Lifestyle

Texas Hill Country Artist Spotlight on Bonnie Mann

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Reclaiming passion is not always easy to do, but artist Bonnie Mann has succeeded in a way which benefits so many who live in and visit the Texas Hill Country. Creating still life paintings in oil and featuring beautiful portrayals of light, this artist succeeds with her work in making the ordinary heightened to surprising, delicate, and evoking art. After being away from the art world for many years, Bonnie is now a Carriage House Gallery Artist in Boerne. She devotes her hours to painting in her studio and greeting visitors to the gallery. She is a member of Oil Painters of America, Boerne Professional Artists, American Women Artists, National Oil and Acrylic Society, and River Art Group, as well as a co-owner of Carriage House Gallery of Artists. We recently caught up with Bonnie for an interview, between her time participating in the Kiwanas Western Art Show, Boerne Parade of Artists, Hill Country Invitational, and New Braunfels Art League juried show.

THC: When did you begin to work professionally as an artist?

Bonnie Mann: I began my professional work in art after retiring from the corporate world in 2003. I have always enjoyed art from the time I was a young child. I studied briefly in the 1970s off campus, with an art instructor associated with the University of Texas, Austin, receiving instruction in drawing and painting in oils. That was the beginning of my passion for oil painting.

THC: Who are your biggest influences?

Bonnie Mann: My biggest influence with regard to my style of painting is David Leffel, known for his representational paintings and the capture of light. I admire many artists and have studied with many through classes and workshops.

THC: What is your typical medium?

Bonnie Mann: My medium is oil. I paint exclusively with oils with a goal of learning all that can be accomplished with oils, from brush strokes to color.

THC: How would you describe your artwork?

Bonnie Mann: My work would be considered ‘painterly.’ Realistic Impressionism best describes my work. I enjoy capturing the REALISM and then painting it the way I see it.

Texas Hill Country Artist Spotlight on Bonnie Mann

Image: Bonnie Mann

THC: What does your work aim to express?

Bonnie Mann: I aim to express my connection to the subject matter with color and light and shadows.

THC: What’s your favorite part of the process?

Bonnie Mann: My favorite part of the process … all of it!  I enjoy deciding what to paint, how to set up the still life, adjusting the lighting, selection of the color palette and painting surface, and then the scary part is that first mark on a clean canvas. It is all joy!

THC: How has your art/ methods changed over time?

Bonnie Mann: I have learned to paint in a looser fashion. Leaving visible brush strokes and an impression of mood, lighting etc. is my ongoing goal.

THC: What artists do you enjoy?

Bonnie Mann: David Leffel, William Schneider, Richard Schmid, Nicolai Fechin.

Texas Hill Country Artist Spotlight on Bonnie Mann

Image: Bonnie Mann

THC: What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Bonnie Mann: My art is available at the Carriage House Gallery of Artists. I have had many memorable responses to my work and sales have been good.

THC: Do you research before creating?

Bonnie Mann: I am always studying techniques, color, paint application.

THC: What is your dream project?

Bonnie Mann: My dream is to be able to continue creating for many years to come. I enjoy my partnership in Carriage House and appreciate the many fine artists there.

THC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Bonnie Mann: Paint for yourself!  Not for the collector or the gallery.

Texas Hill Country Artist Spotlight on Bonnie Mann

Image: Bonnie Mann

THC: Do you mentor or host lectures?

Bonnie Mann: I am not involved in lecturing or mentoring but am always happy to share what I know.

THC: How have you developed your career?

Bonnie Mann: I have studied with many fine artists through workshops and online classes. I have a great collection of art videos. I refer to these often as a way to develop my skills and improve my paintings.

THC: How do you seek out opportunities?

Bonnie Mann: Knowing other artists in our area and beyond has given me the opportunity to participate in shows.

THC: How do you cultivate a collector base?

Bonnie Mann: An artist cultivates a collector base by having their work out there to be seen. I most recently am showing my work at the Helotes Gallery. And I will be submitting work to participate in a fundraiser in Austin, Texas, Amado and J.B. Peña’s The Art Has Heart Foundation. [The Art Has Heart Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the goal of providing college and university scholarships to high school students.]

Texas Hill Country Artist Spotlight on Bonnie Mann

Image: Bonnie Mann

THC: How do you navigate the art world?

Bonnie Mann: My focus is to be in my studio producing. I have two galleries where I hang my work, and the challenge is to keep my work fresh.

THC: How do you price your work?

Bonnie Mann: My goal is to be consistent.

THC: Do you follow trends in the art world?

Bonnie Mann: I am not very interested in the latest trends.

THC: Please describe the work involved in being co-owner of Carriage House.

Bonnie Mann: The Carriage House Gallery of Artists is a partnership. There are eleven artists. We share the duties equally. Our job is to support all the artists, partners, and guest artists. I am responsible for our monthly newsletter and for keeping our database of patrons current. We all contribute our time to monthly and special events.

End of interview

Special thanks to Bonnie for her time! Her art is displayed and for acquisition at The Carriage House Gallery of Artists, located in Boerne at 110 Rosewood Ave, just off Main Street in a stone cottage with burgundy awnings. The hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are available on Mondays and Tuesdays, as pre-arranged. Founded in 2003, Carriage House Gallery of Artists is honored as the ‘Best of the Best’ fine art gallery by residents.

Originally published in the Summer Issue of Heart of Texas Magazine.