“What I feel is hard to explain,” Stefania Nistoreanu said when I asked her what it’s like to create a painting. “It resembles the state of grace we like to think we achieve in heaven.”
In this interview, the painter talks about the healing power of art and nature and the things that most stimulate her creativity.
Also, she shares her simple habits for living a good life – from running up and down stairs to clear her mind to even “painting” her plate with food in complementary colors.
Nature and art have healing powers, a Stanford study shows. From your perspective as an artist, can you say the same? How does creating art help or heal you?
Nature and art are incredibly healing, indeed. They’re also essential for our human existence. Art and nature complement each other and complete us. We’re a part of nature, and art – which is inspired by nature – is the highest form of human expression. Many of us have forgotten this, and humanity has strayed away from its primordial nature.
Art is an integral part of me. I couldn’t live any other way. Without it, I couldn’t make sense of my life.
The power of art is immense. It’s a refuge, it nurtures me, it’s pure joy. And to create, I need to be as close as possible to nature. That’s where I recharge, find peace, and free myself of anything negative.
It’s in nature that I understand the meaning of life.
Which one of your paintings has brought you the most peace? What about exaltation or pain? Can you go through all these states – and even more – while working on the same painting?
Of course. Depending on the theme of the painting and state of mind, I can go through different stages – from sadness to joy and exaltation – until everything evens out and I reach a place of peace and contentment.
When I first get an idea and start on a sketch, I can go through a stressful process with lots of questions and doubts. But when the final picture starts to come together, I’m happy, relieved, and ready to paint. I want to make the painting come to life.
In front of my easel, I immerse myself into the story pretty quickly and travel wherever it takes me, joyfully and peacefully – until the end. It’s rare that I experience any blockage during work. Usually I can overcome it by doing more research or taking a break.
The entire process – otherwise long because my style is complicated and a bit obsessive – actually gives me so much peace.
What I feel is hard to explain. I think it resembles the state of grace we like to think we achieve in heaven.
Can you tell me about a painting that stirred new, unusual emotions in you? What was that like?
“Kronos” is a painting for which I researched a lot and experienced new, profound feelings. It was a vehicle for growth, a new stage in my life and creation.
I discovered many things about myself and the history of humanity. Now I have a fuller understanding of time and the effects of its passing. Through this painting, I made a truce with it – the God of Time.
Then, there’s another painting of mine, “Mind Labyrinth.” I was extremely nervous and stressed out when I conceived it. That’s because I used some elements considered supernatural, some angel sigils.
But throughout the process, it brought me a lot of joy and peace, and these are feelings that the painting emanates even today – to me and those that look at it. “Mind Labyrinth” was a part of my exhibition in Oviedo, Spain this year. I saw visitors interact with it, and its power is magical.
What is the most common theme in your paintings?
It’s the universal theme of good and evil and the relationship between them. What is right and what’s wrong within us and in the universe, at a macro and micro level. Depression and exaltation, love and hate, mythology, religion, philosophy, anthropology – the human being in all its complexity.
We’re still looking for answers to fundamental questions. Who are we? Where did we come from? Who made us? Where are we going, and what is our purpose?
I express myself by seeking balance between contrasts and harmonies, straight angles and curved lines, sacred geometry and subtle transparencies. I use gold, copper, and oils, but I use them in my own, personal manner.
Aside from it being my passion, painting is how I learn and, hopefully, evolve.
What are the lifestyle habits that help you have a better life? For instance, what do you do every day to find balance and be creative?
Who said I’m balanced? (laughs)
I try to live in harmony with myself, with nature, with those around me.
The way we feel – our physical and spiritual state – shows in everything we do.
If you don’t have inner peace, good physical shape, and overall stability, it’s impossible to perform and share what you create with others.
I’m very careful about what I consume, be it food or spiritual and mental nourishment. My diet is balanced. I fast and drink a lot of water. I don’t eat almost anything from the supermarket but instead, get food grown in the countryside. My plate has complementary colors – green and red, yellow and dark purple, or even orange and blue. Also, very little sugar and bread. No coffee and no medication.
I love cooking tasty, beautiful meals, to eat slowly and in silence, to enjoy the food and the moment. It’s important to me, it’s like a ceremony.
I spend a lot of time with my pets – a dog and two cats. It’s wonderful to sleep with a fat, fluffy cat in your arms, or paint with it by your side. To read with your dog laying right beside you, especially when it rains.
I also try to keep a workout routine – Pilates, yoga, running or other types of cardio, a mix of everything so that I don’t get bored.
My favorite workout, though, is to climb stairs running up and down. It’s a therapeutic workout. All the effort empties my mind and then I get great ideas.
Long walks with my dog out in nature, ideally in the woods or on the beach, and a 10-15-minute nap in the afternoon can work wonders! They have such an invigorating effect.
Talking to my friends is also important for the soul, and the time I spend with my partner is essential. It just melts away all my worries. I feel reborn.
What stimulates your creativity the most?
This may be surprising, but being in silence is the most important. When it’s quiet, I can hear and listen to myself, understand how and where I am. From there, ideas can be born because in that state, my imagination is unaltered and ready to produce miracles.
By contrast, the long conversations I have with my partner – a very creative person – become sketches for many of my works.
Otherwise, any apparently banal aspect is an inspiration. It depends on the moment, on how I feel, and how that piece of information is conveyed.
What’s the greatest thing about being an artist? What about the hardest?
An artist’s condition is privileged and difficult at the same time. You have many advantages, and maybe the greatest is the ability to create. That creation can live beyond times, history, politics, and almost any obstacles.
Being able to express ideas, emotions, and revelations is synonymous with freedom. The material result of that equals immortality. (But be careful – if you don’t watch your ego, you may come to think of yourself as a little God.)
The hardest part? It’s to own, grow, and keep this ability despite everything around you that seems to be against you.
More about Stefania Nistoreanu
Stefania has been painting since the age of 13. Her work has been exhibited in England, France, Luxembourg, Austria, and Hungary.
In 2017, she became the first artist in Romania – and one of the very few in the world – to sell a painting using Bitcoin. An art collector based in Hong Kong bought Nistoreanu’s painting “Cryptsy” for 2 Bitcoin. The transaction was an international event in both the art world and the cryptocurrency market, and gained media coverage around the world.
Stefania resides in Oviedo, Spain, with her fiancé and their dog and cats.