Barbara Hazard PhotographBarbara Hazard

I was born in 1931 and grew up on Long Island, close to New York City. For the last forty years my home has been in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. I have spent part of every spring since 1986 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the summer on an island in the St Lawrence River, Canada.

I began to paint seriously when I was in my thirties. At sixty, I began to write poetry and at seventy, I began to quilt. I paint what I love — my friends, our cat, flowers, California, Canadian landscapes, St. Petersburg.

My twenty-year friendship with Russian artists has helped with my acceptance of the dark. I have let go of some of my urge to do beautiful things, and allowed more rawness, deeper colors, browns and muddiness. I am working more intuitively.

I think this earth is fantastic. I am astounded that plants and birds and human beings grow out of little specks we can’t even see, that the earth spins around the sun, and that the sun is only one of millions. Billions. I am aware of the fleetingness of everything — not just my own personal life drawing to a close, but perhaps much life on earth.

I worry about the ethics of being an artist when there is so much hunger and violence in the world, but really, all I want to do is paint and make things. It would be great to believe that looking at a painting of a flower or the forest or the sea would temper the part of our nature that gets us into such trouble, but I don’t really think that paintings are going to turn humanity into environmentalists. Sunflowers will probably not save the world, but they certainly make it more magical.