My Journey as an Artist & Art Instructor – Cynthia Yatchman



I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that supported and practiced the arts. I went to  elementary school at a time when art was still a valuable part of the curriculum. My refrigerator at home was the proverbial art gallery. I also was fortunate to grow up with a mother who was an artist and art instructor. Art was a very big part of her life and consequently of mine. Ruth Carol Yatchman worked in all the painting mediums and in clay, but she became best known for her work as a “porcelain painter”. She was a huge admirer and prolific painter of flora and fauna. In the  old “china painting” tradition, she worked on fine white porcelain using a series of overglazes fired in multiple layers at relatively low temperatures (1112-1556 F). This medium is akin to watercolour but done on fine French, German or Japanese porcelain so there is an added translucency, smoothness and subtlety to the art. Her immersion in her art and her enthusiasm was contagious.

I have been working as an artist since graduating with a BFA in painting from the University of Washington. I come from a solid ceramics background, having done a pottery apprenticeship with Master Potter, J T Abernathy in Ann Arbor, MI, where I also worked as production potter. Mr. Abernathy, now at age 96,  is still actively producing amazing ceramic  art. His works are housed in more than 23 museums across the United States and Canada. He is a world renowned potter and he had a huge influence on my ceramic art. While my personal art now abides in the world of painting; the passion, sensitivity, fervour and devotion that I witnessed and adopted as my own while working with Mr. Abernathy, stays with me no matter what medium I am working in. He taught me a way of thinking, a way of  seeing and appreciating art and life. 

After my clay days, I moved to the west coast and then shifted art gears and went from 3D to 2D,  and have remained there ever since. I do still teach some clay classes but my own work now is primarily painting/printmaking/sketching on board, yupo paper or canvas, often using latex and acrylic paints and/or inks.

I teach art to adults, children and families. With an MA in child development and a BA in education, I have a strong interest in art education. I have taught nearly all of the fine arts to students ranging  from preschool age through age 90. Currently I am working with local “seniors” in a wide variety of  fine art mediums, and I teach clay classes to parents and toddlers who work collaboratively in stoneware.

The images in my 2D work, often contain many diverse layers of meaning from the universal to the specific and personal. I am frequently interested in pattern and/or creating a rich sensual surface by making layer upon layer of marks. There often is an unseen history within these layers as images are obscured and revealed. My work frequently gives reference to my experience with nature. At times it speaks to issues of social justice, revelation and connection and I frequently incorporate universal symbols in my work.

My artworks are housed in numerous public and private collections and have been shown nationally in California, Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon and Wyoming. I exhibit  extensively in the northwest,  and I have had shows at at various Seattle institutions including Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Shoreline Community College, the Tacoma and Convention Centers, the Bellevue and Cascadia Art Museums and the Seattle Pacific Science Center. 

I am thrilled to have my work featured  here in “Modern Literature”. Out of the four pieces shown here, three feature cherry blossoms and one shows the avocado. Cherry blossoms are known for having  a short life span, a fleeting phenomenon. The flowers have come to represent life’s ephemerality. Similarly cherry blossoms represent renewal, coming back year after year. Some say that the avocado teaches us that beauty comes from within. An avocado tree can live for hundreds of years and a pair of avocados living and growing together on a tree often are considered to symbolize  relationship love. 

About Cynthia:

She is an artist & art instructor based at Seattle. Her works featured above are prints using latex paint and or ink on paper.