Do you have to be a professional?” he asked.
“Well, the easiest way is by having a good friend, someone who knows the technique. My wife is a painter too, and I do everything I can to be a good brother to her,” said Mr. Jansen.
But he also knows that he will never have the same success that Ms. Nansen managed with her painting, “The Night Circus,” which won the Venice Biennale prize in 2005 in the painting category, drawing more than 6,000 entries.
“The problem is, I don’t know the way she does it. It’s like a puzzle,” said Mr. Jansen, who hopes to start teaching drawing to children before the war because they are “a new generation who will look at my painting and say, this is wonderful.
“And then, after that, I’ll retire, just like the rest of my friends, but I won’t lose what I have done.”
In recent years, Ms. Nansen, 55, has been traveling extensively, often making stops in China, Russia and Scandinavia to exhibit her works in galleries.
Recently, she visited Israel to paint a mural of five children at the entrance of a Jewish cemetery in Tel Aviv that was painted by Ms. Nansen at home, she said.
“It’s quite amazing that Israel is full of people who want to keep painting in their homes,” she said.
The artist has been working on a series of paintings for the United States that reflect her memories from her childhood in Canada.
“My parents took us to see the ‘Aguirre Brothers’ cartoons,” said Ms. Nansen, referring to cartoon characters who have the courage to go up against other groups, such as the Nazis.
She and her mother, Marguerite, an artist who had fled the Soviet Union to France when she was just 10, were taught to paint by a French girl known as Yvonne who later became Ms. Nansen’s best friend.
“She was so young, like 10. She was really smart. My father was not allowed to teach or let them work,” Ms. Nansen recalled in a recent interview at her studio, which is decorated with colorful drawings.
A portrait of her family, including her mother, was included in the 1993 Canadian National Portrait Gallery, but the picture made her furious when she realized that it represented the French Canadian group which she had
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