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Interview with artist Andrea Bonfils
by Renee Phillips, writer, Professional Artist Magazine
I've had the honor and privilege of knowing Andrea Bonfils for several years and watching her career continuously progress which has been an exhilarating experience.
RP: Andrea, when did you first become interested in art and why?
AB: My interest in art is from birth and very much a part of my DNA. I am staying focused on painting but also experiment with sewing, ceramics, sculpture, printing, photography and mixing it all. When I was young I thought everyone painted in their heads instead of listening to teachers! I have been creating things every waking moment that I can recall.
RP: Who or what most influences your work?
My influences are vast and varied. I can get as much inspiration staring into water as I do walking through galleries or museums. Most everything I create has a connection to nature and my interactions with it. Be it the heavy or light moods of a storm, hiking a mountain or the play of colors in a sunset or reflections in water.
RP: What current art work or art project are you working on?
I have been most excited working in encaustics (beeswax) and oils over the years but I always include materials that emulate my subjects and help to create a visual story such as photographs, resin, plexiglass and paper. I even use materials such as snake skin and porcupine quills when fitting. I just finished etching a huge diver into 1' plexiglass that is backlit and covered in swirls of blue resin all hanging from silver chains, that was a cool process. My underwater photography mixed in resin and wax has been a creative revelation as well.
RP: I love your versatility and fearless use of different hardware and tools. It's no surprise that several galleries have taken serious interest in your work. I also know you have a busy exhibition schedule. What upcoming exhibition(s) do you have scheduled?
AB: I just started working with two new galleries and took on several new commissions and participate in annual art fairs.
RP: I’m sure you’ve received many positive comments about your art work. What do you consider to be the best and/or most accurate comment you have received about your art?
AB: Once when I painted a life size cow in oil my dog howled at it. That was my favorite compliment! Second was a collector who told me I was his favorite artist in his extensive and remarkable art collection which includes some of my favorite artists.
RP: What is the single most important quality about your art work that you would like people to receive from it?
AB: I like for there to be a sense of joy or emotion similar to what I was recalling when painting. For example in my heavy weather pieces where the fog is thick or the sky is in turmoil I hope the textures, colors, and compositions bring the viewer to a similar myriad of experiences: humility next to our expansive earth, maybe a coziness from a blanket of rain, or a feeling of coolness and/or warmth... among other possibilities!
RP: What is your favorite quotation by an artist and why?
AB: Van Gogh says to "listen to the language of nature" and I feel that I have many conversations with nature when I am involved or observing, be it skiing, swimming, hiking or gardening for example. These conversations are spoken in many languages, each a unique experience.
RP: How do you define success for yourself as an artist?
AB: I support my habit well. Mostly that means more experimenting and buying more paint, cameras, computers, wax, etc! My ideas become a reality.
RP: There is a photograph of your work in one of your collector's homes. It looks fantastic and I cannot imagine that space without your art. If brings so much life and energy to the room. Why do you believe it is important to live with original art?
AB: It is one of the best privileges and joys I can imagine. Art brings a soul to a home that nothing else can match.
RP: Thankfully, we are now observing resurgence in collectors buying new artists. What advice can you offer a first time art buyer?
AB: Sometimes you can't articulate why you are drawn to an art piece but if it speaks to you that is all you need to know. You can grow together. Well-placed art does not mean matching the sofa! When you get more info such as the process and how the medium is applied and even touching the painting or smelling it (beeswax smells like honey!) the joy will be exponential.
Don't assume because the artist is young or prolific that the art you are drawn to will be available down the road. Although art is expensive there is a tremendous amount that goes into it that is not always obvious to first time buyers.
Don't focus on how long it takes to make something because time, materials and outcome in art does not equate compared to anything else. How can you quantify analyzing how water moves, experimenting with materials or recalling dreams? That seems to be the most difficult concept for most first time buyers to get. Imagine how long it takes an accomplished gymnast to make a triple flip look graceful.
RP: How right you are! Andrea, what is the greatest challenge you have overcome during your career?
AB: Raising children and working full time and not getting so engrossed in what I am doing that I forget one or the other. I use a lot of timers so I can lose myself and not think of everything else on my plate.
RP: How do you manage your time to be most productive and nourish your creativity?
I have learned how to treat every moment as precious and make the most of it. But I often need to zone out and sort of meditate as well. When I let my mind wander and forget about everything else is when I am most creative. I set a timer for this too!
RP: Who has been your greatest motivator/cheerleader for your career and why?
I am my biggest motivator and cheerleader because I do what I love and what I am obsessed with. My whole family is an amazing support and enthusiastic about my art. My daughters are equally as interested in creating which is exciting to watch and very inspiring.
RP: Obviously your self-reliance, focus and organizational skills have paid off and led to your career success. I'm sure you have some advice to offer emerging artists. What would that be?
AB: If you want to support your habit then you need to maintain a successful business.
RP: What is your favorite music to listen to while you create and why?
AB: I listen to just about everything except country music. rock, ska, jazz etc, very loud usually or in contrast, often I like pure silence.
RP: And, now for one final silly question, Andrea, what is your favorite snack and/or beverage while you’re in the studio?
AB: Seltzer and mixed nuts. I can go for days with both!