- You live in Spain, on the beautiful Costa Blanca. Where are you originally from?
Well, I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina; my father was an adventurous sailor in his youth and travelled a lot! But my home is Stockholm, Sweden; it's a small town compared to London, New York, or Hong Kong but big enough to be able to offer a vegan almost anything she could crave. ;) And the summers are perfect, just right in every single way, they fit me and I suit them; every time I'm in Stockholm over summer, my heart is stilled and filled to the brim with life at the same time. It is home, plain and simple. But actually, this year, finally, I have started to feel a little of that for Spain, too. It may have been the long winter that has produced a glorious spring much greener than usual and thus reminding me of Sweden, I don't know, but this year I seem to be more in harmony with myself and with the world.
- How did you choose the lovely name for your Etsy Shop, Those Parasol Days?
For the first couple of years here in Spain, I was the only one not baking myself crisp on the beach and people would look strangely at me when I came walking down the street in my coloured paper parasols – I'm pretty sure I was known as “that crazy, pasty foreign girl” to the locals – as well as the tourists! So, I guess it kind of became a trademark of mine - now everyone's sporting them!
I recently saw a note on Japanese TV about shops in Tokyo that sell parasols like they would've done here a hundred years ago, in every colour and pattern you could ever want and different shapes and sizes to suit everyone. I could go to Tokyo just for that!
Also, I like how the name sounds so romantic, like lazy summer afternoons under a big leafy tree, drinking home-made lemonade and watching a a bug stretching its wings on your arm.
- How did you first come to art and creativity? How did your journey in art and creativity begin?
Children are always encouraged to draw and I liked it as much as anyone, and we all played the “what do you want to be when you grow up” game. I'm sure I went through many ideas but the ones I remember are archaeologist and architect; the first because I have always always loved history, and the second because I thought it meant I could draw all day. And when I found out that drawing was part of archaeology, too... I thought my dream had come true! :D
- When and how did you realize this was your real life path?
Well, when it was time to start thinking about a career, I thought a "normal" person couldn't possibly survive on drawing pictures - my image of an artist was something like a Da Vinci genius, and how in the world could I live up to that?
So, went on to university to study history and art history, with a focus on archaeology. As much as I love archaeology, I never liked the hierarchical structure of the university and did not look forward to a career in giving lectures and handing in excavation reports.
But it took years before it occurred to me that no-one was forcing me to stay and that I could actually quit and try something else!
And so I did.
- What are your main sources of inspiration?
Anything and everything that crosses my path is a potential idea for something or other; I think that, for me, having a positive mindset is the key to all. Also, the fact that I can stay at home with my cats and tend to their every need and spoiled wants, is a great incentive!
- How has life affected your art and art affected your life?
I'm not at the stage yet where I can make a living out of it, so the business side of it hasn't taken up my entire life yet but I notice that the better I'm doing, the more I paint, the less stressed I get about everyday things. I'm an adaptable person, so wherever I go, my art changes in style to that – when I'm in Sweden, my paintings are more clean, cooler, softer; when in Spain, the colours come out and the contrasts are much stronger.
- We share a big love for animals and cats in particular, how do you express this in your artwork?
Love, of any kind, makes you a happier person and unlike the standard idea of how an artist works, I cannot create if I'm not happy. However time-consuming my cats are and the scares they give me when they get ill or injured, I wouldn't be as balanced a person without them. And whenever I see a you-tube story from a zoo far away, with a happy ending, that just makes my day! All my art is happy art – even the serious pieces are never depressing; spreading some sunshine into the world can't be bad, can it? :) And of course, the cats often act as my models, whether they like it or not...
- You actively engage for animal welfare, don’t you?
I feed the local feral cat colonies, I take them to the vet when they let me and, with the financial help of local charities, some of them have been spayed and castrated. Once in a while an organisation from the UK, affiliated to International Animal Rescue, comes here and does a mass sterilisation all along the coast, and that has helped a lot!
- Art is about light and color! What are your favourite colors?
I like all colours, but not all colours in all places. I don't use many browns in my paintings but it's a lovely soft colour in clothes! However, one can make any colour look beautiful, in any context, by combining it or by using light to break up a block and to give it life. I have a brown watercolour cat in my Etsy shop – it may sound dull but the way the colour floats over the surface, thicker, thinner, letting the light of the paper shine through, it all gives shape and texture to an already beautiful creature.
I have done schools, I have done workshops, I have done private lessons etc. I may go to Florence for a summer course next - with all the art history there, I should think there's plenty to see!
- Do you have a studio or home studio or particular part of your house you have devoted to your artwork? Where do you paint your artwork?
If I'm doing a commission where someone has e-mailed me photos, I'm usually in front of the computer – it allows me to zoom in or out in a way that just wouldn't be practical if I were to do a print-out. In summer when the light is bouncing off the white walls, I stay indoors to paint, but any other crafting is lovely to do under a parasol!
Thank you dear Nancy for this beautiful and really inspired and inspiring interview, and for sharing your artistic journey and inspiration! I can really feel the passion and love for what you do and that your art comes from your heart. We wish you continued joy, inspiration and success with your art and with animal help.
You can find Nancy's artwork in her Etsy shop Those Parasol Days and you can get to know more about her world in her blog.