About Nicole Laby

“When you paint be quiet and listen. The piece will tell you what to do next. You're just along for the ride.”  
-my grandmother



I grew up spending many lazy, hot summers with my grandmother, a Sumi painter, who held that the negative space in her work was just as significant as the subject or painted parts. This concept would later become a focus for me in music composition and painting.
While I pursued a professional practice in psychotherapy, my artistic career initially centered on music. For the past 25 years I've written and performed original music. Recently, my group achieved the Isadora Duncan award for best score of Bay Area music composers performing with modern dance choreography. 

My creative and clinical endeavors combined in 2009, when I had the opportunity to write and produce the documentary Erasing ED (eating disorders), as well as compose its score. The film earned two film festival awards and PBS national airplay. As a companion to the film, I co-wrote the textbook, Erasing ED Treatment Manual.

I returned to painting and discovered that, in many ways, my artwork mirrored the music. The textured and spacious qualities of both art forms express a similar emotional tonality.
Now a mother of 6 year-old twins, I am reminded of my grandmother's words by their unfettered emotional expression: be still and let creativity happen rather than attempt to create it. 

Painting stories within negative space and subject, my work explores the spectrum of emotions that occur during periods of meaningful life transitions. 


Series Statement - Passages

This body of work was inspired by the beauty and endearment that transpired in my recent loss of a family member. Reflected in the juxtaposition of muted applications and rough materials is the fragility of human existence. In a timeline unknown to us, as our bodies begin to surrender, our emotional dispositions may range from frail to robust. 

My work explores the scope of emotions we experience during this humbling life transition.


Photo by Kelly Johnson