Bonnie G. Venable

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I am a mixed-media artist and I would describe my style of art as mostly inspired by nature. I incorporate traditional materials and mediums with found objects, recycled materials, text and surface design. I especially enjoy working with textiles and finding various ways of manipulating the fabrics. Numerous trips to Japan to visit my daughter have influenced my use of Japanese Shibori (shaped resist) dye techniques to simulate patterns found in nature. The myriad techniques to stitch, shape, tie and dye cloth are very labor intensive, but the results are always a pleasure to see. I am mostly drawn to the vintage “country” fabrics of Japan and not the highly decorated ones. At times I have dyed fabrics using mostly white silk kimono linings and natural dyes I’ve made from brewing plant materials I have gathered. I find beauty in the most ordinary of things. I have sewn, painted, and hand decorated wearable art clothing most of my life. Now I sew art mostly with hand stitching, only occasionally using the sewing machine. My work is created by hand sewing thousands of colorful stitches. These have the unique hand-made quality that no machine is able to produce. My other interest is working with natural and found materials. Natural objects, in some state of nature’s rhythm of ebb and flow ~ the concept of time passing through the seasons ~ is evident in my work. A new idea I’ve had is called “Fairie Couture” where I’ve used natural materials and cicada wings to make Fairie dresses. There is an abundance of colors, amazing fibers and textures all around me so I use them as best as I can… twigs, animal hair, rusty objects, plant fibers, nuts and pods, shells, etc. Seemingly mundane every day objects are used as an art supply. I have also made handmade paper, done eco printing by using the natural dyes in plants to make marks on paper and fabric – much as oak leaves mark the sidewalk after a rain, Cherokee leaf hammering, soft sculpture textile birds, hand crafted jewelry, textile “candy” that is not edible but delicious to look at and have made sculptures from paper and twigs. The act of exploring, experimenting, and sometimes making a "leap into the dark" is unnerving at times, but wonderful surprises can also be discovered in this process. I use watercolor, oils, pastels, and acrylics but not in the ways they were intended. I frequently challenge myself to use familiar materials and mediums in new-to-me ways and techniques find unusual results. I value activities that put me in a position where I don't quite know what I'm doing. This period of adjustment each time is not a bad thing in my view. This difficulty is a sign that the creative juices are flowing and I am finding my way and learn something new. I actually prefer this to feeling that it is too easy, automatic and not having to think about what I am creating. I have won numerous awards in Quilt and Art Shows over the years.