Jessica Lynn Bonin: A painting a day

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Many current independent artists who attempt to combine nature with technology come across less like Edison-based artist Jessica Lynn Bonin and more like Portlandia’s “Put A Bird On It” skit. In order to retain her artistic ability, Bonin has started doing one painting a day and so far her series includes the head of a deer with telephone lines spanning its antlers, a tattooed rabbit smoking a cigar, and a wasp emblazoned with the uplifting words “It Won’t Hurt Forever.”
Bonin explains that her early life was filled with art thanks to her mother. “My mom was an artist, so I was always around it,” she said. “I learned the tools of the trade and got my creative energy from her.”
She studied art at Western Washington University but also learned about art every chance she had. “I took as many art classes in high school as I could,” she said. “In college I always found ways to hang out in the art studio. Focusing on creating helped me stay engaged.” Bonin explained that, if not for art, she may not have had the patience to finish school. “I learned to skip some classes in order to spend more time working on art,” she said. “I got really good at it.”
Bonin’s choice of medium varies but shows a heavy emphasis on painting. “Mainly I use watercolor but I studied oil paintings in college,” she explained. “I decided to switch because of the toxicity of oil but I had to sort of start all-over again because they’re really different.”
Aside from painting, Bonin does graphic design. “I use drawings that are scanned and digitized in order to incorporate then with other elements,” she said. “But design is just another facet, I tend to do a lot of little things.”
Regardless of medium, Bonin’s work seems to incorporate a variety of influences. “My mother illustrated children’s books, so I get a sort of whimsy from growing up around that,” she explained. Bonin cites her brother’s graffiti as being another significant influence on her work. “My most immediate influences are from my family.”
Bonin and her husband own The Lucky Dumpster, which provides recycled products in new and unique ways. “My husband and I started the store after we’d gone dumpster diving and started fixing the furniture we found,” she said. “It went over well after we first opened but now we’ve started to incorporate more and more artists, which makes it feel more like a family.” The Lucky Dumpster holds the contributions of between 45 and 60 artists, which Bonin considers to be incredibly influential on her own work. “Just from being surrounded by their work, it feeds into my creative energy.”
Bonin began a project last year where she painted still-life once a day. “It was a small painting project where I chose a common item and painted it how I saw it,” she said. “It kept me more involved and more accountable.”
Bonin hopes to publish a book containing her series from last year. “The only problem is getting the format right and actually motivating myself to start it,” she said. “But I’ve started another series this year and it’s been a lot more of my illustrations than still-life.”
She is mostly excited for her friend to print a series of greeting cards adorned with her favorites from last year’s project. “They’re these squished beer cans,” she says. “They look really great and I’m proud of them.”
Jessica Lynn Bonin’s art is on display at The Old Town Cafe for all of May. For more information, check out sealevelstudio.blogspot.com and www.paintingsforpeople.com/

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