Friday, January 13, 2023

France: An Artist's Dream


Once again, I've been slow at posting...winter makes me feel like I'm just swimming in molasses. Preferably warm molasses, not cold. The more I want to get something done, the longer it takes! 

Today's promise of snow on the wind led me to pull up a few pictures of last fall's trip to France, which my friend Donna made possible. It was everything and more than I could have dreamed! 

I'd live there in a heartbeat. The way the French live, eat, drink, and enjoy the day...ahhhhh. 

 Since returning home, although France did its best to keep me, and I agreed, I have painted the memory of looking out over Provence toward Italy; worked steadily on a memoir of the trip and all that happened to and fro, the nightmare travel mishaps with the deliciousness sandwiched in between! Definitely sticking a few travel tips in there as I type away. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022



Spring, grateful I am to see one more unfurling of tender green, pink blossoms, blue wing. These days, that's something not taken for granted. Above, I've put two of my newest paintings (of spring, what else?!) just finished. There's a piece of art glass that inspires me, and a small photo of one painting in progress in the kitchen area. I managed to knock off the sugar bowl along with a few other things as I struggled to find space to paint. 

There are days I miss my old house with all the room inside and out to fling paint and work! However, life teaches us to either cope and do the best we can until something else happens, or just give up.

A weekend of snow showers and bitter cold didn't stop me, perhaps slowed me down a bit, but the promise of spring kept the paint brushes going. In making work, there's hope and salvation...even in the most difficult of times. 

I've been outside working on garden projects, even with a for sale sign on the current place I live. Nothing is for certain, that's the one thing that IS for certain. grounding self with life-long things that bring balm to the soul (art, writing, reading, gardening, thinking, friends, cooking, etc.) there is solace found amid the chaos.



Thursday, July 22, 2021


It's been a year since I made a blog post, so here we are...again. In time, maybe the world will be half-way back to normal after a global pandemic, upheaval, climate change, and so on....but I'm not sure anything has ever been 'normal'. Hopefully, there's been some waking up going on...about how others are treated, about doing the right thing for ourselves, others, and this fragile planet we live on. For this past year, I've continued working on making a garden, where there was not one. Now that's not been an easy task...but has become an art project and labor of love. A garden says that something in the world will bloom on, endure. Folks pass by and notice with delight. Some don't look, but more and more do. There's hope.


Today I picked up a few paints for a small project, painted....then headed outside to the compost bin--picking a few tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley, greens, yellow sun-filled flowers on the way back. There was a visit to the goldfish pond where a lily blooms; a stop at the bog garden. Inside, I chopped cilantro, parsley, basil, tomatoes and avocado, with a squeeze of zesty lime juice, a sprinkle of ground pepper and sea salt. A bit of this, a bit of that. Intuitive motions for an easy supper later on. That's art. A little bit of this, of that, mixing until it's just right. A knowing. 

These are things we learn along life--when something's right. Or not. It takes time, patience, and willingness to make mistakes. That's OK. At some point, it all converges into what works. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Summer Window

 You can call me a lazy blogger these's been since winter that I last wrote a post here. Times of Corona, perhaps. Or perhaps it's times of floating out there on a ship at sea, watching for dry land, yet hoping the ship just keeps going to an island named Garden of Eden. No crazy news, just peaceful breeze, gentle days, a pile of good, music, food.

I've been painting, gardening, reading, cooking....which is nothing new around here: just lots more of it. The stay at home months haven't been that bad, other than the knowledge the world will not be the same: art and galleries, like many other things, have taken a beating. So does an artist quit making art? Of course not. We just pick up the brush, the pen, the guitar, the tools of our labor and deal. We go on. As with a garden, art is hope.

I painted "Summer Window" with the thoughts of looking in (or out) the window of thought: to floating lush images, abstracted in the mystery of Nature. You'll see where I set up the old wood easel outside in the courtyard area I created all spring. Why, I even dug out a small fish pond! Plus a frog pond in the front yard area. And planted, pruned, planted, dug, planted, dug. Putting in a garden IS art. As long as I do something creative, I can get by. Everything changes, but that doesn't.

This morning, I packed the car with paintings, and drove down the mountain to Tryon Painters & Sculptors in their beautiful gallery: which has re-opened with safe social-distancing and cleaning. There was Grace and Kam, ready to help me: and behind our face masks, we all were smiling to see one another again. The show will open early August and run til September. It felt good to load paintings, haul, and know art goes on. Yes it does!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Art & Life

“For life is the best thing we have in this existence. And if we should desire to believe in something, it should be a beacon within. This beacon being the sun, sea, and sky, our children, our work, our companions and, most simply put, the embodiment of love.”  
 ~  Patti Smith

                                  (painting: Bonnie Joy Bardos, oil, 36" x 48")

Finally, finally. A new blog post for the New Year, even if it's now the first of February. Some of us just roll a bit slower in winter (anything for an excuse, right?). Snow came yesterday, large flakes drifting quickly to earth, covering all in a blanket of white. Pine branches glisten, sky a gray pearl.

Today, most of the icing melted away. A little bit here, there, lacing white through dark leaves.
A blue French pot bubbles with soup on the old stove.

A pile of books rests close by, a wood bowl of white shells gleams.

A little Norfolk Island pine I saved from glitter and a lonely grocery store shelf spreads dark-green feathery branches. I swear it's stretching in gratitude.
Wind chimes sing, clear of note and sweet.
Birds flit, a hawk rises high overhead.
Inside, an oil painting dries slowly. Everything is slower in winter. Even paint drying. 
Life goes on, a new decade ahead. Time ticks, for it is the one thing that isn't slower in winter. 


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Changes Along The Road of Life

It's been a while since my last blog post--let's face it, maybe the months of heaving, schlepping and cleaning took a toll. Well, to be honest, it has! Selling a long-time home is NOT easy, especially if you have to divest yourself of many belongings in order to fit into another smaller spot. It's akin to stuffing a watermelon in a bag meant for a grape, perhaps!

Getting rid of 'stuff' is not a bad thing. Just overwhelming. Symbolic of life, these sortings and siftings. I've let go many things. The house has been relisted, and I'm hopeful someone who loves old houses with a past will find it. Surely not everyone wants new, shiny, perfect? It's worse than a dating site if you ask me. These days I'd rather scroll through the animal rescue sites. Mercy, I miss my River Dog. Driving last month to Florida in the coastal rain, I found my own self raining, thinking about him in the passenger seat on past trips.

There's something comforting about a warm furry snout pointed toward the lone highways ahead. Yes, I need another dog. One of these days. Right now, I continue to work on adjusting to life in new digs--sort of a period of limbo and change this year. Losing River was the toughest thing; and two best friends died. I'd loved them both as long as I'd loved the old house, which has been a friend too. Things change, we face loss. In that, we keep on going, finding our way on different paths.

Finding space to create has been tough, but I rolled-pushed-shoved a balking  cart of oil paints and supplies out to the front porch this week on a sunny day. Let me tell you, it's work...there's a bit more involved than just rolling a cumbersome balky cart. Set up French easel. You do NOT want to see a right-brained artist setting up a French easel with 20000000 parts and screws. Then...rags and paper towels. Hunting more paint from packed boxes. Well, here's one of the paintings from that afternoon (above). I'm trying. I'm trying.

Florida fed my spirit. Just getting away for a while helps.
After walking the beach, searching for shells and a few answers, I got up one dark morning before dawn, skipped morning coffee and headed out to the sea. Waiting on the sand was a damp dollar bill. Then brilliant red, scarlet, and every shade of glorious you could ever imagine sweeping up over the ocean. Maybe there were a few answers in that solitary walk. Thank you, thank you, universe.

 It was hard to leave sunshine in Fernandina Beach, driving back to rain and chill. I returned with resolve to keep painting, to be kinder, to do better on making ends meet. I changed hair color. Looked at more rescue sites. And a dating site. The rescue site seemed a safer bet.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Petals float: pink bowl filled with joy

"Every day do something that won't compute....Give your approval to all you cannot understand ....Ask the questions which have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years..... Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts....Practice resurrection."  ~ Wendell Berry (Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front)

Practice resurrection, laugh, be joyful Wendell Berry says. I've been a bit remiss over posting to this blog over the past few months. My excuses are thin, but my heart is full, sad, torn. Over that time, my house came under contract. Which involved sorting/sifting/boxing/giving/selling stuff. More stuff. One person doing all that wears on the bones. And my River died, the first of July. He was my constant star, companion, one-eyed guard dog and best friend. 

Oh, the excuses are thin....but here I am again. The contract fell through last week. River rests out in the front garden where sun and birds keep him company. Sort and sift continues, a little slower this week without a looming deadline of moving out. I read May Sarton, Lisa See books, spend extra time with friends. It's comforting. Life changes, goes on. Practice resurrection.

2019 Bring Us Your Best Exhibit

Goddess winged torso with paint brushes and painting

“...Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold.
Make of it a parka
For your soul.
Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise.
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.”
 ~ Alice Walker, excerpt from “Expect Nothing”

Lavender-peach sunsets paint Saluda evenings as trickles of summer folk talk on old-house porches, kids playing, cricket songs floating over the seven hills of town. Creeks sing over smooth rocks, yellow-papery leaves float to earth, time slows like golden honey. 

A ghost of overall-clad old-timer with red cotton bandanna and pocket knife, a sweating-cold green bottle of Coke in hand, sits on Main Street benches outside Thompson’s, wondering where the train whistle blows long and lonesome up the Grade once again. 

On sultry August afternoons, my nose longs to be stuck in a good book...which serves to restore the spirit under ceiling fan breezes. The hard dusty work at boxing and sorting needs a break time, although the deadline of late August disappeared in a POUF! when the house contract suddenly fell through last week. 

Am I upset? No. Could be worse. Life 101, Murphy’s Law always kicks in. 

All I could think was that it’d be OK. I got a lot cleaned up (pat on back), although I was wee bit disappointed not to be picking out a low-mileage used Prius for road trips, renewing passport, or paying for a (hopefully far-away) “pre-need” green burial. Those are things I had lined up to do once the house closed. Such for those best laid plans of mice and men. We know that one, Dear Reader!

Me, I just get back up on the horse—back in the saddle again, relist the house a little longer before winter and I become at odds with one another, figure I have a reprieve for porch swinging, picking garden flowers, and taking a little longer to weed through more stuff, living frugally on surprise, expecting nothing, wishing upon small stars. (Bonnie Bardos, Tryon Daily Bulletin, 8/2019)

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Month of June & Butterflies

“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.”  ~ Pablo Neruda

Here it is the month of June, and I wonder where o where this year has fleeted to already. I've been remiss on blog posts, that's for certain. The older one gets, the faster time flies. When I was 8, time never went fast enough! It remains the most precious gift we have, if we only stop and think about it. For an artist, time often melds into 'no time', a timelessness to the day, a zone where hours don't count, only the act of creation. Sometimes I've been working on a project, and almost shake myself awake from that 'zone'...coming back to this world from the other.

The front porch swing and wicker chairs filled with deliciously fat comfy cushions are favorite spots to sip morning coffee, even on rainy days. The past week has been soaking wet, so it's hard to get in painting mode when rain lashes windows, pours from gutters, and all is dark. Summer's like that.

I stick my nose in a book every afternoon: "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer made delving deep into the soul and thought on order. Then Elizabeth Berg's book on George Sand's life is halfway read. Reading and art hold hands in this life: those feed our spirits. Wicker chairs, dogs, books--and sometimes a really good doughnut make things brighten. Rain or not.

The old Subaru beater came home finally after months of not running. The realtor's 'for sale' sign still is planted out front of the house. Roses and daylilies bloom in the garden. The graceful pond fish love the rain: dancing up to the surface, bright orange ribbons unfurling from shadowed green. Pink lemonade honeysuckle twines over porch rains and hydrangeas. Cicadas sing. Changes always come. I just observe it all: grateful to have a pink porch swing, clean cotton sheets, River Dog, a cup of coffee and a lot of paint. 

 These photos are from a workshop I gave at Upstairs Artspace: to encourage
women to paint, make art, and have FUN without copying a painting. Everyone did their own thing and had a ball! The flowers and bright things came from my place, as encouragement to MAKE ART!

(When you buy art from a living artist, you keep that artist living and surviving! Another thing that helps raise those much-needed pennies is to click those pesky ads on this blog--every few cents adds up over time. Thank you!) 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bonnie's World

(Painting detail: "Journey Home", Bonnie Joy Bardos, 36" x 48" sold ) 

"The great lesson from the true mystics is that the sacred
is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life,
in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's backyard." 

~ Abraham H. Maslow

                                            Bonnie & River

photo credit: Mark Levin, photographer for Tryon Daily Bulletin, Life In Our Foothills)

It's getting toward the end of February, and I'm slow at getting this blog updated, so here it is, finally. Of course, there are excuses...don't you hate those? However, I do have some fairly credible ones. As usual, winter is a hard time for the art life and just surviving cold, winter bills, and the whole nine yards. I just had hand surgery (and lived to tell about it!)....after nine months of 24/7 pain. After a De Quervain's disease diagnosis back in June, I went to an orthopedic doctor for a shot and further help. That didn't last long-- finally it just was unbearable...whatever was going on. 

Naturally, a vivid imagination doesn't stop at the canvas or written word. I pictured having to paint and sculpt with different means than hands. Others have done it. Over the months, I could do less and less, although I still painted (I call those the one-handed marvels), typed, and hauled art to shows. Creating sculpture pieces was much harder, so that fell by the wayside over fall and winter. To make a long story short, the hand surgery was last week, and I'm hoping for good recovery: maybe no more hauling heavy rocks for fire rings, no? 

This gray soggy winter afternoon, I picked a few valiant daffodils on the walk with River, brought them home to brighten the days ahead. Sunshine in a vase! It's those little tender things that get us through. 

I hope you'll enjoy reading the February issue of "Life In Our Foothills" feature on "Bonnie's World" written by Steve Wong, photographed by Mark Levin. Just click the link above. 

Things may be slow-handed around the Art House, but I've got lots of art to look at, for sale, and out at shows. "Journey Home" is at the ubiquitous Purple Onion here in Saluda, and the Artist of the Year/Red Carpet exhibit lasts until mid-March at Tryon Arts and Crafts. Whimsical World Gallery in Landrum, SC also has a number of pieces. 

When you buy art from a living artist, you keep that artist living and surviving! Another thing that helps raise those much-needed pennies is to click those pesky ads on this blog. I get a few cents for each click. Sorry about that, I despise ads! But, in this case, it helps my ends meet. Thank you!  

                         "Songs of the Earth: The Pond Frog" goes home with Danielle

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Life Happens: An Artist in Winter

(Esto Perpetua series, 30" x 30", Bonnie Joy Bardos)

“Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life's bittersweet route.”
~ Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Bittersweet route, indeed, as Tom Robbins writes. Mid-January is upon us, and here in the mountains it's been rain, ice, snow. Rain, ice, snow. Repeat. Repeat. Almost 24" of snow in December, and nearly 100 inches of rain for 2018. Last weekend was an ice storm, leaving 1/2" of the glistening stuff on trees, shrubs, and earth. Branches fell, trees crashed all night long: River Dog and I were up patrolling the cold house, worry-warting over the unseen dark bringing a Monster Tree crashing through our roof. It HAS happened to us in the past. Maybe that just instills a sense of paranoia! We did have large pine branches torpedo down alongside the house, and some damage out back on the back porch gutter. Pines are notorious for breaking in the frozen stuff. Like me, they just don't like it!

This week, the car died, so River and I are stuck until we can: get it fixed. Sold off to someone who will fix it. Or start hoofing it to parts unknown. It turns out the old Subaru I bought to take us to Florida has a bad transmission, and needs pad/rotor replacement, and no-telling-what-else. I did call the small-time dealer I bought it from and reminded him of his promise he would willingly let his wife drive it anytime, to Florida, and so forth. However, being it's an older car and such, it was a pig-in-the-poke deal, and that's, as Walter Cronkite used to say, the way it is.

It's hard times for so many of us, a broken-down car seems almost small potatoes. To me, it's a nightmare, but others are in even worse straits. Artists are usually conditioned to the trials of life. We tend to live hand to mouth anyway, and know it could be worse. We just get up and make art. Even if it's freezing in the house, outside, or the car implodes. We're gonna make art about it. That, my friend, is how we survive. Making art.

Mary Oliver, the poet of my life and days, died today. Oh Mary. You will live on, and your words that are tender, true, observant of nature. You continue to spark and glow. Thank you, thank you for bringing your gentle kind soul to word and life. You just will keep glowing every time those words are read.

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

― Mary Oliver

(photo credit: Mark Levin)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Musings & Remembering Fernandina

Winter is upon us in my small town here in the Western North Carolina least 18+ of winter knocking on the door, with even bigger piles of winter white blanketing the world outside. The stuff is heavy and dense, weighing roofs down, blocking roads, challenging power company crews out fixing downed lines. Oh yes, winter is upon us. Inside, River Dog and Pikachu Cat find the warmest spots they can: River in front of the living room gas stove.

I perch at my desk chair, wishing for heated seats or at least spring. Speaking of heat and spring, back in November I drove down to Florida over to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, not far from the Georgia line. A friend lets me borrow his historical charming-sweet little cottage "Fernandina Cottage". All I have to do is find my way there from here, River tucked beside me in the passenger seat, a load of art supplies and various bags tucked in the rear.

It takes us a good seven hours or so to get to the cottage, since we hit about every rest stop in between. We packed up before rain hit and got away to Florida just in time: driving in to sun and warm temperatures, palm fronds swaying. This trip, I was lucky to know where things already were: Nana Theresa's Bake Shop downtown. Thrift shops. Rhonda's house a couple blocks back from Wade's house. Who the neighbors and dogs are. The quickest way to the beach. Townie's Pizza. How to walk to the Green Turtle. Y'know. Important stuff.

This trip I expanded my exploring to American Beach. Then, neighbor Rhonda took a day off and introduced me to parts unknown: the little chapel in American Beach. Roads with Spanish moss dripping, live oaks. A ferry ride. Fresh shrimp at her favorite dive, painted orange, beside the river. Places she'd been where if you get out, you get toted off by mosquitoes. We just drove by that day, neither one of us wanted to duel with skeeters! She pointed out a quaint church tucked in Florida woodlands, a tabby house ruin, probably built by slaves. Little bits and pieces of the past. Small winding roads where new Florida still doesn't exist. Oh, I was hungry to find Old Florida still left.

We admired buckets of silver fish gleaming on the dock, right off the boat. Driving on, we came into the outskirts of Jacksonville near the Navy base. That's a whole 'nother story...but I'll say we had quite a laugh over our adventures that day. Back in Fernandina Beach, I hung some art around the cottage (with Wade's permission, of course) and rearranged furniture. It was a work of art. Over in the evening, the days short and with the time change, I'd pour a glass of vino, sit with River out on the front porch and toast life. It does a body good to go somewhere, and have a few friends along this path of life.

By the way, if you'd like to spend some time at Fernandina Cottage, just contact Wade Kirkland via Facebook, the owner who lives in Charlotte, NC. I can attest that it's in the heart of all sorts of Good Things. Historic Fernandina Beach. Not far from the sea or dining. The marina's a walk away. Bikes. Galleries. Bakeries. Fresh caught seafood. The oldest bar in Florida. A nice woman named Bonnie who works at the Visitor Center in the old depot building. I liked her. Besides, I'll always remember her name, since it's mine too. Oh, yes, it does a body good to get away.

(P.S.: This month, I'm "Artist of the Month" at Tryon Arts & Crafts School (see link at right) and will be featured at David Cedrone's "Whimsical World Gallery" December 15 from 5-8 p.m. along with David (gallery owner and artist), Alex Trumble, Kelly Sparks, and Amy Goldstein-Rice. Enjoy live music with Jay Maybry Band!)