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Pop-art show highlights artist’s adventures in wonderland

Nicci Battilana’s colourful work comes to White Rock’s Nomad Gallery
Nicci Battilana’s fanciful depiction of the Mad Hatter illustrates her most recent watercolour approach. Contributed photo

Nicci Battilana’s upcoming show at White Rock’s Nomad Gallery (opening Friday, Oct. 27) is titled Big-Eyed Art Adventures.

But it might just as well be titled Nicci’s Adventures in Wonderland.

As her many Semiahmoo Peninsula friends, fans and followers can attest, the irrepressible South Surrey artist/instructor/workshop leader/arts advocate has created her own world of wildly colourful pop-art, including paintings and sketches, as well a plethora of products guaranteed to brighten an otherwise drab day-to-day environment.

Her secret seems to be an eternally youthful outlook, manifest in everything from her own purple-tinted hair to a drawing style that retains the joie-de-vivre of cartoons and doodles adorning a teenage journal.

As she proclaims on her website, “We only get one ride on this merry-go-round of life and it is up to us to make the most of it.”

Battilana admits she has been painting and drawing in her own way for as far back as she can remember, with elementary school art classes providing a lasting inspiration in the possibilities of mixed media.

She also credits the support of her mom, Lorraine, her husband, Marco, and their daughter Eleanor with helping her become the artist she is today.

While she acknowledges her work has changed and evolved, it’s clear she has no intention of “growing up” from her individual approach, which has won her widespread attention through television appearances, including a feature on HGTV.

“They’re mixed media works, very whimsical, often with a lot of glitter in them,” she said.

“I’ve been told that if paintings have glitter, they’re not art. I say, why not?

“(Art teachers) used to try to teach me to paint what I see – I always figured that’s what cameras are for,” she added.

“Even when I’ve done plein-air studies, the trees have tended to become people.”

Battilana’s big-eyed portraits brim with character and personality – the only thing they seem to lack is actual physical movement (but stay tuned for further developments – the artist, who once took a course in 2-D animation, confesses she’d like nothing better than to add that skill to her artistic repertoire).

READ ALSO: Something for everyone in White Rock street gallery show

The Nomad Gallery show, which runs for just over a week (to Nov. 4), will be a showcase of some of her larger paintings, she said, but she also hopes to feature a new line of smaller works geared to providing a more affordable option for owning and hanging her pieces as home decor.

Generally sized at around 9” x 12”, they will include her latest experiments in painting on wood panels, exploring use of a red jesso ground as a way to make colours ‘pop’ more intensely, as well as watercolour on paper pieces.

“I’ve been using watercolour paper and handmade papers for the last few years now,” she said.

“Watercolour is a completely different creature than acrylics, but I love it – and it lends itself to different stippling effects.”

Marketing has been a strong component of Battilana’s enterprise, with products on her website ranging from wearable art to vinyl stickers and rubber stamps.

Her Lewis Carroll-inspired books, Art Adventures With Alice and Create Your Own Wonderland, offered as print-on-demand titles by Amazon, are outgrowths of live-streamed workshops she was offering during the COVID-19 lockdown, while her Semiahmoo Arts classes were curtailed.

“I was live-streaming four days a week, including ‘Technique Tuesday’ and ‘Fun Art Friday’, but I was starting to get burned out,” she said.

But organizing the online courses helped her focus on the content of the books – which generously share a lot of the techniques she has developed over the years. Publishing them fulfilled one of her long-standing ambitions, she said.

Creating rubber stamps and stencils, which allow others to use her designs as part of their own personal projects, was also something she always wanted to do, Battilana said.

The stamp and stencil sets are published by the company PaperArtsy, originally established in the U.K., but now based in France.

“I reached out to them because they created a chalk paint that could be used in art journaling without sticking the pages together. I asked them if they would be interested in sponsoring the book project. They sent me 200 cans of paint – it turned out they had already been following me online – and they ended up asking me to design a series of stamps for them.”

Art journaling has been a passion for Battilana, ever since she was introduced to it through workshops by kindred spirit Violette Clark, a former White Rock resident, around 2006.

It’s a way to develop ideas and simply enjoy spontaneous creativity, she said.

“I used to sketch in sketchbooks, but I never painted in them,” she recalled.

“I love journaling – for me it takes away any stress about creating something. It’s just a piece of paper, and if I don’t like it, I can paint over it.”

For more information on Battilana’s work, visit

Nomad Gallery is located at 1377 Johnston Rd. (for general information and opening hours, call 604-536-1119).

Opening night reception is from 6 to 9 p.m. (RSVP to

Nicci Battilana, whose paintings will be featured at White Rock’s Nomad Gallery from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4, markets art works in a wide variety of media. Contributed photo
Wednesday, by Nicci Battilana, is an example of hercurrent watercolour technique. Contributed photo

About the Author: Alex Browne

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