Galen Frost Bernard is a painter and lifelong student of the creative process— the 32-year-old artist cannot remember a time when he wasn’t painting. Born and raised in Nelson County, VA, he recalls that his parents traded the midwife a cow for his delivery in their wooden shack built by his father. Growing up, for a time without electricity or running water, the artist feels a strong and close connection to the earth: “I have roots in the ground where I was born”.
Bernard studied art at Warren Wilson College where he spent the first two years failing because he regularly turned in art instead of term papers. After two years, he left school to live in a shack he built himself on his family’s property where he painted continuously for a year. After a time, he decided to return to Warren Wilson to finish his degree. During this time, Bernard spent a semester abroad in India where he really developed as an artist. “I really picked up a lot of visual info that has been stuck in my visual vocabulary from my time in India,” he says. “A lot of the symbols and reoccurring shapes and patterns—like the stairs I frequently paint—started around then. And a lot of the technique was developed there because I only had black, white, primary colors, two brushes and a sketchbook”. Bernard completed his degree with a senior thesis involving an installation of dead birds. Bernard recalls a moment when a wasp landed on the wet oil and found itself trapped. He watched it struggle and knew it wouldn’t make it out. He painted over it to end its suffering, effectively making it part of his painting. “Most of the paintings are oil based with ink, graphite, and shellac or varnish. Some are Acrylic based. I usually call them mixed media because I am prone to using additional materials like ash, beer, bugs, hair, spray paint, or anything else that might be appropriate at the moment.”
What it really comes down to with Bernard’s work is the movement. Between the oil, the wasp, and the words there is a universe that has been created where beauty and truth might be found. “I’m super obsessed with the mysterious and with things that can’t be seen,” Bernard says. “I’m all interested and about the inbetween.”