Off The Wall Magazine Q&A with James Bonner



Maine. Some of my favorite current and past artists have painted in Maine: the Wyeth’s, Hopper, Homer, and Kent. Having studied and admired their work, particularly their paintings of Maine, I wanted to experience this place that so attracted them to create such compelling works of art. I began traveling from my home in Arkansas to Maine in the mid to late 90’s. Spending mostly spring and summer months there traveling along the coast  and occasionally inland and looking for subject matter to paint was always an adventure. Every backroad held the anticipation  of something new and exciting to paint.


Inspiration. My inspiration for art derives from my desire to have the viewer of my work have an emotional connection to it. Any emotion that it conjures up is a win for me. Hopefully the viewer can relate in some way unique to them. That’s what I find inspiring.


Art Hero. I would have to say the late Andrew Wyeth would be my all time art hero. Not just for his painting prowess, but for his sensitivity to everything around him. He viewed everything he was interested in through the most sensitive eyes. Subsequently, his work reflects this. I also like the way Andrew and his son Jamie, also an artist, are not afraid to paint anything that they find interesting. Subject matter that might not be considered beautiful in the traditional way of looking at things. Both of them realized that Maine is both beautiful and gritty and weren’t afraid to show this. Oftentimes, this might be a scene that is “underfoot” and overlooked by the masses, yet a few sensitive souls notice and take note. This is something that interests me as well. 


Where in Maine. I generally end up in the mid coast area of Maine. St. George Peninsula, Cushing, South Thomaston, but also love the Downeast areas of Maine as well. One of my favorite things to do is spend time on some of the islands, particularly Monhegan. I, like so many other artists and tourists, have been mesmerized by it’s charm and beauty. For me though, since it’s actually a lobster and fishing village, I find the juxtaposition of grit and beauty interesting and attractive to portray.


Fun fact. Well I don’t know if this is fun or not, but I’m a dog lover. Anything dog related brings a smile to my face. I mean does it get any better than that? 


Studio. Well, it seems it can never be big enough for some reason. Actually my studio is all about feeling isolated. Because I’m a shy and private person by nature the studio is my place to hide and create in secrecy. I remember reading once where Andrew Wyeth believed all remarkable things happen in secrecy, hidden away or something to that effect. He, of course, was referring to creating art, not just miracles that occur in life. Sometimes if you show too much too soon you lose the emotional power and impetus behind what you’re working on. All artists are different, but this resonates with me and it’s how I feel I do my best work.





Learn more about this artist:


Available artwork


Radio Maine podcast interview


Off The Wall magazine