Joseph Yonke is a painter whose roots are deep in the mountains of western Maryland. His grandfather, celebrated watercolor artist Robert Yonke, has lived in the area now known as the Turkey Neck area of Deep Creek Lake for many years. The elder Yonke was instrumental in instilling a love of art in Joseph at a young age. As a child, Joseph spent his summers with Robert who taught him the intricacies of design, color, shapes, and how they coexist. These summers spent around the Deep Creek Lake area also exposed Joseph to the beauty of a rural landscape, which would later inspire many of his paintings.
While Joseph’s early works were primarily landscapes, he also began experimenting with large-scale abstract portraits. He enjoyed working with large canvases, as they allowed him more freedom to create without feeling confined. At the age of 9 or 10, he created his first abstract piece, which was a big geometric canvas. He later began incorporating faces into his abstract paintings.
Joseph is about to graduate college from Penn State (a family tradition) and pursue a career as a full-time artist. His preferred mediums are oil paint and acrylic, and he often uses bright pops of color in his pieces.
Joseph takes commissions and sells his original works. He has also worked with both private and non-private galleries, and his art can be found online and as part of installations under the name “Yonke Art”.
While he has moved away from the mountains, he still spends every summer in Garrett County, and he recently joined the Garrett County Arts Council.
Overall, Joseph’s influences include George Condo and Willem DeKonig, two artists who have played a significant role in shaping his style. Today, Joseph’s art ranges from large-scale abstract portraits to local landscape-inspired pieces. He continues to study and experiment with different techniques to find what works best for each piece and his willingness to learn and grow as an artist has led him to find inspiration in the most unexpected places.
“I think people can make good art if they put in the due diligence to learn but there are also people who just make good work naturally. Mixing both hard work and natural talent are what, I think, make people really good!” said Joseph. “More times than not, if someone wants to be great at painting, I believe anyone can make it happen.”
Despite the intensity and pressure to produce his work, he finds it all worth it in the end.
Connect with Yonke Art online at https://yonkeart.com/ or on social media at https://www.instagram.com/jryonke/.