Local Artist Does it Differently: Natalie Fletcher redefines the concept of a canvas | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Local Artist Does it Differently: Natalie Fletcher redefines the concept of a canvas

Want this to happen to you? Visit Astro lounge on first friday.


What am I looking at here? An arm, a leg, a butt? Are those boobs?

Natalie Fletcher’s living compositions aren’t just art, they’re people. Her creative body painting transforms the body into a medium for paint, and can make even the most alternatively minded viewer do a double take.

A transplant from Amarillo, Texas, Fletcher is one of only a few graduates from the prestigious Ashland Academy of Art in southern Oregon, where she trained for four years in classic realism and technical painting. The school has produced some highly skilled classical artists, but Fletcher has taken a different route.

“A lot of the people that went to the school went on to do classical portraits, still-life, stiff, boring, beautiful art, but totally boring,” said Fletcher. “It felt like everything with a canvas had been done, so I tried to start doing things that were controversial, I started painting a lot of naked women.”

First painting clothes onto her models, Fletcher’s art has since evolved. Now she paints women into natural and urban landscapes using an impressive combination of color matching and detail she picked up in schooling. While she painted her first woman only seven months ago, her art is making waves in Bend and has gained national attention on the Internet.

“I love the interaction I have when my canvas is talking to me,” says Fletcher. “That was what was always missing from [traditional] painting for me.”

Since she moved to Bend, Fletcher has painted over 30 bodies and is excited about putting more paint to flesh, whenever she can.

“I approach women and tell them, you’re absolutely, fantastically beautiful and I would love for you to become a piece of my art—99 percent of the time it works,” said Fletcher. “Nudity has become irrelevant, I don’t see a naked body, I see a canvas.”

“We biked to the location, cracked open some beers. I took off my clothes, put on some pasties, and then stood up against this tree,” said Megan McGuinness, one of Fletcher’s first living compositions. “We were just talking, it wasn’t embarrassing even though there were cars zooming by noticing there was a naked chick in the woods.”

These moments are the most special for Fletcher.

“I get to spend this awesome intimate time with these awesome women,” said Fletcher. “It’s amazing how many cool fucking ladies there are in this town, especially ones who are willing to get naked.”


Fletcher has been doing her painting live at the Astro Lounge every First Friday since May. Standing on the stage in her apron with a full array of painting supplies, her models wear a panty/pasty combination that doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but Fletcher’s idea isn’t to objectify, it’s to transform.

“I want to make women comfortable with their bodies,” said Fletcher, “I want to make them feel like a piece of art not a piece of meat.”

Fletcher hand tailors and paints every detail on her models—no mechanized, airbrushed short cuts. Using Acrylic non-toxic latex paint, the process takes about four hours, and the shelf life of the paint is only an additional two hours as it’s not made specifically for skin.

To preserve this very temporary form of art, Fletcher has teamed up with local photographers to capture some breathtaking images, and she has plans to expand on what she calls her living compositions.

“I have an idea for an art book where I paint women into our national land marks,” said Fletcher. “I want to go to Moab, Utah and paint someone into Arches National Park. I want to paint a girl into Cadillac Ranch, and the Golden Gate Bridge—I just have to figure out how to pay for gas.”


Photos by Arthur Tripp and Natalie Fletcher


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