She attended the Cooper Union in New York City, graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, and earned a Masters in Art Education from Brown University. She has exhibited in New York City, San Francisco, Providence (RI), and in numerous cities in upstate New York. She has also taught art to both adults and children through the Robertson Museum in New York.
While a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, Renata studied lithography and etching with Nathan Oliveira. As a student, she also worked with ink drawing and woodcuts. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, she worked with oil paints and was drawn to their luminosity and color.
In the late 1960’s Bernal began working with acrylic airbrush (“air gun”) on canvas. The air brush allowed her to produce, with acrylic paint, the same feeling of luminosity that she had grown to love about oil paintings. Over the following decades this was the primary medium that she used for her large abstract pieces, although she continued to work in other media and styles: pastel and charcoal portraits in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and ink drawings in the 1990’s.
Bernal’s geometric shapes and linear patterns suggest organic or cosmic themes. Whether in primary colors, pastel shades, or monochromatic tones, her works show a bold and finely-tuned sense of color, line and form. Many of her paintings have been exhibited only in a few select locations because of their monumental scale.
Renata is currently retired in upstate New York, where she continues to enjoy practicing her artwork, writing poetry, and participating in her local Unitarian Universalist congregation.