Katie Yarnold is an oil painter who was born in Oakland and raised in the East Bay. She received a B.A. in Studio Art from UC Berkeley and a M.Ed. with a concentration in Arts & Learning from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She often paints images of her friends, family, and loved ones. Each portrait she creates endeavors to capture the unique complexities of the individual being depicted. Having spent much of her adult life in scenic Japan and her childhood exploring the vast landscapes of California, her portraiture centers on themes of nature. She uses wooden panels as her painting surface and often incorporates sunset and sunrise scenes that represent the two regions.
Her representational portraits and figure paintings explore questions of belonging, intersectional identity and visibility. In slightly surreal oil paintings characterized by vivid, true-to-life colors and motifs of liminal spaces, she mimics the photographic technique of double exposure. The human figure is superimposed against images of nature and exposed wood grain. This reflects how different aspects of one’s identity overlap and intertwine in a way that often leaves us feeling exposed. The subjects of her paintings, varied in age, race and gender, are all individuals who experience hyper-visibility in some way. Constantly subject to the gaze of others due to an aspect of their identity, they are set apart from those around them. In her paintings, the subject often subverts this gaze by staring at the viewer, imploring observers to meet their gaze and see them as they truly are. These portraits are meant to capture not only an individual’s outward appearance but also their personal narrative, joys and challenges.