Diana Bonebrake: “To See What Might be Perceived as Mundane in a Different Way.”
by Karen Bowles for Malibuartsreviews.com
In this country, in our daily lives, we often do not take the time to enjoy or appreciate the sky. Few of us will actually stand around with our mouths gaped open, arms outstretched, greeting the sunset of burning colors, flames licking the underbellies of clouds moving past like mythical creatures, so vast they seem to cover the continent. We hurry in the mornings, cursing our lack of time. Grabbing our coffee, we step out blinking into the seemingly harsh light and rush, rush, rush right past every detail of our wondrous world.
Thank Diana Bonebrake for giving you back your sight. It would be a shame to miss viewing this artist’s paintings. For those of you who are geographically able, Bonebrake is a must attend. Her new show opens on July 14th at the Orlando Gallery in Tarzana. Fortunately, if you are not able to go in person you may peruse her artwork at www.bonebrakepaintings.com.
The first time I followed a link to her site, my mouth gaped. I sucked in my breath. Bonebrake's paintings do not need a particular background to enjoy them. Any person lucky enough to have vision and not have an aversion to nature will benefit from viewing them.
In fact, Diana herself never went to an art school. She began painting and drawing “as soon as I could stand.” She became her high school newspaper’s cartoonist.
“In my early 20's I found myself longing to know what I might be able to accomplish, so I went up to Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood and asked for a teacher,” Bonebrake said in an interview.
She found instructor Joyce Wisdom and studied privately with her for years. Joyce specialized in the “Plein Air” technique, a French phrase that means “in the open air” referring to painting outdoors instead of in a studio. This open, very mobile style allows and encourages the artist to engage in their environment, to become a part what they seek to portray.
Bonebrake also, “studied live model drawing during that time too, to hone my sense of observation and learn to work with some immediacy.”
Bonebrake's days in the plein air may well have contributed to her speed as a painter.
“[I can] complete a landscape or skyscape in a day, two if it's a large canvas. Buildings take longer, up to a week, because of the detail required,” Bonebrake said.
Bonebake pursues her subjects with openhanded preparation, carrying a camera to take several shots of an inspiring scene. She then uploads the pictures onto her computer and prints them out to have on hand as she reconstructs the scene.
No amount of study or visualizing landscapes can account for the richness of the hues, the billowing sweeps of colors in Bonebrake’s paintings, creating those fleeting moments we wish to capture and hold. She has a rare gift of expression. Her paintings are finely crafted memories of those times we feel ourselves drawn into the world’s wonders - watching as the sky produces its ever changing variations on cloudscapes swirling in time to the revolutions of the Earth.
When asked if she worried about the absolute correctness of the details she paints and which is most important, the details or the feelings conveyed, Bonebake's answer is inspiring to perfectionists out there.
“I used to be a stickler for every detail of an image, but as my confidence grew I realized that I could honor the subject matter without hitting every detail if I just painted as well as I could. I am a visceral painter. I do have an idea of the feelings I want to convey, and there are deliberate things I do to convey them, but if something comes out of the work that I didn't plan on, and it works, all the better,” Bonebrake said.
She may not be aware of it, but Bonebrake works as a natural healer of sorts. Part of what ails us is that we are so far removed from our environment, living in continuously recycled air surrounded by man-made fibers and out gassing painted walls that when we see something that should catch our eyes and souls, we cannot focus on it. We have multi-tasking minds urging us to move forward. Staring at the sky is not on our list, yells the stressed little voice in our head. Move! But the viewer cannot move when looking at her paintings, cannot ignore our ties to the natural world.
Bonebrake has captured some of those beautiful moments and offered them as a gift to her audience. Soothing visions whose vivid brilliance leads us to wonder if they are actually photographs, perhaps digitally tricked out to make things appear more beautiful than reality. But they are not at all. That’s the amazing thing. No tricks are involved. The world is really that beautiful, reminding us it is time to stop what we are doing and take notice.
In fact, that is what Bonebrake wishes for her audience.
“I find that each person takes away their own ideas and feelings about my work, which is most important. The one thing that is consistent about it is that it's always about our common surroundings - things, places, and views we might see everyday but never notice. To see what might be perceived as mundane in a different way,” Bonebrake said.
This journalist wholeheartedly agrees, and congratulates Bonebrake on the success of her art ventures. Her work is a "gotta get to her art show pronto" exhibition! But just remember, if on your way you catch a glimpse of a melting sky - stop. Watch the colors dance into deepening shades as night approaches. Savor it, and thank Bonebrake for the reminder.
Bonebrake's exhibition is on view at the Orlando Gallery located at 18376 Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana, CA 91356. 818-705-5368. The opening reception is Saturday July 14, 2007 from 6-9PM. The show runs July 14 - August 3.