About the Artwork
I am fascinated by the human face and its myriad subtle changes of expression. My drawings capture the fleeting mood of an individual, which can change completely with a tilt of the head, a slight movement of the lips, or a brief shift of a glance.
I excel at capturing the essence of a person through the simplicity of putting pencil to paper. My use of graphite produces a broad range of effects, from the smoothly blended softness of skin tones to the sharply outlined texture of tree branches. The backgrounds I create convey an atmosphere that helps to clarify the emotion or quality I desire to illustrate.
I celebrate the fact that each of us belongs to a unique family tree, yet each of us shares common human traits and emotions. Life brings to each of us love and longing, laughter and loss regardless of where our families originated. My art is a visual representation of our shared humanity. My recent work explores a family tree theme by adding stylized trees to frame a portrait. Just as children grow into adults, branches grow out and away from the sturdy tree trunk which remains rooted in the earth.
I am inspired by vintage photographs and use them as reference. When I look at old discarded pictures, certain ones give me a feeling of connectedness with the individual or remind me of someone I know. These people, usually nameless, also pique my curiosity. They existed and experienced lives but have disappeared from any recorded history. My drawings are titled with vocabulary that expresses what quality I see in the person depicted.
About the Artist
Bonnie Louise Graham was born in northeastern Indiana and grew up in a country home surrounded by acres of hardwood forest. She was fortunate to have a family who valued imagination, creativity, and artistic activities. Her father pursued a correspondence course in oil painting when Bonnie was in elementary school, and he was instrumental in encouraging his children’s interest in art. Her mother made sure that a variety of art supplies were available for Bonnie and her siblings to use.
At the age of 10, Bonnie first showed an interest in drawing people. She used oil pastels to create copies of children in advertisements she saw in her mother’s magazines. She continued to explore pencil drawing using National Geographic’s photographs of people from all over the world as reference.
Bonnie gives credit to one special high school art teacher for showing her pencil rendering techniques that took her artwork to a new level of realism. She sold her first drawing when she was a high school senior. In college, she took figure drawing studio classes. Later as a stay-at-home mom, she lacked the time needed to concentrate on creating graphite artwork. Her creative outlets included sewing clothes for her daughters; learning needle-turn appliqué quilting; stitching samplers on linen; and taking classes in stained glass.
In March 2014, Bonnie and her husband, fellow artist Michael R. Harding, moved from Indiana to Montana to explore a lifelong dream of living in the West. The stunning Montana landscape that surrounds Bonnie’s residence near Cardwell provides a peaceful and inspiring setting for her to concentrate on drawing and take her artwork to another level of excellence.
Bonnie has shared her techniques with children and adults by leading drawing classes at the Whitehall Community Library. She has completed several commissions for local residents and is proud to display her work along with fellow artists in the community.