Homer artist paints her way onto national scene

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2000

Nancy Yaki gets many of her ideas just as she's falling asleep, especially when she has a fever.

"Something will pop up that is just so funny," said Yaki.

During a recent bout with the flu, a gigantic cow named "Her Holiness, the Dairy-Mama," came into her head. Now the cow is the star of one of her latest works. It's one of those times when creative ideas just seem to flow.

Creativity is not something that is lacking in Yaki's latest exhibit, which was on display at Cafe Cups recently in Homer just before Yaki and the show headed to Port Townsend, Wash.

From dreaming dogs to a house full of smiling faces, Yaki's exhibit taps into a positive, innocent side of life, while telling small stories about the artist's world.

Yaki said during the last few years, especially since the birth of her daughter, Bo, she has discovered a new side of herself as an artist.

"I've gotten a little less realistic," she said. "My style has changed over the years because I've changed over the years."

While she studied more classical technique in her early years as an artist on the East Coast during the 1970s, Yaki said those techniques didn't help her work from her own voice. With this exhibit, however, she said she has found it.

"It took me this long to really nail it," she said. "This is who I am. It's about the fun, playful places that we don't always get to go to -- a place without ego."

Yaki uses brilliant colors and silhouette images painted mainly with gouache, a nontranslucent type of watercolor that she describes as a high-quality version of kindergarten paint.

Many of the backgrounds are done with a watercolor wash, and other elements, such as photocopies of flower-pattern cloth, add variety and detail to the works.

While Yaki said she initially thought motherhood would give her less time to focus on her art, the opposite has proven to be true. In fact, she said, her daughter is a constant inspiration and has her own area at Yaki's studio.

 

A detail from Yaki's "Maiden Voyage," one of the works traveling to Washington.

Photos by Carey Restino

"When I get too analytical, I just turn around and look at her little gallery over there," she said. "It's a real nice connection."

The artist said while her subject matter may have loosened up, her attitude toward her art has done just the opposite over the last few years.

"Having a kid really made me focus," Yaki said. "I decided there was no more clowning around."

By "clowning around," Yaki means the various nonartist jobs she has held during her time in Homer, including several years on a fishing boat. Yaki has devoted herself to her art full-time.

If a recent flurry of interest in her work is any indicator, her efforts are paying off. She has had success selling artwork in Alaska, but it is in the national market that her work has taken off.

It all started several years ago while driving through Port Townsend with a car full of her own cards on her way back to Alaska. Her husband, Matt, urged her to drop off a few cards at Ancestral Spirits Gallery.

"The woman said, 'Why don't you come back tomorrow,'" Yaki said. When she went back, they asked how many cards she had. "I said, 'Well, actually I have 3,000 in the car.'"

The gallery took 1,500.

 

"Flying Lessons" is one of many playful images seen in Yaki's latest exhibit.

Interest didn't stop there. Yaki said the Port Townsend gallery has continued to ask for more work. She now has a following in the area, which prompted the show, which starts Saturday.

Yaki's work has hit a note in other areas as well. The company that does much of her printing used one of her images on a large advertisement in the Art in America magazine recently, which caught the attention of a San Francisco gallery. The gallery started showing her work and wants her to do a show next year.

"I am just blown away," Yaki said.

She is looking into illustrating and writing children's books and will continue to promote her work in the Lower 48. But for now, she plans to dig in for a winter of creativity working on next year's show in San Francisco.

"This is really a dream come true," she said.

HEAD:Homer artist paints her way onto national scene

CREDIT:Photos by Carey Restino

CAPTION:A detail from Yaki's "Maiden Voyage," one of the works traveling to Washington.

CAPTION:"Flying Lessons" is one of many playful images seen in Yaki's latest exhibit.

BYLINE1:By CAREY RESTINO

BYLINE2:Morris News Service-Alaska

Nancy Yaki gets many of her ideas just as she's falling asleep, especially when she has a fever.

"Something will pop up that is just so funny," said Yaki.

During a recent bout with the flu, a gigantic cow named "Her Holiness, the Dairy-Mama," came into her head. Now the cow is the star of one of her latest works. It's one of those times when creative ideas just seem to flow.

Creativity is not something that is lacking in Yaki's latest exhibit, which was on display at Cafe Cups recently in Homer just before Yaki and the show headed to Port Townsend, Wash.

From dreaming dogs to a house full of smiling faces, Yaki's exhibit taps into a positive, innocent side of life, while telling small stories about the artist's world.

Yaki said during the last few years, especially since the birth of her daughter, Bo, she has discovered a new side of herself as an artist.

"I've gotten a little less realistic," she said. "My style has changed over the years because I've changed over the years."

While she studied more classical technique in her early years as an artist on the East Coast during the 1970s, Yaki said those techniques didn't help her work from her own voice. With this exhibit, however, she said she has found it.

"It took me this long to really nail it," she said. "This is who I am. It's about the fun, playful places that we don't always get to go to -- a place without ego."

Yaki uses brilliant colors and silhouette images painted mainly with gouache, a nontranslucent type of watercolor that she describes as a high-quality version of kindergarten paint.

Many of the backgrounds are done with a watercolor wash, and other elements, such as photocopies of flower-pattern cloth, add variety and detail to the works.

While Yaki said she initially thought motherhood would give her less time to focus on her art, the opposite has proven to be true. In fact, she said, her daughter is a constant inspiration and has her own area at Yaki's studio.

"When I get too analytical, I just turn around and look at her little gallery over there," she said. "It's a real nice connection."

The artist said while her subject matter may have loosened up, her attitude toward her art has done just the opposite over the last few years.

"Having a kid really made me focus," Yaki said. "I decided there was no more clowning around."

By "clowning around," Yaki means the various nonartist jobs she has held during her time in Homer, including several years on a fishing boat. Yaki has devoted herself to her art full-time.

If a recent flurry of interest in her work is any indicator, her efforts are paying off. She has had success selling artwork in Alaska, but it is in the national market that her work has taken off.

It all started several years ago while driving through Port Townsend with a car full of her own cards on her way back to Alaska. Her husband, Matt, urged her to drop off a few cards at Ancestral Spirits Gallery.

"The woman said, 'Why don't you come back tomorrow,'" Yaki said. When she went back, they asked how many cards she had. "I said, 'Well, actually I have 3,000 in the car.'"

The gallery took 1,500.

Interest didn't stop there. Yaki said the Port Townsend gallery has continued to ask for more work. She now has a following in the area, which prompted the show, which starts Saturday.

Yaki's work has hit a note in other areas as well. The company that does much of her printing used one of her images on a large advertisement in the Art in America magazine recently, which caught the attention of a San Francisco gallery. The gallery started showing her work and wants her to do a show next year.

"I am just blown away," Yaki said.

She is looking into illustrating and writing children's books and will continue to promote her work in the Lower 48. But for now, she plans to dig in for a winter of creativity working on next year's show in San Francisco.

"This is really a dream come true," she said.



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