaining that one piece of her often large printmaking, mixed media art takes anywhere from a year to two years to complete. "It takes a while, if I try to rush, it messes it up."
Listening to Nicole explain her work, the emphasis always comes back to layers, particularly with her current exhibit "Postures and Parts: The Male Nude," on display until Jan. 9 at Western Nevada College in Carson City.
Encompassing five larger pieces — some even measuring 14 feet tall — and some smaller pieces, the series was a couple of years in the making. Each piece started out as a single photograph that was then cut into grid-like patterns, manipulated on the computer to distort the lighting and color values of the grids and later pieced back together "like a puzzle" with layers of resin and oil glazed over it, Nicol said.
"It ends up looking like a painting," Nicol said, coining her work "digital paintings." "I usually use around three to four layers of resin, which smoothes it out. I've been told it looks like they're floating."
Nicol attributes the layering technique to her background in printmaking while studying for her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno with two noteworthy now-retired professors, Jim McCormick and Edw Martinez, who always encouraged her to experiment.
"Coming from a printmaking background, there's a lot of transferring," Nicol said. "And a lot of layering. This is a technique I've developed myself."
Nicol, who is the 2009 Artown poster artist for the city of Reno, takes a moment to step back, assuring the process isn't as daunting as it sounds, as it actually helps her cope with and understand things in her life.
"I always knew I wanted to be an artist," Nicol said. "And really, I think everything I do is life-based and experience-based. It's always personal and relates to experiences in my life."
Having grown up in Elko, Nevada, Nicol and her male nude series is one such life experience. Nudity, she explained, took on whole different taboos for both men and women, especially in a small, conservative town.
"It's an interesting contradiction in Nevada." Nicol said. "With the way women and female bodies are exploited in casinos, I wanted to do a role reversal with male nudes. I tried to capture more of this vulnerability."
Vulnerable or not, Nicol said it's hard to deny the personal phobias she used to have with nudity — something she wants to dispel for her viewers, as well.
"I was hoping that they would begin to feel a little more comfortable around male nudes," Nicole said. "And that they could have this understanding that it can be beautiful and not automatically think it's taboo. I think people also immediately think of this phallic symbol (as) this sense of power, but it's really just a very delicate part of the body."
Rife with social commentary and complex layers upon layers, Nicol's work is seemingly never done. She admits that it's hard to "get through all the issues we have in society."
As the co-founder of the Northern Nevada Printmakers' Conspiracy and having several permanent international exhibits in places like Taiwan and Turkey, Nicol doesn't seem to be overwhelmed and at the end of the day. She loves what she does.
"I feel incredibly lucky that every day I get to wake up and do art," Nicol said.
Admission to the gallery is free.