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Art Class Stanford Sierra Camp- Nancy Hillis MD & Bruce Sawhill PhD

Art Class Stanford Sierra Camp- Nancy Hillis MD & Bruce Sawhill PhD

Art Class: Stanford Sierra Camp


We returned this past weekend to Stanford Medical Alumni Sierra Camp after a 3 year pause due to the pandemic. We saw many people we hadn’t seen in three years.

It’s a very American phenomenon, perhaps particularly Californian, where you are overjoyed to see someone, loudly exclaim that “we’ll get together soon,” but it never happens until an institutionalized event like Sierra Camp occurs that brings you together. People are just too busy and distances too far, producing a compartmentalized reality, a 21st century schizophrenia.

Be that as it may, we found ourselves in the wild and beautiful Sierra with dozens of great people. Shouldering aside fears of a COVID super spreader event and trying to be diligent about masking, we soldiered on to lectures and wine tastings and, of course, art class.

We came back from the mountains last Sunday, and the fact that we were busy creating stories prevented us from writing about them, hence no blog post last Sunday.

Every year I’m honored to teach an art class with my friend and colleague, Dr. Jane Lombard, at Stanford Medical Alumni Sierra Camp at Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California.

It’s wonderful to work with brilliant Stanford physicians, medical students, doctoral students and their families. They’re an earnest and kind and competent group, as befits those that go into the work of caring for others medically.


Nancy & Jane Teaching Art Class

Nancy Hillis, M.D. & Jane Lombard, M.D. Teaching Art Class at Stanford Medical Alumni Sierra Camp


Here are some snippets from the journey.

The morning of the class, Bruce, Jane Lombard and I walked a mile to this gorgeous waterfall. It brought to mind a quote Bruce heard a few lifetimes ago when living at the foot of the Rocky Mountains,

Time spent in the mountains is not subtracted from the rest of your life.

A diligent search failed to turn up any author except the very prolific “Unknown.”


This year, we decided to focus on color and value and so we taught the students how to create a harmonious two color, four value palette.


Back at the last Sierra Camp art class in 2019, we explored mark making and gestural expression. We wanted to keep injecting variety for both our sake and for the students’ sakes.



Exploratory Mark Making and Gestural Expression


Nancy Hillis teaching at Stanford Sierra Camp #creativity #abstract #abstractpainting

Nancy Hillis teaching at Stanford Sierra Camp


Structure and Organic Substructure in Abstract Expressionism


Nancy Hillis-Stanford Sierra Camp #creativity #abstract

Nancy Hillis-Stanford Sierra Camp


The Importance of Value


Nancy Hillis-Stanford Sierra Camp 2019 #creativity #abstract #abstractpainting

Nancy Hillis-Stanford Sierra Camp 2019


We explored these topics and many more- including the subtle tendency towards equilibrium, the visual power of asymmetry, predominance, breathing space and deciding when a painting is “finished”.

I hope you enjoyed the little video snippet.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below.

With gratitude from my studio to yours,



Book Excellence Award!

I’m so excited to announce that I have been recognized as a Book Excellence Award Winner for The Adjacent Possible: Evolve Your Art From Blank Canvas To Prolific Artist in the Art Category.


Book-Excellence-Award-Winner-The Adjacent Possible

Book-Excellence-Award-Winner- The Adjacent Possible


Out of thousands of books that were entered into the Book Excellence Awards competition, my book was selected for its high quality writing, design and overall market appeal.

To view my complete award listing, you can visit: Book Excellence Awards.

The book was released in 2021 and is about the art and science of the possible-evolving your art, cultivating your fullest self-expression and getting to the elusive deepest work your heart yearns to create.

The book is perfect for artists and anyone interested in living a creative life.

You can get a copy for yourself at Amazon. 






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