Interview with Hanako Nagao regarding her original painting donation

Hanako Nagoa, a lifetime resident of Golden has generously painted and donated this beautiful piece of art to Wildsight Golden to encourage you to become a member and attend our Annual General Meeting.



I was lucky enough to catch Hanako and ask her some questions:

1. Tell me about your work. How long have you been a painter? 

I’ve been an artist my whole life, which I believe is true of most artists! I learned to draw from watching my Aunt Kay when I was only a couple of years old. I began painting with watercolours after taking a class when I was around thirteen. Over the years there were times I hardly painted, but whenever I’ve had the time and supplies I come back to it as it is one of my favourite mediums. I also love drawing with pen and ink, charcoal, acrylic paint, and digital art. 

2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration in many different places. Nature is a huge inspiration – I take so many photos on hikes so that I have reference photos for later. I also find other peoples’ art to be a huge source of inspiration. Working at the Art Gallery of Golden is definitely great for that! 

3. What do you hope people take away from viewing your paintings?

I really like showing beauty in the unexpected. I draw a lot of bones, skeletons, and other subject matter that people might not think of as beautiful, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. Life and beauty are everywhere, even in death and decay. I hope that viewers see that magic through my art. 

What I hope people take away from my art varies a lot depending on what piece it is, but as a general rule I like to make people think. I don’t often make art that’s just meant to be ‘pretty.’ I’d rather show something evocative of emotion, challenge peoples’ views on the world, and sometimes even cause a little shock or controversy. I believe art IS political, and that it can be a great way to spread awareness or communicate a message. There’s nothing wrong with art that is just nice to look at either, but most of the time that’s not what I strive to create. 

4. Tell me about this particular painting: how did the idea for it come about? When did you paint it? 

I painted this piece over the last few weeks (January 2022), based primarily on photos I took hiking outside of Golden early last summer. I was captivated by the sunlight coming through the trees, and how it turned the mossy ground into so many gorgeous shades of green. I wanted to show the new life growing from death, the bright and joyful purple of the Calypso orchids and the rich green moss contrasting with the muted colours of the mule deer skull. It was a challenging piece to create, as I also tried to incorporate ink to add those darker colours and more solid lines into the softness of the watercolours, combining two different art styles. 

5. If people want to view more of your artwork, where can they go? (website, gallery etc.)

I go by Strange Familiar Art & Design on Facebook (@StrangeFamiliar.Art on Instagram). I also have a website, Some of my work is for sale at the Art Gallery of Golden as well. 

6. Why do you choose to support Wildsight Golden?

I was born and raised in Golden, and have had many interactions with Wildsight over the years. I think what they do as far as conservation, fostering community engagement, and education is hugely important. I only recently moved back to Golden, but have had the pleasure of volunteering with them for a few different projects already – this to say that they’re extremely active in the community here. I’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitats, learn about local plants, and generally admire the breathtaking natural beauty of the Kootenays. Organizations like Wildsight work to ensure that natural beauty and biodiversity will be around for years to come. 

7. What do you hope is achieved for wilderness protections this year? 

I hope that as development continues along Highway 1 and our communities grow, that consultation and work is done to ensure wildlife is impacted as little as possible. I know that the Bighorn sheep populations have been heavily impacted by the construction and traffic, and I also know that Wildsight has an ongoing project to learn better ways we can try to protect them from further population decline. I hope that projects like this one continue – that development companies consult with Wildsight or other local organizations on how to keep environmental impact low and protect our wildlife. I also think education is always key, so I hope that continues to be a priority. I believe teaching our children and youth about the importance of local flora and fauna and how to preserve it is truly key to ensuring local ecosystems and the environment are protected for years to come. 

8. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

If anyone is interested in learning, I also teach watercolour classes in town. I currently have some booked at the Golden Youth Centre. People are welcome to reach out via email if they’re interested in booking or attending art classes. 

To become a member of Wildsight Golden, click here

For more information about our upcoming AGM, click here.