For the love of art

Toronto artist Olga Nabatova has three passions: art, sailing and travel. She strives to incorporate these things, as well as all aspects of her life, into her art.

Toronto artist Olga Nabatova has three passions: art, sailing and travel. She strives to incorporate these things, as well as all aspects of her life, into her art. (Photo by Olivia Gotz)

By Courtney Bachar/Active Senior’s Digest

Most people have one thing that they can call a true passion; Olga Nabatova is lucky enough to have three things that she truly loves.

Art has always been a part of Nabatova’s life. She does paintings, drawings, cartoons, ceramics, photography, and sculpture, and tries to incorporate her art in all aspects of her life.

She came to Canada from Vilnius, Lithuania in 1992, settling in Toronto, and has been working with the Children’s Theatre in Toronto for the last 20 years, helping to create stage sets, costumes, painting and cartoons.

“Life as an artist is a pleasure,” says Nabatova, who adds her inspiration for her art comes mostly from music, as well as people and their talents.

“I love people,” she says. “I see something good about people. I developed that inside and it attracts me. I also love music. That’s why I like to draw musician’s talent. I love the passion of what these people are doing.”

Nabatova attended a music concert last year. It was a small audience and she decided to put some humour into some cartoons, which she calls whimsical illustrations.

“I emailed them my cartoons and they loved them, and from there, I ended up doing a series of top Toronto musicians,” she says.

In addition to creating art from music and people, Nabatova also enjoys scenery, and she found an easy access to a lot of scenery through sailing.

olga_nabatova_4Artist turned sailor

Nabatova was introduced to sailing in 2000, which quickly became another one of her passions.

“My friends invited me to crew/race on their 36-foot boat out of the National Yacht Club (NYC). This was my first time ever on a boat,” she says.

Then, in 2001, she joined the club as a crew member and took a Keelboat racing course.

“There are wonderful opportunities for crew members at the NYC. I was given a chance to race on different boats from sharks to 43-footers.”

Although Nabatova has never owned a boat, she thoroughly enjoyed participating as a crew member and considers herself lucky.

In 2004, Nabatova was off work for the summer and was able to do a lot of sailing and racing.

“I took every opportunity to go to regattas and club races and met many sailors,” she says. “By chance, I was invited to replace a crew member on a J24 on a North American J24 regatta on Lake Ontario in Port Credit in August. We got a gun and were number one! The winner got to go to the J24 Worlds Regatta in New York. I was not a regular crew member and didn’t ever dream I’d end up at the Worlds!”

As art was still a large part of Nabatova’s life, she found a way to combine her two passions.

“I call myself a sailing artist,” she says. “The NYC has a fantastic location and the view is spectacular when you are coming back to the club any time of the day, especially in the evening. I have thousands of photos. So many times I was yelled at by the skipper for trying to snap a photo during the race.”

She says she has compiled a large quantity of nautical paintings, drawings, cartoons, ceramics, and photos during her time in the sailing world.

However, in 2006, her passion for art took over and she started taking art courses and studying more. She studied art at the University of Toronto, has studied with sculptors, and has even studied a little in Europe.

olga_nabatova_2A passion for travel

Travelling is another one of Nabatova’s passions.

“I have always travelled. In my 20s, in Lithuania, my part time job was as a tour guide, taking groups of people to different countries.”

Nabatova has travelled a lot since becoming a freelance artist about 10 years ago. She is gone about three months of the year out of country, mostly to Europe so far, visiting museums, historic sites, and studying and creating art.

All this travelling was made easy through an organization called Servas, an international, non-profit, non-governmental federation of national Servas groups, encompassing an international network of hosts and travellers.

The purpose of the network is to help build world peace, goodwill and understanding by providing opportunities for personal contacts among people of different cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities.

Her first experience with Servas was in Italy.

“The trip to Italy changed my life,” Nerbatova says. “The people I met in this trip became my very good friends,” adding that she always finds ways of incorporating art in everything she does. During her travels, Nabatova sketches and often gives her works to people she meets during the trip.

Nabatova was so interested in the organization that she became a Servas host in Toronto.

“I was happy that I finally found likeminded people. It’s so natural to show the city you love to a guest and so easy to host a tourist and help them in their journey,” she says. “I love Canada and Toronto and as a Servas host, I had many international and Canadian Servas travellers in my home.”

Travelling through Servas has allowed Nabatova to travel to Europe. She has also hosted people from Poland, Korea and France.

Nabatova was most recently in Belgium from April to June of this year for an art festival.

“I did four sculpture portraits in 10 weeks,” she says. “I feel alive when I do sculptures.”

She was invited to the festival, which was organized by Servas hosts in Brussels.

“We were given all the art supplies we would need and were creating on the spot,” she says of the event. “I made a terracotta portrait of my host and event organizer Gido.”

Nabatova says that everyone was so pleased with the result of her work and after the portrait was finished, Gido’s wife came up to her and said, “Now I remember why I married this man.”

She left many of her works for her hosts.

Her hope for another trip sometime soon is to travel to Japan while continuing with her art – her paintings and sculptures, and working at the Children’s Theatre in Toronto.

“It’s all really amazing,” she says. “Travelling has opened up an inner-child within myself. I am not shy. I love people and it’s all absolutely wonderful.”

To view some of Nabatova’s work, visit

For more information on Servas, visit

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