Nancy Mills empowers others to heal through art
Story by Kamala Kirk
Just before Nancy Mills turned 70, she discovered her calling as an energy artist. While meeting for coffee with an intuitive close friend, Mills asked what was on the horizon. Her friend said she envisioned her painting.
“I couldn’t even hold a ruler. My response to her was that she had lost her mind,” Mills says with a laugh. “The last time I had painted I was 5 years old.”
Shortly after her friend’s prediction, Mills had a reading with a well-known hand analyst, who observed that she had the hands of a painter and told her she would be filled with passion if she painted.
“Two weeks later, I went to a meeting that ended up being canceled but no one told me,” Mills says. “I drove down the street and came across a sign in the window that said, ‘Anyone can paint.’ I stopped the car, ran inside and said, ‘I’m here!’ This all happened around the spring equinox. I ultimately found my way to watercolors and realized I had a gift. I could feel spiritual energy come through my hands, paint and colors. I get messages as I paint.”
Mills finishes painting quickly and she never knows what the finished product will look like. While painting, she is directed to various vibrant colors that just show up in her work.
“Most artists know what they’re painting in advance, but in my case I get an urge and start painting,” Mills explains. “It’s just as amazing to me as it is to other people who see my work. I started painting when I was 70 and since then I have created over 400 paintings.”
Realizing that she could do the same for others, Mills bought a webcam and began offering energy art sessions, primarily with women, over Zoom. She has made paintings for people across the country, including Broadway performers.
Mills starts each session with meditation, then clients relax while she paints their energy. They then take home the paintings and a recording of the session.
“First I’m drawn to a certain paintbrush, then as things pop into my head I paint,” Mills explains. “While I’m painting, I get messages from the spiritual world, which I’ll share with them. It’s been very surprising and wonderful because most of the people I’ve worked with ask me how I did it and how I knew. I’m not a therapist, but I am an artist and a women’s empowerment leader who is very intuitive. I have this ability to see people’s strengths, what colors they might want to bring into their lives, and give them a sense of empowerment through paint. It’s very interesting to express myself through this medium and it floors everyone.”
One of Mills’ latest projects is Painted Prayers, a collection of her energy artwork that is expressed through original art and notecards. Each watercolor is a blessing of spirit, empowerment and beauty, and will add sacred energy to any space. Mills’ work from her Painted Prayers collection is listed for sale on her website.
“The Painted Prayers are postcards of my originals and they’re messages of life and love,” Mills says. “My goal is for them to go from one person to another so that they get spread around.”
Mills also creates hand-painted scarves in her home studio. She uses special fabric paints on large white rayon scarves, and it takes around two weeks to make a scarf, which is sacred and shamanistic. The scarves are talismans to be kept and worn on special occasions. They keep the wearer connected to the divine feminine energy.
“As I get messages, I paint the scarves,” Mills adds. “I always give women the choice of having me paint the scarf with or without them watching me.
“I get different messages, images and colors for each person. I was painting a scarf for one woman and I started singing an Indian song during our session. After she received the scarf, I learned that she had a very strong Indian lineage in her family. There have been a lot of things that have happened like that that I wouldn’t have anticipated. People enjoy my work because it adds energy to their space. People are constantly telling me that my art has filled their space with energy, and they’re thrilled about that. It’s much more than just buying a piece of art — they’re getting an art and energy experience.”
Aside from her work as an energy artist, Mills is a longtime women’s empowerment leader. More than 20 years ago, she founded Spirited Woman, a women’s empowerment community.
“I started Spirited Woman in the early 2000s and it became very important to me to ensure there was a community available to support other women,” Mills says.
“I think the underlying message always was you are enough as you are. From there, it expanded into this art. For me it was very natural because I’ve always believed in the essence of women and them having so much to offer. When I started doing the energy artwork and sessions, I became empowering to others but in a different way.”
When she lived in Santa Barbara, Mills hosted Spirited Woman workshops, retreats and events. In 2012, she created the Spirited Woman Foundation with a mission of helping to heal and support women through actions of empowerment.
Through the foundation’s Sisterhood of the Sacred Scarves Project, Mills sold more than 4,000 Spirited Woman Prayer scarves, raising over $20,000, which was distributed to multiple nonprofits. The scarves, which featured designs created by other artists, were chosen by Mills because they felt spiritual and she also gave them names.
“During the women’s marches, there were hundreds of women wearing my scarves in different cities,” Mills says. “It was phenomenal.”
Now, a majority of the foundation’s proceeds come from a percentage of sales from the Painted Prayers collection. Mills also hosts a monthly Spirited Woman Circle on the third Thursday of every month. The free, hour-long sessions are held on Zoom.
“It’s a community of love and support with women inspiring women,” Mills shares.
“It’s a safe place where women of all ages can get together and talk. We don’t have a particular agenda other than the fact that we show up and we talk about whatever is on our minds. It’s a way for us to be there for one another. We start every session with a meditation. It’s a great place to be around women who are of like minds and supportive.”
For the past five years, Mills has lived in Playa Vista on land that was once an Indian burial ground. She loves the beauty of the natural environment along with the strong sense of community.
“I grew up on the West Coast and have lived in different parts of Los Angeles,” Mills says.
“Playa Vista is my favorite. It’s a wonderful and embracing community. I see butterflies, hummingbirds, hawks and beautiful vistas. I walk almost 3 miles every day. There is a teepee down the street from where I live that I visit daily. It’s very spiritual and has become my sacred place. I just love the fact that I am stimulated to create here, I’m so fortunate to live in a place like this.”
Going forward, Mills will travel to fuel her soul with energy and will continue to spread positive energy. She plans to utilize her art in as many empowering ways as she can.
“When I started painting, I started dancing,” Mills says. “I believe we are all born with an internal passion and it’s never too late to tap into it. You can become a ballroom dancer at 85. There are no limits on self-expression. When you find something that taps into your passion, it gives you joy, and joy is