Monday, August 19, 2013

Nancy Thibert, A Painter's Interview

by Catherine Lee, Contributing Editor

One of the featured artists this month is Nancy Thibert, a Canadian painter and teacher, who creates beautiful collages mixed with a bit of realism - simply unique. Recently, she opened up painting classes and will have a solo show in May 2014 at the Leo Koo Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I hope you enjoy this interview.

1.  When did you start your creative journey?
I started my creative journey the day I was born.  I've always been creative in one way or another, as nearly all children are, if they are given the slightest opportunity with materials in hand.  I did not consider art/illustration as a career until university, when it became clear I couldn't take the pressure of pre-veterinary medicine.

2.  What mediums and materials do you use for your artwork? 
I use a wide variety of mediums and materials for my illustrations and paintings - fabric dye, acrylic, oil, oil stick, charcoal, pencil, graphite sticks, canvas, various types of linen, and fabric.  I work with modeling paste, wax medium, sand, wood chips, paint chips, feathers, plastic netting and many other small objects and materials I've got floating around.

I'm returning to working in a very small format again, so will be using watercolour, oil and chalk pastels, pencil crayons and water soluble wax crayons.  It just depends on which medium seems to suit my subject the best.  I understand it's wise to have Photoshop skills as well.  It happens that my new landlords teach Photoshop, so over time I'll be adding this skill to my tool kits.

3.  When did the interest and love for unicorns come? 
I do have a love for unicorns though it came as an adult.  I was never exposed to them as a child and didn't even know what they were, until I was in my teens.  My real love and interest in them came in 2001, when I discovered a photographic book called Unicorns I Have Known, by Robert Vavra.   He was a great friend of authors James Michner and Ernest Hemingway.  He got his career start actually by doing all the photos for the now iconic book Iberia, written by Michner.  Now in his mid-seventies, he was world-renowned in the 1970's and 80's for taking animal photography and making it an art form.  He created beautiful color changes and transparent collage manipulations long before digital photography ever hit the scene - a true master of the medium.  It was so easy for me to believe the stunningly beautiful creatures on the pages of his book were real unicorns.  And to top it off, Vavra is an exceptional writer as well, telling the story of how he came to photograph them, and how he wove an interesting and credible tale.  I was immensely captivated from cover to cover.  From that point on, I became quite obsessed with unicorns and learned everything I could about them, which fortunately isn't much.  I got copyright permission from Robert to paint the images in his book, which is where the subjects of my unicorn paintings come from.

Nancy Thibert and her dog
4.  What style does your art resemble? 
It's a bit of a Heinz 57.  It's eclectic, collagy, combined with realistic elements.  I'm not actually sure what it resembles, to be perfectly honest.

5.  Where do you find your inspiration? 
I find them from nature, animals, art history, history and children's and teen stories, mostly with the odd picture or photography book thrown in, as was the case with Robert Vavra's Unicorns I Have Known.

6.  What artists do you admire?
Many, many artists and illustrators, and I do try to incorporate similarities into my work, but it never works out the way I want it to, if I consciously try to incorporate their style.  So, I just do what I do and let their influence show up however it does in my expression.

7.  What do you like best about being an artist?
The freedom that it allow me to express my soul, i.e. . . who I really am.  The expression part of it is usually very easy.  After that, I find it very hard, a lot of times, when it comes to marketing and promoting my work.

8.  What advice would you give other artists, who are just starting their careers in art?
If you're an extrovert - go for it!  If you're an introvert - be prepared to do other jobs to keep a roof over your head as you build your career, because promoting and marketing yourself and your work is very difficult for introverts.  I'm an introvert, so I know what I speak of.  To everyone - learn how to market and promote your work or find someone who will do a great job of that for you and be prepared to pay them for that service.

9.  Where can you work be seen? 
Currently, my work can be seen at my retail studio on Main Street in the tiny town of Nanton, Alberta, Canada where I also teach classes to adults and children.  In May, 2014 I have a Contemporary Solo Show at the Leo Koo Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

10.  How can people find you?
They can contact me by calling at 403-560-7860, by sending me an email to or by visiting my website,  I'm also on facebook as NancThibert, Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Heart Studio & Classes and Nan Thibert Fine Art.  My twitter page is nancythibert@peacefulmindnan.

Nanton, population 1800, is about one hour directly south of the City of Calgary, population 1,000,000, which is famous for the Calgary Stampede, one of the largest outdoor rodeos and exhibitions in the world.  People from all over the globe attend each year.  This is oil and gas, farming and ranching country, similar to Montana and Texas.  We also have a number of First Nations reserves in the province, one of which is the largest in Canada; and three of which are about an hour south of Nanton.  Alberta is quite literally the land of "cowboys and Indians".  You can see large herds of cattle and horses, giant farm machinery and oil and gas wells in the space of a mile as you drive along the highway south or north of Calgary.  Also, Nanton and Calgary are only 45 minutes from the Rocky Mountains, so think Denver, Colorado.

Thank you Nan Thibert for your wonderful insight and interview.  Below is her symbol for her art courses available for both kids and adults.

The Management would like to thank Catherine for providing us with this interview. For more on Catherine Lee visit

Writers can sign up on there...and get news...and also agency listings...and also exposure to publishing companies...they actually go in there to look at artists and writers.


  1. I love Unicorns I Have Known!
    These are really beautiful. Great interview. :)

  2. It was lovely to interview this Canadian painter. She offers classes for children and adult. And I hope that she does wonderfully with her work.

  3. I love unicorns too. And didn't find out about them or much fantasy until I was a teen too. Loved the paintings Nancy shared with us.

  4. Hi Nancy--

    I agree with your comment that influences show up in an artist's work wherever. It is pretty hard to pinpoint it, but when you see it, you know it. I love your work! Thanks to Catherine Lee for another great interview.

  5. Thanks for the interview. Beautiful pictures!

  6. What a lovely post! Nancy's art is beautiful, and I was so glad to read about it and her. Thanks for sharing a happy post.

  7. ohh I just love your post Nancy. Very informative and while reading i just see myself before cos I've been trying to do artwork like this and your post help me out and courage me more.

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