Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspiration Avenue-Meet Katie Berggren

Last year, just before Mother’s Day, I was looking around on Etsy (not sure what I was looking for, probably just poking around), and I ran across the most beautiful painting by Katie Berggren called Recharge.  It spoke to me.  It reminded me of me and my daughter trying to take a nap.  Physically, the little girl looks nothing like Victoria, but the personality is the same.  I sent the link to my husband, and he got me a print for Mother’s Day.  I have the print in my bedroom, and one day Victoria pointed to it, and said “that’s me and Mommy’.  So, I guess I was right about it. 

Katie’s work is so moving.  She expresses so much emotion.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

                 1.             Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a mother of two little boys who has always had an urge to create. I began my art business by taking commissioned jobs penciling portraits from photos. I moved on to colored pencil and digital art, but one day while painting a mural on my new son’s wall, the memory of how much I loved to paint hit me. I put down the pencils, picked up the brush and NEVER looked back!

Simple Gifts
2.             Could you describe your work?
My paintings are created from my soul ~ as a way to capture the emotions that stir a mother, and to focus on, protect and memorialize those fleeting moments of bliss between mother and child. I like to think of my paintings, also, as a way to remind us of what is most important in our relationships with our families and children: being there.
3.             How did you get started painting?
I took two painting classes during my time at my community college, to learn light and shadow, form and such. I enjoyed them, but didn’t love them. It wasn’t until I felt the freedom and courage to create from my heart in colored pencil and digital software that I was able to put the two together ~ the emotion and movement of the colored pencil work, and the freedom of the paint on canvas. Together, they thrill me.

4.             What materials do you use in your paintings?
I prefer acrylic paintings, never had much luck with watercolor paints, and generally avoided oils because I was worried about toxins around my babies. I love acrylic paint on rich textural cotton canvases. I mostly use brushes, but have been known to use my hands, plastic wrap, palette knives, and a variety of other tools.  
5.       I’ve noticed that your paintings range in sizes from 4x4 to quite large.  Do you find it a challenge to paint in such a variety of sizes?
The first little 4x4” canvas was a surprise! But also a delight. I am happy on a canvas of any size, to be truthful. I generally keep the larger sizes to a maximum that will fit in my car! I do not find it challenging, jumping back and forth, I love creating paintings and all aspects thereof!

6.           I love your painting style.  Did you start out painting this way, or did you develop it over time?
This painting style developed in a raw and naïve way from the moment I put brush to canvas (after those college days) when I realized I wanted to use paint to share my emotions instead of colored pencils and digital means. My very first painting attempted the current stylized and expressive, movement-y style ~ but in a very raw form. It took a few paintings before I began to understand the style, and years of painting to finesse it, and I still have work to do. I frequently find that the style wants to change a bit, too, in regard to adding some text, or using smaller brush strokes.

7.             What is your favorite work that you have painted?
I have many paintings that I consider my favorite that have blossomed from the studio. To be truthful, once the piece is done, and while it is in progress, I don’t focus on the fact that “I” painted it ~ sometimes I barely have memories or words to describe the process (which is why it is imperative to photograph and write DURING the process, versus later!). I know the pieces came from within, but with such assistance from the inspiration all around me. I would have to say Simple Gifts, Deep As A River, Home, Mid Day Rest (this one hangs in my bedroom), The Very Breath and Nature are some of my favorites right from the top of my head, today, anyway!

8.             Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by life. Simple as that! I am inspired by the color, the movement, the skin. I become so inspired by watching (ok, staring at) the interactions between the mothers and children around me. Sometimes they inspire me to create a new piece, sometimes they inspire me in general because I feel I have a true duty and purpose to share the purpose of a mother for a child. I am always aware of the need for this work that I am a part of ~ I am always aware of the fact that so many mothers forget or were never notified of what their children need most: their mother’s attention and affection.

9.             What one piece of art has inspired you the most?
I was inspired very early on by the work of Kathe Kollwitz ~ her emotional and heart-wrenching pieces from the early 1900’s focused on showing humanity in its raw form. She created many pieces featuring mother and child. I first discovered her work in high school, but had no idea that I would still be inspired by it in my 30’s. Her intentions lie somewhere within me, not an obvious form of inspiration, or work that I have hanging in my studio ~ but a general longing to join her in representing the heart and soul of humans and their vulnerable relationships (in Kollwitz’s work it was often a relationship with war, hunger, death, and other humans) that reminds me that our emotions are sometimes too glossed over to recognize or read. We need artwork to remind us of our pain, joy, passion and intensity.


10.         Who are some of your favorite artists?
Kathe Kollwitz, Mary Cassatt, Susan Mrosek (, Rie Munoz, Gustav Klimt.

11.         Do you currently teach workshops or are you planning to in the future?
I do not currently teach workshops, but have considered it. Right now, the only art I teach is to my sons and their classrooms!

12.         What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as an artist?
I would say to find their purpose, find the reason they are doing what they are doing. Then find the art that supports that purpose and share it with the world! There is so much to follow that, but when you know why you are doing what you are doing, everything else is far more doable!

          13.         What are your dreams for your creative business in the future?  What is the one big (or many) thing you aspire to?
I aspire for my artwork to open up possibilities for my family. I also greatly aspire to use my artwork to do good, to support mothers and their children in a very necessary and valuable way. I have yet to find my complete path for how I will contribute but am doing my best to give and support until the right path comes along.

Deep As A River

             14.         What techniques or styles would you like to try that you don’t currently use?
I’ve found a recent urge for collage ~ and started adding some text to my 4x4 Collection: Moments With Messages (, but will be doing more experimenting with collage in the future.

15.        Besides making art, what other things do you like to do?
I like to play games with my family, go on walks and hikes, watch movies, read, study health and natural remedies, organize, communicate, people watch, and connect.

To view Katie’s work and find out more about her, you can find her here:

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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful interview - so fun to learn about an artist I was not familiar with. Her art is touching and beautiful, so I can understand why you cherish the print your husband bought you. Thanks for this great post, Jacquie!