Saturday, September 22, 2018

How We Spend Our Days

(painting: Bonnie Joy Bardos)

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~ Annie Dillard

It's the first day of fall--this sun-filled Saturday afternoon, a blue jay's rusty-hinge screech high over blue-shaded woods. River Dog snores nearby; it's been a busy morning of walking to town, hauling paintings for the upcoming Art Trek Open Studio weekend next Saturday and Sunday. Somehow it gets a little harder to clean, prepare, haul each year, but it usually gets done--albeit slowly. Lately, I've been pondering what makes a life a good one. Annie Dillard, one of my favorite authors, "In The Writing Life" says, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern."

"There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life."

(Paintings: "When Dinosaurs Roamed" and "Spirit Guides": Bonnie Joy Bardos)

As one gets older, time flies quicker. You ask yourself if you've had a good life, one that matters. You start sorting and sifting through the grains of thought, of things: a paring of self, soul, possessions. The burden gets lighter, perhaps. In that, there is a sense of joy of giving away, of needing less, and embracing the life of the spirit. In evolving over a lifetime, the owning of things becomes less and less important.

Oh, it would be lovely to have a next-to-new car again, something that doesn't blow white smoke at stop signs, that goes smoothly on the road of life. It would be indeed. But the truth is what really matters is a dog that's snoring peacefully on the first day of fall, the sun sparkling through kitchen windows, the praying mantis turning her green face toward mine, a friend. There are paintings to be done, a ripe tomato on the sill, and a bit of chocolate gelato in the freezer. The morning coffee was fresh and hot earlier, and a Wildflour bakery danish in a paper bag for breakfast, carried home from my walk to town. Is this not the good life, this little vignette of time captured in these thoughts?

To paint, to create, to write and think, to watch the mantis, the rose petals drift, an acorn upon the ground. To love those dog ears, and be delighted by a new shade of pink. To hold the cup of life warming in the hand one more day, this. This. How we spend our lives......

**if you enjoy this blog, please share. I think it earned me a whole quarter last month. In the art life, a quarter is good. So click, share, and I'd love you to follow it (scroll down on right side and join in!).

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Creation of Gaia (how a sculpture is born)

The other night, my sculpture "Gaia: Mother Earth" (detail above) won 1st place in an annual juried exhibit. Of course, I was thrilled--who wouldn't be?! It dawned on me that maybe there are those who would like to know how a sculpture is born, so to speak. This particular piece was years in the making, and I spent the past year (on and off) working on her. It didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen in a day! Sometimes things do, but in this case, it was a long labor of love along with a lot of experimentation on top of labor and time.

Gaia started as another sculpture: one that I'd sent out to the side garden to live a few years by a garden arch. You might not want to do that to a painting, but you can often do that to a sculpture! Over months and a few years, she weathered the elements and changed. As we all do. Such is life, right? Ivy started creeping up her body, moss grew here, there. Every now and then I'd tuck flowers on her head--which was fired terra cotta clay.

Being out in nature, she took on a different persona. One day, I looked at her again and pulled her armature up from the base. Hauling her to the back deck tables, I laid her flat on a sheet of heavy duty plastic, made my witch's brew of secret treatments while wearing heavy neoprene black gloves and went to work (her face is toward bottom of photo below).

The new piece begun. With a bucket-load mix of matte medium and other elements including long strands of kudzu fiber, I literally bathed her from top to bottom, then wrapped her tight in the plastic, duct-taping the whole thing so it wouldn't drip. For a while, I tucked her inside on the back porch...who knows what the phone guy thought! She resembled an Egyptian mummy at this point.

I'd collected long strands of kudzu fiber from the side street: all summer, I'd pulled those pesky kudzu-monster vines out in the side street for cars to run over, again and again. Every walk with the dog, I'd pull 'em a little more, or kick them back to the edge: so they suffered great abuse! The traffic and abuse broke the long vines apart into fiber. Kudzu is amazingly strong, FYI. For sculpture, I needed it dry, and carefully separated it a bit, folding it up to store in a 5-gallon bucket on the back porch until I was ready to work more. Meanwhile, we have a 4' foot tall mummy hanging around the house. Imagine that! Occasionally, I'd unwrap the plastic and check. With fired clay, wood, metal, and other materials in the wrap, I didn't want it to be too wet, so I'd open it up to dry. Next, I hauled her back to the work tables outside and brought along the kudzu fiber. This was exciting! (don't ask me why, but it was...)

Maybe because experimentation is curiosity. You don't know where you're going to end up. This led into winding kudzu fiber, treated with more matte medium, in naturally-flowing patterns. Already, she had wings--which I added to with organic materials from Gulf waters, a couple of large twisted shells I'd collected, and wire. After all this dried, I left her propped (no more mummy wrap) in the dining room where over months I eyed her to think about what would be the next step. A friend noticed her and mentioned Japanese Kabuto theater masks. Now that really got my little imagination wheels, I used Bondo for more structure-building, and a Golden modeling product for filling in cracks: sort of a face lift for the old face. (if only it was that easy for me!)

I used white gesso for her 'mask'. For the fun part, lips got Cadillac Red. A girl can never have too much lipstick, eh? I loved it! Experimentation = EXCITEMENT. So...I let her sit a few more months. I eyed her to think what's next? This takes a while, folks. All the while, I'm working on other things: a bazillion paintings on top of trying to mow and survive daily. However, she's my constant companion, and always standing at the dining room door so I never miss her.

I agonized over if I would enter the yearly Arts Council "Bring Us Your Best" art exhibit. It'd cost me money to renew my membership/enter, and I just didn't have the extra $40. Well, that's nothing new! My hand/wrist ached from carpal tunnel/tendon issues, and I worried that toting the piece around would be impossible. Nobody's ever going to buy her...oh, the excuses kept rolling! Maybe I won't enter this year, I thought. But.....I did. She kept whispering to me to work on her, no more excuses. So, I got busy and pulled the sculpture outside to the front porch studio: it was time to 'bring her home' which means get her finished! I elevated her on a large plastic bucket set on a large section of old canvas so I could move around her in a circle. More kudzu fiber, matte medium, acrylic paint. I have a lovely light-weight hammer I call "Maxwell's silver hammer": it was in use, along with wire cutters, paint brushes, pliers--tools of the trade. More wire. A bird's nest with nutmeg 'eggs'. I'd made the nest a few years ago, and painted the eggs with a bit of blue after securing it on her head, with a fired clay bird I'd made years ago--I retrieved it from the kitchen window. Like stone soup, the recipe for a sculpture of mine can include just about everything! Since I'm a fan of recycling, organic, and re-purposing: this is a way of educating others what can be done with materials we might not consider.

Hauling a copper pipe down to Gibb's Welding out of Landrum, SC, I picked out a nice rust-colored square of steel for the base, with the copper to be joined. That meant a return trip to pick it up...and the old truck and I went forth the next day. Having the functioning base with pipe made it easier to work with her. Treating the base with a etching fluid and later acrylic after a bit of naval jelly to remove extra rust, I finished that part and went back to tweaking, using matte-treated hydrangea blossoms from the yard, a bit of dried orchid flowers for the nest: which is by now attached as her head dress. The kudzu whorls beautifully up, around the head, even as it does lift toward the sun. A iridescent feather circles and whirls around her head, creating the feel of a turning earth.

Again, more matte medium and shades of green, brown (all natural hues) paint here and there, with a bit more white gesso and red for her face. I built a blue planet out of a Japanese lantern for her to hold: this takes a couple days of baking it on low in the oven (drying) and loads of paint with torn tissue paper to give it the look of Earth floating in space. Around this point, as I'm tucking moss and again eyeing the piece: she names herself. Gaia. Of course, she knew. All this time, we'd been working together, I was just listening. All her elements honored life, nature, and spirit.

If someone asked me how long it took me to make this sculpture, I would say a lifetime. She's a cumulation of all I've learned, and all that is. I took what I knew, and used what I didn't know. Maybe 'un-knowing' is a good thing. So on the show intake day, I tucked her in the passenger seat of the old truck, and we rode together over to Flat Rock, best friends. I never know what people think of seeing a pick-up truck with two women up front: one driving, and one with a bird nest on her head, but I hope they smile.

*if you enjoyed this blog, please share. Even feel free to click those annoying ads (sorry about that!)I think it earned me a whole quarter last month. In the art life, a quarter is good. So click, share, and I'd love you to follow it (scroll down on right side and join in!). Thank you for reading this. It's done with love.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Angels Among Us

"No, I never saw an angel, but it is irrelevant whether I saw one or not. I feel their presence around me." ~ Paulo Coelho

(painting: Angels Among Us, 30" x 30", Bonnie Joy Bardos, available)

When I was a little girl, every time I visited my Grandma and her country farmhouse, I was mesmerized by a small, framed print: an angel hovering behind two small children, watching over them. Some things stay in your memory a lifetime...that picture has been in my mind's eye all these years. I keep the same angel in my dining room (here it is!). Just because.

We all need angels, and I'm convinced they walk among us: sometimes in human form, sometimes in animal form. They're there. Certain subjects appear in my art over and over: trees, birds, women, horses, angels, things with wings often appear. In sculpture, angels again appear often. Again, this pattern goes back to childhood. I spent a lot of time in nature: the woods, garden, far reaches of fields. Wading in creeks, trickling branches there were crawdads under rocks to observe, the robin's egg blue sky overhead through pine branches. I would lay flat and watch the clouds, the birds, feel the breeze. Spending time in the outdoors, a child learns the rhythms and patterns of the earth, the sky, all that is. Answers whisper in the rustle of leaves. Squirrels chatter, rabbits hop. Snakes slip through summer grass. Water giggles over rocks. Moss carpets are lush green delight.

To this day, I paint the essence of what I've seen and felt. I don't work from photographs or endeavor to paint realistically. Details are not overly important, but the 'energy' and feel is everything. Perhaps I never saw an angel, although I'm convinced I've met them often. But as Paulo Coelho said, I feel their presence around me.

** So, what can you do to support the arts? The artists? Treasure art. Look at it. Appreciate it. Buy it when you can. As for me, I'd be grateful for a donation. Or to sell a painting. Or sculpture. Anything helps. I'm not alone out keep us creative types in your thoughts and in your life. We need you, you need us. Now, that is what it's all about. If you click the ads on this blog, I get a pittance. Hey, I'm not the next year, maybe it'll earn $100, then I'll receive a payment from the G-place! Lucky me! I'll take it. Every bit counts, I'm not proud. It's humbling, folks.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Look At The Life Of An Artist

A mind that has no walls, that is not burdened with its own acquisitions, accumulations, with its own knowledge, a mind that lives timelessly, insecurely - to such a mind, life is an extraordinary thing. Such a mind is life itself, because life has no resting place. ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

What else would I rather do, than go out on a sun-filled morning, the hydrangeas blooming rampant and blue, a ballerina-pink swing...rocking chairs....large ferns dripping green fronds.... the dog basking in the day. Butterflies, gold fish, hummingbirds nearby. The pond frog. The cat perched on the rail, pink collar. A painting on the wood easel, and others lined up. Messy oil paints, tubes crinkled, a rough drawing crumpled up on the blue metal table. Prisms sparkle. My soul fills up. The paint gets on clothes, hands, sometimes hair or face. Often the porch floor. This is my life. Nothing fancy. Mostly simple. I'm at it day in, day out.

“The poet lights the light and fades away. But the light goes on and on.”
~ Emily Dickinson

Over and over, I choose to continue making art with the little time I have left on this planet. I work on sculptures that probably will never sell, but that's what artists DO. They commit their being to making work: whether it sells or not. However, there comes a time when they have to give up on certain things in order to keep making their work, to lose this, to lose that. I've listed my house on Zillow. Boy, that was hard...but...we do what we gotta do. Maybe things will get better, maybe not. But we have to choose, and pick the things that feed our souls most, and artists do that: they stay true to self, to soul. It shouldn't be such a struggle, but it is. The world goes on, and the world will always need artists, whether it knows it or not. In the scheme of things: money, material things and greed are not what matters to this world. Art and truth stand firm, the North Star, fixed. There, that simple beautiful fact that leads me on down this rocky path.

So, what can you do to support the arts? The artists? Treasure art. Look at it. Appreciate it. Buy it when you can. As for me, I'd be grateful for a donation. Or to sell a painting. Or sculpture. Anything helps. I'm not alone out keep us creative types in your thoughts and in your life. We need you, you need us. Now, that is what it's all about. If you click the ads on this blog, I get a pittance. Hey, I'm not the next year, maybe it'll earn $100, then I'll receive a payment from the G-place! Lucky me! I'll take it. Every bit counts!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Feature in August 2018 Bold Life Magazine: Taking Wing

The August 2018 Bold Life Magazine is out on stands today, so if you're in Western N.C., you might get your hands on a copy. If not, just click the link included (see sidebar to right), and visit the story on-line.

Portrait: Amos Moses Photography

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer Paintings & Thoughts

The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness.

~ Dalai Lama

This painting is "If I Could, I'd Fly Away With You", (painting in progress) 20" x 20" oil on really came around today: I'd taken it out to the front porch easel this morning: sun shining despite promise of rain, River Dog basking, Pikachu sneaking around as cats do.

My foot hurt (whine) from a shard of glass I hadn't been able to get out--serves me right for bare footin' it in the kitchen yesterday. The wrist hurt (whine) from carpal tunnel/tendonitis. I was worrying myself over mortgage and thoughts of will-I-make-it-another-day-month-year, and this, that, no half-&-half for coffee (whine), friends and family struggling with the big C, and then....started painting. And painting. Oh, the changes this one underwent all morning.

After hollering (several times) at Google to play "Poor Pitiful Me" by Linda Ronstadt, and the next thing I know I'm listening to Anne Murray sing "Snow Bird", and those wistful lyrics "I'd fly away with you...."

There I was, painting, crying over that song (it was my mother's favorite and how the memories fell in tears), crying over the foot, wrist, and the whole nine-yards. The painting named itself. All I did was listen. And paint despite it all.

The sun kept shining a bit longer, River snored a little longer, and I kept on. By afternoon the rain stepped in, I soaked that foot an hour in Epsom salts, and dug that damn glass out. You do not mess with a Southern woman. Behind every painting is a bit of blood, sweat, and tears....and faith that things will fall in place once again.

What's going on? The show I'm currently in with three other women painters will be up until August 3 at Upstairs Artspace gallery; we'll have an artist talk this afternoon at the gallery. For August, yours truly will be featured in Bold Life Magazine, interview by Norm Powers, photos by Amos Moses who came here on a HOT day, a couple hours behind. Naturally, I had already melted in the heat outside, and figure those photographs will show the artist in meltdown! It's a thrill to be in Bold Life. Here's a link to the article:

In late September, I'll be at it again: Open Studio weekend with Art Trek. Also, I'm guest artist of the month at Whimsical World Gallery, Jones Street, Landrum, SC, owned by whimsical artist David Cedrone--located in a historical old church building! Stop in. I'm a fan of David's work! After moving here from Maine, he bought the old church and turned it into a gallery.

Times seem chaotic and unsure: I find solace in going out to my old easel and front porch. The swing is now 'ballerina pink', and the fish pond brims with gold fish, frogs, and ripples in water. Wind chimes sing on the summer breeze.

Tomatoes cluster on a vine, and a crimson mandevilla winds around a white post. A young praying mantis as-green-as spring's-tenderest-leaf peeps at me from the boxwoods. River Dog snoozes and the cat tiptoes soft as a whisper. Such is life here: one more day in an old house in a small town, trying to make ends meet, and singing my heart out with brush strokes and tenderness.

(photo: beauty in the imperfect: yesterday's hibiscus blossom fading)

*if you enjoyed this blog, please share. Even feel free to click those annoying ads (sorry about that!)I think it earned me a whole quarter last month. In the art life, a quarter is good. So click, share, and I'd love you to follow it (scroll down on right side and join in!). Thank you for reading this. It's done with love.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

As Spring Flies Into Summer

The White Crane: Flying Into Dreams, Bonnie Joy Bardos, 48" x 60", oil

Once we recognize that all things are impermanent, we have no problem enjoying them. In fact, real peace and joy are only possible when we see clearly into the nature of impermanence. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Spring turns into summer, weeks of rain fade into hot sunny days. Here at the old Art House, River and I spend mornings out on the front porch: I drink a morning mug of coffee, and he basks in sunshine. We stroll through the daylilies, lush roses, pink honeysuckle, catmint, bright phlox, yellow suns of coreopsis. Hydrangeas in white, blue, lavender spill throughout the gardens. Knee Deep, the resident fish pond King, sits on his mossy rock. Birds flit, in the afternoon sun, crows wing low over the road, cawing.

This month, a new exhibit opens at the Upstairs Artspace, and the above painting will be part of it, along with alot of contemporary art. I'm in "Four Women/Four Journeys" which features Carol Beth Icard, Patricia Cole Ferullo, and Linda Hudgins. We've been friends and fellow artists for years. Downstairs, nationally famed Stoney Lamar appears with the likes of Dale McEntire, Dale Weiler, David Zacharias, Mark Gardner, Shane Varnadore and more in a sculpture show. Holland Van Gores shows his fine wood-turnings also--the exhibits will run through August 3. The Upstairs goes back 40 years: back to the days when Craig Pleasants opened the upstairs bedrooms in his house as a place for artists to show work. Not just any work, either. Craig had a vision. Out of those artists, a lot went on to become famous. The gallery moved, and the first time I found it, it was beside City Hall in Tryon, NC...and that was the beginning. Poetry coffeehouses, gatherings, and interesting art (along with people). A non-profit, the gallery has been in its current location beside the Tryon Theater since the early 2000' fact, I worked there for a good five years, up until 2011 or so, and remember "String of Pearls", the 30th anniversary gala we put on. Craig and Sheila Pleasants came. The mission of the gallery has always been Craig's: that the Upstairs would support artists, and show their work: work that would not necessarily be commercially sales-driven stuff. I hope that stays the same. Run by a Board of Directors, the Upstairs will hopefully go on another 40 years!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Art in Spring

I want to be alive to all the life that is in me now, to know each moment to the utmost.
~ Kahlil Gibran

(painting: "White Crane", oil on linen 36" x 48", Bonnie Joy Bardos)

Spring is the time I roll the big wood easel outside to the front porch, pushing it carefully over worn Persian carpets and oak floors, up over the threshold just a bump, and voilĂ ....we're out! Next cart-loads of paints, an old blue metal cart here, a small white one there. A turquoise blue rag draped over a pile of oil tubes. An old glass bottle to hold garden flowers dripping with morning dew. Pink honeysuckle twines up the porch rails, draped over an ancient wood trellis.

Nearby the Japanese maple branches drip down green fountains gracefully toward the shimmering fish pond. Pond frogs Banjo and Knee Deep hold court on mossy rocks, and River Dog stretches out to catch sunshine. These days are strawberry juice deliciousness. Peonies open, roses join in the dance. One more spring has come to the old Art House and me...and we make art, grateful for these moments.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Art, Dogs, & Good People

(paintings: Bonnie Joy Bardos)

"It isn't more light we need, it's putting into practice what light we already have. When we do that, wonderful things will happen within our lives and within our world." ~ Peace Pilgrim

Spring's coming, despite the long hold of winter's icy clutches here in the mountains. I'm back from a road trip to Florida with River Dog and art supplies. A friend offered their charming vintage Fernandina Beach bungalow and all I had to worry about was getting there. Which took a bit of wrangling through rental car sites and such. The further south toward the coast we got, the warmer the air became between each rest stop. Shucking my winter jacket felt good. On the Florida state line, the phone died, so I had to rely on old-fashioned wits and road signs to navigate the final miles to Amelia Island and Fernandina. Artists tend to do that anyway, rely on drawing their own lines and following the nose. Here, no here. Wait, that looks right! Yes, we finally pulled into the cottage's driveway and piled out, road-weary and grateful for landing safely.

The evening called for a glass of crisp vino and a veggie pizza from a nearby local pizzeria. Ah. Life is good when you have a good dog, good pizza, a cool place to hang your hat, art supplies and a glass of wine in hand.

While on the island, I painted every afternoon: sitting in a weathered rocking chair, blue easel set up on the front porch. Azaleas, camellias, roses, palm fronds, blue sky and sea breezes. Lots of dogs and nice folks walking by. River enjoyed daily walks along the historic district too, and I set out to explore downtown, art galleries, and interesting points of view. Plus, a stroll on the beach barefoot of course. At night, I found myself hanging with a couple of home folks who'd bought a house on the island: they hauled me to the Salty Pelican and the Palace--the oldest bar in Florida with glowing old woodwork to tell those tales. And, every afternoon, I painted. Just bright 'out-of-mind' paintings that bloomed like the azaleas nearby. It does a body good to get away to a warm beautiful place in winter, especially fueled by kindness and love from others that made it all happen. A circle of color and love that goes round and round in a world starving for love and beauty. Let there be art. And people who love art, artists, dogs, and have good hearts.

The day I packed up to leave, scrubbed Wade's sweet little vintage cottage clean with gratitude to my generous host, I made a new friend, who'd gotten back to Fernandina from LA just in the nick of time to catch me before I left. Rhonda ended up buying one of the paintings and loved it so: it was meant to be. Such good energy! I left the island feeling renewed and full of color again.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Winding Road of Art

"As I write I create myself again and again." ~ Joy Harjo

"...there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and singing, made." ~ Wallace Stevens

"Any woodthrush shows it- he sings,
not to fill the world, but because he is filled." ~ Jane Hirshfield, "The Stone of Heaven"

Here it is a new sparkling year: 2018 has arrived. Single-digit temperatures in the mountains combined with weeks of a Christmas 'gift' virus kept me from painting. The most I've done is pick up charcoal and sketch horses into a landscape, a welcome reprieve into 'my world' as I call it. I *had* to do something! For sculpture, I've put the large figure I'm working on outside on the back porch to 'weather' a bit more. Let's face it, winter is never my favorite season, nor the easiest to survive in an old house: the basement pipes have created a skating rink of today, it's wait-for-a-plumber-and-pray time. In between all this, I've been reflecting (new years bring a clean slate and self examination time).

It's time to consider the road ahead (this is something I ponder every year at this time!)...literally and figuratively. Is my work any good? Am I being true to self always? Where is it (and am I) going? Where do I belong in this world? How do I balance the ingrained need to create versus survival? Age-old questions for most serious artists. It is my belief that this broken world needs art to mend our beings, our very souls. To bring light into darkness: both for the artist who creates it, and for those who see/read/hear/feel it. Art is life. It is to me--over this brutal winter, I've wondered if I should go back to the workforce world in order to make my tattered ends meet: if it hadn't been for angels among us, I would have fallen down, hard. Yet, time and time again, they have come when I needed them most. And, the wood thrush's bell-clear answer came: you are doing what you should, and must. While you are here on this earth. Keep believing. Don't give up. Sing. Be filled. Create yourself again and again....

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Painting & Life

"Best Date Ever", 16" x 20", Bonnie Joy Bardos

Our heart, when it breaks open, can hold the whole universe.

~ Joanna Macy

This painting is one I started working on one evening. As my favorite pieces are prone to do, it just 'happened'. Strands of Christmas lights around my old house kitchen were my only lighting, and create a magical feel, although it's too dim for painting. My new infrared heater helped warm the chill air, and the brushes kept saying 'red'. Blue. Yellow. The eyes delighted me: the slant of one, the look of imperfection. A bird cage disappeared under the yellow, the side table ghosted through. Cats appeared. People are going to think I'm a cat lady--although I only have one, she appears over and over. River Dog is taking a break: I'm paying him a model fee with homemade food this winter as we battle his kidney disease. I would do anything for him. He's with me every day, helping paint: and there's nothing more companionable than a snoozing dog in morning sunshine, the soft sounds of a brush caressing the canvas, birds singing, fish pond trickling, the heart tender and full.

Right now, I'm looking at the piece to see what it needs. Maybe a little deeper cobalt blue. Hmmmmm....I sits, I thinks. Such is life. Paintings are but a metaphor for life: they happen, sometimes they need a tweak, sometimes they sing with delight. Sometimes they have something big to say although they're deceptively simple. This one makes my heart sing!

(photo: starting a painting)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Life & Art

Fall days grow shorter, as blue shadows grow longer in the evenings; mornings get here later...crisp. Around the Art House, I've moved most of my porch plants back inside, as well as closing down the 'front porch' studio. I've set up a table on the back deck to catch warmer afternoons while they're here. Just picture me sinking fingernails in the skirt of summer, begging her to come back, come back! Cold and dark don't sit well around here.

Despite dead furnace, house stuff, plumbing, dog, etc. I've been working on a sculpture piece and painting, after the annual open studio tour--which takes a while to recover from! Honestly, if I went a week without working, and art IS working, I don't know what I'd do. The sculpture is outside on the back deck, where I drill, pound, and fit pieces to the puzzle of what it will be. Not even I know. That's the beauty of just going with the flow in life, you don't know the answers. Usually they're right there the whole time. The truth is, I'm just grateful these days...old house, old truck, and all. How lucky I am that so many people believe in me, and that I believe in me too. If I stumble and fall, someone is there to help me up. That's what we need the most, to remember that we are all walking each other home (to quote Ram Dass).

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Day In The Life: Artist At Work

My search bar reads "between custard and ice cream" but that couldn't possibly have anything to do with art, could it? Maybe it does. Maybe. A day of painting is perhaps, to an artist, like the smoothness of custard and ice cream. Rich, full, soothing. Yet, a day of painting is *hard* work too. All day, I worked outside on my front porch studio, on my feet standing. It rained, the sun came out, it rained some more. Breezes drifted. Heat settled. My glasses fogged up. The feet hurt. Stop! Stop, they cried. The dog snoozed near them. As I usually remind 'normal' folks who actually might read this blog, artists work hard. It's not our 'hobby'. Or worse yet, the age old question...."How do you REALLY make a living?" I've heard it all, as well as any artist that ever has existed. Rembrandt probably heard it. An artist is at work, whether there's a paycheck involved or not.

One of the many stages of this piece. I *love* this, but took the orange bit at the top out, then kept going. I believe this would have been a great abstract finished painting, though!

This week, I told the dog and cat they at least have food, so that's good. We like to eat around here. It's not an easy existence, but when you do what you were born to do, somehow you find your way. The universe is listening, and someone out there's going to find your art. Annie Dillard writes: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern."

I thought you might like to see the journey of a painting, along with what I did today: on a rainy/sunny/August day. Yes, my feet still hurt, the dog is still near them: we're inside now at the computer screen while I take a break to sit down and share this with you. The life of an artist.

Painting in the rain.

By now, this piece must have 50 layers. Some get removed, some added to. It's symbolic of life. It's taking a new direction, isn't it?

This is the painting in its most recent stage, it of course belongs to my long-time series "Esto Perpetua", yet feels different. This one is titled "Time of Mist: All is Not Lost". Right now, it's going to dry for a few weeks before I decide "Finished!" or keep going. I let paintings lead me. All is not lost....I keep looking at the abstract version I like so much, yet I love this too! It'll happen. The universe will speak. And I'll keep on painting. Tired feet and all, the dog near by.

And that is a day in the painting life.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Meanderings & The Painting Life

"Solace I", Bonnie Joy Bardos

“It’s a serious thing, just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.”

~ Mary Oliver, Red Bird

Late summer days in the mountains flow with cicada song, peepers, long blue shadows promising fall ahead. Every morning I'm outside on the front porch studio, working on new paintings and listening to the fish pond trickle, River dog snoozing nearby, and bird song. Now and then someone strolls by and wishes me a good morning. Last week, I hauled a large sculpture outside and worked all day on her for a juried show that opens tomorrow night. Named "Walela (Spirit Guide)" (Cherokee for hummingbird), she's made of fired clay, metal, copper wire, fiber, and much more...along with natural branches and wood pedestal. Walela consists of many found objects and recycled media.

Update: "Walela" won 2nd Place in 3-D Art for the Arts Council of Hendersonville's Annual Bring Us Your Best exhibit, as well as winning "One Planet/One World" award presented by the Hendersonville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for "the artwork which best represents a world community that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of all beings, and the oneness and interdependence of all life." This means the world to me--and what an honor for both awards. I'm so grateful that I drove over through Flat Rock, past the Carl Sandburg farm and on to the UU service today and took a heart-felt note of gratitude for their support and appreciation of the arts.

A painting I worked on became a road trip back to the '60's....a Nash-Rambler station wagon, forest, and the iconic picnic table alongside the winding road. All summer, art projects have been in the works: all influenced by the turn of earth and slant of sun, the soft dog ears under my hand. Butterflies that flit, hummingbirds that zoom to the nearby more year I stand at my work table and easel, observing and putting it all into the story I'm painting. Life for an artist goes on on those August summer days...

In late September, my house/studio will be on Art Trek Open Studios, sponsored by Upstairs Artspace. I've done this event every year, and will be at it once again! Mark your calendars for the weekend of September 30 and Oct. 1. A preview party featuring all participating artists will be September 29, 5-7 p.m. at Upstairs Artspace, 49 S. Trade, Tryon NC.

"Road Trip II, Bonnie Joy Bardos)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Art in Bloom

"Art in Bloom" is this month; I was lucky to be one of 24 artists selected by juror Michael Sherrill to pair with floral designers, who interpret each art work; the art work will be in the Gallery at Flat Rock until June 11. It's an honor to be a part of this exhibit in a beautifully elegant space. Deedie Springer of Springvine Design will be the floral designer for my painting "New Beginnings" from the Songs of the Earth series.

"Songs of the Earth: New Beginnings", Bonnie Joy Bardos, 48" x 60"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Month of May

May brings more lush green, wild roses streaming in bunches in pinks, whites, and delicious shades and the iris bloom. This photo is one of my pet rhododendrons that I planted over 23 years ago here. Naturally, when things bloom, I 'borrow' a stem or two for the front porch studio. Call it inspiration! Everything serves as inspiration to an artist: even the bad stuff. Recently, I had to deal with a few things that brought me to a low period. And I decided I was over and done with working in gray-scale landscapes: I would only do them if I felt like it, not because a gallery demanded it endlessly. I picked the brush up, hauled out a blank canvas to the porch and let the day take me wherever it would. One painting became two. Two became three. And, who knows where it'll end. Another new series has been born out of angst. By doing something a bit different and freeing the mind (or what's left of it these days!) I found hope and delight in paint and canvas. The series hasn't yet been named, but I've had a ball coming up with snarky titles. Stay tuned....

"Drown the Choos", Bonnie Joy Bardos