Intuitive Painting with Nancy Polli of Placer County
Gallery: Nancy Polli [6 Images] Click any image to expand.
Nancy Polli uses a technique called “intuitive painting,” where she allows her pieces to unfold as they please. As a teacher and marriage and family therapist who uses art interventions in her practice, Polli—who’s largely inspired by art nouveau—passes her free-flowing, expressive style onto clients and students. “I love the opportunity to see and create work that has come from the artist’s soul, not the mastery of their tools,” says Polli. Opening her studio twice a year to the public, you can view Polli’s stunning acrylic and mixed media works at the upcoming North Auburn Art Studios Tour (May 13-14) and the PlacerArts Studios Tour (November 10-12).
HLB: How were you influenced artistically as a child?
NP: I grew up in San Francisco and would go to the Legion of Honor and de Young museums a couple times a month. Because I lived on a busy street and didn’t have other children nearby, I spent much of my time playing [indoors] by myself—[using my] imagination, playing the piano, drawing and coloring. I took art classes in high school and started college as an art major, but women weren’t encouraged to be artists. I lacked the courage to try and make it my career, but I’ve continued to make art for myself, off and on, my entire life.
HLB: How do you use art in your therapy?
NP: There are many [life] events and emotions that are so overwhelming we simply don’t have words for them. Making art allows what’s inside to be expressed in a way that [enables] clients to take a look at what’s going on, sometimes be surprised, and allow feelings to be processed. It’s also enjoyable, a stress reliever and can help people develop a sense of grounding. Art therapy is not about learning to make pretty art, but rather a process for healing.
HLB: How do you measure success IN TERMS OF your artwork?
NP: Success for me is to have the freedom to paint when and what I want. I don’t ever want to be afraid that someone won’t like my work or that I have to sell work to eat. My late partner, Reif Erickson, pastel landscape painter extraordinaire, once said to me, “I don’t get it.” I replied, “Honey, that’s okay, you don’t have to get it.”
HLB: What do you hope viewers interpret from your work?
NP: I want people to look at my work and have a sense of their own creative nature. I want them to feel the color and movement and interpret my paintings in any way that will support their sense of joy. I believe that everyone is creative, but we have grown up in a world where creativity isn’t valued. We create our lives every day at work—in our relationships with ourselves and with others, and in the garden, the kitchen, or the workshop—and I encourage people to go forth and create the lives they want to live.