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I was honored to be interviewed on the Instagram LIVE “Tap Into Your Creativity” hosted by my friend and wonderful artist, Sandra Felemovicius.

Sandra interviewed me about my process, my art, the back story of how and why I became an artist and author, favorite materials and a fun demo. 

Watch the interview above and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

With gratitude from my studio to yours,


About Sandra

Follow Sandra here: @sandrafeleart. You can watch the interview on Sandra’s Instagram account here.

00:00:02 Hi everyone. And welcome to tapping your creativity in my studio. Sorry. I was looking at something else. We are so excited to welcome today-Artist, author, speaker, and psychiatrist, and my friend, Nancy Hillis. She is an incredible human being that helps artists across the nation, on her workshops, and her studio.

00:00:35 She is someone that has been an example to a lot of us in the art world. She is an incredible author of two books. The Artist’s Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity, as well as The Artist’s Journey: Creativity Reflection Journal. So she will join us soon. I hope,

00:01:04 and I can’t wait to have her join us. So if you’re out there, Nancy, please join in. And hopefully she will be coming in pretty quickly here. Anyways, while she is coming in,I can tell you a little bit about her.Nancy is, she’s a doctor,

00:01:31 she’s an artist. And like I said, she’s a speakerStanford trained psychiatrist and she Nancy guides artists to create their deepest, most authentic art through her signature approach, which combines art and psychiatry, at the same psychiatry, she’s helped thousands of artists transform their work from inside out.

00:02:02 And operating from the conviction that artists creations have as much to do with psychology as it does with paint on canvas. So, here, I think she’s right here. Hold on guys. Nope, not yet. Sorry. Nancy, we are waiting here for you to join us, so I hope that you are in the right place.

00:02:42 We’ll wait for a couple of minutes and if for some reason you’re not here. Oh, there she is. That’s great. Okay. So, one second guys, Now she’ll be joining us and she can talk to us about everything that I just said she is and there she is. Thank you,

00:03:13 Sandra. I was there for a minute, you know, try to read everything that you, that you were saying tome on your bio. And I’m like, Oh my God, she’s a much better, you know, explanation of her work and her life than myself. So,I got nervous there for a minute. So welcome Nancy.

00:03:38 Thank you so much for joining me and tapping into your creativity, creativity in my studio today. Will you please tell us a little bit about who you are, where do you work and who you are as an artist? Yes. So first of all, thank you so much, Sandra, and thank you everyone who is here.

00:03:57 I really love what you’re doing with feeding America and with the whole issue around food insecurity, especially during these times. So I’m so excited to be a part of this. So thank you for that beautiful work you’re doing. Thank you for helping me do it without you guys. I couldn’t do it myself. So, so it’s a beautiful word.

00:04:20 I’m Nancy Hillis and I am an abstract artist. I live in Santa Cruz, California, and I love everything about creativity and I’ve written some books and I teach courses and so on but my deepest love, I think one of them is creativity. So here we are. This is tapping into creativity, literally. So Nancy, tell us a little bit about your history.

00:04:49 Where were you born? How did you get into art? Because your, your story is so fascinating to me. You have so many facets of your life that you have applied it to what you are today. So please tell us a little bit about how that started for you. Well, thank you so much. Yes. It’s been a long circuitous road for me.

00:05:12 I grew up in Arkansas and I was very drawn to art and to quilts but I never really had an art class until much later in my life. And so I had a dream about kind of being an artist or a creative in some way. I also had another dream though. And that dream was to become a physician.

00:05:38 And I think a deep story for me isDante and Dante’s Inferno, Dante Alighieri, who spoke to me across seven centuries. I read his book, The Inferno when I was 17 and, and it really awakened something in me. To me that is a deep story of really the hero’s journey and the artist’s journey where you step into the unknown and you have some kind of yearning,

00:06:09 but you’re afraid. And that would be what I see in life that we’re continually being called to something. And oftentimes we’ll turn our face away. Oftentimes we’ll reject or refuse the calling. Uh, but eventually though it keeps calling you and you’ve got to answer that. And that’s what happened for me. So I, I went down this journey of It was 17 at that time.

00:06:38 Yeah. Yes. I was 17. When I read that I stayed home. I, I was feeling kind of down. It was the senior year and I was feeling kind of down and, and Dante spoke to me at a time when I felt, uh, kind of lost, not sure where it was going, that type of thing. And so I would show up for physics at the end of the class,

00:07:01 you know, day. But otherwise I stayed home a lot and I read a lot and this particular book really spoke to me. And I think that there can be these pivotal moments in one’s life, certain things can happen. And so that really informed me, but then I, I answered the call for my dream to become a physician. I went to medical school and that’s a whole journey.

00:07:25 And on that, Tell me about it. I have a husband who is also in the field, so I know all about that. Yes. You know, all about that. It’s very circuitous. And within that, I was in internal medicine, then I was in diagnostic radiology, and then I moved to psychiatry, existential psychiatry. And there was a guy at the Brigham in Boston who he was a neurosurgeon,

00:07:51 a wonderful kind of all-in-all screes Dr. John Shillito. When I switched from, um, radiology to psychiatry, he said, Oh, Nancy, you’re going from shadows to nuances. So we talk about reading shadows in radiology. And then of course the nuances of psychotherapy. Well, I actually love that because you can apply that to paint.

00:08:15 We can talk about that later, but I love that phrase. Yes. Shadows to nuances. I thought there was a beautiful, yes. So then I’m in psychiatry, which was for me more creative than frankly radiology or internal medicine. It was very, very much just about stepping into the unknown with a person in the room, uh, you know,

00:08:37 going into deep material into the psyche, into the relationships and with, and so within that, then there was another pivotal moment for me, when a psychiatrist invited me to a Zen tea party era, a Zen tea ceremony, and we did this whole beautiful ceremony. And I brought a poem from the Lorca. And it was like this moment that just kind of woke me up again,

00:09:05 because I’ve been dreaming of, you know, maybe abstract watercolor or writing poetry or all these creative dreams. But I was so busy with the work of residency, which I’m sure you grind. Yes. Everyday grind. You have no time for anything really. No, you don’t, you don’t, you were married to the hospital. Yes, right? Yes.

00:09:33 There was this pivotal moment. And so what happened in that wonderful invitation by another person is I realized, Oh, how much I wanted to create again, I wanted to write, I wanted to paint. I wanted to sculpt. And I decided the day I left residency, finally, seven years of residency training. I wanted to study sculpture, but I didn’t know how,

00:10:01 and I, but I found my teacher by calling around and basically she said, Adrian Duncan. And she said, I said, Adrian, I don’t know what I’m doing. And she said, great. I love that. And I knew she was my teacher then. Cause I know she was all about stepping into the unknown. So let’s just, let’s just say,

00:10:25 what year is this and where are you at this point Point? So at this point, I’m at Stanford. I, this is in 1993. Okay. Alright. Okay. And, uh, so I, she said, grab, get some, you know, 25 pounds of quiet come to my house and I did. And then it just took off from there.

00:10:43 And the rest is history because one step leads to the next, to the next to the next. And you don’t know ahead of time where that’s going, but it’s like, you’re in a river and it’s going, yes. And you have to let those feelings flow and let them, um, your intuition, your intuition kind of lead you that way.

00:11:04 And I think you let that happened, uh, because if you wouldn’t have, if you would have say, you know, I’ve been through residency for three, seven years, and now this is my path period. Um, instead you open yourself up for, uh, something that was telling you that, you know, you always want it to do,

00:11:24 even though that you didn’t know how to, and then you attack them full force and look at you now. So you never know what that instinct, uh, can take you in life. You never know. And it’s, it’s scary. I mean, I would, I deal with fear all the time. It’s scary. And yet that does not have to stop you.

00:11:46 Correct. Right. Yeah. And something’s calling you, and if you can notice these, these callings can be very subtle too sometimes, and it’s, it’s easy to dismiss it or miss it, but it’s important too, to try to notice these very subtle creative impulses. Okay. So after you did your sculpture and you thought, okay, this is something that I’m looking into for myself to develop what happened.

00:12:14 So then what happened is then I’m in this realm of, of, you know, kind of being an artist and being a psychiatrist. So I was practicing psychiatry and I still am a kind of existential psychotherapy, which is really about getting at meaning and a liveliness in one’s life and art. And what I started to notice is that art was there. They were very similar.

00:12:42 They, they mirrored one another. And I believe that our art mirrors, our lives in the state that we’re in are the states that we’re again. And so there was this really interesting intersection of art and psychiatry and creativity and then science. And it just keeps going. I keep seeing these intersections, which are, Yeah, I guess a good question to ask you,

00:13:10 how has COVID and everything else that’s been going on in this world at this time in our lives, how has it affected your work or yourself and because you are still giving therapy, um, how do you see it affecting others? Yeah, so it’s, you know, there are a range of things. I, I feel that there’s a great deal of grief in this process and this experience of,

00:13:42 of grappling with a pandemic, um, and stress, anxiety, and that kind of thing in. And so what I see is that I actually get on zoom calls or FaceTime calls, or just regular calls with people that I’ve been seeing. And this, they, I think they find this, you know, this connection very helpful because we’re all isolated,

00:14:10 and have been for a long time since mid March here in California though. I, you know, it’s just keeping that hope alive, keeping the resilience there, finding ways to continually find meaning. Uh, and in some ways there’s been surprise opportunities within this tragedy and that is many people have found themselves reading more or spending more time in their relationships at home or with their children.

00:14:46 I read about mothers who are saying, I finally get to have more time with my children. Um, so I’ve seen, uh, you know, wide range of different things. Yeah. Yeah. Like I said before, you know, this is the time to, um, be introspective, uh, listen and learn from what’s happening so we can come out of it a better,

00:15:08 better persons ourselves. Um, and by becoming a better person yourself, you become a better partner, a better parent, a better daughter, a better parent, you know, parents, anything, friends. Um, and this is the time that, you know, to start something new for yourself and challenge yourself, um, and not let this big noise,

00:15:31 attack you in a way that you remain paralyzed. Um, I think that this is the right time to start, whatever it is, just start, you know, Just start. Right. And I think creating is just so healing. And so art is very healing in these times, right? Because you can access these deeper parts of yourself and you could keep a journal and you can,

00:16:00 you know, keep creating and keep finding hope and meaning in this. Yes. So, um, you up, you, you, you are an author of two amazing books. Um, and, uh, I did mention them in the beginning. So the first one is The Artist’s Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity. And the second one is The Artist’s Journey,

00:16:25 Creativity Reflection Journal. So I want you to talk to us a little bit about, uh, the intersections of art, um, science and psychology. How do you apply it then into your concepts of art and science? How, how, how does it all play out for you? Yes. Well, I just find it so fascinating is how these all weave together.

00:16:51 And so some concepts that I find really helpful for artists and creators come from math, science, psychology, and evolutionary biology. And so, uh, one very powerful one is called zero to one and that’s from mathematics. And that’s the concept that from zero to one is larger mathematically that that interval is larger than one to two or two to three or three to four.

00:17:21 So from nothing to something is enormous. And then there’s something to something, something that’s something right as you go down. So starting, starting anything is, is heroic is, is absolutely fabulous. So a lot of times it’s just, just start, just begin. You can start anywhere. And so that’s a big one from mathematics that I write about and talk about another one experimentation.

00:17:50 I believe that experimentation, which is really, you could say that’s comes from science in the lab is, um, if the city point on, I believe of creating it’s the, it is what creating is about creating is about not knowing it’s about continually evolving your work. It’s about stepping into that unknown. So experiment, experiment, experiment. That’s another thing that I teach and encourage and remind myself when you’re experimenting you’re on your unconsciousness because you can’t use your consciousness in order to experiment,

00:18:29 correct. You don’t already know what’s going to happen. I love this, this quote from Michael cutlet, he’s over in Berkeley. And he said something like somebody interviewed him. And he said, you know, when I go into my studio, if I already know what’s going to happen, it’s all over. Right. For sure. I think it applies to every single one of us.

00:18:48 Yeah. We just need to not know that’s right. And not knowing exactly. So that’s a big part, not knowing. So then another area that is absolutely fascinating and is it comes from evolutionary biology and it’s called the adjacent possible. And this concept was described by, uh, dr. Stuart Kauffman and Bruce Sawhill my partner way back long ago, the Santa Fe Institute,

00:19:18 and this concept is it’s about where you’re you take a step, you make a move. So you make a move on your painting. You take a step in your life. And that step illuminates a number of possible steps that were not only invisible, but because of your action, they came into existence. They didn’t exist before. So they were not only invisible,

00:19:48 but they didn’t exist before. And your action, your action changes the environment. And you’re really co-creating with the invisible. Yeah. You’re, you’re in coevolution co-creation. So that is mind blowing to me, reminds me of a quote from, um, and Rican Martinez, uh, that he, he said the work of an artist unfolds in the experience of wrestling with the moment.

00:20:23 Yes, yes, yes. Unfolding unfolding. And then it’s the Jew, the adjacent in that moment opens up other possibilities. Correct. You know, it’s interesting years ago, I was fascinated by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle where Heisenberg talked about the observer changes what’s observed like in the, in the lab or, you know, in science or whatever the observer.

00:20:48 But whereas with the adjacent possible your act of creating effects existence itself. Correct. That’s okay. Say that again because it’s it’s complex. So I’ll say it again. Yeah. So the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is where, you know, your observation changes what’s being observed. This is from theoretical physics. Okay. The adjacent possible is where your act of creating affects existence itself.

00:21:21 Got it. That’s huge. Yes. I’m going to turn, I turned off comments you guys, because we’re, I’m going to turn them on at the end. I’m going to leave like 10 to 15 minutes for questions for Nancy. But, um, just for you guys to know that I am conscious about the comments. Um, but we want to see Nancy and actually listen to what she has to say.

00:21:46 So go ahead, Nancy. Okay. And then the last one, or there’s more, but you know, another big, big kind of pillar is the inner landscape basically from psychology. I mean, that’s like, you know, mindfulness, that’s like, you know, your mindset, that’s the inner narrative that is affecting you and every realm of, of your life and over your art.

00:22:11 So it’s really important to be aware of that. And, um, I’m very much into the why to not the how to, I’m not that not as interested in the hell to, I’m not that particularly interested in techniques, quite frankly, I’m interested in, in deep foundational principles and concepts. And why, why do this anyway? Because the why drives action.

00:22:40 Oh, your students, um, get to that point where they know the why. Um, because sometimes they just, you know, they just do, but they don’t know why. Yeah. And that’s okay there there’s, it’s that’s that, but even asking the question, like Realty said, live the questions, just asking the question is a powerful thing.

00:23:02 You don’t actually, you don’t have to know why, but when you ask yourself, why is this important to me? Then you live that question and you live into that question and things start to unfold when you do that. So it’s okay. You know, to not know why. And it’s good in some ways to not know, but to continually ask the question and they,

00:23:27 Y can evolve. Right, right. In these, for sure. These spirals. Yes. Yes. But I think at some point, uh, it is, you know, yes. It’s important not to know the why, but like you said, just to even ask the question, um, but it’s also to understand your own language with your work,

00:23:49 whatever that might be. I think it’s very important that you connect with your work, even if you don’t know why, but if you have that kind of connection with your work and a language that you understand each other, because your artwork is your partner. Right. And so you kind of have to understand a little bit of how you came about for this.

00:24:13 You may be not conscious on the process, but there must be some sort of connection. Yeah. And I think the more you ask yourself that question, why is this important to me? And it helps you to move past resistance and procrastination. Um, and then, and then as you start to have this dialogue with yourself about what’s going on, as you’re creating and even thinking about it afterwards,

00:24:39 and that’s where I think having a journal is a really powerful thing. You, you start to develop a language and a lexicon, uh, around your work and you begin to understand it more at first, you know, you probably don’t know what it’s about, but if you’ll just keep asking the questions, eventually it starts to unfold. It will give you a narrative.

00:25:02 Yes. Yes. So, okay, Nancy, so let’s talk about your actual work. Um, and if you want to show us some of your paintings, that will be fantastic. Yes. Yes, definitely. So, okay. Um, can you see right now? Yes. Shall I take this? Perfect. Yeah. Okay. I will flip this around so we can.

00:25:30 Perfect. So you can take us around your studio and show us your studio too. Did that work? I haven’t flipped it. Yeah. There we go. Okay. There we go. Okay. So I’ll show you around my studio and then we’ll look at the word, but basically I have a very small studio. I work with a great deal of constraint and it’s a small,

00:25:55 it’s like a, basically a bedroom and I’ve always had fairly small studios. So there’s no excuse for people at home that say, Oh, but my, my space is so small. Yeah. I mean, it’s actually it’s. Yeah. I know of a story of, uh, one of my teachers long ago was telling me he had a student who wanted a gorgeous studio and,

00:26:21 uh, I’ll come back on here for a second. And basically he helped her to, you know, plan the studio and build it. And then once you had this beautiful studio, she stopped painting. It was almost like it was intimidating. So there’s something to be said for the constraint of maybe not the greatest studio, maybe a small studio, you have to Be creative.

00:26:44 You have to really, really be creative with your space so it can work. You sure do. So let me, let me come back around. Hold on just a second. Nancy, do you mainly work on paper? I do. Because of this constraint issue. Now I do have canvas I’ll show you down below. Do you see there? There’s a roll of canvas.

00:27:04 Yes. That’s raw canvas. And sometimes I’ll go outside if it’s gonna be a gigantic painting. Um, but I do work on paper a lot and you can see these works. Um, like for instance, this work is quite minimalist over here. Do you see that? Yes. And I can go in on it and show you, so there’s not a lot of paint on this either.

00:27:29 There’s, there’s mark-making and a little bit of paint. Okay. So sometimes I just feel like being very minimalist. Other times I might go in and, and add more. I was in this kind of movement in these beautiful blues and here we’ve got more paint on this one And a very different application of the paint. Yeah. And then there’s yeah.

00:27:57 Different brushstrokes, different materials that you use. Yeah. So I’d just change it up. Here’s another, I’m very big on creating lots of starts. So for example, um, okay. So for example, I might make five to 20 starts activating the canvas. I call it the canvas, but maybe paper and then looking at those and then picking one or two to work up further,

00:28:27 you know, whatever draws me that day. So that’s one way I might work other times. It’s just, I’ll just go in and just start a painting Paper. Do you use, what do you like using? I love BFK raves, printmaking paper. This is BFK Reeves. It really is. It’s got a kind of thickness and some kind of surface that I really,

00:28:50 really like and also like, um, uh, hold on a second. I also do work with Borden and Riley, which is very inexpensive, you know, like when I’m giving them Wait, does it take, um, you know, watercolor or acrylic? Well, It takes acrylic. Well, it’s, it’s only 90 pounds. That’s not, that is a very,

00:29:13 it’s an inexpensive way to go. Like if you’re giving a workshop or something like that, and you’ve got to have a lot of paper. Yeah. But I also enjoy painting on it too. And you can thicken it up if you want, by using white light Tex paint and toughen it up or not. I actually just love raw paper. I don’t tend to just so anyway.

00:29:33 Yeah. I don’t either. Yeah. Yeah. There’s another one. I like, it’s a summer set. Coventry rag vellum finished 290 grams and that’s yeah. That’s and this is, I think to two 90, this BFK Reeves. Okay. All of those. I really like. Um, and then I, you know, sometimes work on panel and canvas,

00:29:58 so, and then, uh, another thought thing I thought I would show you. So hold on just a second, Bruce. You want to come and help me with this? Um, so I’ll step back for a second on this one. Can you see this? Yes. If you can just, there we go there. Yes, we can see it.

00:30:22 Okay. So this is two pieces of BFK raves vertically, and then they’re together. And this is a, you know, light value, predominantly light value painting. This is like, when I really want to explore a breathing space, it looks like a minimal pallet there. Right. Very minimal. Very much about the limited palette and the constraint of that.

00:30:48 I don’t know if you can see that, but yes, very much so. It’s very, it’s also the light on light, the white on the barely just slightly darker value. I love that. You can really see that. Yes. You know, so I love, love, love white on white. I love black on black. So this is one,

00:31:09 you know, I just very much enjoyed and it started with the Mark making it started with the underlying subtle mark-making and then just kind of responding now, another very interesting thing that happened that I want to show you, and this might be something to think about. So I’ve got the Bruce, can you pull the board out a bit? So you see this gigantic board right now.

00:31:35 We just pulled the whole board, screwed it out a little bit like that. Okay. Okay. I’m going to step way back. Can you see this painting? There we go. Yes. Okay. Sorry about that. Um, this painting was informed by, can you pull that back? Just take it off the board itself. Yes. The board.

00:32:01 See all those drips and wonderful marks. Yes. So then I got in, let’s see this again. I thought wouldn’t it be cool to do like 20 paintings that are kind of like this, but variations on the theme and really, really take it further and yeah. Yeah. I might go in with a gigantic brush, you know, this wonderful big mama brush.

00:32:25 I love, I don’t know if you can see it. They only go and go in, you know, I’m not want to go in with some big, big moves on that. Okay. Yeah. And you have Some, um, you know, I can see on that one that you have, um, horizontal and vertical, so it’s playing with us in a geometrics kind of way,

00:32:51 but it has the language of, um, you know, moving your eye through the whole piece because it gives you that calm this. Um, but at the same time, it, with the drips coming down, it almost feels like they want to break that column. That’s right. But horizontal. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like, um,

00:33:15 it almost has this, uh, juxtaposition of trying to stay calm, but then this lines are coming in to interrupt that. And, um, I really, really enjoy that. That is, that is beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Um, just a second. Let me do this round again. Yeah. I really believe that there’s such a power in just noticing things like that and that’s that subtle creative impulse and go,

00:33:46 Hey, well, let’s try it. And then from there work in a series because in a series you don’t make one painting precious. You can, you can really experiment in a series. And that’s what I always talk about. Like, it takes us hundreds of tries to get the right painting that we want, you know, and by those hundred tries,

00:34:10 you can be so free and not think, and then an accident happens and you love it. And so exactly, and it’s, and it’s amazing because one misinforming the next and the next and the next. And when he talk about, um, from zero to one and that space of starting, that might be your first one. Right. And then from first to second to third to fourth,

00:34:37 and you know, when, so on it just for an information that is just a rhythm, so you go on a rhythm and I think math has a rhythm, you know, so if we listen to that, um, you know, like that painting per se has the rhythm of repetition of the lines that are going horizontal and vertical. And so,

00:35:03 um, I totally understand now, um, where you’re coming from and the language that you’re using on your paintings, which is fast. Thank you. Thank you. And I love what you were saying there. I loved listening to you about that because it is yeah. Math and math is real, you know, math and music are very closely related and it’s,

00:35:23 there’s that rhythm, right? Rhythm is music and the space between the notes. Right. Right. It’s the space that you have in between the notes, but also that rhythm for the repetition of your language that you’re, you know, that, um, I think that the viewer, Um, each one of us has a different way of seeing things.

00:35:41 That’s my own interpretation when I saw that and that there’s not just one way to, to, uh, appreciate art and, uh, you know, and, and non-objective art. Sometimes it’s very hard to comprehend. Um, and so, uh, you just gave us a really awesome way to, to see it. So are you gonna show us,

00:36:05 yeah, go ahead. I will. I was just gonna say, one other thing I want to say is, um, is don’t be afraid of the ugly painting because that’s where the juice is, because I believe that that’s kind of the nascent embryonic forms of new work that’s trying to emerge. And it’s sometimes it’s in this awkward embryonic state, but if you,

00:36:27 if you allow that and actually embrace it, when you go, Ooh, that’s a ugly painting or it’s strange or whatever, it’s awkward, actually. It’s a good sign because you’re pushing those, the envelope you’re pushing the boundaries. Yes. And so much knowledge and information comes from the ugliness that’s right. Which, which mirrors our life right now. And there’s so much learning,

00:36:54 to be have right now. And so, um, so anyways, so Nancy, I’m so excited, cause you’re gonna teach us a little bit about how to activate and a little bit about how you go about it. So let’s go into that now. Okay. Sounds great. So I might have to have Bruce come in and help me a bit,

00:37:14 but thank you, Bruce, for helping us out today. I tell you, I’ll tell you when I’m ready. We’ll move this over here. I won’t take these down. Perfect. I’ve got a plan here and this madness. Yes, I know you do. And that’s why I’m so impressed that you have everything. So, um, lined up so perfectly well.

00:37:42 So you’re doing a great job, Nancy. Thank you so much. I’m going to turn some comments back on for, um, yeah, I know that. Um, we, um, yeah, somebody asks, if this will be recorded, yes. This will stay in, um, my Instagram, um, feed as well as Nancy’s and uh,

00:38:06 everywhere. So don’t worry if you can’t see it right now, it will be recorded. And, um, Nancy is just getting prepped to show us what’s coming up next. Yay. Exactly. Yeah. This is really fun. I love this so much. So let me just hold on. And uh, so Bruce, can you kind of hold on just a second,

00:38:33 we’re just a question on how do you choose the colors, uh, when, when do you choose them and if you do. Yeah, so basically, um, I really am fond of a limited palette. And so, and you talked to widespread, I don’t understand what a limited pallet is. Yeah. So a limited palette is really constraining your colors down to just a few colors.

00:39:04 It’s akin to constraining your value patterns down to a few values, like for example, two to four values. So with a limited palette, you might work with, you could work with one color, but you might work with two or three or four and that’s that you don’t pull every color you’ve got, you don’t bring in every color you’ve got, you.

00:39:27 Don’t bring in all of these colors. Do you see these colors? You don’t bring in all these colors. Yes. That’s not a limited palette. No. Look at all of these. Yes, exactly. Exactly. I don’t want to bring every color in there. We want to reuse just a few. And I used to resist that I resisted it or resisted this idea of a limited palette or that kind of constraint because I thought it was going to limit me.

00:39:56 But what I learned from the research on creativity is actually within a constraint is an almost unlimited potential and Any values within, you know, you can just mix and all of a sudden you have all this incredible, you know, values of your limited palette. So you’re not really limited. Um, it’s your story? So open. I mean, if you look at,

00:40:21 I did a talk on, uh, there’s, this Apple university has this super secretive kind of creativity, you know, university. And one of the things that they taught there was Picasso’s 11 lithographs, where he took a bull, the constraint of the bull and he kept breaking it down and simplify, simplify, simplify, simplify, so full of buying it.

00:40:44 It was almost, it was just down to one readable. Right. And, you know, uh, DaVinci said, uh, that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Or I think Mark Twain said, I would write a short, shorter letter, but it would take me too much time. So just write things down is, is challenging, but it’s got tremendous possibilities.

00:41:12 There’s this guy at Apple who said, um, a thousand no’s for every yes. Oh that’s but that’s 100% sure. Especially in this profession, um, you know, if you decide to be professional artists, you’ll get more than the thousands nos before you get it. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think also, you know, saying no to things is important as well to say no.

00:41:41 Yeah, yes, yes. That’s the key. Yes. And you have to learn that with trial and error because I used to be the yes, girl until I decided no more. I think a lot of us have been that, you know, and it reflects to like when you can con when you can say no to a thousand colors, but yes.

00:42:04 To three, your, that gets reflected in your life. Correct. Okay. So that’s what we’re talking about. There is massive power and constraint, so thank you for letting us know what that meant. Yeah. Thank you for asking for further refinement on that. So there’s many ways I start things, but I’ll show you a few just because I think storage again,

00:42:30 zero to one or so powerful and so exciting. So one way I might go is I might just take some various pencils and, you know, just start activating, you know, basically this is, this is stream of consciousness. Mark-making this is if you can see it, um, and it might be, it might be slow or it might be fast,

00:42:57 you know, whatever, whatever, and it’s, whatever your marks are, whatever your lines are. So I’m just going to, I’m just trying to give you an idea. Okay. Dividing, activating that surface. Yes. Um, you know, and then invisible, visible for the first time. That is right. And you’re, you’re developing a history on this surface.

00:43:23 Here’s a little bit thicker marker. This is a pit oil oil base. So you’re going to be able to see that one more. Yes. For sure. Whatever. And just, this is stream of consciousness. This is the spontaneous, right? We’re just staying spontaneous. You switch hands. Yeah. I go back and forth. You could even use both hands at the same time,

00:43:49 whatever it really is, whatever you want to do, it’s listening to your body, your, your lexicon. Now it might be big looping things right here knows what it is. Could be angular. It could be curvy. And also the pressure that you apply, like you was right. And then you could go in and knock some of that back.

00:44:16 You’re here as an eraser. What is this? Some kind of a plastic, this is a plastic eraser. It could be any kind of a racer. Just randomly knocking it back. This one ends adding, Adding more. Yeah. You see what I’m saying? You can even use that as a Mark maker. You absolutely could. And you could go into,

00:44:42 I love these Derwent exhale, graphite sticks. They’re tiny now because I use them all the time. They’re down, but I’ll show you the box. Is that okay? Yeah. Yes, yes. And I believe, um, did you give me those? Yes, you did. I have a list of, uh, Nancy’s materials. You guys.

00:45:05 So I’m going to name all of her materials. Yeah. So you see how I get a darker, you know, Mark there and whiter, lighter, I’ll go in and seal that with some medium, like some, I might go in with some gloss, medium I might, or, or, or satin medium. You spray. Do you use any fix it tips?

00:45:30 Well, you know, interestingly enough, recently I started playing around with milk before take off de Gaulle would take his, his, his, you know, talk drawings and things and pour milk on it. And it works really well. Yeah. It sets it what happens. So I just used regular milk. I put it into one of these sprayer bottles like this.

00:45:54 I was just experimenting and I put it out. I went outside, I had this other painting and I did three coats. You know, one, you know, what do, when, let it dry do another, it was already setting by the second coat. Well, that’s very interesting. There is a little bit of a smell for a while,

00:46:13 but then I found that it goes away. People have asked me about that. Where, where did you read about this? I haven’t heard it. I was researching, uh, cause I knew that there was some kind of solution where some people were using skim milk and some denatured alcohol. And so then I thought, well, I dug into it and I read that de Gaulle just with poor milk.

00:46:38 And I figured it was just regular milk and that’s what, Oh my God, I love that. Yeah, I do too. Now this is Nancy for that tip. You’re welcome. So Sandra, this is a gigantic piece of charcoal. This is what I was using on this other painting that I sealed with milk. Okay. It makes like, you know,

00:47:03 it really is dark. Right. And where do you get that Nancy? So that one, I think I got, I think it may be general, you know, it’s called generals is the, and I think I got it through either Jerry’s Artarama or Blick. Okay, great. Yeah. So that really, Oh my gosh. Wow.

00:47:26 Um, that really gets one and that one’s harder to, to seal. Right. So what do you seal it with? That’s that milk on that one? Yeah, absolutely. Wow. I’ll see if I can show you, hold on a second. Just stay right there, Bruce. That’s incredible. I love the, all the Mark makings right now.

00:47:50 They’re showing us all the different, you know, materials that you’ve used and really thank you. So this was the one where I had a bunch of charcoal, like that general charcoal was when I put the milk on. Wow. What happens after? Can you work on top of that? Yeah, I could go back into it right now. Okay.

00:48:17 You know, that’d be a lot of fun. So there you go. There’s one. That’s fine. No. Okay. Just a second. It’s a lot of moving pieces. You guys, a lot of moving pieces. So now what I might do is I might go in with a, I love these long handled brushes. Now the problem is that they no longer make them.

00:48:44 It’s, it’s very hard to find them. So, but you can use branches, you can use what sticks and you can just attach your brush to it. And that will make the trick just as well as a long, um, brush. Yeah. That’s what I do at workshops is I have all these brushes and then we get these dowels and we right,

00:49:04 exactly. Right. So home Depot has all of those and you can just, yeah, yeah, yeah. So basically then, and I’m opening up right now, latex paint, because it’s just easier right now. So the latex paint that you use as this house paint. Yeah. This is house paint because you know, when I’m making big paintings,

00:49:27 it’s less expensive to get the latex house paint and it works well with, with acrylic. Oh yeah. Okay. It’s acrylic light tap sales point. So it’s fine. You know, and so basically I’m getting different, you know, this is going to be a little different because it’s, this is acrylic. Right. And I’m just again,

00:49:50 activating, right. Yeah. And as you see, Nancy’s really not thinking she’s doing. And so asked me, um, if you can talk a little bit more about the why. Yeah. So yeah, the Y and it’s like, when I think about why it’s like, that’s the kind of driving force, are we talking about the psychological, why is this the question?

00:50:19 Yes. There’s kind of like the driving force of, of anything. You just kind of like, what now what’s, you could also say what’s meaningful about this to me. And for me, uh, painting and creating brings me alive. I feel alive and it feels very meaningful to me because, um, I have to be learning continually and art is so perfect for that because you could never get to the end of it.

00:50:50 Yes. I think that applies to everything in life. I think when you stop wanting to learn, you become mediocre. Um, we don’t ever want to be mediocre. We always want to learn and better ourselves. Yeah. And access the ineffable and the mysterious it’s within you. And so, right. That’s a big part for me. It’s just so wonderful.

00:51:17 Yes. Um, so anyway, you know, you get the idea we’re we’re I know that you have a painting behind it that you weren’t, um, more advanced. Well, I can show you, can I show you one more thing on this? Yes, please. Oh my God. Oh, you’re using the mama brush. This is the big mama.

00:51:36 This is my favorite sash. Brush eight. I love this thing. I love that they stick in your hand. Yes. And then I just dip it down into the white text paint. I have to be careful cause this stuff old sling pain. Yeah, exactly. I might like go in and, you know, do some kind of rhythmic things,

00:51:56 right? Yes. Love that. Right. And you just don’t know what’s going to happen. And so, and then sometimes what we’ll do is tear up and use rhythmic, uh, paces and recombine. And that’s a whole other thing. Comment, a torics is a mathematical concept. We used to laugh at science, but anyway, that gives you some idea that you can do so much with your body,

00:52:25 with your gesture and don’t worry about it. Do you ever cut some of your pieces and then collage into something else? Yes. Yes. So sometimes you might do a rhythmic sequence and segment and then, you know, just make a whole bunch of those and then maybe tear some big pieces, smaller pieces, combined, recombine, try different movements, then go back in and paint into that.

00:52:56 And then, and then we move into this realm. I’ll tell you about which is about it’s the, the spot is kinda like the spontaneous and they consider it as the dance between the spontaneous and then the party you that comes in with a decisive move or a decision. Yes. Because creativity decision is a big part of creating. It’s great. It comes from the Latin word,

00:53:22 Dessa daring to cut through. So Let me show you something just takes you into this next painting. These quips are fantastic too, by the way. Yes. It’s true. It holds everything together. Yeah. The hardware store, they don’t harm your piece. They don’t burn your painting and they are really great. And you can get them at home Depot,

00:53:47 right? Yeah. Have you seen those? Yes, I have. Let me move this over. We’re really matching right now, Nancy. I’m not only making our asserts, but our backgrounds. I love it. Yeah. Black and white and I feel, Oh, there’s something to say about that. Here we go. Look, you see that?

00:54:14 Let me see. Let me see. Oh my goodness. Yep. I do. Totally matching. I see. Yeah. Okay. I’m going to turn back some comments now. So if you have a question, this will be a perfect time to ask. Um, Nancy and, uh, I just want you to know that, uh, me or Nancy will be happy to answer any questions that you guys have and uh,

00:54:48 if it’s not live, uh, you can, um, put it on your comments. Um, Oh, question. Uh, is milk archival? Well, it worked for a digoxin, so I figured that was good enough for me. So we don’t know yet. We don’t know. How do you set up the board to paint on? Okay.

00:55:15 So, um, hold on just to let me, so the board. Yeah. So what I do, I’ve got a, it was at a coffin Stein, easel, very heavy duty metal easel. And then we get this board four foot by six foot, uh, plywood board from the hardware store, Birch firewood, Birch plywood. And we just put it on there,

00:55:38 right. Half inch thick. Okay. And I have another board, you know, I would love to have more boards in him, had more room in here. I love these boards. Cause you can take them on and off, right? Yes. Yes. You can even have a painting behind on the back side of the board. So sometimes I’ll flip the board around.

00:55:58 Someone is asking if you ever use spectrum fixative I have not. I am aware of it. Um, but I have not. So I’ve got a method where I kind of use the shaper. This is another tool I love if we can find it. Hold on a second. Uh, Oh, here it is. I love this thing so much.

00:56:20 The color shaper. Yes. I love those are so great to spread things out too. You know, it just feels very free, uh, on how you do it. Um, people ask if you spray at the end with the milk, no, you can spray it in the middle and then you can continue working with it. Um, and so it’s,

00:56:39 it would work like a fixative. So think of it as, um, another question is, can you show us the paint can that you use, they want it? What kind of paint? What kind of paint is this? Hold on just a second. Bruce, can you help me? Can you hold on just a minute? What is this?

00:57:03 Do we know? Oh gosh. It’s the paint fell on it just a second. I have a whole one for white shoe. Okay. It’s Vasper or volts bar? V a L a R. Okay. Nancy. You’ll send me that too. And I’ll add it to our, to our thing. Yeah, I will say that. Yeah. And then,

00:57:26 um, have you ever used the milk on canvas? I have not. That’s a good, that’s a good idea. I’ll try it on canvas next. Yeah, I will try to, and we’ll get back to you on that one. I love to experiment. If you haven’t noticed the color shade, where do you get your color? The color.

00:57:48 This is the Royal sovereign color shaper. I’ve gotten it from everywhere from Blake to juries art aroma to, um, and it comes in different sizes. You guys, so you can get a two inch or four inch or whatever. Three inch flat for sweat. Yes. Um, yeah, bowel bars is from Lowe’s or home Depot. It’s archival. You can work on it and you can add things.

00:58:15 We have one and a half minute remaining before we get cut off. So I want to make sure that, um, please tell us Nancy, where can we find you? Okay. I’ve got a new website. Now you can find me at artist’s journey.com or you can go to Nancy hillis.com and it will take you there. Yeah. So that’s where I am.

00:58:38 I’m on Facebook. I’m on Instagram. Okay. And, um, are you teaching right now? Okay. Um, continual, all of that information will be online and I mean on your website and I will make sure that everything is, is shown and uploaded. It’s going to be on my Instagram account.

00:59:04 It’s going to be on my YouTube channel, Sandra Valley art. It will be on Facebook, Sandra faley art, and then Nancy will also pull it up in all her social media. So, um, thank you, Nancy. I can’t thank you enough. This was a wonderful, wonderful, um, interview. Thank you for letting us in your studio,

00:59:24 your, you know, your beautiful space that where you create and thank you for sharing your spirit with us and all your knowledge. Uh, thank you so much, Sandra. And thank you so much to all of you out there for being here and for being artists and believing in yourself. I decided you keep going and don’t give up, keep painting,

00:59:46 keep creating. That’s awesome. Thanks Nancy. Thank you. Take care guys. Bye.

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