Concord Artist Enjoys ­Creating Beautiful Ecosystems

Concord Artist Enjoys ­Creating Beautiful Ecosystems
Yumiko Nishizawa began exploring botanical themes while in college but has since switched from oils to watercolors. (John Nakanishi photo)

John NakanishiCONCORD, CA (Aug. 23, 2023) — The subtle hues of color in a gentle, floral-like pattern encourage your eyes to wander over Yumiko Nishizawa’s canvases.

Her watercolors reflect her captivation of botany, with visually pleasing designs reminiscent of flowering woods and seasonal colors. Some of her other works draw on her fascination with pollen, fungi and slime molds and appear as though viewed under a microscope. Her art is unique, eye-catching and enjoyable.

Nishizawa was born and raised in Saitama Prefecture in Japan. She left Tokyo in 2008, moving first to Carson City, Nev., then to Moraga in 2013 and finally to Concord in 2016. Nishizawa’s lifelong love of art began with her childhood hobby of drawing.

As a teenager, she wanted to be a manga artist because of her love for manga, anime and movies relating to the occult, fantasy and science fiction. “I was writing comics in some notebooks,” says Nishizawa. But she only gave her best friends access to read them.


“Carried by the Wind,” Yumiko Nishizawa.

It was in middle school that Nishizawa first began to think about attending art school. She attained her goal and graduated from Musashino Art University in Tokyo with a master’s degree in oil painting.

Three famous artists have influenced Nishizawa’s art: Ogata Korin, a Japanese landscape illustrator; Gustav Klimt, an Austrian symbolist painter who was influenced by Korin; and Japanese artist Hasegawa Tohaku, a 16th-century painter and founder of the Hasegawa school (“school” here being a group of artists who follow the same style, share the same teachers or have the same aims, typically linked to a single location or master).

“All three artists create forms with flowing lines, depicting a gorgeous and cold world with a heavily decorated background,” Nishizawa notes. You can clearly see their influence in her artwork.

The botanical theme has been present in Nishizawa’s artwork since her time at the university. When Nishizawa moved to the United States, she switched to watercolors – finding it easier to work in watercolors rather than oil paints. She took what she knew from oil painting and taught herself watercolor. Now she enjoys working with transparent watercolor paint on cotton paper.

Changing seasons

Nishizawa is inspired by nature. She loves observing how the seasons alter the ecosystem. “The changing of the seasons is a big inspiration for my work, so I look forward to that very much,” says Nishizawa.

“Born from Rain,”  Yumiko Nishizawa.

Her favorite East Bay park is Mount Diablo because of the large variety of wildflowers she can find there. However, she has yet to discover any vast wildflower blooms on the mountain in the spring, though she has been searching. Her go-to spot for spring wildflower blooms is Yokohl Valley in Tulare County.

“Some of my favorite subjects are plants, slime molds, mycelia, spores, seeds and the beauty of life as the core of a large forest,” says Nishizawa. She tries to capture the sense of life cycles or nature’s regeneration and reproduction over time. She hopes viewers of her art obtain an emotional interpretation when following the colors and shapes with their eyes and feeling the movement of the shapes.

As she says in an artist statement from a recent show, “Watercolor can be untamed and controlled simultaneously, and manipulating these elements of the medium helps create the chaotic harmony of my fictional ecosystems.”

Some of Nishizawa’s artwork is on display at the aRt Cottage in Concord.

You can also explore her works online and on social media:

Facebook: /nishiyumishafer.
Instagram: @nishiyumi_art.

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John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi

John Nakanishi is treasurer of The Concord Art Association. He is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K.