Selective Focus: Aryn Bergsven


Aryn Bergsven is an artist and an art teacher at Harbor City International School. She talks about sharing her time and energy between her own work and the work of her students.

A.B.: I work in acrylics primarily but also dabble in watercolors and ink, mostly for sketching and traveling. I love to work with portraiture. This has always been an area of interest for me, even when I was in middle and high school. I think it’s even more compelling to me now though as a mother and an art teacher. So much of my life focuses on people and relationships I have with them that the act of really studying faces and reading between the lines has become second nature in some ways.

rbio-picAs far as my style goes, I’ve been a slow, late bloomer. I didn’t really fall into any sense of my artistic self until late in college when I was studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence France. The atelier there was heavily influenced by Paul Cezanne and Leo Marchutz. I think the way I use color –my palette, color intensity and layering techniques for depth– really started here. The other significant influence I’ve had is a number of painting classes with Sarah Brokke Erickson at the Duluth Art Institute. I’ve found her teaching to be so helpful in how I think about my image development.

Flight 1: Acrylic on canvas, 36”x48”

Flight 1: Acrylic on canvas, 36”x48”


I’ve been working with acrylics since about 2008 when I decided to really learn the medium so I could teach it better in my classroom. This was also the same time I was pregnant with my son so I was interested in a family friendly painting medium. Prior to this time, I’d really written off acrylics as an inferior medium. I feel quite differently now!

Flight 2: Arylic on canvas, 40” x 60”

Flight 2: Arylic on canvas, 40” x 60”


One of my biggest challenges is saving time and creative energy for my own work after long days of working with high schoolers and supporting their creative endeavors. I find the springtime, with the warming temperatures, longer daylight, and all around bubbling up of life is the most productive and prolific time for me. I really enjoy that inner drive that happens when you have an idea that’s spinning in your head and just waiting for the few hours when you can pull it into existence. I just wish I had a bit more discipline to pull myself up to my studio more often.

Marylin: Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 60”

Marylin: Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 60”


I actually haven’t had a show in the area for a few years. I should really get on that! I hope that you’ll soon see my work on display at some local shop or eatery! In the meantime, I’ve been building a Facebook page and I have a blog with a smattering of posts. You can see quite a few of my works there.

Self Portrait | Squished: Acrylic on canvas, 30x30

Self Portrait | Squished: Acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 30″


I’m currently working on a series that, at least for the moment, I’m calling A Light. It features my amazing daughter who both delights and terrifies me in the exuberant way she tackles life each day. Two of these pieces were recently on display at the Kruk Gallery at UWS and I have quite a few more emerging in my studio. I’d love to find a place to exhibit the collection when it’s done.

Arlene: Acrylic on Canvas, 36 x 50”

Arlene: Acrylic on Canvas, 36 x 50”



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