Bonnie Koenig may be new to Texas, but she is already making a name for herself as an artist in the area. Koenig was one of the 10 artists featured in the first part of an ongoing Sherman Public Library art exhibit.
The artists reception for the exhibit was held April 30 at the library.
In an email interview, Koenig, a member of the Sherman Art League, answered a few questions about her interest in art.
Q. When did you start doing art and when did you realize that you enjoyed doing it?
A. I have enjoyed making art for as long as I can remember. I think I knew I had some talent in high school. In high school, decided I wanted to do a portrait for one of my best friends [Sue] when her Dad passed away. It really seemed to mean a lot to her and that is what I want my art to do be meaningful to someone.
Q. It is important to love what you do whether you have natural talent or learned talent. Can you tell me the story about the piece that made you want to do art? Who inspired you in the beginning and what inspires you now?
A. Well, growing up I just did what I do , drawing mostly things I was familiar with. No one ever told me it was terrible so I kept on doing it. Ha. I studied advertising art in junior college and took some art courses, and was lucky to have a great art teacher who exposed me to many types of art. He also helped me understand you don’t have to like everything just because someone calls it art. This was very freeing for me because I came to appreciate and migrate towards artists who painted things I was interested in. Mostly landscape artists: Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro and later on Georgia O’Keefe. As I studied art I became interested in the simplicity of modern art, so the most recent work is simplified landscapes with color relationship, textures, and movement. I really admire German artist, Gerhard Richter. So if I had to pick I would say O’Keefe and Richter. I never get tired of looking at either of them.
Q. How an individual connects with something can turn just about anything into art. What is your definition of art? And what is your specialty?
A. Art makes you feel something and is beautiful to you. My specialty is abstract landscapes. Although the art you see at the library are not abstract, it is about nature [ I was painting for my son and his interests as a little boy].
Q. How has being creative helped you? Can you describe the feeling that you get when you are thinking about your next piece as well as the feeling that you get you are working on a piece?
A. I think being creative is part of everyone, whether solving math problems, resolving personal issues, dealing with people, or building a bridge. Everyone knows that excitement when you come up with a great idea. This is only part of it. It’s deciding the colors to use, the size of the canvas, making sure the composition is balanced and interesting and creating the place, and finally the flow of where you want the viewer to look.
Q. For individuals that have not yet found their artistic outlet, how would you encourage them to learn what makes them happy?
A. I would encourage those interested in art to look at lots of art. Try to look at it in person. Some paintings are so much more beautiful or interesting in person. I think most people know what they like. Either it’s the colors they like or a shape. I hope that people will pick art that brings them joy. If you love looking at it, you will never grow tired of it. I wouldn’t start at the museums necessarily, I would start at art shows or local galleries, especially since we live so close to Dallas/Ft. Worth and with so many great cities in between. I am just learning where to find local art and am looking forward to exploring this year. I have enjoyed the local college, Austin College, who has had some great art programs and art exhibits.
Q. You should never stop learning. Can you tell me what you recently learned either about technique and style or about your artistry that you think will help you in the future?
A. I am doing some new work using fluid acrylic paint. I have always liked the work of Helen Frankenthaler. I like the way she uses shapes to develop compositions on raw canvas. I am looking to use simplified compositions inspired by Rothko. It s hard to choose, I love working in oils and encaustics [pigmented wax].
Q. Where can people see your work in this area? What shows and competitions have you been in? What awards have you won?
A. I am new to the area, and to Texas. We just moved here this year from Virginia. My work has shown most recently at Chasen Gallery in Richmond, Virginia and some large works are at The Ward Center, Petersburg, Virginia. I will be bringing the works to Texas in late June. I prefer to show local to where I live, so Texas here I come. I will be taking every opportunity to be active in all events our Sherman Art League organizes.
I have never entered a competition since college. My work was selected for a variety of shows which I usually don’t put on my biography because I don’t think that would be meaningful to anyone. Oh, while at the University of Kansas I won a Hollander Award for works in the Senior Show.
Q. Please describe your style in a few sentences.
A. My work is inspired by nature and landscapes. I love a vibrant color pallet and movement.
Q. Tell me about your process. Do you begin with the end in mind? Do you have a detailed plan? Or, do you let the piece go where it needs to go? How do you know when you are done?
A. I begin my work by going out and viewing nature. I document colors, sketch compositions with pastels, watercolor or colored pencils. For more abstract compositions I sometimes use a black marker to establish the light and darks of a composition.
I sketch to get a feeling for the composition but I always end of letting the piece go where it needs to go.
I have done some commission work and it has been difficult to set a release date because I need to feel it is finished. Sometimes I have to live with the work in my own home for two or three weeks before I feel satisfied or I have to give it a name before it leaves. I rarely name it before it’s finished.
Q. Can you give me three fun facts about yourself, about your artistry and about artistry in general that you think people would be surprised to know or that you think would help people understand why art is important?
A. Three fun facts: I love nature because I grew up in the rural mountains of Virginia. I love everything about being in nature. The sights the smells, the weather, everything. I wake up to watch the sunrise most every morning and end the day watching the sunset. I don’t want to miss it if possible. I love the way the colors and light is different every day.
Our family has traveled a lot, because my husband was career military. We have lived many places through out the United States and in Asia. We have been exposed to different cultures and beautiful places.
Also we have five children and creating art was difficult at times due to responsibilities or other activities that needed to take place, so creating art was a treat for me. The kids seemed to enjoy me creating works for them, our home or for others. Kids are grown now and my husband and I are both retired so my goal is to paint as much as possible.
For more information on Koenig and to view more of her art, visit http://www.BonnieKoenig.com.
Future Brown is the Lifestyles and Entertainment Editor for Texoma Marketing and Media Group. She can be reached at SBrown@HeraldDemocrat.com.