Posted on December 14, 2017
Today's famous birthday was born in Estonia on this date in 1894. At the beginning of his career, straight out of school, he became a seaman, working as a ship's carpenter.
He learned a lot about the sea and about ships as he worked as an expert ship's carpenter and as a rigger (the person who arranges and tends the ropes that support the ship's masts and control the ship's sails).
He spent more than 15 years at sea. And it wasn't all work - for fun, while out at sea, he would paint pictures on cut up pieces of canvas sails.
Because Nelke didn't have any training as an artist, he is considered self-taught.
When Nelke decided to settle down and become a landlubber, he chose to do so in Brooklyn, New York, rather than back in Estonia.
In the U.S., Nelke continued to work as a carpenter and to paint pictures on the side. But it is those paintings - many of them of ocean scenes and of ships - that made him famous!
Nelke found commercial success by painting scenes that were used on playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, and other products. He found artistic success by joining organizations for other artists - including for independent artists.
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