Nara Pilgrim Wood Home Page

My History and Artistic Intentions

Nara Pilgrim Wood's description of her artistic process and a short history of her life. Mount Fuji in the snow, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood In 1905 my great grandparents packed their trunks and moved from Japan to join the Yamato Colony an agricultural cooperative located in California's Central Valley Nara posed in trunk wearing Asian robe holding folding fan Moonshiner's Cabin Moonshiner's Cabin by Nara Pilgrim Wood I was born in a cabin in the coastal mountains of Northern California When I was six years old I moved to the Northern Lau Group of Fijian Islands Photo of Tamarind Free Jones and Nara Pilgrim Wood as children on Naitauba Island in Fiji. My friend, Tam. Me. Koro-i-Cake watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood Koro-i-Cake watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood opacity reduced to 50 percent The lagoons surrounding the island are the most fantastic, better-than-a-birthday playground that can be imagined. Every kick of the fin reveals another wonder. Nara sitting atop whale rock on the island of Naitauba in Fiji. Translation Island, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood Translation Island, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood The brilliant colors of sunsets and waters, the corals with their dazzling inhabitants, and the South Pacific's wildness moved me to an intimacy with the natural world Nara catching rain in her hand on Kauai. Lightfall, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood Lightfall, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood My intention is to bring love into life with my paintings...that the process of my art serve my my own heart, and that it serve the hearts of others. Nara catching rain in her hand on Kauai. Sunlight on the Water, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood Sunlight on the Water, watercolor by Nara Pilgrim Wood I love the creative process creating images that delight others I love being in a space of real feeling while I work so that something of that feeling is is communicated to you Art from the heart for the heart Nara in trunk with paintbrush in hand. Rise and Fall - Watercolor Painting by Nara Pilgrim Wood Rise and Fall - Watercolor Painting by Nara Pilgrim Wood W a t e r c o l o r H a r m o n i e s Paintings to cool the Mind and Calm the Heart


Nara Pilgrim Wood's Biography

Nara Pilgrim Wood was born in a wooded, one-room cabin in the coastal mountains of Northern California. At age four she moved with her family to Kauai, and at six relocated to a remote Fijian island in an open expanse of the Koro Sea. Pop culture, and its distractions, were a world away and had little influence on the island. It was there that she began her training in hand skills and the arts; lei-making, rangolis, weaving, painting, music, dance, theater, learning these skills in a village setting and being trained by elders rather than in a classroom.

At the age of ten Nara returned to mainland U.S., spent a year attending school in New York and then returned to California to complete her schooling. She has frequently returned to the islands throughout her life.

Detail of <q>Qaravi Sunset</q> painting by Nara Pilgrim Wood

Nara’s paintings and drawings transport the viewer to a sanctuary of earth, water, animals, flowers, everything beautiful in this world. Each piece is inspiring of love and beauty, peace and prayer. Her deep connection with the elements is proven within the paint.

Kheyala K
Nara Pilgrim Wood's Biography

Nara cites two aspects of her early education which strongly influenced her art. The first was the encouragement to select a “sacred art”, an artistic discipline to commit to, practice, and master. Throughout her childhood she had many accomplished artist-tutors and mentors in music, crafts, traditional and fine arts. Each of these artists provided valuable lessons in technique and approach, challenged her limits, and inspired her with their mastery. She explored and experimented in many arenas before settling on painting, and, eventually watercolor as her preferred medium.

The other unique aspect of Nara’s education was an extensive study of cultural, religious, and artistic traditions of the East and West. Nara states that she was equally inspired by Manohar Das and Hokusai as she was Monet and O’Keefe. Her artwork reflects this fusion , as does Nara, herself (her ancestry is Japanese/English). This amalgam can be clearly seen in her watercolors.

Your magnificent painting arrived today! I am simply elated by its beauty and elegance!...I can’t wait to hang this in a central part of my home and feast upon it many times daily...I so appreciate your thoughtfulness, skill, and kindness!

Deborah B

While attending high school in northern California, Nara chronicled the story of her grandparents’ incarceration in the Japanese internment camps of World War II, and an interest in her Japanese-American heritage grew from that. She studied the great masters of Asian painting, gaining an understanding of traditional brushwork and the approach to space and line. Her artistry became clarified in the Japanese aesthetic combining sumi ink with watercolor as her medium.

Concurrently, Nara studied for three years under Sensei Shuko Kobayashi in the Sogetsu school of ikebana. Sculptural forms in the arrangement of flowers began to translate into the play of spatial relationships and positive and negative space in her paintings. Nara also practices the art of bonsai and has a small collection of trees that she has been tending for twenty-three years.

Nara’s art and life, both, reflect her intimacy with and love of the natural world. Her watercolors are grounded in her personal relationship with the world around her, not in the mind.

Nara in Redwood Creek


Nara Pilgrim Wood's Biography

The places that I spent my childhood did not have television or radio. There was no internet, no social media. Sometimes there was electricity only a few hours a day. What I did have was family and friends, nature and life. The coral reef-encircled, lavender-hued lagoons of my early years were exploded with life. I found Nemo when I was six! My youth was filled with fortune, my childhood was magical.

I remember these times as a prolonged and deep experience of happiness. My art is imbued with my love of the natural world; observing it, feeling it, painting it. The island beaches and lagoons, the redwood groves of my youth were places that invited deep contemplation. Places such as these were abundant with life and spirit. They were sacred spaces.

This painting takes you places... I love what you're doing for this project! Thank you much!

Jack I
Nara Pilgrim Wood's Biography

The places of my childhood, and everywhere, things have changed. I have returned to the islands frequently throughout my life, but my home is now in the coastal mountains of Northern California, where I was born. The forests of my youth have burned, and the land is parched. The landscape bears scars everywhere I look. In the South Pacific much of the coral reef is bleached and lifeless. It is hard to look at the devastation, but impossible not to see it. Nevertheless, I have no movement to contribute a brushstroke to mourning the loss. My intention is to paint equanimity, balance, and vitality. What is beautiful should always be remembered and served. And I have found that a painting can invite that same deep contemplation, that same thoughtlessness that the forests, mountains, and oceans offer.

My intimacy with the natural world has always been spontaneous and immediate. My painting is a ceremony of restoration and renewal. It’s not longing for the past or the future. It is always a celebration of the beautiful. I want every painting that I do to be pregnant with life, full of happiness. So, I paint what I love, what my vision is.

Nara's ability to create space and time has always amazed me. Being an artist as well, makes me ever more impressed by her control of the white empty space which in turn creates depth and movement, capturing a moment in time.

Allison P

Portrait Photography by Tamarind Photography

Koi Fish Watercolors painting by Nara Pilgrim Wood