Renaissance art is not dead. A Sioux Falls oil painter is flourishing in the classical style. She honed her skill during a rigorous apprenticeship and now supports herself as an artist.
A soft light pours in through a wall if windows in an art studio in downtown Sioux Falls. Classical still life paintings and portraits take up most of the space. They’re arranged on the walls and stacked on desks and shelves. A black curtain divides the room between half active studio from preparation space.
Anna Youngers rolls a cart of paint supplies beyond the curtain where a colorful canvas waits. The 31 year old artist has been working on the image for a few years.
“I actually started this painting back in 2012 and these dear birds have been sitting in my freezer since then. They’re actually in pretty good shape, surprisingly.”
The painting is a still life of a kitchen scene. Onions, leeks and copper pots and bowls sit on a counter. A pheasant and two doves lay dead in the foreground. Younger’s peeks at a table behind the easel where the items in the picture are strategically set up for a reference.
“So, now I’m just figuring out how to get back into this painting here, I need to work on.”
Youngers says her style relies a lot on lighting and texture.
“I wanted to play up the relationship that you see throughout the painting. It sort of draws your eye around and you’ve got the nice sort of pinkish, red in the pheasants breast feathers. And so, sort of having that relate back and then to the pinks and oranges and the copers. It just creates a nice rhythm that caries your eye around the forms.”
She dips a brush in oil and spreads it on the canvas.
This image looks like something out of a museum. Youngers says she draws inspiration from the Dutch renaissance paintings. She didn’t go to college. Instead, she had a more traditional art education—an apprenticeship.
“My dad was an art enthusiast and we would go to museums together and he would always teach me about a lot of the old masters and show me books. I spent time looking at Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing and stuff when I was growing up.”
After seeing this art in High School, Youngers wanted to do it herself. She says most people told her representational or realist styles were dead.
When she got word of two artists in South Dakota training people in this genre, she jumped on the opportunity.
“I set up an appointment, visited them and showed them some of my work. They said ‘well is this what you want to do for the rest of your life?’ and I was like ‘well I think so. I’m 16 so I don’t really know’ but that was kind of their prerequisite—was that if this is what you’re serious about and this is what you want to do then you should come study with us. And I was like, well, I don’t really have anything to loose. I might as well go for it.”
Her mentors studied classical art in Florence, Italy before they moved to South Dakota. Youngers says learning from them when she was a high school student laid the foundation for her career.
“I went everyday after school and all day on the weekends. And then in the summers—I would go full time in the summers. And then after I graduated, I stayed on with them for 2 more years and just studied full time with them. They moved to Sweden in the beginning of 2006 and I finished my training with them and I stayed here and started my own studio.”
Youngers says she’s attended other fellowships and classes since they left. Now, she mostly sells commissioned pieces like portraits and still life scenes for clients. She says representational art may not be mainstream anymore, but it still has a loyal following. Younger’s work is currently on display in the Washington Pavilion through the end of November.