Nancy Lee has been an artist since she was a little girl.  She started drawing as a young child and as a teenager, painted in oils.  Nancy has also worked in the mediums of ceramics, stained glass, calligraphy, basket weaving, woodworking, and sign painting.    Nancy has been a watercolor artist for more than 35 years and is an accomplished Japanese brush painter.  She has been awarded the title of Sensei after her 10 years of study with Friends of Taka Sumi-e in San Diego, and earned the painting name of Ryu-Nan.

Nancy says, “I often think of the patterns in nature — black Cormorants sitting in a flock on the bluff, the sand patterns made on the beach by the retreating waves & the patterns of fallen flower petals in the crevices of a brick walkway.  When the wind blows the flower petals, they swirl into circles & become a moving pattern.  I think of patterns while watching the dolphins swimming by, a squadron of pelicans soaring only inches from the tops of the waves, a group of gray whales blowing in the distance turning pink in the sunset.  I realize that my life is filled with daily patterns, which move & flow like candles floating on a river of life.  I am not just watching the patterns, but I am a part of the patterns, of the flow of life.  As another season of Yellow Bell trees bloom, sea gull chicks hatch & fledge, harbor seal pups are born & weaned I realize we are all moving through the daily patterns of our lives.  We are all also a part of each other’s daily patterns of life.  When the deer come down from the hills at sunset, when the seals sleep wrapped in a lullaby of gentle waves, the world is turning, everything is moving, moving.  The patterns of my life occur on the moving, living breathing planet Earth.  I am like a fish in a school of other fish swimming, swimming in the sea of life.  The veil pulls back & the truth is revealed that none of our daily life patterns are static, but that we are all flowing together on this wondrous journey of the pattern of life.  I hope that my art reveals some of the patterns of living a life as an artist by-the-sea.”  

“A Guide to San Diego Seashells” is Nancy’s first published book and is available for purchase on Amazon and at her Etsy shop.  This book is illustrated with Nancy’s watercolors & photographs of seashells along with educational & interesting information about the seashells found in San Diego. 

“Shelly Cat By the Sea: Adventures at the Beach” is Nancy’s second published book and is the delightful story of Shelly Cat By the Sea and her two “marvelous” mice friends, Marv & Louis, who all live by the beach.  Both adults and children will enjoy this book.  Each adventure is an opportunity for education about the beach environment on the west coast.  Shelly Cat By the Sea is a very happy cat who enjoys her life at the beach.  She wears assorted hats and necklaces.  Shelly Cat has two mice friends named, Marv and Louis.  Marv is a serious mouse, who likes to read books, loves scallop sea shells and watches out for Louis.  Louis is sometimes a shy mouse who has a wonderful imagination and loves to carry a paper umbrella.

Nancy has exhibited her art at San Diego Botanical Gardens, Balboa Park, The Women’s Museum in Liberty Station, the Mission Valley Library, the Huntington Beach Library and the San Diego Audubon Art Gallery.   Nancy has also exhibited her art at The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Annual Juried Exhibitions in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  NL Designs, Nancy’s hand-painted greeting card business sold cards in 10 states and Nancy’s greeting card art was shown at the New York Stationery Show.

The Oceanside Art Museum exhibit “Gush” by Bhavna Mehta was a collaborative art project that Nancy participated in.  A slide show with this exhibit included Nancy’s art. Additionally Nancy wrote a piece about patterns in our lives, which was published in the exhibit’s catalog. 

In 2015 American Artists’ of Chinese Brush Painting in Los Angeles awarded Nancy First Place in fine-line painting.  


FACEBOOK – Nancy Lee Artist BytheSea  

YOU TUBE VIDEOS – California By-the-Sea

Etsy Shop: NancyLeeArtByTheSea: https://www.etsy.com/shop/NancyLeeArtByTheSea?ref=hdr_shop_menu


PINTEREST – Nancy Lee Designs By-the-Sea        


Friends of Taka-Sumi-e – Japanese brush painting

Lung Hsiang Chinese Brush Painting  

San Diego Fellow Calligraphers        

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library 

San Diego Book Arts

6 thoughts on “About

  1. Sherry Tucker

    Nancy, I am an absentee member of Lung Hsiang, but still receive the monthly emails, which alerted me to your site. I am very impressed with your art and photos both, also being an ocean lover; I enjoyed looking at them alll. I hope to meet you at one of the Tuesday classes one day. Congratulations on your accordion book recognition.


  2. john

    Nancy, I met you at La Jolla cove a few weeks back. You were admiring the juvenile seagulls taking their first swims and excited to have the elephant seal pup stopping by to take a break on the sand. Thanks for taking the time to educate me on gulls and seals. You were so nice and interesting to talk too. Btw, your photos and artwork are very nice. Take care, John from Ohio


    1. nldesignsbythesea Post author

      Hi John ! It was my pleasure to meet you and share with you what I know about the wild life here. I’m so excited to get your comment today and to know that you followed up with looking at my website. I hope to see you at the seals the next time you come to San Diego! Nancy


  3. Sand Salt Moon

    Wow, Nancy – you are so accomplished and your work shows it. I love California! When I move to Florida, we’ll be coast-to-coast friends. I look forward to painting Florida as much as you explore your environment in your work, too.

    Liked by 1 person


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