Conference Spotlight: Artist Bernadette Carstensen

Dominican Saints by Bernadette Carstensen

Dominican Saints © 2016 Bernadette Carstensen

I am so happy and thankful to be able to participate in the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference this year.  Being raised catholic it is true fulfillment to be able to make art for the Church.  I am a freelance illustrator working full time from my home studio.  At my booth I will selling prints of my artwork, framed prints, and some original paintings.  For a preview of the type of artwork I do here is my website:

The mediums I typically paint with are watercolor, gouache, and oil.  Before beginning a painting I do tons of sketching, take photographs of models, and look at other artwork for ideas.  There are many artists I love and go back to over and over again for inspiration.  I owe much to the influence of masters such as Jan van Eyck, Fra Angelico, William Bouguereau, Edwin Austen Abbey to name only a few.

Most recently it was my joy to be commissioned by the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph to paint a composition of Dominican saints (see painting above).  The Order of Preachers are in the midst of a jubilee year, celebrating 800 years of their existence.  I agonized over which saints/blesseds to include in the illustration, I was limiting myself to 24, a number chosen because of it’s biblical significance. Overwhelmed, I appealed to one of the friars and St. Patricks Dominican church and he very generously supplied me “St Dominic’s Family”……a book of 335 biographies!  Not all saints of course, but far far more blesseds than I knew existed and thus making the choice harder.  In the end I feel that a good balance was struck between obscure and well known figures.  On the Jubilee website ( is a key identifying the saints and a short bio of each.

Currently I am working on a series of three saint portraits which will be unveiled at the Conference.  St. Therese of Lisiuex, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila, our three female Doctors of the Church.  They will each be set against a background of flowers and greenery to symbolize the garden of Heaven.  I am looking forward to the event with great anticipation.

MaryCCWC note: You may recognize Bernadette’s style from our brochure and program artwork from the 2015 conference “At the Foot of the Cross.” A very talented artist, we are happy she is coming back to share her faith filled artwork again. 


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