Colours Run Deep in Donna Bonin’s Paintings

Colours Run Deep in Donna Bonin’s Paintings

Sometimes things have a way of working out. We were in Stirling, Ontario at the fairground parking lot about to have dinner when a parade of vehicles started showing up for a soccer match, including a guy named Bill with his two daughters in their 1978 VW Bus. Of course, having commonality right off the bat can easily open the Vanagon door for conversation which led Bill to call his friend Jack, a sculptor in Belleville. Gary talked to Jack briefly and the next thing we knew we had an artist to interview. The day before I had e-mailed a lady just outside of Stirling about an interview but we hadn’t heard from her yet, so we were off to Belleville.

When we arrived Jack was nowhere to be found but in the meantime Donna Bonin had e-mailed back and so it was meant to be that we were to go back toward Stirling to interview Donna in Oak Lake. She has one of two year round residences situated on the lake. Her’s is a charming century old country home. This is where she lives, works and plays. I use the word “work” loosely as Donna never gave us the impression that her art resembled any kind of mundane work in the 9 to 5 sense. As a matter of fact, the day we were to arrive she was to be captain of the boat for some waterskiing fun in the afternoon.

Please click on the thumbnail images below to see a large aspect.

Donna invited us to sit in one of her many Back-In-Time Gallery rooms where we got to know some things about her and her incredible watercolour paintings. Donna has been painting for most of her life but watercolour has been a recent journey that began in 1998. Around this time her physical health changed and this prompted her to try something different, and so began the watercolour chapter of her life. One of the first things Gary and I noticed in Donna’s paintings was the intensity of colour. Not being familiar with watercolour, I always assumed this medium was characteristically muted and subtle. Donna shared with us that often the brand of paint can be a factor but more than anything it is the time she takes putting layer upon layer of paint to her canvass. Sometimes she will let an incomplete painting calmly sit on its own as she looks at it periodically with fresh eyes. The painting tells her what it needs or doesn’t need when the time is right. She says, if the way you want to change or add something to the painting doesn’t significantly enhance it than just leave it alone. It can take up to several months for Donna to decide when her painting is complete.


Donna’s subject matter is incredibly varied as well. She has traveled all around the world and has been inspired to paint many different things. She loves nature and animals and has painted a range of things from the landscape in her own back yard to buildings in Europe and settings in the high Arctic. She says there is nothing she wouldn’t try as each painting brings with it a collection of new ideas and creativity. She even enjoys her own version of abstract which she calls fantasy. The paintings in this category remain partially representative of something that has caught Donna’s imagination. She might paint it from a different angle or in a different plane from what our eyes register as the comfortable orientation.

We concluded our interview with a self-guided tour of the rest of Donna’s gallery. Our observation was that she is an accomplished painter in the eyes of her peers, her students, her buyers and people, like us, seeing her work for the very first time.

We welcome you to leave a comment for Donna.

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