We had the good fortune of connecting with Nard Claar and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nard, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?

I was once a tight rope walker and then I fell. So I got up, put on a little more padding and tried again because that is what I wanted to do at least at that moment. It is about balance and perspective that a life evolves and grows and thrives. As the philosopher Lao Tsu said,” A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” BUT, but, be aware and mindful… that first step could be off a cliff. So already not a straight path or a tight rope. This is my life. I am living it and I am happy and creating good art.

I took all the art classes I could as I was growing up. When I applied to university I was set on becoming an artist and an art teacher. I wanted to create and I wanted to teach children. I wanted to teach children not only art but the joy of creating. Creating yourself and a reality of self. To me a part of art is the magic of creating a new reality or way of seeing that opens the mind to a different perspective. Being open and looking at life and reality from different perspectives is sometimes viewed as a threat. A threat by dictators, oligarchs, and other control freaks who want to round up people who think. People who think and are creative are always a threat to the conservative order of things.

Creative magic comes from the open land and the wild world. The natural wild world that is disappearing is a magical place. Walk through it or just sit under a tree and watch. There is abundant life in the sky; birds fly and soar on the wind. In the water, fish and bugs interact and give life to everything. The water carves and sculpts stone and the land. And on the land plants grow, animals roam and eat and move about. One must be patient and quiet to see what is going on. Nature gives me my creative spirit and recharges my soul. Evolution is a creative activity of survival and all plants and animals are in this creative dance. Science studies this dance to understand the process and magic of the dance.

So after University, I applied for teaching jobs while I wandered off into the wilds and worked various jobs. I taught art and English, conducted workshops and evolved and persevered making what I am today. I started and ran an outdoor orientated business and was a ski instructor and mountain guide. Spent a lot of time skiing, climbing, biking and kayaking. I summited peaks and backpacked in wilderness. I traveled by bicycle because I wanted to see directly the world around me without filters. Travel alters your reality and how you define others and how you find your place in the world. I worked for the state and federal government and spent a lot of time at the Fat Tire Festivals in Moab and Crested Butte on mountain bikes. I always loved the bicycle, such a simple but efficient device to get around on. The bicycle is another magical device that you travel under your own power. Depending on the terrain you are traveling, it takes skill and balance to stay up. I like that and when you are on the flats or downhill you are sailing like a raven on the updrafts and downdrafts.

So this balance, this tightrope, has been a slack rope or maybe just a path that I wander on. Balance is making enough to survive, being a positive influence in the community, and being active in good causes. This is mindfulness in the way that Thich Nhat Hanh has taught and wrote about his whole life. Mindfulness gives you peace of mind and lets one see a clear picture of reality. In America the fast pace race for money destroys joy. Well that is my view at least from this perspective of where I am now. I have changed over time. One’s life can be a river always moving and changing and seeing new sights to respond to. In contrast if there is no change one is a stagnant pond that is a breeding ground for mesquites. Beaver ponds are not stagnant but filtering and renewing and life affirming. Beaver ponds stop erosion and environmental degradation. I am becoming more of a beaver pond than a river but that is my time.

Now I have not been traveling as much as I once did. I have a camper van that is self contained and taken me from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I like back roads more than freeways because I want to see and interact with people. I carry my bicycles with me and travel with them often.

My art expresses my perspective and is contemporary but often has a landscape feel to it. I have had several shows entitled, LANDSCAPES OF THE MIND. I see the land as where I live and so have that perspective, but it filters through my mind which alters that perspective and how I understand reality.

My art work is at NardClaar.com and my gallery representation in Colorado are at 45 Degree Gallery in Old Colorado City, Academy Art and Frame in Colorado Springs, Stones, Bones, & Wood Gallery in Green Mountain Falls, and Manitou Art Center in Manitou Springs. Nationally, at Stephan Fine Arts in Anchorage, Alaska, Attic Gallery in Camas, Washington, and the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Some of my favorite organizations and non profits I support and work with are: Sierra Club, Kids for Bikes, and Concrete Couch in Colorado Springs. Check out their web sites. Always in the balance, give back to your community, both local and the planet. Balance gives me joy and gives me a place in the world to express joy as well as help others. We have to work together like the forest does to survive.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I see myself as a contemporary painter and mixed media artist at this time. I work to express my interaction with what I see and feel about the world. I would like the viewer to explore what they see in my painting and interact with it to find their own reference point. Looking at a piece of art must engage all of the senses to have a connection. I enjoy using mixed media to offer a greater variety of visual excitement.

The whole process of success is a challenge to meet the requirements and have confidence in yourself and your process. For many years I was a commercial photographer and free lance photographer. The only way to overcome challenges for me is to study and learn and gain proficiency in my skills. This also builds confidence and allows one to talk about the process. Photography is about how you view reality and represent that reality. The angle, the lighting and the time of day all play a part in the representation of that reality. Painting offers many more options of how to express what is on the substrate.

Humor is very important to be able to laugh about everything, especially the hard bumps along the way. One must be serious and have resolve about the vision but laugh about the small bumps of daily life. Life can get very dark and if you can not pull up the humor of an event of the day then you only sink deeper and that never works out.

That I put my heart and soul into my work and offer it up bare for others to see. That is the hard part of creativity, to offer the bare open self, exposed for others to look at and accept or reject. The acceptance is exhilarating the rejection is crushing.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

I just took a friend around from the Southeast to see Colorado Springs and she moved here so maybe follow that line of exploration. We drove up North Cheyenne Canyon and Gold Camp Road. We walked around Manitou Springs and visited Manitou Art Center where I show my work. Then to Old Colorado City and 45 Degree Gallery where I also show my work and stopped off at Front Range Barbeque for lunch and a pint. The next morning for breakfast it has to be a bike ride around Garden of the Gods and a breakfast burrito at King Chef in downtown Colorado Spring. Go to the diner on E Costilla St. then pedal around to Concrete Couch and their new home, Concrete Coyote. Steve Wood is amazing and there is art, bike trails and a great vibe. Kreuser Gallery in Downtown Colorado Springs is not to be missed and owner Abby is another amazing person. We would hike and bike around some of the great bicycle trails that Medicine Wheel has created in Red Rocks Park and other areas around. There is also Cheyenne Mountain, Mueller State Park and Aiken Canyon Preserve. I would not miss the Fountain Creek Regional Park with lots of wet lands and after a pint and a bite at Peaks N Pines Brewery. Downtown there are lots of options as well as Manitou and Old Colorado City. If you are looking for another pint, Fossil Craft Brewing supports Trails and Open Space Coalition and Monse’s Pupuseria offers Salvadoran food.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

My partner, Sheary Clough Suiter is a writer/ artist/ painter who is an inspiration to me in so many ways that we formed a great partnership. I am so grateful to community and so many people who have helped me through the years.

Website: NardClaar.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nard.claar/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nard.claar/

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