Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist

Yvonne Korotky

Yvonne Korotky in her Rio Rancho art studio

c. Yvonne Korotky

Little Bud, painting, by Yvonne Korotky

c. Yvonne Korotky

Rabbit Drinking, painting (detail), by Yvonne Korotky

featured artist: Art with a heart: Yvonne Korotky

—Oli Robbins

Many artists wish—if only behind closed doors—to achieve both wealth and fame. And why not? To luxuriate in the success of your art sounds like a dream to many. But not to Yvonne Korotky. The Rio Rancho painter professes to care very little about making money from her art. “To me,” says Yvonne, “money doesn’t matter. It only matters when you don’t have enough to eat.” Other artists may publicly voice the same sentiment, but it’s one that’s easier to preach than practice, right? Not for Yvonne. Making art has become an indelible part of who she is. Painting not only brings her great pleasure and fulfillment, it also helps to feed and support those less fortunate. Yvonne gives 75 percent of the proceeds of each work that she sells to a charity.

Yvonne’s heart has always been big, but it didn’t always have art as its partner. As a child, in Middletown, New York, Yvonne was discouraged from creating. She was curious about and attracted to art, but buried those interests in an attempt to please her parents, who believed in discipline over frivolous pursuits (like art). It wasn’t until the year 2000, in Cortland, New York, that Yvonne allowed art into her life, and into her heart. She and her husband, Michael, were enjoying a lazy Saturday morning when Michael called for Yvonne to come check out a program on the TV. “It was Bob Ross,” says Yvonne. “I watched that demonstration, and it clicked. I said to myself, ‘I can do that. I know I can do that.’” Somehow, that was the first time Yvonne had ever seen The Joy of Painting, and it would be the last. But, to borrow the words of Ross himself, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” That serendipitous Saturday morning propelled Yvonne to begin her affair with painting. She went out and bought extensive, cheap supplies, and procured several how-to art books. Those books satisfied her impulses for about six months, at which point she enrolled in a correspondence course on art, which was the only “formal” training Yvonne ever received. She had high hopes for painting en plein air, but found that her allergies didn’t fancy the idea of multiple hours outside. So, she did the next best thing and bought a high quality digital camera, snapped photographs of her favorite sites, and painted from her photos.

Before she admitted her proclivity for art, Yvonne held a number of different jobs. Her training in and skill at shorthand landed her secretarial positions at an orthopedic doctor’s office, Intertek Testing Services, and a law office. She also kept busy raising her children, in whom she fostered creativity. By the time Yvonne and Michael moved from New York to Rio Rancho, in 2003, Yvonne was firmly entrenched in her new calling. While working at the Rio Rancho Observer newspaper in customer service, she met Hal Ashmead, a painter and illustrator on whom the paper was running a feature. Yvonne was deeply impressed and inspired by Ashmead’s work, which she likens to that of her favorite artist, Richard Schmidt. Ashmead would become her mentor for the following year, until Yvonne met her next mentor—and eventual dear friend and mother-figure—Evelyn Peters.

Yvonne found it impossible to stay away from art, and so recognized her true passion. “I was working full-time, but was also being mentored, so I painted until 2:00 a.m., three nights a week.” One night, she decided she wanted to paint a water drop on a flower. With no extensive art training, Yvonne had to teach herself such techniques. She remembers saying to herself, “I’m going to paint a water drop, and that’s all there is to it!” She struggled with the task for three hours, but eventually got it. Looking back on that moment, Yvonne thinks, “Why it was so difficult amazes me at this point. It’s second nature when you know how, but if you don’t, it’s a challenge.” Moments like that encouraged her to grow as an artist by daring to practice new, advanced methods. “I knew I couldn’t leave it alone,” remembers Yvonne, “I was glued to art.”

Michael contributes to Yvonne’s process by building most of her frames—an altruist like his wife, he also volunteers his handyman services to friends and neighbors in need. This gesture is largely responsible for the duo’s decision to give much of their proceeds to charities. Because Yvonne doesn’t have to purchase frames at an art store, she saves a great deal of money. When she makes a sale, she only keeps enough to pay for her materials, and donates the rest. “When I sell a painting, no matter what it is, I give three quarters of it to a charity.” Many years ago, when working and acting as a single mother, Yvonne encountered rough times. “We had basically nothing,” says the artist. She was in need, but knew that there were needier families still. She recalls, “At Christmas time, you could buy a fifty pound bag of potatoes for five dollars. I would load it into the car with my kids and take it to the church to feed the homeless. I always wanted to do that, you know.” Among the charities Yvonne and Michael give to are Albuquerque Rescue Mission, Joy Junction, Walkin N Circles Ranch (a horse rescue), Storehouse West, Sunflower Sanctuary (which cares for old dogs unlikely of being adopted), and Watermelon Mountain Ranch. Yvonne also offers her paintings to charitable auctions. She recently painted a children’s chair for an auction at Los Poblanos to benefit the Ear Institute; the chair sold to former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish.

In addition to Weems Gallery, Yvonne shows at Joe’s Pasta House and O’Hare’s Grille in Rio Rancho, US Bank on Southern Boulevard in Rio Rancho, and Lovelace Hospital. She also runs two art venues, one in Rio Rancho and one in Albuquerque called “Art Works with Faith,” where she and five other artists exhibit. Her work is reproduced in two art books and appeared in the latest issue of International Artist Magazine. Last year, Yvonne wrote, illustrated, and published a children’s book entitled Abbey’s Story, based upon the adventures of her basset hound, “Abbey.” She can be contacted by phone at 892-5254, or email:

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