Ethereal yet earthy, instructive yet playful, Nancy Wellborn contradicts contradiction. Through art, healing, and "spiritual gardening," she seeks to repair the illusory separation between the material and spiritual worlds, between humanity and Nature. Her watercolors, showcased as Summer Magic starting July 2 at L.I.W. Cargo in Manitou Springs, are collected and cherished nationally for their depiction of mythical forests, giant treehouses, exquisite flora, fauna and fairies. Her 30-year expertise in growing organic food in harmony with nature spirits is represented in her annual summer class, "Gardening with Pan" and a book in progress, Fairies in My Kitchen: Eating with Earth Consciousness.
Do you believe in fairies? Yes, I do. I think there is a universe of unseen, loving energies that surround us. Being here in human form on this beautiful planet can be a magical experience. I want to give people a hint of that wonder when they look at my paintings.
How did this distinctive art evolve in your life? I grew up on an isolated Missouri farm. When I wasn't doing chores, I was outdoors, wandering alone. If something was bothering me, I would get quiet and ask for help and the answers would just start coming. Nature and solitude taught me to trust my intuition, and as a child, I taught myself to draw [by] copying illustrations. For 17 years, while raising four children, I did little artwork until I realized I was never going to have the optimum time for creative concentration. So I did watercolors -- mostly because they could be done at the dining room table between meals. Without the luxury of quiet, I started a stained glass studio. I learned to paint even while I was on the phone.
Your style, "nature-themed art nouveau," has elements of magical realism and Asian art. Who influenced you? The great illustrators -- Howard Pyle, Rackham and Maxfield Parrish. But my husband, Paul, is the silent partner who inspires my work daily. He's a master draftsman and draws the cottages and castles in my paintings, but he also restores antiques to support us and provides the muscle in our garden.
Metaphorically, that brings me to your spiritual work. What is your experience with Pan, the archetypal god of Nature? I think God is multifaceted, like a diamond. Dependent on our belief, we perceive God as Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, etc. Pan is another facet of God as it relates to nature. Fairies, angels and nature spirits are just words to describe this loving creative energy here to assist us. When I create my garden in the spring, I ask for their advice, not so much for what I want, but for what would create the optimal balance and harmony needed to make the garden a place of power and healing. I let them tell me which vegetables are best and the best location for them. I was going to plant cabbage in the garden, but they told me it needed to grow in the border around the aspen in my front yard. They did so wonderfully there, they looked like mammoth, green roses.
What is the message of your book, Fairies in My Kitchen? Most food is over-processed and lacking optimal nutrition but I feel it's just as important to grow and eat food with sacred purpose. We are not alone in this quest. This vast sea of loving energy is waiting for us to ask to [help] create greater well-being. If we have a clear desire to heal and help, it's possible to gain information to assist us. It's there for anyone who has clear intention and a good heart.