We recently connected with Bernadette Youngquist and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Bernadette thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
Risks come in all shapes and sizes. I know people who are really excited to take physical risks that I can’t imagine taking. For me, risk means standing strong in who I am as a person and feeling confident in my decisions. Allowing myself to be vulnerable to others is a risk I take in my art and on social media regularly. As I began to explore my creativity I did it in tiny steps and in safe ways because I wasn’t ready to risk vulnerability. I am now at a place in my life journey where I am okay with standing in what I believe in because I know it is true for me. I am able to be more vulnerable to other people through my art which is abstract expressionist, and in turn have been able to live my life in an authentic way. I think you have to embrace risk to improve your art. You have to be willing to do things without knowing how they might turn out. You also have to put the work in front of other people knowing that it won’t be for everyone.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
For as long as I can remember I was an astute observer of things around me. I noticed beauty and I noticed what was not beautiful. Beauty is more than what you see, it is also what you feel when you see, and what you hear. Initially I felt my calling was to serve people in a direct way and I earned degrees in psychology and sociology. However, after a few years of working in this field I realized I absorbed other peoples feelings and hardships like a sponge and it left me emotionally bankrupt. It was after having two children that I started to lean into my creative side more and more. I dabbled in everything! Photography, jewelry, small sculpture, drawing and illustration, and pattern design were all avenues through which I learned my craft. I did all of these other things because I believed I was not a fine artist. As it turns out, I am now! All of these experiences have informed my current work.
I am an abstract expressionist painter who works in acrylic mixed media. I create bold work which has resulted from my willingness to take risks with my art. The most important thing in my art making has always been to remain true to my personal expression and ability. This has me doing continual battle with my inner critic, but so far I think I’m winning! I am inspired by women like Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, and Grace Hartigan who were pioneers in ab-ex art and as women who led non-traditional lives. There are other women artists in my personal circle that I respect for staying true to their creative voices and who also inspire me. I hope, in turn, to inspire people to stay true to what inspires them. I create work that inspires others to live an authentic life.
I work on small panels up to large 4 foot baltic birch panels. I would love an opportunity to go really large though! I sell work through 3 Square Art Gallery in Fort Collins, as well as direct from my studio and have just joined Redwood Art Group. I can be contacted directly for studio visits, and commissions. I also have work available on my personal website and through Facebook and Instagram. I will be exhibiting at Art Santa Fe in July.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Over the years I have had to remain open and flexible in my creative process. I did not have all the answers or even all of the questions when I began to explore making art. I paid attention to what was interesting to me and what made me feel excited. I have changed materials and subject matter continually over many years before arriving where I am. I have had to remember not to be overly influenced by what other people think about my art. Only a handful of people will love what you do, but that’s okay. I am still on a journey with my art career and I can’t imagine where it will take me. The journey continues to surprise and delight me. There are also periods of doubt. I think it is important to surround yourself with other artists and people who support you. A lot of people will not understand what you are doing or have any idea how to talk to you about it. Don’t take it personally. Being a professional artist requires you to stand strong in who you are and continue taking risks. Balancing family life with personal pursuits has also required me to pivot. I have experienced some challenging times in my personal life that required my full attention. Putting my personal work aside when necessary was not easy but my family is my number one priority.
: Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
The thing that makes art making meaningful and purpose driven for me is that I want to inspire people to be honest, vulnerable, and present. There is so much more to be experienced beneath the surface of everyday life if we slow down and take notice. These are the experiences I paint. I watch people speeding through life with continual racing thoughts in their heads and I am not sure what they are racing towards. Life is right now in this moment. When I paint I become uber aware of that!