Sunday, September 11, 2016

Art Trek Open Studio & Santa Fe

"Esto Perpetua: Primal", 48" x 60", Bonnie Joy Bardos

It's time to take that long anticipated trip to New Mexico: blue skies and drying chili peppers swinging in the breeze, Canyon Road and silver mesas in morning sun, turning into gold light pouring into evening. September brings Art Trek open studios when I return: September 24-25; a preview party at the Upstairs Artspace on September 23 from 5-7 p.m. All participating artists will have work displayed in the gallery until October 14. I'll have sculpture, paintings and more at my Art House. If the weather is good, paintings will be displayed in the front Japanese maple/fish pond garden, on the front porch, and on inside the house. Welcome to my world! This painting is 4' x 5', gray-scale and desert tones, finished with a hint of cold wax. It's one of the most striking paintings I've ever done, with many layers. At different times of day, it changes as the light moves...late afternoon and evening brings the fire out from the background.


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

~ Walt Whitman, excerpt from "Song of the Open Road, I"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Late Summer Paintings

Into the Sunset, 12" x 36", Bonnie Joy Bardos

'My head is bursting with the joy of the unknown. My heart is expanding a thousand fold.' ~ Rumi

Outside the study window, old stained glass glowing blue, rose, gold in filtered light, millions of rain drops fall from a pearl gray sky. Endlessly--enough where the poor dog can't get out to bask in afternoon sun, I can't paint out on the front porch studio, and the basement in this old house is full of those very same drops. Maybe billions of them. The yard turns to wild jungle, no mower will go forth bravely into it this day. And to paraphrase Macbeth, nor tomorrow, or tomorrow or tomorrow either for that matter.

My work is influenced by what's happening right now. If I'm writing a newspaper column, I don't have a set plan for it, more like a go with the flow kind of deal: the biggest thing I'll do is scribble an idea on scrap paper to remind myself that it's an "Ah HA! idea". So, I just sit and write about what ever has come up that very day and make a little tale a big lesson. Usually the paper ends up getting their money's worth for my two cents of thought.

For this painting, sunset, season, and sky influence the colors. I can only paint what I love and how I feel: it's never about an actual place: I leave that for others to do. That's not my bag, not my scene. The metaphysical always has intrigued me, those delicious mysteries I can't see, only know. Sort of like filtered light through the stained glass. Perhaps I've been reading too much Alice Hoffman. Maybe I'll read more....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Late Summer Art & Magic

( Photos: Love people who buy art and support living artists! New paintings from the outside summertime studio)

It's August. And it's H-O-T. Mornings, (after coffee on the porch swing) I paint outside on the front porch, my 'studio' surrounded with wisteria vines dripping, butterflies, hummingbirds, and life. And mosquitoes. I just can't paint inside when the sun's out, flowers are blooming, and life is full and green. Sweat rolls off my face, into the paint. Mercy, I think. It's HOT! It is. Such is life of an artist: paint when and where you can.

There's not always air-conditioned comfort or lunch prepared for noon. Uh uh. Not happenin'. Oh yes, there are days when I wish, wish, wish that lunch would just magically appear in front of me, ready to enjoy. Uh uh. Usually on a muggy summer day, by that time, I'm ready to head inside with River dog leading the way. We stand at the refrigerator, door open: wishing for that Magic Lunch to appear. Still, I'm grateful, here I've had a morning of good work with brushes, fingers, sponges dipped in color. Things happen. It's always magical, and part of the journey. In a few months, I'll be whining about freezing to death in this old house of mine. Still I'll be at it inside, at the kitchen easel, out in afternoon sunshine when brief respite warms the day up enough, and flinging paint. Working on sculpture. There's a long-time pattern to this, one that says keep going, keep going, keep going. Make art while you're here.

So far, this has been one of my best art years: I still haven't had to go get a side job as bag-boy at the grocery store. Or beg friends to save me from the abyss: artists don't tend to own a lot (if any) stock, live rich, or think like bankers do. I don't. I have no stock, retirement, or silver spoon. No one's ever left me a trust or legacy. I'm it. So far, the dog gets fed, I try to get fed, buy a few plants for the garden and pay my bills. The mortgage payment looms monthly, but there we go, keepin' on. Thank you, universe. Gratitude never fades.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Loving The World



"My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness." ~ Mary Oliver
"Summer Wind", 12" x 24": Bonnie Joy Bardos

"Into the Mystic", 12" x 36" (sold): Bonnie Joy Bardos

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Songs of the Earth: Ode to Joy

The Songs of the Earth series features paintings inspired by spring. All winter, I painted large canvases, even on days when paint froze and light was dim. These works are filled with joy, color, delight in the Earth and all her beauty.

"Ode to Joy" from Songs of the Earth, Bonnie Joy Bardos, 48" x 60"

Poppies bloom, branches, vines, fruit, fiddlehead ferns and stalks of flower pods emerge. Lotuses spike from water, circles of life and line float. Bamboo shoots, bees, butterflies, birds, tree frogs, words appear magically. Some works feature Moon Hare and haloed birds. They're all connected: as we are--to Mother Earth. Themes of my long time love of Jungian symbology intertwine.

Thanks to a Regional Artist Project grant from the Arts Council of Henderson County, in cooperation with the North Carolina Arts Council (a division of the Dept. of Cultural Resources) and the Tryon Fine Arts Center, etc. I was able to purchase several 48" x 60" canvases for the series "Songs of the Earth". I hope the gratitude I feel for this and life shines through.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Songs of the Earth: Art Exhibit Through May 16





"Songs of the Earth" has been hung, labeled, and is almost ready--lighting will be adjusted, and I'll have a little rest after all that! Thank goodness for good friends Pat and Dom Ferullo who helped hang paintings yesterday; for Cinda Austin and Chet Chavez planning refreshments, Gary Corn and James Blanton for wine--reception eve. This show runs March 31 through May 16 at the historic Tryon Depot/Millard & Company, 22 Depot Street, Tryon NC. Open weekday business hours from 10-5. The opening reception will be April 8 from 5-7 p.m. It's dedicated to my long-time friend Biddie Dawson, who has been like a mother, sister, dear friend ever since I moved to Saluda. Hope to see you at the opening!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Songs of the Earth" Gallery Show


Songs of the Earth features new paintings inspired by spring. All winter, I painted large canvases, even on days when paint froze and light was dim. These works are filled with joy, color, delight in the Earth and all her beauty.

Poppies bloom, branches, vines, fruit, fiddlehead ferns and stalks of flower pods emerge. Lotuses spike from water, circles of life and line float. Bamboo shoots, bees, butterflies, birds, tree frogs, words appear magically. Some works feature Moon Hare and haloed birds. They're all connected: as we are--to Mother Earth. Themes of my long time love of Jungian symbology intertwine.

Thanks to a Regional Artist Project grant from the Arts Council of Henderson County, in cooperation with the North Carolina Arts Council (a division of the Dept. of Cultural Resources) and the Tryon Fine Arts Center, etc. I was able to purchase several 48" x 60" canvases for the series "Songs of the Earth". I hope the gratitude I feel for this and life shines through.

The opening reception is April 8 from 5-7 p.m. at Millard & Company's Depot Gallery room on 22 Depot Street, Tryon, NC, 28782. The show runs March 31 to May 16, open business week hours to the public.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Under Snow, Life Blooms


"In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." ~ Albert Camus


Despite snow, wind, ice: I'm working on large paintings for an upcoming one-woman show (reception April 8, March 30-May 16 at the historic Depot in Tryon NC), surrounding myself with colors of spring and summer with a world of white outside my windows. This painting is 48" x 60", in progress, from "Songs of the Earth" series. Winter is the toughest time of year for many artists: financially, spiritually, and physically. Last week, my paints froze as I used them! Life goes on: under the heavy snow lie buds whirled tight. Blue birds flit among winter branches, startling blue upon gray.

Lenten roses bloom despite freezing temperatures. Inside my old house, I bundle up with layers and layers, feeling more like a polar bear than human! Thanks to support from an N.C. Grassroots Artist grant combined with my own funds, big canvases arrived by tractor trailer three weeks ago, and after un-crating them off the wood pallet, I've pulled them free of wrappings and started composing music upon their white blank sheets in the form of colors inspired by warmth and spring ahead. This particular one, yet untitled, blooms with blush pink, hints of blue, green, tangerine and more. Others bloom as well: I've created my own invincible summer, right in the heart of winter.

Friday, December 4, 2015

December Painting & Musings


"I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books." ~ C.S. Lewis

This is a new painting I started last week when outside on an unseasonably warm (over 50 degrees) Saturday afternoon here in the mountains. Yes, I completely missed our small town's local holiday tailgate market. Sometimes the life of an artist diverts and darts down narrow side paths: good intentions turn into other kinds of good intentions. While I'm sure the tailgate market did just fine without me, I missed the socializing and stocking up on cold weather vegetables and goodies. Perhaps when the muse is upon us, we just have to go with it. I keep going, muse or not. Sometimes art itself is the muse, perhaps! Sometimes it's those empty sunlit rooms, solitude, wind under the tiles. And endless books. O, muse, you have many faces.

This month, I'll have informal open studio Saturdays, weather permitting, from 1-3 p.m.; although it's always a wise idea to call ahead. Just in case the muse has called me to the tailgate market. Happy Holidays from River dog and me to you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November Painting & Thought

Landscape painting (10" x 20"), Bonnie Joy Bardos, 2015

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ~ Martha Graham

This is the week of Thanksgiving, when families and friends gather and count blessings. November has, like all this year, flown by on feathers of a whisper, all too fast. Cold weather has arrived, but I find a tease of warmth outside in afternoon sun. Here's one of my latest paintings I've worked out on the back deck on. Influenced by Mother Nature herself: colors, breeze, feel, the heart and brush work peacefully together. River dog lies under my feet as we both move with the all-too-quickly moving sun, as she sinks lower and lower daily over the tree line. We watch these things, the lengthening purple of shadows. I don't tend to paint actual scenes like many do, but choose to filter all the places and thoughts into something more metaphysical. It is. It isn't. It is! Inhaling views, trees flashing by on winding back roads, sun flitting down through evening light...I just try to catch the moment, the feel. Then put it to the canvas with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November Art & Musings

"Sunset", Bonnie Joy Bardos 12" x 36"

November brings shorter days, a lengthening night...scarlet and yellow leaves cling to dark figures of trees in a pale evening mist. It's been a peaceful day here in the mountains. So, I've holed up inside with River dog who curls nearby, written a newspaper column and hit the 'send' button, eyed some art projects to get in progress. Always percolating, as I call it. On the easel, I've got a companion piece to this one called "Sunset" (sold): 12" x 36" makes for a long horizontal landscape, which piques the viewer's interest. This week, I'm hoping for another of my sculptures to be accepted in a juried show, so will keep you updated. Meanwhile, here are gleanings from Octavio Paz. The stars write. Are you looking up?

I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out. ~ Octavio Paz, Brotherhood


Update: "Whirl" is on view at the 15th Regional Juried Show with Tryon Painters & Sculptors through December 19.

"Transcending" is in the sculpture exhibit at Tryon Fine Arts Center through this month.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Musings: Sculpture Show & Paintings


Truman Capote said, "To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make." He also said: "Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself."

I think artists, and that includes musicians, visual, writers and all, are born knowing notes. Over time and space the notes emerge clearer. Institutions of higher learning teach and meld, but it's up to us to find the song, in whatever way it pours forth. Rearrange the notes to suit yourself, indeed.

"Transcending" has been accepted in an upcoming October/November exhibit at Tryon Fine Art Center's Sculpture 2015 (juried by Harry McDaniels of Asheville, NC). Fall has arrived, and I'm eager to get back to creating some new sculpture works when skies are blue and leaves sing with yellow, scarlet, and vermilion hues. I've got my name in the pot for an artist grant to purchase materials with, with hopes of working on room-size paintings too. An artist never retires, just keeps on making art!

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Musings


The light passes
from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower—
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
grow faint—
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
~ excerpt from "Evening" by H.D.

Painting: Evening Gold: 20" x 30", Bonnie Joy Bardos

**I thank Golden Paints for their generous supply of Golden Acrylic mediums and paints in conjunction with their Artist Seconds Program. For years, I've belonged to this program for working artists, and benefited immensely from being able to obtain a wonderful array of various materials they've shared.**

Monday, September 7, 2015

September Musings


'With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.' ~ Lope de Vega

Early September brings long days outside, painting on new pieces for the upcoming studio tour this month. As ever, I've got several paintings in progress, a sculpture that I'm wanting desperately to start putting together, and a million other things on the 'to do' list. Around here, the art comes first. Well, actually the dog does. Then the art. Stick in some gardening time, and a moment to rest with a book, and it's a fine day. Yesterday, I painted all day long into late evening, until there was no steam left. By the time sunset came, I was wondering what normal lives are like.


'Tis true artists follow a different path; however, there's got to be time to sit down and be in a soft September evening, blue dreams peeking through the golden light setting in the west. A Neil Gaiman book to pick up for a few minutes. Flowers in a glass jar. Watching how light streams through 100-year-old stained glass, painting a lavender pink on an old white mantel.

Art Trek of the Foothills sponsored by Upstairs Artspace, a non-profit arts organization, will be September 19-20; with a preview party Friday, September 18, 5-8 p.m. at the gallery, 49 S. Trade Street, Tryon, NC. Maps to area artists' studios available. Free and open to the public!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer Paintings & Joy of Old Trucks

Painting: Bonnie Joy Bardos, from the "Songs of the Earth" series, 30" x 30", oil on linen (still in progress)

August rolls into town with her dusty suitcases and a hint of fall in the air today: while it's hot still, there's that inevitable turning of time, the changing light, the coolness of morning when hummingbirds dance. It's the time of butterflies, the sense of loss, the poignant gathering of memory. I remember red crisp apples bending branches low over the summer garden, the bright yellow buses that will come soon: how it all fleets by in an instant. Today, I take the old beater truck that loving friends gave me to be my 'art truck' after I had so much trouble with keeping the old VW alive one more year. Windows down, peace sign swinging, zebra-striped floor mats trimmed in hot pink, the truck and I drove along winding roads with a cathedral of trees, eyes of blue sky peeking through. Over to leafy-green historic Flat Rock we went, an August breeze running her fingers through my hair. Watching all these things, feeling them, all comes into what I'm painting. I just absorb it all, along with the kindness of others. Then go to work, brush in hand.

"Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working." ~ Stephen DeStaebler (sculptor)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Paths & Art



"Guard within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how
to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how
to acquire without meanness; know how to replace in your heart,
by the happiness of those you love, the happiness
that may be wanting to yourself." ~ George Sand


Late July brings blankets of heavy humidity and heat to the small town of Saluda: here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. There's a magical shimmer to winding roads, a veil of dense green, the cathedral of trees and vines. This is life: a sense of primal. Ancient seas once covered these mountains, now a soft blue sea of sky unfolds to the horizon, where far seas kiss the earth's feet. While I don't love the extremities of summer, I do love the landscape, the feel, the remembering of childhood spent outside on long, lazy days. Lately, I've had to move most of my larger painting projects inside. Some remain outside, such as a bee hive (no bees in it yet!) and small things, but large paintings are now worked on inside unless the temperature drops under 80. More interesting for you might be how I've been working on them at night...even at 10:30 which usually is Netflix movie or good book time before bed. I turn the year-round Christmas light strands on in the vintage kitchen, kick-up WNCW tunes on the stereo, and paint in almost darkness at the old wood kitchen easel. My eyes don't mind the dim yet colorful glowing lights: wonderful surprises happen when I let go of having to have 'enough' light, or wait for the 'right' time to work. There is never going to be the perfect condition. There is no telling what passerby may think...the glow of Christmas lights peeking from old house windows. An artist lives here.


Esto Perpetua: Silver Light, Bonnie Joy Bardos (available at Patricia Carlisle Fine Art, 554 Canyon Road, Santa Fe NM)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Life, Art & Unknown Roads


A delicate gray-scale palette, this painting has been shipped off to Santa Fe, to Patricia Carlise Fine Art, 554 Canyon Road: I've fallen in love with the horizontal format. It's exciting to travel new roads (unless lost on an interstate exit like I was yesterday)! Even bohemian artists may need a GPS or road map, despite their love of the unknown, the uncertain. Life, like a new canvas, is an adventure.

"Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant," wrote Georgia O'Keeffe. "It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Painting the Life of an Artist


June arrives in a spill of roses, blue skies, sparkling daisies and birds flitting all around, plus late evening showers that paint green velvet throughout the landscape. I work steadily, sometimes working on sculpture in between bouts of painting. Mornings, I'm out front on the porch, listening to the fish pond fountain trickle peacefully while River dog lazes in the sunshine close by. Evenings, I often move to the back deck, paint awhile, then take time for a glass of wine and peaceful sunset. Today, I finished up a large black and white landscape to ship out to the gallery in Santa Fe. When the gallery 'wants it yesterday', I'm on it. Whether it's someone wanting a small piece or a large one, I don't hesitate or put it off. Serious artists do that: they're doing their best to earn a living, as meager as it may sometimes be. They don't wait until they feel like it. They pull out the paints, the canvas and set about a new beginning. As ever, no matter how exhausted I may be by the end of the day, how sore the feet are, the hands...how covered with paint, I'm just grateful to do what I was meant to do in this world. There's truly nothing I'd rather do more! For those who spend their lives wishing they were doing it, whatever it may be, I say: don't wait. Do it. Do it now, while you can. Make a difference. Give yourself the gift of time, even if 15 minutes a day to do what you love. Now.

Esto Perpetua: Solace Bonnie Joy Bardos, available at Patricia Carlisle Fine Art, 554 Canyon Road, Santa Fe New Mexico

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Art: Life in Bloom


A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.


~ Sara Teasdale, excerpt from 'May Day'


May brings warmer weather, bloom, bluebirds flitting to and from the nest. Almost every day, I'm painting outside on the front porch: pink honeysuckle twines around the railing, I paint cobalt blue garden signs, watering can, paintings. In between sorting and sifting through belongings: sending some off to charity, some to sell, some to give away to friends, I'm still amazed how much 'stuff' accumulated over the years. One thing I never have too much of is...you guessed it, ART. Mine and others. Work in progress. Art supplies. Vases of brushes. One positive note about cleaning up and out is there is a bit more space. For art. Thought of the day: Bloom. Just bloom.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Unfurling of Spring

Painting outside on the front porch studio this day with River dog sprawled underfoot as shimmering goldfish swim lazily nearby under trickling water...all around, the essence of spring! Lilacs open, pink dogwood unfurls her blossoms. I borrow one of her branches to bring up to the porch as inspiration. In a magical moment, I look down at the work table and see a painting within the painting, so snap this picture of paints, flowers, canvas, brush, all making a beautiful composition of imperfect delight. Still working on this large canvas which is composed of many layers and textures, resembling a luscious silk remnant: poison oak (itch itch itch) on hands makes it a little tougher to work, but nothing stops spring. And painting.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Plein Air: Spring Paintings

...When I was the stream, when I was the
forest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing, when I
was the sky
itself,

no one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
for there was nothing
I could not
love...
~ Meister Eckhart, excerpt from 'When I Was the Forest"

Spring blooms here in the mountains, and I'm able to move outside to paint, listen to the fish pond splashing and birds sing as flowers delight senses. While not a typical 'plein air painter' as many would think, I truly am: most of my works are created outside, influenced by nature and all that's going on. In new paintings, wisteria drips, a bee disappears among vines, ferns float, hints of blue sky and sunshine glow. Sometimes pink honeysuckle, lavender sprigs, seed pods, bee balm, mysterious life forms appear. Many layers, like the earth herself, form the surface: some worn down, some built up. I want the viewer to be here in that moment, to walk 'into' the painting and be a part of it. My latest "Songs of the Earth" painting has "e d e n" in the paint. Meister Eckart would understand.

Monday, March 16, 2015


'To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.'
~ Georgia O'Keeffe


An almost-spring-is-here day blooms here in the mountains--a renewal of spirit and soul amid blue sky and a clear morning. The old front porch swing sways in the breeze, shimmering gold fish delight in splashing water, and River dog barks happily from his perch on weather-beaten front steps. There's a sense of pure joy, an eagerness to create. To do my work while here this brief time, this golden hour of life. Where does the creative well spring from? Outside, I've got new work in progress: there's an excitement in that. The colors of the paint I've mixed, juicy drips of warm pink from a turquoise brush, lovely veils of orchid floating in the rinse water. Bright drink can. Ordinary things that conspire to be magic on this almost-spring-is-here day. Life pushes up from the roots, through the ground. It was waiting there all winter, waiting to be found in an artist's heart this moment. Georgia O'Keeffe is right. It takes courage, and in that courage, one finds inexplicable dervishes of joy.

Thank you for reading this blog. I've been writing it for almost 8 years, posting each month with photos, thoughts, quotes. Please share it and become a follower. A couple years ago, I caved in and allowed a few ads on it, which someday, if enough people read it, I'll collect a small pittance from. Keep your artists going in whatever way you can! I, for one, am grateful.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Journey: Paint What You Are

“Every good painter paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock

Spring is brushing the earth, promising an end to winter this month. As ever, on sunny days with blue sky, I'm outside with dog underfoot and brushes in hand, working on new paintings, going back to old ones and sending them on a new journey. Yesterday, I started two small figurative pieces, managing to get oil paint on my cheek and clothes at the same stroke. An artist just smiles and goes on. What's a little paint? In between that, I work just a bit more on a horse sculpture, getting a hoof 'just so', the piece is full of life and vibrancy. To me, whether art is a reflective quiet piece, or loud and bright, it should sing to the artist, the viewer, to radiate prisms, light, life. Jackson Pollock is right on: paint what you are. This painting of trees, sky, and moon is 10" x 10", oil, and one of those older pieces that got renewed and sent on a new journey. I do that to myself too: paint on cheek!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bringing Meaning to Life: Art

"That, perhaps, is the true gift of genius — to bring something meaningful to life despite how meaningless one’s own life may seem; to give some warmth to the world despite what the world may have coldly taken away."
~ Charles Schulz


Quote for the day, week, year, life. I'm no genius but always long to bring something meaningful to life, to give some warmth to the world. Having grown up with "Peanuts" and Charlie Brown, I appreciate Charles Schulz's gifts to us in the world. It was OK to be the weird kid, to walk a different path, to hear a different drummer. Artists do that, you know--walk a different path. We give to the world our music, dance, films, paintings, sculpture, literature, poetry and so much more. Every day, the evening news gets harder and harder to bear: yet art makes this life bearable. It's uplifting. One of the first things to go in school cut-backs, the arts need to be on the top of the list to stay. Just as important as any sport, the arts reaffirm, make us grow, inspire. I bet Charlie Brown's an artist at heart.

Painting from the Haloed Bird series, (detail) Bonnie Joy Bardos, sold

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Floating Above: New Paintings


“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.” ~ Mary Oliver


Winter sun filters afternoon rainbows through old glass windows and lace curtains into my old house's kitchen. On the kitchen easel, near French doors, I work on a new painting "Alter Ego": she was just started today, outside on the back deck before I had to come in due to cold. At this time of day, rainbows, sunbeams and light dance radiant throughout the room, paintings catch the light, maybe wishing to float above this world. I can glimpse light through layers of paint, down to the original gold gesso. It's one of those magic transcendent moments...beautiful, magical, fleeting. Life's like that, isn't it? Some days, some years we get that magic. It serves to pull us along when the nights are dark. It's a reminder that spring does come.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letting Light In: Musings


"Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in..." Leonard Cohen sang. Amen, Leonard, amen. In the making of art, let there be the delicious serendipity of imperfections, of flaw and flow. When you learn to truly 'see' and feel another human being, a work of art, a song...you see with new eyes. Flaws are something we all have, yes. But when you see the light, your heart, your mind, your soul expand to new heights, endless journeys and paths. As an artist, I choose not to concentrate on every tiny detail.

My work is not intended to be perfect, nor do I want it to be. It's my job to open minds up, to let others know it's ok to be flawed, to be wonderful just as you are. Art is like that. Life is like that. Like ourselves, when we focus on what's wrong with something, that's all we can think about. We put limitations not only on ourselves, but those around us. Celebrate what is different, flawed, and yet sparkles. See that beauty.

This painting is almost done. She's very imperfect, and I'll refine her just a bit more before yelling "FINISHED!" However, I love her bright colors, the symbolism of birds, flowers, life...her expression. The tenderness, the contented self, the whole essence of her spirit. Instead of seeing her flaws I see her light. She creates a glow, a good vibe. I'm not seeing her nose is a bit crooked, hair out of place, or such. The essence: that's what the artist perceives and is driven to present whether in song, paint, music, sculpture, writing: the ESSENCE. Isn't that what truly matters?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Silver Ribbons of a New Year, New Art


"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room,
drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through
the rooms of our lives. . . not looking for flaws, but for potential."
~ Ellen Goodman


Here it is, another new year on silver ribbons of fresh beginnings. Even in early January, to celebrate new beginnings, I walk outside on a chill winter afternoon with River dog to gather forsythia and sweet almond branches to bring inside, to force into early bloom. This is my yearly ritual. Just having those winter branches in the house signifies the sweetness of life waiting to burst into color.

This year, I intend to walk through my rooms, both literal and symbolic: through the weathered plastered walls that crack and bear coats of paint along with wallpaper of yesteryear. Like me, those rooms have continued to stand, despite the passing of days, months, years. They're beautiful, reminiscent of vintage Italian or French estates worn by time and life. I go on, turning a new page, another brush, another painting idea. This year, I'll work even more on my latest series "Songs of the Earth". These sing to me these days, an ode to joy, turning toward home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Open Studio

The winter solstice arrives in a few days, yet today there was a respite in the numbing cold here in the mountains. By afternoon I was able to paint outdoors this afternoon: sunshine and River keeping me company on the back deck--if I can get outside to create art, everything falls in place in my universe, at least for a short time. This piece is evolving; as ever, I don't know where it'll take me, but I just stand there and paint the world away, letting colors flow and images appear, listening to birds as River basks in the sun. It's not exactly what you'd call 'normal' art, but that appeals to me even more: I like it so far! It evokes primal swamps, long-forgotten memories, the beginning of time: it'll belong in my "Esto Perpetua" series when done.

This Saturday, December 20, I'll have a holiday Open Studio here at my Art House from 5-8 p.m. Evening is a perfect time to enjoy all the glowing lights and art. This will be my last open studio this year. Free and open to the public!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Light at Tybee: New Painting

Winter knocks here in the mountains with chill wind- although today the sun came out, and I worked outside, taking advantage of the brief warmth in the afternoon, until shadows and cold forced River dog and myself back inside. This is a painting I began at Tybee Island and finished up today. Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Oh, yes! There is paint on the hands, on the clothes. There is no such thing as perfection around here, nor is it wanted. What matters is my work, of loving the world, of being astonished. Sometimes magical things transpire in paintings: this one has a fleeting glimpse of the historic Cockspur Lighthouse in it. I did not consciously paint the lighthouse, but it appears.

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished...

excerpt from "Messenger" by Mary Oliver

Friday, November 14, 2014

"Songs of the Earth": New Paintings


These panels depict the magic of Mother Earth: seed pods, cattails, lilies, fiddle-head ferns, berries, sky, water, vines...more...do you hear the songs? This new work consists of three panels, 24" x 24" each, and can be hung with all three together, as two, or even one in the same room. All part of the series, "Songs of the Earth", this series will continue to expand and bloom, even in fall, winter. While these colors seem very summery, on a fall day with the golden leaves outside, they're beautiful! As ever, I fall in love with each painting I do, they're like my children, but intended to set forth into the world when I've finished the work of creating them!

Friday, November 7, 2014

November Musings: The Artist's Life

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” ~ Martha Graham

My blog post for November is inspired by an artist friend of mine, Carol Beth Icard, who has a link on this blog site (please visit her transcendent work) along with a quote by Martha Graham. As artists, we tend to question our worth in this world according to how much art we sell, how others react to it, how many galleries we're in--it's brutal out there. Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron reminds us that our job is “come as you are.” Over and over, through the years I've done this blog, I've spoken of how tough it is to make your way through this world as an artist: to stay true to self and soul, to keep on going even when your work may not be selling like hotcakes, when no one is knocking on your door to buy. To come as you are.

Yes, there are weeks and months when I wonder if I'll ever buy another bag of groceries, pay my old-house propane bill or make ends meet. Over the past decade, I have learned to find gratitude for my struggles along 'the path' of art making and creation, for the words I write. I don't do what I do to make money--that isn't the driving force, nor do I want it to be. But let's face it, this is the real world, where you need something in your billfold to get through. Somehow, every time I question myself and think I'm going to fall, something happens. A show, a sale, a commission, or someone out there in the world who discovers my work and gives me the gift of their belief and joy in what I've created, the pouring out of soul onto the page or canvas, or in a sculpture. A couple years ago, an art supporter who had just chosen several pieces pointed out to me "No one does it like YOU do." We all need to get those reminders to keep those channels open, to express our unique gifts.

Daily, I'm at it: again the old Zen saying comes into play: chop wood; carry water. Chop wood, carry water. The drum beat grows louder in my soul: time ticks loudly, and I remain ever resolute about carrying on, despite the weight of the water bucket. Or in my case, the paint bucket! On we go, amid the noise and haste (Desiderata) carrying our water, chopping the wood. I hope someone sees that sparkle on the water: for it's what gives us all life. Think about it. Buy art, not knock-off art from China: buy from an artist you know, or like. Keep on feeding their spirit, their physical body. Keep them going.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thoughts & Art


“I think sometimes about old painters—they get so simple in their means. Just so plain and simple. Because they know they haven’t got time. One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Here in the mountains, fall leaves flutter quietly to earth, scattering across yards, blue sky and flocks of birds overhead. Life changes all around, a reminder of the time we're here on the planet. Mornings, I go out to the front garden to pull ivy, a most thankless task, yet Zen-like in its approach: chop wood. Carry water. Chop wood. Carry water. Then after a warm-up, I paint: either on the front porch 'studio', or on the back deck. These days, I'm very aware of the passing of time, the shortness of it all: and find myself terribly grateful of heart that I'm here, one more day. This is a rocky path I've chosen, but there is no other: there is light in my heart from the creating of art, of words. I hope others find it along the way.

In a few days, I pack River dog up in my old VW and head down to Tybee Island--books, t-shirts, paints will be coming along for the ride. Sometimes it's good to renew one's spirit, to go forth to the sea--to walk in sand and look at the vast stretch of endless ocean and sky. You can't waste time. While here, chop wood; carry water.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Work: Pink Girl & Yellow Bird

"...I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” ~ Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

Fall days bring high blue sky, turning leaves in crimson and gold drifting to earth. This means painting outside, watching River dog stretch in the warmth, birds, fall flowers in soft rich jewel tones, pink roses putting on a final show. I could ask for nothing better. This painting's in progress--it made me happy to paint simple, fresh, in clear soft colors and a katydid watching nearby.

~ Painting (Pink Girl & Yellow Bird): Bonnie Joy Bardos, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Late Summer Paintings

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


"Vita", one of the new paintings I just delivered to Skyuka Fine Art gallery! It has shades of delicious electric blue, greens, golds, and other jewel tones: plus many layers which gives rich depth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer: Art & Thought


On a silver-gray morning, a Vincent van Gogh quotation resonates to the very core:

"What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then – even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart." (Letter to Theo, July 21, 1882)

...which makes me think of what is in the heart of us all. Artists pour it out. Write pour it out. Musicians pour it out. What's within your heart?

Painting: Bonnie Joy Bardos
(sold)


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Creating A New Painting: Songs of the Earth (a beginning)


"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi

Yesterday a friend asked me how I can do the 'same thing' every day. Puzzled, I explained that (to me) it's never the same, always different...and I get so excited over working on ART. I really love wearing old painting clothes, hanging with River dog, throwing paint, weaving words, or hammering sculpture: creating something: I'm happy to be here in my old house/studio working away on the back deck or front porch, painting away: not trapped in a tiny cubicle or punching a time clock. There truly is a river of joy in my soul: no matter the odds, no matter how hard it is to make ends meet.

For example, here's a brand-new painting in progress: (this is the first layer, the birth, the beginning stages) which will be in the "Songs of the Earth" series...it's my largest "Songs" yet...at 48" x 72". Yes, my behavior is escalating. This is only the beginning: shown outside on the front porch studio. River dog's nearby supervising, listening to the fish pond trickle. In the painting, summer starts to bloom: Queen Anne's lace, seed pods, ferns, corals, yellow-golds, pink honeysuckle twining, cat tails rise, a lotus...of course, there's always my love of Jungian symbolism floating in those details.

It came to my mind as I was out there flinging paint, that maybe, just maybe I should work up a Kickstarter fund for this series, so I can work freely on them without worrying so much about marketing or materials, starvation or deprivation, which although I'm used to, can hamper an artist. Hmmmm...after all, these began with a song. An idea. A magic moment out in nature, listening. Tuning in to that hum of life, that metaphysical force. Feeling the river flowing in my soul. Thanks for listening to my on-going love of art, the making of art. We're all part of the circles...which are in the painting, I might add. More to come....

Songs To The Earth painting (48" x 72") in progress, Bonnie Joy Bardos

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What Starts A Series of Paintings: Thoughts, Music, Nature...


This painting is one of a series I started last year: after finishing one, another appeared, and another...by the second round I knew this would be a series, indeed. That's how it happens: one thing leads to another and I just follow. To start, the first one evolved from a large painting constructed of two big canvases, attached together permanently, the largest one 5' x 7'. As any artist can tell you, nothing is ever finished, even when it is. So, one day, I took the big piece down from the wall, took a box cutter and cut. I completely demolished the back painting, although I kept the stretcher and pieces of the canvas for future work. “Every so often, a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it, Picasso did it with Cubism. Then Pollock did it. He busted our idea of a picture all to hell. Then there could be new paintings again.” ~ Willem De Kooning The other canvas was taken outdoors and treated with gesso in some areas, paints, and completely underwent a major renovation, a rebirth. An artist friend had given me a CD called "Praises To the World"...the music flowed through me in color, in blue sky, blooming poppies, pink honeysuckle, mountain ferns: all things of spring and summer around, a halo, a state of grace. By that time, I was so enchanted with the idea of paintings, songs to the earth, of praise of all the life surrounding my place in the world, the thought of making a new series seemed right. And so it was. Here's my second painting from "Songs To The Earth" (30" x 60")...full of the world I see and feel, full of praise and life, a homage to Nature, her beauty and much symbolism floating in cattails, lotus, honeysuckle, seed pods, ferns, water, air... Currently, this painting is on display at Upstairs Artspace, part of the proceeds will benefit the Upstairs, a non-profit arts organization that promotes contemporary art in a beautiful space.
As of this afternoon, I've started another song painting, this one is 48" x 72". Flinging paint, mixing color, it becomes a part of the song. Earlier, someone was here and asked me how can I do the 'same thing every day'. Naturally, puzzled me had to correct that notion! How can I not make art? How can I be confined to a cubicle, an office I asked her. Some are happy in that. I may not leave the house/studio for days, but I'm filled with life energy, eager to begin, to paint, to sculpt or write. It fills me up, overflows.To an artist, every day is different. There are new paths, new colors, new notes in the song: whether we're singing it, writing it, painting it. (sold)