This week we are discussing long distance female friendships with the ever-inspiring artist and traveller, Nina Brooke. Nina’s artwork captures unique aerial perspectives of the world’s most picturesque places. Taking inspiration from places such as Cornwall and Sri Lanka, Nina’s work has offered her the opportunity to travel, a lot! What we want to know is how do you do all of this and keep up to date with your friends?! A work/life balance conundrum so many of us face.
Can you tell us a little more about your work and how you came to be an artist?
Well, like Pablo Picasso said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” My family encouraged me from a young age to keep up with my art and exercise my skills with drawing lessons and painting courses. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by artists - with my Mother a potter, Aunt a painter and Grandfather a drawer. Only until 2016, I called myself an Artist, and quit my day job. ( Hey - growing up I had planned to be an artist at 60 - not 26! )My work is fun, full of life and colour to depict what I see from a bird’s eye view of these amazing places I visit. I’m trying to depict this new perspective in a way that reminds the viewer of the amazing world we live in and how we react to it. Humans rule this world. I want my work to speak to us visually on how we act and immerse ourselves in this blue planet.
What is it about travelling that inspires you to create these beautiful jewel-like paintings?
The travelling really keeps my head fresh and motivated. You need a lot of energy to produce work. More mentally than physically. New locations help you to see with fresh eye on how different cultures work and come together on this planet. New compositions are being seen everyday and I get so excited about creating the next piece. This energy is then converted onto the canvas in a playful and spontaneous way to create these jewel-like paintings.
Are there any disadvantages to traveling so much and how do you overcome them?
Yes there can be disadvantages - It always happens on the flight over to the new country. I freak out in the plane, I usually fly out alone, pranging out about the trip ahead. Am I going to do this trip justice? So I get very nervous. I usually say to myself “just do - don’t think (too much)” You also wish your friends and family were with you seeing everything and sharing everything. You can’t beet having a laugh with your home friends in the surf at sunset. Best way of getting over this... taking them with you!
How do you keep in touch with close friends? And how often?
Friends are so important to me. I love them all to bits! I can’t go a day without seeing or hearing from one. I have been lucky enough to meet up with them on trips away in Sri Lanka, Hawaii and Bali. And if they are not with me they will tell me stories of times they were there. Travelling has in effect brought me closer to my friends. Family is equally as important to me. My mum lives in Fiji, Brother in France and my Dad in the Med or in Cornwall. I’m always reaching out to them to share our days wherever we are...
How do you meet people when you are in a new country?
I am an open-minded person and great full for that. I once met a girl on the plane flying out to Sri Lanka (nervous as hell, I felt I needed to act on speaking up and say hello). She was from Falmouth and we shared the same passion for surfing. In the end we traveled on together down to Weligama and later in the week, she came to my exhibition! Still in-touch today.
Can you tell us about any female friendships that have stood out to you and if you have any anecdotal stories you would feel happy sharing?
I have some amazing friendships with truly inspiring women, who keep nurturing my ideas and keep me laughing through my failures. We laugh about so many stupid things we have done and talk about what’s going to happen in the future. I will never forget my dearest and oldest friend telling me to drop everything and just do my painting full time. She said “ You only have to do it for 6 months and see how it goes.... you don’t have to commit for ever.” So I did what she said. And six months turned into a year and so on....I never looked back and I am so great full to her clever words.
What do female friendships mean for you?
My Girls! I love them so much and could never do what I do without them. They are what keep me going on a daily basis. All my girlfriends are so talented at what they do and are such an inspiration to me. Some of them have their own companies or have juggling 3 jobs, or , are in difficult situations and keep soldiering on! They keep me - keeping on.
What or who is your biggest inspiration right now?
Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to? Right now, for my work I look up to other female artist like Heather Day and Bree Port who are very productive and strong go getter women. Both of them have built their unique style and a fantastic following.
Do you work with many other women and how has this shaped your business?
Yes I have a lovely friend called Lucy Ward who looks after a few artists and I'm very lucky to be on her list. I met Lucy at an art opening just by chance and she told me what she does. Further down the line, I realised I could do with a Lucy in my life, someone who knows the art world well and could help on many things that goes beside painting. There is so much more to being an Artist then to just painting, Lucy supports me with the stress of all the rest!
When you’re not in the studio creating, where do you spend your time? How do you let off steam after a stressful day?
I tend to head out for a run or a surf - if it's surfable! But on a good day, you can pick and chose your moments to head into the sea, not every job allows that! I am such a big believer in the sea detox - especially in winter... that’s the best.
Do you have any mindful techniques you can recommend?
When life gets hectic in the head - I do meditate, using an app called Calm, I try to do 10 minutes every morning. I would recommend because it focuses your mind on what’s important for the day ahead - and not stressing out about ticking everything off on your to-do list -or getting distracted by social media! It really helps focus.
For those women who perhaps find it difficult meeting new friends, what are your top tips?
Ummm... that's a hard one. Hey just be open, risk the chance to start a conversation, (like I did on the plane!), be honest with yourself and If you give out a positive vibe then you will be hard not to meet new friends.
Nina’s favourite pieces