We are thrilled to be participating in this year’s Art Walk on May 25th & 26th, and are excited to be featuring the stunning pastels of Natali Baird.

My artistic journey has been shaped by education, experience and a passion for teaching. After attending an arts high school and completing the Crafts & Design program at Sheridan College, I delved into the world of fine art and sculpture at the University of Windsor. This formal education helped initiate a continuous journey of self-discovery via a visual arts practice deeply informed by the natural world and our relationships to it. Through painterly drawing techniques and careful choices of media and subject matter, my work celebrates the amazing natural life that surrounds and supports us. ~Natali Baird


Get to Know Natali Baird

What is the medium you work with?

I often use chalk pastels, which I love smudging with my fingers. This tactile element, coupled with the deep, vibrant colours they produce constantly reminds me of what I imagine a bee’s experience of collecting pollen from flowers might be like. I tried many different papers when I was starting my bee drawings in 2019 and settled upon a sanded paper from Australia. It’s watercolour paper whose thick coat of pigment & pumice feels like soft sandpaper. I love it because the texture allows me to add multiple layers of pastel.

I also love the feel of charcoal on smooth newsprint and always do my initial sketch on that. This allows me to understand the relationships of space & connections in the drawing. This initial sketch is one of the most exciting stages for me, as I’m discovering how to draw something. It’s less accurate than using a projector, but I love the process of feeling the connection of my hand, wrist, arm and eyes.

How did you first connect with Crystalworks?

I wandered into Crystalworks by chance. At that time, it was upstairs in a cool building with purple trim. I love anything to do with minerals. Susie & Karen were so welcoming and thought I looked like family, so they called me cousin Natali. Just being in the space with the most incredible crystals was pure happiness .I was doing glass work at that time and wholesaling to over 30 stores, so my hours were flexible. I’m not sure how it happened but I started to work at the store with Andrea and her phenomenal music while they were on buying trips. Then I nannied for them when Jesse came along … .because I LOVE babies. And true to that ism of kindness and connection, when I had my son Griff, they were by my side.

What is your favourite type of crystal or mineral?

It is so difficult to choose, but I love the depth of Tiger Eye & Labradorite and the shapes, pattern and colours of Malachite.

What inspires you?

Things at a Macro level are usually the most inspiring. I worked in Glass since I was 19 and my work all had a lot of detail. I could listen to an entire Sarah McLachlan CD while making just one bead

Things at a Macro level are usually the most inspiring. I worked in Glass since I was 19 and my work all had a lot of detail. I could listen to an entire Sarah McLachlan CD while making just one bead.

How do you work through creative blocks?

Funny you should ask! I’ve been working on The Artist Way for almost a year now with a friend on Vancouver Island. This book is all about exploring and overcoming blocks.

I make time to hang out with people who make me feel inspired and happy. I take walks, especially walks with friends who have dogs. I also add inspiring things to my social media, more plants, animals and nudibranchs.

Sometimes if I feel stuck, I will organize my materials and sketch books. The simple act of merely looking through my stuff keeps me in the studio and reminds me of projects I’m excited about.

What’s your favourite piece of art/project that you’ve created?

Gosh, that’s difficult. It’s really the process that excites me. I usually don’t look at the art after I’ve made it; all I can see, at a certain point, is things I want to change. It takes me a long time to see a piece in a more neutral and appreciative light.

Are there any upcoming projects or events you are working on that you would like to tell us about?

Well, I’m super excited to be working with the Crystalworks team. I’m looking forward to doing this show. Working with the Lipsett family is always fun, and they are also amazing mentors. As much as I like making my art, I really don’t like the business end and they have been great about encouraging me, promoting my work, and encouraging new ideas.

You can find Natali’s series for Crystalworks from May 23rd until fall 2024.

If you would like to learn more about Natali, you can visit her website here! If you would like to view Natali’s art catalogue, you can find it here!