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Steamboat Magazine

Jill Bergman: From Oboe to Ink

09/16/2020 01:36PM ● By Rachel Miller

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS- “Art is the one thing you can learn on your own,” says Steamboat Springs artist Jill Bergman. 

"Cliff Swallows Over the River" by Jill Bergman, linocuts from the "Colorado Scenes in Pencil, Paper, and Ink" show.

Bergman has been an artist for over 20 years, changing her focus to linocut art after receiving a college degree in oboe performance. 

As she shifted from music into visual arts, Bergman learned by talking with other artists, participating in numerous workshops, working in an apprenticeship and having a mentor.

“I know a lot of artists who went to college and have degrees in fields they never pursued. And once I found print making, I knew I found my thing,” Bergman says.

The Wyoming native’s art medium is the linocut, which entails carving an image on linoleum, inking the carving, then laying paper on top of it which results in a printed image on the paper.

"Sandhill Cranes Among the Clouds" by Jill Bergman, linocuts from the "Colorado Scenes in Pencil, Paper, and Ink" show. 

 The process is very low-tech, but allows for creative adjustments. “I did something different recently; I added embossing to one of my prints for added dimension. I also often do watercolor painting on my prints, but by no means am I a watercolor artist,” Bergman says.

Painting is a medium the artist plans to do more of, especially after painting the iconic “Yampa is Wild” mural, which is located on the Yampa River side of the ambulance barn building in downtown Steamboat Springs. More recently, Bergman challenged herself to a 100-day project where she let her creativity take the reins and created illustrations of 100 people in 100 days. 

"Nelson Mandela" by Jill Bergman, a piece from her 100-day project. 

“I always felt I wanted to draw people better, and having spent so much time in illustration, I wanted to work on my people skills. So that was my only guideline I gave myself: there had to be at least one person in the drawing each day,” Bergman says.

The artist flips through pages in her sketchbook, faces flashing across the pages, some recognizable, others imaginary, each page different in style and technique. She explains how she noticed her abilities progress throughout the project, and how her mind navigated various creative routes throughout the process.  

"Jane Goodall" by Jill Bergman, a piece from her 100-day project. 

“This was a great way to explore ideas, use different materials, improve my people-drawing skills, and also pay tribute to the people I admire,” Bergman says. “I was drawing not only through the pandemic quarantine, but also the Black Lives Matter response to the death of George Floyd. It really centered me and gave me an outlet to express myself during a difficult time.”

The project provided another way for the artist to get comfortable crafting with paint, which led directly to her current project. Bergman was recently selected to team up with the City of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Steamboat Creates for a local public health awareness campaign. To help in the continuing battle against COVID-19, Bergman will create five individual posters highlighting the Five Commitments to Containment: wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, staying home if sick, getting tested and washing hands frequently. 

"Five Commitments to Containment" by Jill Bergman, a public health awareness campaign with the City of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Steamboat Creates. 

When asked about her future, the artist responds, “Sometimes you get so busy you don’t think too much about the future; you’re just trying to get through the present. I have ideas for art I want to create that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet, so that’s still on my list. I love working for local businesses or people who want to showcase our local scenery. I love helping out any environmental nonprofits and doing work for them. So, I think I will just continue going in that direction.”

Jill Bergman’s artwork is on display at Pine Moon Fine Art in downtown Steamboat Springs. Her work can also be viewed on her studio’s website, , or her Instagram page, @jillbergman. 

To view her pieces from the 100-day project, visit

Pine Moon Fine Art is currently showcasing “Colorado Scenes in Pencil, Paper & Ink” by Sandi Poltorak, Paulina M. Johnson and Jill Bergman.