I am an artist and illustrator living in central Phoenix, Arizona. I am also Co-Founder and President of The Bergamot Institute, a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization supporting the creativity of local artists of all ages. I find the act of creating to be meditative, allowing me to lose myself within it, and to help others find that quiet, powerful place within themselves is thrilling.
My work is inspired by life: contemplating existence and perception, raising my brilliant daughter and consequently being raised by her, serving my community, working with individuals living with mental illness, the desire to spread compassion and kindness, keeping close to the earth, trying to truly live in every single moment.
This is who I am now
Turn Them Into Trees series
Original watercolor paintings by Shannon Youso
14" x 20" watercolor and pencil on Arches 140 lb hot pressed satin grain paper
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – Ram Dass, On Self Judgment
Drawing from my experience working with individuals living with mental illness and volunteering with families experiencing homelessness and poverty, I found inspiration in the practice of “turning people into trees”.
This series takes a whimsical approach in depicting some of the internal struggles that many of us face, in an effort to address these subjects with compassion, for the purpose of acceptance and appreciation of ourselves and each other.