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milieu: wildflowers and prairie sunsets with Richelle Bergen

milieu: wildflowers and prairie sunsets with Richelle Bergen

Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu.

Our next feature brings us to a small rural town in the heart of the Canadian prairies to visit artist and printmaker, Richelle Bergen. Richelle lives with her husband Ryan, daughter Sunnie, and their fluffy pup named Posie. They live in a beautiful country cottage style home, nestled within a glorious garden of wildflowers and endless prairie skies.

Please, introduce yourself 🙂

Hi, I’m Richelle! I live in a small town in Southern Manitoba, Canada, with my husband Ryan, daughter Sunnie and Bernedoodle pup, Posie.

We understand your background is in fine arts and art history – what drew you to printmaking?

I’ve been interested in art my whole life and have played around with different mediums throughout. Most recently before printmaking, I was really into watercolours and had a little watercolour greeting card and art print shop. I eventually became bored with the process, and was left feeling so uninspired as much of the work in printing greeting cards and prints was done on the computer and printer.

I learnt printmaking basics in high school and later on took a few classes in the University of Manitoba’s Fine Arts Program (though I dropped out after one year, ha).

It was only years later however, after learning I wanted to step away from digitally reproducing my watercolour work, that I picked up printmaking as my primary medium. I was drawn to the hands on, slow, connected nature of it all. Each part of the process is done by hand; the drawing of the design onto the block, the carving, the inking and printing of the block, each one an original, each one slightly different. I just love the whole process!

Wherefrom do you draw inspiration for your prints?

Most of what I do is rooted in nature and the landscape around me, but my inspiration is always evolving. I am currently very intrigued by quilt-making and the ability to tell stories within the patches of the quilt. I love to combine the shapes, folk designs, and different fabrics of a quilt with flowers, nature and the positive/negative space of a linocut.

Can you tell us a bit about your daughter? Does it feel like you have a future artist on your hands?

Sunnie is 3 years old and the absolute joy of my life. She truly lives up to her name as the most joyful, silly, bright eyed girl. She is insanely kind hearted, thoughtful and loves to give people gifts, haha.

She’s also really creative and loves to watercolour paint, draw, and use her imagination (which is pretty wild!) A true little artist!

What does a typical day in your household look like for you right now?

A typical day here starts off with Sunnie and I waking up after Ryan has gone to work. We start the day slow, snuggle, read, watch a show, eat breakfast. I try to water my garden most mornings, cut some flowers for bouquets and get some weeding in before the heat of the day. A few mornings a week Sunnie goes to my moms house, so I can work on my artwork, fill orders and other work tasks.

Afternoons are usually filled with playdates, walks, bike rides, playing outside and trips to the swimming pool.

Evenings always seem to fly by. Ryan gets home from work, spends some time playing with Sunnie (usually jumping on the trampoline), supper and then Sunnie’s bedtime. She goes down pretty early and its nice to have some quiet time to unwind and relax. Most evenings end in the gazebo with a glass of wine and a show, currently the Olympics!

Your home is situated in such a beautiful part of the province. What is one of your favourite things about living in the prairies?

I love biking down the country roads, surrounded by wheat fields, canola, flax. The vastness of the prairies is so beautiful and makes for the BEST sunsets!

Had you always imagined yourself and your family living rurally?

For sure. I cannot handle the noise and hustle bustle of city living. It feels impossible for me to relax in urban areas, even day trips to Winnipeg are stressful for me, ha.

I absolutely love living in a small town, mere blocks from the countryside. Maybe one day we’ll move onto a country yard, but right now very happy where we’re at.

Let’s talk gardening! You have such a beautiful outdoor space; have you always been interested in gardening or was it more so inspired by the property?

I grew up in a family of avid gardeners so planting vegetables and flowers each spring was kind of just an assumed spring task.

As I’ve grown older my interest in flowers has sky rocketed. I started a wildflower garden on our yard when we moved here 9 years ago, and each year I change things little by little. This year my husband built me simple garden boxes in attempts to keep the weeds at bay and have things be more organized. It’s been great so far and I want to double my growing area next year.

What is one of your favourite things to plant and grow every year?

I love experimenting with different types of flowers each year, but the ones I love most are the classics: zinnias, cosmos and bachelors buttons. They are true cut and come again flowers and so easy to grow!

Are you a houseplant mama as well as a gardener?

I have a few houseplants, yes, but I try not to clutter our small indoor spaces with too many!

Which piece in your home (big, small, interior, exterior) do you feel has the most unique story?

The transformation of our house from near shack to what it is today has been quite the adventure!
It was once a very neglected, dilapidated house. Since we bought the house 8 years ago, we have done countless renovations, inside and out. My husband did most of our renovations himself. He and my dad also built our adorable shed, Sunnie’s playhouse, and our gazebo. It’s been a fun journey (and a lot of work). I think I have some ‘before’ photos on my Instagram @richellebergen for those who are curious!

Who or what are some of your biggest design inspirations?

I love DEVOL kitchens, and get a lot of inspiration off Instagram!

You can see more of Richelle’s artwork on her website ; a delightful collection of prints and apparel.

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