Welcome to the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. What artist would you like to hear from next? Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Master Oil Painting or Bill Inman.

Today’s Featured Artist: Bonnie Marris

Social Vewpoints by Bonnie Marris

She was featured in the November edition of “Art of the West” magazine. She was also awarded the Patrons’ Choice Award at the Masters of the American West Show for her masterpiece “Social Viewpoints.” The show is held yearly at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Bonnie Marris and Her Horse Pawnee

Q: After so many years as a successful artist, what keeps you motivated to continue getting in front of your easel each day?

A: What keeps me motivated to even walk into my studio every day? 

Sometimes I can’t! 

Sometimes I am so sure that my skill is not up to painting what is in my head that I cannot even go near my studio.  But, by far, most days I wake up thinking about the animal, the idea, the point, or just the painting I am working on and that in itself makes me hurry to the studio.  With each new day, I wonder if I can paint as well, or hopefully better, than yesterday. 

I go through stages when I begin a new painting.  At first, I am completely and utterly IN LOVE with it.  I cannot WAIT to work on it and I hate it when I have to stop (it’s usually the dogs that want to stop and go hike).  Then somewhere in the middle of the painting I look at it very critically and hate it. I may have a better idea in my mind and I’m sure I’ve ruined it.  But I keep pushing it and I begin to like it again. Finally, I really really like it and that makes me want to start another.

Ultimately it is pure passion for my subject, and for fun.

Contemplating the Dragonfly by Bonnie Marris

Q: What one lesson does a young or new artist need to learn to create convincing painterly realism like yours?

A: The most important thing for any artist, young, old, just starting or professional, to hold on to dearly is this:

You are only you!

You are like no other living being (cliché but very important). You can study another artist’s style or technique but you will never execute his paintings. Your brain will translate your vision differently. Your skill is yours alone and once you let go and let YOU take over, you will be thrilled and shocked to see the artist you are.

I certainly have my favorite artists and I surround myself with their work, their books, their quotes … but my paintings are always, no matter what, just mine. And that’s another thing that will keep you going; desperately trying to get better!

Be more skilled with the brush. Know more about your subject. The artist (writer, musician, painter) that is satisfied with each of their paintings and loves everything they do will NEVER get any better. All great artists aspire to somebody that they believe is better.

Thunder and Dust by Bonnie Marris

Q: You’ve had a spectacularly successful career as an artist so far! Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

A: The one thing I wish I could have done differently from the very beginning is be braver. Knowing what I know now.

If I am speaking to a female, this has a bit more to it. As a girl, confidence was my big enemy, (still is). We as females tend to be weaker (with colors, composition, attitude). There is a difference between sensitivity and weakness. We don’t want to come on too strong. Don’t want to offend. We may feel what we are about is not taken as seriously as what our male colleague has to say.

Nothing makes me angrier, or more put off, than a female artist that “speaks” so softly you can’t hear her. I had a stress counselor (male!) tell me that as a female I am gifted with this great sensitivity that a male holds back from showing. I now use this passion, this unbearable love and sensitivity to my advantage.

Don’t HIDE behind your gift. Don’t be AFRAID of color. Use what you know! If you have a strong idea or passion about something PROVE it.
And another thing…this is huge. The more popular or successful you become, the more critics, hecklers and just plain mean people will tag along behind you. I have had meanies glue themselves to my side at a show and tell me over and over again that so and so is a much better artist. And of course, I believe them…for an hour or two.

We can’t know why meanies are meanies. Why people try to bring you down.

Just try to stay you.

Sweet Tooth by Bonnie Marris

“The passion Bonnie Marris has for wilderness, for animals, and for light and color come together in her art, and she feels her work has accomplished its purpose when a viewer feels that same passion.” – Bonnie’s Website

Website: www.blmarrisstudio.com

Facebook: facebook.com/BonnieMarris

Be sure to comment and thank Bonnie for sharing her talents and insights with us!