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Rising Stars: Meet Bernadette Youngquist

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bernadette Youngquist.

Hi Bernadette, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in a family of creative makers and doers. When I was very young, I remember watching my grandmother paint at the kitchen table with watercolors in her limited free time. My mother also had creative learnings and liked to draw and paint. There were other women in my family who were creative too, but it was always a past-time pursuit. I grew up with lots of art supplies at hand but very little direction. It was not until I had children of my own that I started to really pursue creativity because I realized it filled me up and left me feeling energized.

I dabbled in photography, drawing, and jewelry making before understanding that what I really loved was paint and the ability to make something from nothing. I found every practical way I could to express myself, from home decorating to surface pattern design, never believing I could actually become a fine artist. As often happens, my life entered a crisis phase where I was literally getting by moment to moment as I dealt with some personal family issues. And then my mom suddenly passed away at the age of 66. All of these things combined made me realized that I should chase down any joy that came my way and not question it. Three years ago, I dedicated myself to becoming an abstract painter. All of my prior creative experience fed painting. I put in a lot of hours and took instruction as I needed it. I am also very fortunate to live in a community where other artists supported me, encouraged me, and gave me opportunities to participate.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Making a commitment to becoming a good painter is never a smooth road. We all start at the beginning and we are all riddled with doubt. Being an abstract expressionist painter is even more challenging because a lot of people don’t understand it. You are driven to become excellent at a thing that is intangible and elusive. It has taken years for me to learn the techniques to express work that is as sophisticated on the canvas as it is in my mind and I will probably always be chasing that down! It is an emotional journey of personal growth as well as an occupation. It is really important for me to feel like my work connects with other people. It is not enough to paint alone in my studio. Making connections happen are continually a hurdle to jump.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a mixed media acrylic abstract expressionist painter. My process is really about finding my way as I go and making order out of chaos. I always begin by attacking the canvas with unfettered expression and work in this way as long as it takes until a conversation begins between me and the canvas. At that point, the marks begin to guide me and I find a direction one step at a time. Creating work that is truly authentic and unique to my own expression is what I find the most pleasure and pride in. In the last couple of years, I have begun exhibiting work with artists I admire, participating in juried exhibits, and selling my work. Most recently, I gained representation from an international gallery that has listed my artwork on an exclusive art platform that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see my paintings on.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
So many people contributed to my ability to stay with my art practice and realize goals. My husband encouraged me from day one and believed in my ability to be an artist when I truly didn’t have any skill set. He continues to encourage me and believe in me when I don’t have a belief in myself. Carol Schinkel, A Fort Collins abstract painter, is someone I consider a mentor. She speaks the same art language and has shared so many wonderful opportunities with me to take the next steps in my art career. I have been fortunate to have so many family members and friends who have cheered me on and displayed my art on their walls! The other painters and creatives I know in Fort Collins create an incredibly inspiring and welcoming community. I could not keep going without the encouragement I have received from family, friends, and community.

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