Ursula Young – Grass Valley, CA
The first time I saw Ursula’s artwork was at an organic cafe in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It was the kind of place where as soon as you stepped inside all you could think about was the barrage of incredible smells that envelope your senses. I had never seen any of her work before, and as I sat and looked at the menu, I marveled at the mysteriously colorful and beautiful painted women, in front of San Francisco backdrops, strung out on the walls before me. These were Ursula’s acrylic paintings that hung on the cafe walls. It became one of my favorite restaurants; the food, the art, the decor, all working together to create a magical experience in my mind. This is the association I have with Ursula’s work.
It turns out I was living in the same town as the artist. I had recently moved to the area and was graced with meetings between myself and Ursula’s work as I became acquainted with my new home.
Ursula Xanthe Young grew up in the countryside of North Yorkshire, England with her two sisters. She was born into a family of art lovers. Her grandmother was an artist herself and an art collector. Her father brought Ursula and her siblings to art museums and galleries, and her mother was a ceramics lover. When Ursula was seven years old, the family had an artist come and live with them. Ursula recalls decorating an old desk with her resident-artist-friend, painting a scene on each side: a jungle, a desert and a seascape. This creative environment at home set the foundation for Ursula to feel that, as a child, she knew she wanted to do something creative with her life.
Ursula’s parents read Victorian fairy tales to her, most of which contained intricate illustrations of fairies, dragons and garden creatures accompanying the fantastical tales. As an adult these illustrations and mystical tales stayed with Ursula and became the mysterious and beautiful, fairy-like women gazing out from her natured landscapes.
Ursula’s mother participated in the womens liberation movement in the sixties and seventies, so the female as a leading role was no new idea to her. This may have influenced her choice of subjects in the artwork she does today which often features female portraits. However this inspiration also stems from the work of Gustav Klimt and painters from the Art Nouveau movement and Pre-Raphaelite era.
Ursula attended the Parsons School Of Design in New York City, where she studied illustration, but upon graduating, she liked the idea of painting for herself more than being an illustrator. She submitted her first work to a local gallery in San Francisco, where she moved after graduating from college.
Ursula likes to paint big. She loves expanding her “ladies” to mural-sized scales and she is hired by cities internationally to beautify their otherwise blank concrete – canvases. She is excited by the way city murals bring beauty into otherwise industrial places and how they expose art to populations that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see it, were the artwork confined to museums and galleries.
Ursula is a sought after contributor to beautification pieces, both public and private, across the country as well as internationally. Her mediums include acrylic on canvas and wood, murals on concrete and brick, illustrations in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. Ursula does work for art galleries, private commissions, city planning committees, design firms, corporations and commercial entities.
What Ursula attempts to speak with her work at the end of the day is a sense of Joy. With so much confusion and darkness in our world, she feels that as an artist, she can create something that shines a light in that darkness, that brings a simplicity to that confusion. When one looks at her paintings, one instantly understands what she means.
Ursula lives with her seven year old daughter and husband in Northern California.