Although the rain can be rather dreary, it gives us beautiful scenery to boast about here in the Pacific Northwest. The nature scenes in Thurston County are enough to inspire anyone. For Olympia artist like Nancy Broach, it has served as a great source of creative energy. Through her business Wild Art Watercolors, Nancy strives to connect people to each other and to nature through her beautiful watercolor pieces.
Nancy is a lifelong nature lover, traveler, and experienced watercolor painter. She had a love of art from a young age and would often spend time creating ink sketches of the outdoors. “Artwork and nature were my sanctuary,” Nancy recalls. She went on to earn a degree in art education from University of South Carolina, which opened up opportunities for her to teach youth and adult classes. Nancy has always had a wandering spirit, so when she finished her degree, she decided to leave South Carolina.
Over the following years, Nancy took teaching jobs across America and overseas, which allowed her to experience many different perspectives and lifestyles. “I have always been interested in other cultures,” she says.
Nancy started off teaching outdoor education, which included teaching technical outdoor skills such as rock climbing, backpacking, and cooking on the trail. While she has always had a heart for wildlife, Nancy’s favorite part was always writing and drawing with her students in nature. “I loved helping students open up their vision to see the beauty around,” she says. She taught in Maryland, California, and even Australia. The nine months in the Bush was amazing and allowed her to engage in a different culture and landscape.
When she returned to the United States, Nancy took a position teaching ninth grade at a Quaker school in Maryland called Sandy Spring Friends School. The interdisciplinary program allowed her to teach across a variety of subjects, including art, creative writing, outdoor education, and even biology. “I loved the community and connectivity through the school,” she says. The school gave Nancy the opportunity to go to Costa Rica for one summer, which is where she discovered her love of watercolor painting. “Every day my mentor and I would hike into the cloud forest and sit and paint,” she says. Being in nature and painting the scenery brought Nancy great peace and joy, and she decided that she wanted to bring that feeling to others through her work.
Upon returning to the U.S., Nancy met her now-husband in Vermont. They married and decided to spend some time traveling around the country. They formed the business Travelogues where she sold painted miniatures and jewelry of the unique scenes they discovered in their adventures. She loved the connection with local galleries and enjoyed capturing the beauty in each new place, but after starting a family they decided it was time to settle somewhere permanently. Nancy’s husband was offered a job working in the solar industry in Washington, so in 2000, the family packed up and moved to Olympia. Nancy has never looked back. “I was traveling around to find the perfect place,” she says. “I found roots here and found my home.”
Getting Back To Art
For the first 11 years in the Pacific Northwest, Nancy put her art pursuits on hold to raise her children full-time. Then one day her son came home with a need to raise $1,000 for a school trip, so she decided to use her art and connections to help raise the money. They put on a fundraising event called The Gull Harbor Art & Craft Show, which has now become an annual community affair. The event is usually held in spring and fall, and it features music, a baking fundraiser and artist booths, including a booth for her own artwork. Over the last five years the event has raised over $1,000 for organizations such as SideWalk and SafePlace.
The art show sparked Nancy’s return to the art community. When she isn’t busy running her H2O at Home business, she is creating watercolor jewelry and postcards or working on commissions for people. “You can wear your favorite bird or animal that gives you sanctuary or hang a painting of a place you have a unique connection to,” Nancy says. She loves to create pieces that uplift people through a joyful memory or a connection to nature. The pendant she wears is of the blue heron, which has become a symbol of her work.
Going forward Nancy wants to help community artists and supporters. “I know how hard it is for the makers and gallery owners, and I want to be the biggest gift I can to make a difference with what I do,” she says. Nancy sees how impactful even small choices can be and encourages people to shop locally to help keep the makers in our area alive. “You can find something way more beautiful and inspiring that was handmade in our community as opposed to going to a big box store,” she says. Her mantra “Do what matters” will shine bright in her mission to support the art community through her connections, knowledge, and passion.