Nara Pilgrim Wood Welcome Page
My name is Nara Pilgrim Wood
I am an artist living in Northern California
I grew up in Kauai and Fiji
I work in watercolor on silk and paper
Rise and Fall by Nara Pilgrim Wood I paint coastal and island Pilgrimage scenes
Watery Road by Nara Pilgrim Wood Watery Road landscapes wildlife Wisdom still lifes Ikebana 2
Open Handed, Too by Nara Pilgrim Wood Great Tradition Great Tradition Icons
Floral Portraits by Nara Pilgrim Wood Calla Lilly 2 Sunlight on the Water Twilight Rose Floral portraits
Frog's Embrace by Nara Pilgrim Wood Frog's Embrace Sways on the Water Top Knee Deep in Spring Things that capture my noticing, real and imagined
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New Artworks New Work examples of what I've been up to recently
background Winter Watercolor Everywhere, All At Once Menehune Paintings... examples of Asian Poppy my areas of interest
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background Artist Info Why I paint
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before you leave check out the Century Watercolor Extravaganza 100 paintings in 100 days starting at One Dollar begins June 16
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Nara Pilgrim Wood

Sources of Inspiration

  • New Artwork

    A couple of years ago I started experimenting with using metal leaf, combining it with watercolor on paper. I have long been inspired by Gustav Klimpt's work, but even more so by the Japanese artists who used watercolor and gold leaf in the creation of gorgeous screens or byōbu. Among the Floral Portraits are several small paintings that use gold leaf to accentuate the flowers. I also like the impression of sunlight or moonlight on the water that gold and silver leaf provide.


    I have also been expanding the Great Traditions Iconsseries. I painted Menehune in 2016. Shortly after that the Valley Fire interrupted my life, but in later 2017 I painted a few images that I had been thinking of. I intend to expand the Iconsseries with a few more paintings this year.


    I love painting water and have just completed a California seascape, Everywhere, All At Once The Pacific Ocean is constantly changing. It never looks the same twice. I like to capture dynamic moments when the water is going everywhere all-at-once. I also am entralled by it in its calm state with the sun shimmering and reflecting off the surface like a rippling mirror.

  • California

    I seem to have at least two optional necessities in life. One, I need to be near my friends. Two, I need to be near the Pacific, if not in it. It was my playground as a child. Anyone who has sat on a beach watching the sunlight on the water, and let go of themselves for awhile can certainly understand. But it’s not just the ocean; the Sierras, the Redwoods, the deserts, it’s a beautiful place to live, and it’s a beautiful place to paint.

  • Pacific Islands

    The South Pacific islands are magical and mysterious places, especially when you get out beyond the modernized and westernized areas. I had the good fortune to live my early childhood years on a small 1,000 acre Coral Sea island, perpetually surrounded by the sound and feel of the Pacific. There was no television, no radio, no internet. There was beach and palm, sea turtle, shark, and countless vibrantly-colored reef fish swimming among the corals. There was also the sun and moon glistening on an endless expanse of water, vibrant, blazing sunsets and unhindered views of the night skies, the Southern Cross, and the Milky Way, which looked like a brushstroke across the black heavens.

  • Some Other Places

    I think that everyone, sometimes, wanders into a moment, the beauty and serenity of which takes them by surprise, both capturing awareness and settling the mind simultaneously. In these serene places and moments the whole world seems to be perfect and at peace. These are paintings of places, real or imagined, which are that for me.

  • Nonhumans

    I spent a year living in Bodega Bay, where “The Birds” was filmed. Hitchcock’s movie may have been fictional, but the birds are not. There is a plethora of birds in Bodega Bay. We had a glass wall facing the ocean, and I often spent lengthy times observing the doings of many feathered species. I also spent a few years living in a house in the coastal mountains, half of which was over a stream-fed lake. The stream ran under the front door. All kinds of wildlife came to the lake to drink, fish, and swim. I witnessed the cycles and patterns of many lives at that time. Many of us called that lake home.

  • The Deeper Land

    I had the privilege of growing up and living in the Hermitage Sanctuaries of Adi Da Samraj. These are places of great serenity and beauty, and I visit them whenever I can. These are places that are “set apart” for meditation, contemplation, and communion. Before entering a sanctuary the admonition is to “leave your business at the gate”. It is another way of saying, “forget yourself”. That’s what these paintings attempt to express.

  • Great Tradition Icons

    At a very young age I was introduced to the Great Traditions of religion and spirituality, both East and West. I was particularly taken with the stories of the Hindu gods and goddesses from the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata. I loved the tales of Krishna and the Gopis, and the legends around the Buddha. The paintings of Hindu and Mughal masters moved me, also. They seemed enchanted and pregnant with life. The stories and images still inspire me.

  • Flowers on Silk

    I studied Ikebana (the Japanese methods and techniques of flower arrangement) with Sensei Shuko Kobayashi for two years. His mastery was a great example to me. I keep arrangements in my house always. From time-to-time I photograph an arrangement for painting. These are a few examples.

  • Floral Portraits

    Flowers have been as constant in my life as has food. I grow flowers, arrange flowers, and paint flowers. People should aspire to the beauty, simplicity, and perfection of a rose or a begonia. Have you ever seen an unhappy flower? These floral portraits reflect my love of flowers and my love of Japanese screen artistry and Gustav Klimpt’s work and his use of gold leaf in his paintings.