Oil painter Bonnie Conrad portrays images of America's western and rural heritage. Subjects range from Native American to cowboys, women, children and animals in a rural setting. Having lived on several ranches, including Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Oregon and Texas with her ranch manager husband Roger, Conrad has been exposed to the West up close and personal. It drew her in and she paints it with exuberance.
Conrad has dressed her five daughters in pantaloons and long dresses and posed them in the icy Shoshone River “washing clothes” and rounded up her husband’s “hands” in a rare spare moment and bid them to run their horses through the river “one more time” and joined in the bloody “fun” at branding time. She has reveled in the palpable excitement of the cowboys behind the chutes at rodeo as they ready to try their skills at a testy bronc, and fallen over wagon tongues because she was so interested in seeing what was going on “out there” that she wasn’t watching “right here”. She has 4-H’d and joined pow-wows and danced at Crow Fair, and driven in a rickety bus on a harrowingly narrow dirt road down through seven vegetative zones of the Copper Canyon to visit the Tarahumara Indians in search of the least “civilized” tribe on the North American continent. She has hiked down to the White House ruins with a 50 lb. pack of “artists paraphernalia” to paint the Navajo Bead workers and the colorfully chiseled walls of Canyon d’Chelly, and experienced the Spirit of the Anasazi ruins of Mesa Verde and puzzled over the petroglyphs of southern Utah.
Education underpinning Bonnie’s production include a B.A. in arts, a year studying under master draftsman Kent Goodliffe and workshops with some of her favorites including Dan Mieduch, Jim Wilcox, Matt Smith, Donald (Putt) Puttnam, Carolyn Anderson, Gary Kapp and William Reese as well as many trips to museums and galleries studying favorite works. What evolved is a painterly style enriched by a love of color and a striking portrayal of light.
Conrad is honored as a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America (OPA) and American Women Artists (AWA). She has garnered several awards on a national level including Oil Painters of America "Honorable Mention", American Plains Artists First Place Oil and Best of Show, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Poster Artist, St. George Arts Festival Best of Show, Zwei Tu Color Award Oil Painter's of America, First Place Oil American Academy of Women Artists, Best of Show Western Spirit, Lifetime Achievement Award, Who’s Who America. Permanent collections sporting her work are the Pioneer Center for the Arts, St. George, Utah, Clymer Museum in Ellensburg, Washington and Dixie State College Collection. At present, Conrad paints in the summer in beautiful rural Mendon, Utah and in the winter from the red rock land of Utah’s Dixie in St. George.
Getting into a painting, body and soul, is a mesmerizing and even somewhat addicting experience. I was hooked after the first class I took many years ago and have been driven ever since to keep striving to better my best. Turning out a wonderful painting in every sense of the word is a most intriguing challenge as the possibilities for color relationships, design, mood, edges, texture and brushstrokes present a myriad of possibilities. But, most of all, what really drives me is a desire to explore color and the portrayal of light in a subject. My paintings are most recognized for striking use of these two elements.
It is my desire to lift the human spirit with my work…to evoke a strong emotional connection with the viewer. Whether I seek to portray the lure of the American West or tell the story of our rapidly disappearing rural ties, I mean to speak to the heart. One of the best compliments I ever received from a viewer was “WOW!”