What advice do I have for artists? In order to be an artist, you must be free, really free.”
Barbara Lovrich’s face becomes serious when answering this question. We are having coffee in her cosy mustard-coloured house in the poetically named seaside enclave of Sometimes, just outside Palma. The neighbourhood is surprisingly shuttered and empty this time of year, and on this sunny spring morning, two large vacant plots beside her home are filled with blooming wildflowers. Lovrich’s ‘Meditation’ watercolour of a blue woman sitting cross-legged with eyes closed, surrounded by birds and flowers first captured our imagination on a yoga retreat and, inspired, we decided to find out more about her.
We were not surprised to find flowers trailing her, she has that way about her.
Italian born, Greek at heart, and delivered to Mallorca by chance, Barbara Lovrich started drawing as a child with a ballpoint pen, in black and white. In her early 20s, a friend snuck a watercolour set in her bag, and her graphic doodles suddenly exploded in colour and concept. “With watercolour, it is hard to control, and chance is part of the process.” After 20 years’ practice, her hand is steady and her technique refined, but she continues to explore the process of creation beyond the practice of painting, taking up themes of maternity, meditation, and inner growth in her illustrations.
She apologises for her garden – slightly overgrown with a few red wild poppies peeking up from the succulents and wild grasses – as she leads us upstairs to her small sunny studio room where she paints looking over the vacant field filled with renegade dandelions and mustard. She lives with her husband, Olsi, and stays at home with their three-year-old son, appropriately named Ilir, which is an ancient Albanian name that appropriately means ‘free’.
Going through her flat files of paintings in her studio she is surprisingly prolific, and describes her artworks as diaries and letters to friends, illustrating events of life and feelings in washy colours and dreamy imagery. She has recently started painting stones with birds and feathers, which are strewn across her desk like ancient tomes. The stones are monochrome studies in black or grey and white, a nod to her pen-and-ink days.
Taking the yoga teacher training at Zunray Yoga Studio in Palma influenced Lovrich’s work. Her still life images of colourful wisteria and agave flowers began to flow from figures of mermaids and female figures in paintings such as ‘The Four Elements’ and ‘Flower Tribe’. After having her son, she had less time to paint or teach yoga but found herself deeply inspired by the trials and wonderment of motherhood.
When asked about her artistic process and if she paints plein air, she laughs and shakes her head. “I start with a flower, but not a real one,” she explains. What grows from her imagination develops into figurative and poetic sentiments. Many of her images she sells as greetings cards and prints. ‘Inhale the Universe’, ‘Sending Love’ and ‘Do more of what you love’ might sound clichéd, but are positive affirmations that Lovrich convinces us to consider.
A painting of a mermaid with arms raised and eyes closed, head haloed in blooming agapanthus, daffodils and dahlias is titled, ‘I have flowers on my mind’. And it is true, the flowers of Barbara Lovrich’s paintings reflect her inner landscape, which is full of ideas in bloom.
Her work is available on her website and from her Etsy shop LovRichArtwork. She also will collaborate on custom commissions.